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Posts Tagged ‘yourself

I try not to go out because we are still in the midst of a pandemic. When I do, I avoid crowds.

So I was surprised when three different people approached me last week for directions during my rare forays outside. Each time the person who needed help did not make the query in english, but we figured it out.


I could have tried the latest iteration of Translate in iOS which translates (or transliterates) in real time in face-to-face mode. But that would have been overkill.

When I knew where they needed to go, I provided exaggerated gestures and simple english. When I did not, I pulled up Google Maps when they showed me the address they were headed.

Then I wondered why they did not do this themselves. All of them had Internet-connected mobile phones. Why did they not help themselves?

That is a question I ask myself in other situations, e.g., work-related consults or queries. I could just take the jobs, but I draw an ethical line between where people need outside perspective and when they can actually help themselves.

But I realise that the problem is not that people do not know about helpful technologies. It is that they do not know when to help themselves and when to strategically ask for help. 

I find that they choose to go independent when they need someone else, or they seek assistance when can learn on their own. These decisions seem to be dictated by their boss or their budget. 

For example, they need outside expertise, but a higher-up is too proud to seek help. Or they have unused funds in their annual budget, so they seek a perfunctory workshop.

Here is a free tip: Rid yourself of such mindsets and practices. You help yourself in the long run.

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I started listening to the Obsessed With… podcasts from BBC Sounds when they started following up with Line of Duty episodes. Why? I like gaining insights into the thought processes behind television products.

I listened to an old episode in the series which focused on Killing Eve. In the interview of Fiona Shaw, the hosts and guest reflected on why people disliked lockdown during the current pandemic.

They avoided superficial answers, i.e., how we are social animals. We can still socialise albeit differently, and we know we will eventually come out of lockdown.

Instead, they concluded that lockdown forced people to spend time with themselves. The question that each person had to ask themselves was: Do you like what you see?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Can you face yourself without the distraction of work or taking care of someone else? What do you see in that mirror? Are you happy with or disturbed by that reflection?

I know why I liked the quiet that came with our lockdown last year. I had been preparing for it since 2014 when I left full-time work to be an independent consultant. That move forced me to examine my priorities and to look both in the mirror and the crystal ball. I took comfort in what I saw then and what I see now.

I chuckled as I watched this video.

Video source

The video was so stupid that it was smart. It was a long ad for what seems like a superior product.

Anyone who runs a business knows that having a good product or providing an excellent service is not enough. Word needs to get out and these days much of word of mouth takes the form of text, photos, or video on social media.

Even people with questionable services or product know this.

What if you are the product or service? Do you know how to sell yourself with confidence, panache, and perhaps dash of humour?

You do not have to click through and read the article linked in the tweet to find out why we were not informed of flaws in our MRT trains.

You only have to process how the tweet was phrased. It was written as an answer, i.e., I am telling you. This is why and that is it.

It was not written as a query. A question like “Why were hairline cracks not made public three years ago?” could indicate curiosity or a challenge to authority, amongst other interpretations.

The adage is that it is not what you say, but how you say it. The same could be said about teaching. It is not just what you teach, but how you teach it.

Preferring answers over questions creates students who are spoon-fed, dependent on, and uncritical of information.

Emphasising questions over answers promotes the opposite. Students learn to seek and be more independent learners. They have a model lead learner who questions so they learn how to ask questions and to think for themselves.

For the record, the official answers were that 1) the cracks “did not pose a safety risk”, and 2) the return of the 26 trains to the manufacturer in China “did not impact the capacity of the North-South East-West Lines”.

However, it took a revelation from a Hong Kong news agency for the news to break three years after the fact.

The defective trains were brought to light by Hong Kong online news portal FactWire only last week, raising questions about why the issue was not made public before.

If the issue was not danger to the public, one has to wonder why an announcement was not made in the spirit of transparency. After all there is the other issue of accountability in light of very public train breakdowns.

All that said, the information is out there and someone will create or share it. It is no longer enough for teachers to say, “Let me tell you what you need to know”.

There is too much information, too many variables, and things change quickly. Teachers should be able to say, “Let me teach you how to think”.

Most working adults are probably familiar with the Myers-Briggs inventory of personality types. This “test” claims to tell you what type of person you are. Organisations are known to hire and place people on tests like these.

Video source

The problem with the Myers-Briggs test and other inventories like it is that they are invalid and unreliable. The video above outlines how and why this is the case.

Such inventories keep being used because they make money for the companies that tout them and the companies that use them do not question the bad science or lack of evidence behind them.

There are other popularised “truths” in education and educational technology like:

  • Digital natives
  • Learning styles
  • Learning pyramid with numbers
  • Always pedagogy before technology
  • ICT is just a tool
  • Content is king

I used to believe in and teach others these things. But as soon as I found out the evidence against such falsehoods, I did all I could to right those wrongs.

However, it is easier to side with history and inertia. It is reassuring to be with the majority. Furthermore, when challenged to change, we are not as open-minded as we think we are.

To challenge the status quo, some advocate compromise or not being overly aggressive with one’s point of view. This article highlights how that is a mistake:

People may argue that if a belief is challenged in a more neutral manner, it leads to better discourse, but that’s never the case. The more neutral an argument is, the easier it is to dismiss.

That is why I try to create cognitive dissonance in the talks, seminars, and workshops I conduct. I find it to be a more effective way to get people to question their assumptions and beliefs.


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