What is the proof of being a human being?
Only that he does not have four legs and horns and a tail?
How does a man differ from other living beings?
Renowned economist Schumacher has written a great book, “Small is beautiful’. In that he has discussed economics based on the principles of Gandhiji and Budhha. He has written another wonderful book titled, “Guide to the Perplexed.’ He has written about the characteristics of various living beings in it. He has classified them in four groups.
First is, “Rock”. Its characteristic is “minerals.”
Second is “vegetation.’ It possesses life in addition to minerals.
Third is “animals”. They have consciousness in addition to two characteristics of second group.
Fourth is ‘human beings” They have awareness and the three characteristics of third group.
“Awareness’ means the ability to think about this analytical power. The management Guru From America, Stephan Covey adds to this theory about a man and says, “The Nature has gifted a man with four abilities, awareness, imagination, intuition, will power of the self.”
Unfortunately awareness among them is the least acquired ability. If awareness is increased then one becomes more fit. He becomes less mechanical.
Based on this, Covey says, ‘It is wrong to believe that a man is a result of his parents or the earth or relations or environment. In fact, his life is the result of how he reacts to all these factors and then which factor he chooses out of them.
Awareness plays an important role in this process. A person’s self-awareness develops more with his training. He needs to develop special language for that because nobody can think beyond his vocabulary. This experiment is worth it. When a person goes ahead in the direction of impressing others consciously or unconsciously, he succeeds in doing so by his thoughts and deeds.
The true teacher is he who inspires the student to be independent by creating awareness in him. He discourages him being dependent on the teacher. The teacher inspires him to think on his own and proceed to success.
There are many such teachers, fortunately. But they work without publicity, so the society is unaware of them. Stephan Covey has noted the examples of such teachers, which explain their effectiveness to us. He has noted many examples, let us take consider one here.
Some years ago, twelve students received special prizes for leadership and achievements in a certain school. This is a very common matter. Such students are found in every school. But, what drew attention of the parents was the fact that the six out of twelve students were from the sixth standard and they all had the same class teacher. The parents met the class teacher and asked about the secret of this.
The teacher said smilingly that there was no secret. She had read the book, “seven habits’ by Stephan Covey and she had taught them to the students. She gave an illustration of one of her girl student to explain the point. She had a student named Hindy in her class. Though she was very intelligent, she was shy and did not mix with other classmates. She was afraid that she would not succeed. When she gave incorrect reply in the class, she soon became frustrated, began to cry and became so upset that she was unable to do anything then for the rest of the day. The teacher could see that the children, who were perfectionists, have to undergo this ordeal.
Hindy had developed a firm impression that she would not be able to do anything without other’s help, and if she tried, she would fail. Even though she was intelligent, she lacked self-confidence. Such children should be taught that failure is a part of the learning process. They should remain free from their perfectionist attitude and the fear of failure. If they cannot do that, they remain backward.
The teacher had put up one poster in her class, with seven habits written on it. They are as follows:
- To be positive and proactive in every matter.
- There should be a clear motive, before one starts work.
- One should decide the priority of each work.
- If you work with somebody, both should get benefitted from work.
- One should understand the other person first, before he does the same.
- One must know the thought processes of the self as well as the other’s and then communicate with him to find new ways.
- Update your knowledge continuously.
The teacher showed these to the students at the beginning of each year, explained them. She suggested that these are classroom rules so they should behave accordingly until they are in the school. She sent a letter to their parents also, explaining these habits. Next week, she gave homework to the students to give one example of each of the habits. While teaching, she made their minds firmly believe in them by giving examples. E. g. When somebody presented a problem before her and she began to find solution, she would say,” See children, I am being proactive or I make my target clear. If you become proactive, how will you react?” Thus she inspired to find proactive behaviour through the medium of all subjects. For the teacher, every subject was the medium to impress these seven habits upon the student’s minds.
Her student Hindy’s behaviour was “To react’, so in the beginning when this habit was considered, she was getting upset. E. g. She forgot to bring book or notebook from home and then she got panicky and start crying. Then the teacher would tell her, “Let us think about this problem.” Then the teacher would hear her. After Hindy finished, the teacher would ask, ”Tell me, which habit am I using?”Hindy would say, “Madam, you are trying to understand my problem.” The teacher would ask, “Which habit would help you find the solution?” If Hindy could not reply soon, she would explain her how to be proactive and which possibilities are there in herself.
Next week, she would impress this habit on student’s mind again and again, so that it becomes their nature. She would make them revise them. In the beginning, Hindy was finding this difficult. The root of fear was so deep in her nature that she exhibited it often but after certain time, she learnt how to find solution, rather than thinking about the problem only.
The teacher wanted the students to understand these seven habits clearly, so she opened an “Emotional bank account” for each student. She would give a certificate to the student, who found a solution of the problem, selected the work or became proactive. If some student sympathised with the other or understood him properly, she would make more deposit in his account. If somebody remain backwards in studies or delayed in work, she would let him defend himself using this deposit. The teacher would inspire all the students to evaluate their behaviour in this context .She often pressed the point that all the students have to act according to these habits. The students were so much impressed by her insistence and related examples that they understood them easily and tried to act accordingly.
For example, some student says that his mother asked him to go to sleep early, so he could not finish his homework. The teacher would not accept this and label him ‘a mummy’s boy”. Then she would ask other students to find such boys in the class and find the ways to come out of it.
She produced the skits to train the students in awareness and the children played them. They played the characters of some famed person from the history or of the parents. Then they would analyse the behaviour of these characters and find the improper one among them. At that time they understood that the problem with that classmate was not his mummy’s order to sleep early but it was his own wrong choice of work. He would have finished his homework first instead of going to play.
The teacher had put up one “List of problems” on the blackboard. The students used to write about their problems on it. This way, they were getting right to talk about their personal problems with the teacher. Suppose they have forgotten their homework notebook at home, then they would find the solution which was acceptable to the teacher and themselves both. But she would insist on giving proof, e.g. the parents’ note that the child had finished his homework but forgotten to put it in his bag.in a hurry. If the proof was acceptable, she would not fine him because he had exhibited a proactive habit. But if nothing like this happened and he did not do his work, then he would get zero marks. As a result, the children learnt to be proactive and also about the decisions which lead to either positive or negative results.
Hindy studied these seven habits and became proactive. Gradually she could understand that she had choice of beating her circumstances and using her intellect more fruitfully and satisfactorily.
After about seven months, Hindy came to the teacher one day, not with a problem, but with a solution. When she dared to come to the teacher with a solution, the teacher felt that Hindy had undergone a change in herself. The teacher then became witness of such change in many children. She continued to work with Hindy for the second year also. Now, she enjoyed working with Hindy because she knew that Hindy had cultivated the seven habits in her behaviour.
Normally, the children evaluated their behaviour every six months and say, “When I chose to play instead of doing homework, I had made a wrong choice.’ Gradually, the children reached that level of self-awareness where they could identify their own problematic behaviour. This was the fulfilling moment for the teacher. Not only that, often the parents said that their children scolded them or their siblings for lack of understanding among them or lack of co-ordination.
What was the effect of these habits on the children?
The answer to this question is obtained from the notes from children to their teacher. They are the proofs of the effectiveness of these habits.
- While doing homework, I saw that my friend was slower than myself. I did not press him to work at my speed. Instead, I tried to understand why he was so slow. when I asked him, he told me that it was because his reading speed was very slow. I could understand his problem.
- My motive is clear before I start any work. That is why I finish my homework and home cleaning before going to school.
- I have become proactive about my homework. It was never so in the past. But now as a result I get good marks.
- I try to understand the other person, though he may or may not try to do so. So now I first try to know what my friends want to do and not what I have to do.
- I think of winning from both sides. So when I am playing, I only think of playing to my best ability. I do not care whether I win or lose.
- First things first. When I go for shopping, I purchase all the necessary things for home first and then I purchase ice-cream at least.
- My sister needed one thing of mine; I also needed one of hers. So we bartered among us. We really enjoyed the barter.
- Our teacher was standing in the midst of the classroom, so I could not read the writing on the board. Instead of requesting her to move a little, I moved myself a little. I can take this as example of being proactive.
The teacher notes that she was very much satisfied by the training she gave her students. She was not always successful. But her motive to make the children self-dependent was achieved partly. She does not need to control the children after teaching these habits. They remain self-controlled. So their potential also increases. All of them progress together. The teacher does not play the role of a preacher but that of a guide. She may not have the answers to all questions but she helps the children find answers to their questions.
The students of this teacher have become the problem-solving citizens instead of being preoccupied with problems.
That is all. The important characteristic of being a human-being is, ‘to be self-aware.”
Translated by : Susmita Vaishnav, Ahmedabad