132. A Whole New Brain for Teachers

I’ve been a great fan of Dan Pink since the time I stumbled upon his Tedtalk on The Puzzle of Motivation. His presentation helped me understand the crucial differences between extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation, how it could also be related to teachers and in education in general. Then I started reading Pink’s books like a maniac. And this slideshare is a result of reading his “A Whole New Mind”, twice. Even though the book focuses on the business world, there are a lot of insights for teachers like me on how to merge R-directed teaching/learning into the traditional L-directed teaching/learning.

If you’ve read this book too, let’s share some of the learnings.

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116. To Sell is Human

Finally, I’ve got my hands on this book. Even though one of my friends was very kind enough to send me an audible book link (I’ve already listened to the audio version twice), getting to read this book, again, is still a lot more thrilling.

I am not into ‘sales’ as in the traditional sales job. I am a teacher. But I feel that Dan Pink has written this book for teachers like me as well… teachers who want to change, serve and move others.

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100. ENG 101 ENGLISH I

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I have never seen, both as a student and as a teacher, such an impressively misguided course which somehow resembles our country, our government, our educational system, our everything at the moment.

On one hand you have this book Adventures in English (one of the most widely used English books in Bachelors level) which contains short stories, poems, essays on themes of ancient tales, anthropology, education and on the other hand you have a book titled Business Result which has been essentially designed for in-service professionals looking to improve their basic communication skills in English. So you have core literature which requires critical and analytic thinking on a fairly intellectual level and elementary business English which requires school level grammar and texts but focuses on non-student context.

Both books look awesome on their own but so do elephants and hippopotamus. The horror is they are merged into a single course and look like elephantomatus – an awkward ugly beast which stinks so much that one can doubt if the Pokhara University people were thinking straight.

I read the Adventures in English when I was in Bachelors – many many years ago. I had really enjoyed reading the book. I was happily surprised to see the book once again when Pokhara University revised its BBA program. And really, I enjoyed using this book in the class this semester. But I don’t see the rationale behind merging another book in the same course. If they think that both books are essential, they can simply keep them in different semesters or as different subjects. That’s quite easy. And that’s practical for teachers and students. I can’t forget my students’ face with the most epic WTF expression when I showed them the sample question provided by PU.

I don’t really get the course designer’s point but I want to end this rant by quoting a line from Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s poem ‘The Illiterate’ from the book Adventures in English.

The myopia to the race!

57. Book Review: Arresting God in Kathmandu

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Title: Arresting God in Kathmandu
Author: Samrat Upadhyay
Genre: Fiction, short stories.
First published in 2001
First published by Houghton Mifflin Company
Published by Rupa.Co, India
ISBN 81-7167-803-3
Price: Rs 250

About the author:

Samrat Upadhyay was born and raised in Kathmandu and came to the United States at age twenty-one. His work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Best of the Fiction Workshops. He lives in Cleveland, US and teaches at Baldwin-WallaceCollege.

Upadhyay is the first Nepali writer to be published in the West.

Blurb:

“With a masterful narrative style, fascinating characterizations, and precise description, Samrat Upadhyay shows us compelling clashes of the spiritual versus the temporal and carnal. This is a distinguished and captivating book.” – Ian MacMillan.

Content: 9 short stories

Review:

The book engages a reader to the various colors of love, hate, lust, jealousy, remorse, estrangement and spirituality in the changing yet rigid social-cultural context of Kathmandu circa 1970s (I assume so). Set in the premises of Kathmandu – the city of gods, each story revolves on family or relationships, in which the members are intertwined by common threads of human frailty, rationalization, and a yearning for salvation. As every good story should, the nine stories present characters in conflict and contemplation.

Behind all mental turmoil, desire for sex/sexual emancipation and moral upheavals of the characters, however, there lies a constant quest for individual happiness. The inner clashes between ideals and carnal satisfaction, the desire and reasoning for personal happiness portrayed in the stories are as universal and as human, as everyday routines.

This book is a vivid representation of common people living in Kathmandu valley, which is seeking modernization and yet is closely restrained in norms, values and religiousness. The stories are about normal city-dwellers – an accountant who lost his job (The Good Shopkeeper), an aging poet who has doubts in his literary ability (The Cooking Poet), a successful financial consultant who falls for his secretary (Deepak Misra’s Secretary), a newly wed bride who helps her father-in-law’s overcome his constrained sexual desire (The Limping Bride), a husband who suspects his wife of having an affair (During the Festival) and so on. These characters can be found in our neighborhoods, in our houses and in our families.

Since this is a collection of short stories, Upadhyay has a tough job to build up characters and the plot in each story. His narrative style of building the stories through the character’s own perspective is quite effective. As a story teller, Upadhyay succeeds in telling these stories without sounding religious or preachy or sexist. However, the only drawback of his style is, a reader might feel that one has been there very often, especially the recurring theme of unfulfilled sexual desires and infidelity.

I recommend reading this book one story at a sitting. These are not new stories; there are no new angles in them. I have one query for the reader though. Does it make a difference in gratification that these stories are in English? Reading our stories in a foreign language, does that give us readers a new perspective on our society? I will leave that to the readers.

(And, hats off to the photographer whose photo made it to the book’s cover. Just like the book, the photo portrays a distinct story of disconnectedness and alienation in a single family.)

Rating: 8/10