Subba’s Serendipitous moments

January 5, 2007

Remarkable attitude

Filed under: Learning,Perspective — Subbaraman Iyer @ 11:46 am

Just last week, during the year end holidays we went to Malaysia with a few family friends. To keep the kids (in the age group of 13-16 years) amused and productive, I gave them an interesting Mathematics problem with an attractive prize money. Now what followed was interesting: Some of the children didn’t take the problem seriously, (perhaps Mathematics wasn’t interesting to them) some made some feeble attempts, others gave excuses and some got stuck.

Rashmi stood out. Her attitude was impressive. She quietly shifted away from the group and worked on the problem diligently. Though she was also unsuccessful in solving the problem, she kept her calm and composure. At the end of the time limit, she volunteered to share her knowledge of the problem, the approach that she had taken to everyone and offered not to take any credit, should her approach be correct. More importantly, she was the one who wanted me to verify her approach. And on the next day, she was the only one who approached me on how to solve the problem.

The reason that I single out Rashmi is that she had demonstrated all the qualities of a “learner” which her peers had missed — The ability to work on a problem independently, the willingness to collaborate and contribute without seeking any compensation and the persistence to find a solution. In the school system where individual achievements are often sought after and often encouraged, the inclination to be inclusive and share and be participative in the learning process is rather unusual. I hope Rashmi continues to be like that and am sure that this will make her a successful learner and a very useful person to any team that she’s a part of.

Key to excellence

Filed under: Learning — Subbaraman Iyer @ 10:49 am

“The first major conclusion is that nobody is great without work. It’s nice to believe that if you find the field where you’re naturally gifted, you’ll be great from day one, but it doesn’t happen. There’s no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice. So say Michael J. Howe, Jane W. Davidson and John A. Sluboda – eminent British researchers in their study on learning and improvement.

It does look pretty straight forward and obvious in hindsight but the researchers convey something compelling. The intriguing question for me is how does one identify the field or area where one has innate talent or is simply gifted. And what about people who are proverbially late bloomers?