Serendipitous Learning :

I just created a new WhatsApp group on serendipitous learning. 

This WhatsApp group is meant for young learners, at the School stage, as well as their parents. We actively learn all the time. Sometimes  intentionally according to a prescribed curriculum and at other times we learn serendipitously. In this group, we will post items spanning a whole range of topics that are intellectually stimulating, create wonder,increase curiosity and help in fostering a Scientific Temper. The content will continually evolve in response to the members interests. Welcome !

To join the group, learners and their parents are invited to send a WhatsApp message seeking to join the group to Professor MM Pant at +91 9810073724

I am not simply sharing a link to join the group, because in the past, such open invitations had led to undesirable elements joining the group. 

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educating parents about education

Educating parents about education:

For the aspirations of the NEP2020 to be fully realised, the role of the parents of the children is very important. Very recently, on 20th October 2022, a detailed and comprehensive document (360 pages) has been released by the NCERT about the NCF for the foundational stage of 3 to 8 years. Section 10.4 of this document refers to the role of parents and community. Hillary Clinton had popularised the African proverb “ it takes a whole village to raise a child”.

“This is the first ever integrated Curriculum Framework for children between ages 3-8 in India. It is a direct outcome of the 5+3+3+4 ‘curricular and pedagogical’ structure that NEP 2020 has come out with for School Education.”

“This NCF is based on cutting-edge research from across the world in multiple disciplines which includes among other things better understanding in the fields of neurosciences, brain study, and cognitive sciences. Further, the accumulated insights from the practice of Early Childhood Care and Education, and the wisdom and knowledge from diverse Indian traditions are also im- portant considerations. As articulated in NEP 2020, it uses ‘play,’ at the core of the conceptual, operational, and transactional approaches to curriculum organization, pedagogy, time and con- tent organization, and the overall experience of the child. It also lays a clear path for the goal of achieving foundational literacy and numeracy as articulated in NEP 2020, with age-appropriate strategies.”

It is therefore important to suitably educate all parents about what education means today and tomorrow. If the parents and communities world view is that which they experienced during their youth, which did not have the benefit of being informed by modern neuroscience, they are unlikely to provide to the children the new mindset based on neuroplasticity and the dispositions to flourish and thrive in the future. 

I have  been working on and designing a one month WhatsApp  delivered program for parents of children at each of the 4 stages of schooling described in the NEP 2020. Of course the same program can be delivered in face to face mode as well as through a web conferencing tool like Zoom. I will be developing the program in English, and it’s versions  in other Indian languages will be created in due course. Of course this will need a collaborative and partnership effort with many other organisations with presence in the School education space. 

This program is not about home schooling as an alternative, but about the parents and community’s complementary and supplementary contribution to what would be done in the School under the NEP 2020. 

The destiny of India will no longer be shaped only in its classrooms, but in its homes and communities ( villages, towns, cities and metropolises) as well. 

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AI in education: the educators perspective

AI in education: the educators perspective

  • As a young theoretical Physicist, I 

was often asked “ how does high end Physics benefit Mr TC MITS, the celebrated man in the street. And it was not easy to articulate the usefulness of useless knowledge. 

  • The answer today is the GPS which helps him being on the correct street. It is satellites, atomic clocks and Einstein’s General theory of relativity which does it. 
  • In an analogous way, by 2030 and beyond Artificial Intelligence and allied technologies  will help the NEP2020 realise its aspirations and the UN to achieve its SDG Goal 4. 
  • There is an interesting parallel in the past. It was the challenge of the US Census of 1880 that led to the development of the Hollerith punch card for data handling and then to automated data processing which gave birth to IBM. 
  • The great educationist Benjamin Bloom had in a 1984 paper titled “ The 2 sigma problem” had referred to the challenge of finding a way that would make large group education as effective as one on one education, which is seen as most effective.
  • Clayton Christensen in his book ‘ Disrupting Class’ has said that the disruption in education would be the personalising of the learning experience, not the use of the technology itself.
  • AI enables the personalisation of the content, the assessments, the learning path to achieve ‘mastery learning’ as well as the recommendations as to what to learn next. 
  • Anthony Seldon in his book ‘ The fourth education revolution’ has said that AI is the biggest change to education since the printing press, and that in this 4th education revolution, educators at all stages must partake in the revolution, else things that do not align with the real goals of education will be thrust upon the educators. 
  • So, how to educators become comfortable, familiar and then knowledgeable about AI. By following the pedagogy model of ‘heutagogy’ or in more simple terms ‘ how we learnt to use the mobile phone’. 
  • Here is a 5 minute video demystifying AI and to get you excited and started : https://youtu.be/VksrQUt9f7o
  • And here is a link to AI education resources from UNESCO: Artificial intelligence in education | UNESCO
  • Most importantly, such a learning model will not only improve performance and scores in examinations, through its active learning approach, it will also develop in the learners a love for learning and make them life-long learners who are better equipped to face changing environments as they lead longer lives. 
  • Alvin Toffler had said that the illiterates of the future will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and re-learn. 
  • Educators have to be future-proof. If something is future-proof, it will continue to be useful or successful in future when the situation changes. They will also play a very important role in shaping the future. 
  • We are on the cusp of a new era in education
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Active Learning :

On active learning : 460 words 3090 characters.

Active Learning: 

The great paradox of Indian education is that it has produced some outstanding persons who have been great achievers and some of them  also acknowledged with the Nobel Prize in a wide range of fields. But there are millions of people emerging from the same education system that could very well comprise “the useless class” identified by Yuval Noah Harari ( https://youtu.be/OMDlfNWM1fA). 

One explanation of this anomaly is the age-old saying, ‘Winners don’t do different things. They do things differently,’ made famous by Shiv Khera in his book You Can Win. Those who like to differ from this view insist that winners don’t merely do the same things differently, they do different things. 

I am suggesting here an important element that distinguishes the successful, the outliers or the winners from the rest. And that is active learning. You may philosophise on whether active learning is a different way of learning or something completely different. Did IITs teach engineering differently, or did they teach a different thing called Technology? 

Active learning is an approach to instruction that involves actively engaging students with the course material through discussions, problem solving, case studies, role plays and other methods. Active learning approaches place a greater degree of responsibility on the learner than passive approaches such as lectures, but instructor guidance is still crucial in the active learning classroom.

An active learning session may be seen to comprise the following 7 stages:

1: Advance Reading :

2: Initial question or challenge:

3: Vote:

4: Discussion among peers:

5 and 6: Revote and show results:

7: Discussion:

 You may be inclined  to compare this with the well known Gagne’s 9 events of instruction:  https://www.niu.edu/citl/resources/guides/instructional-guide/gagnes-nine-events-of-instruction.shtml

1: Gain attention of the students

2: Inform students of the objectives

3: Stimulate recall of prior learning

4: Present the content

5: Provide learning guidance

6: Elicit performance

7: Provide feedback

8: Assess performance

9: Enhance retention and transfer 

Suitably combining the 7 steps of active learning with Gagné’s nine events of instruction can help you build a suitable learning model that can then be adapted to fit both the content and students’ level of knowledge.

One of the proponents of active learning is Carl Weiman, the 2001 Physics Nobel Laureate who is also a Professor in Education in Stanford University, who actively opposes the lecture model. Here are a few relevant links.

1: Carl Weiman and active learning : https://mediatheque.lindau-nobel.org/recordings/38480/dont-lecture-me

2: Don’t lecture me : https://www.nature.com/articles/d42473-019-00339-6

3: Carl Weiman on new ways of teaching Science and engineering (58 minutes): https://youtu.be/9A13RWOs6oA

4: The active learning method (7 minutes): https://youtu.be/xxVxgQJwV7w

Happy Learning !

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Rational thinking:

Prof MM Pant’s mission: on ‘ Rational Thinking’

On World Philosophy Day 2022, (an International Day proclaimed by UNESCO to be celebrated every 3rd Thursday of November ) which falls this year on Thursday 17th November 2022, I will share some thoughts on’ Rational Thinking’ through WhatsApp. This has been influenced by the great Philosopher Voltaire’s comment that ‘no problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking’. I will be making my posts from approximately 7am to 8am, and members of the WhatsApp  group “ Philosophy Matters”  can view them anytime that suits their convenience. This is a great feature of ‘a-synchronous communication’. The posts will remain with you until you delete them. The posts will most often be in the form of text messages by me, some audio clips from me, occasionally images of PowerPoint slides created by me that you are used to seeing in a traditional lecture and sometimes links to videos or articles of others. All in all, an unusual delightful experience. Not merely passively listening to lectures, but actively participating in the learning process. If you have a thought to share, a question that arises or a comment to make on any post from any member of the group, just go ahead and post it to the group. If I can respond immediately without drifting  from the main narrative, then I will respond promptly. Else, I will compile these and post my responses later. This will be an experience that expands intellectual horizons  and encourages independent thinking. 

In this age of Big Data, AI and machine learning, it seems that it is the oldest subject that may really guide us in creating the future that we should want.

In Act 1 Scene 5 of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet,Hamlet says to his friend: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” 

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”: Ralph Waldo Emerson

Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, ‘love of wisdom’), according to Wikipedia is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved.

The sequence and flow of the topics for my posts for this session will be: 

1: The World Philosophy Day?

2: Why learn Philosophy

3: Significance of Philosophy at different stages of life

4: India’s contribution to World Philosophy

5: Philosophy in the age of Artificial Intelligence

6: The Philosophy of the Quantum world

7: Philosophy as vaccination against stupidity

8: Prof MM Pant’s mission on ‘ Rational Thinking’

9: On active learning, not lectures

10: Resources for further exploration

I will do this in the WhatsApp group “ Philosophy Matters”.

There is no fee for joining this event. 

Use this invitation link to join my WhatsApp group “ Philosophy Matters” : https://chat.whatsapp.com/HCftmANxPM76YERzKCieAf

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Why Learn Philosophy?

Announcement : 488 words 3064 characters

Why learn Philosophy?

Some philosophers believe that the function of philosophy is to analyze the foundations and presuppositions underlying other fields of study.  Others, that it is to integrate scientific knowledge with that of other disciplines to achieve some kind of consistent and coherent world view. Philosophy emphasizes intellectual autonomy, for it appeals to your own ability to find out what is true and what is right through your own thinking and experiences, without depending for your beliefs solely upon an external authority. A major benefit of studying philosophy is that it helps develop skills in problem-solving, in analyzing concepts, in formulating clear definitions, and in asking leading questions, all of which are often emphasised as valuable  21st Century Skills. Studying philosophy also helps you to improve your communication skills, for it teaches you how to write and speak more carefully and cogently. 

The UNESCO General Conference in 2005 had the conviction that embedding the concept of World Philosophy Day in society would popularize philosophy,and suggested that the 3rd Thursday of November be celebrated as World Philosophy Day, which this year is on 17th November 2022. Elon Musk has also acknowledged that his success is due to the adoption of ‘first principles’ and fresh thinking, rather than by simply copying best practices. These are clearly enhanced with the pursuit of learning Philosophy. 

I have developed a suite of WhatsApp delivered weekend, weeklong and monthlong programs on Philosophy. To know more about these programs, please send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724 or e-mail him at mmpant@gmail.com. The first edition of the weekend program is being offered on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th November 2022. 

The name of the program is “ Why learn Philosophy?”. 

The flow of topics for the program is as follows: 

Saturday: What’s it about?

1.1: Some myths about Philosophy

1.2: What is Philosophy about?

1.3: The map of Philosophy

1.4: Philosophy in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

1.5: Philosophy as vaccination against ignorance and stupidity

Sunday : Making Philosophy useful?

2.1: Utilitarianism 

2.2: Deontological Ethics

2.3: Stoicism and Existentialism

2.4: Epistemology, Ontology and Metacognition

2.5: What next ?

The exact description of the themes may be tweaked during the actual delivery of this weekend program.

Enrolment and fee payment: 

* As the courses are being delivered through WhatsApp the enrolment process is simply that of sending a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724. 

* The fee for this weekend course is Rs 1000/- and can be easily remitted through PayTM to MM Pant ( mobile number : +919810073724).

* For those who would rather pay into a Bank account, the relevant information is : 

* Madan Mohan Pant

* HDFC Bank, Unitech Cyber Park, Sector 39, Gurgaon 

        A/c 26451000000301

        HDFC0002645

* (The account number is 26451 followed by six zeroes followed by 301)

To know more, please send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724

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Philosophy Matters:

Philosophy Matters: 

To most people, Philosophy is a subject matter of ancient times. But it has become crucial to humanity in the age of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Genomics, Climate change and Quantum Entanglement. 

World Philosophy Day is an International Day proclaimed by UNESCO to be celebrated every 3rd Thursday of November. It was first celebrated on 21 November 2002, at the turn of the 21st Century, when it’s criticality for human progress was fully appreciated. This year it will fall on Thursday 17th November 2022. 

UNESCO underlines the enduring value of Philosophy for the development of human thought, for each culture and for each individual.

In establishing World Philosophy Day in 2005, UNESCO’s General Conference highlighted the importance of this discipline, especially for young people, underlining that “philosophy is a discipline that encourages critical and independent thought and is capable of working towards a better understanding of the world and promoting tolerance and peace”. UNESCO’s General Conference was convinced that “the institutionalisation of Philosophy Day at UNESCO as ‘World Philosophy Day’ would win recognition for and give strong impetus to philosophy and, in particular, to the teaching of Philosophy in the world”.

In keeping with the current focus in education on “learning” rather than “ teaching”, I have created a 9 level framework for the learning of Philosophy. Rather than a set of discrete courses, I have used a framework of levels of Philosophical enquiry and achievement of understanding. There are many examples of this approach : The CMM levels 1 to 5 in the software industry, the 6 levels of the CEFR framework of languages, the 6 levels of automation in self-driving cars and the 9 levels of proficiency in the IELTS for English. 

My 9 level framework for Learning Philosophy, spans from early childhood to a mature adult, as follows: 

Level 1: ages 3 to 6

Level 2: ages 7 and 8

{ These together comprise the Foundational stage of the NEP 2020} 

Level 3: ages 9 to 11

{Preparatory stage of the NEP 2020}

Level 4: ages 12 to 14

{Middle stage of the NEP 2020}

Level 5: ages 15 to 16

{ Secondary stage of the NEP 2020}

Level 6: ages 17 to 18

Level 7: post school ~ 20 years

{ Post School: Professional education : engineering, medicine, law etc.}

Level 8: post University ~ 25 years

{Young professional} 

Level 9: Mature adult > 30 years

{ A mature person: lifelong learner }

The NEP 2020 mentions Philosophy at several places in the document, twice at pages 5,17,38,43,44,54 and 55. Philosophy is also referred to at pages 15 and 56. 

On this World Philosophy Day 2022, I will Introduce the World Philosophy Day and touch upon Why Learn Philosophy? Philosophy at different stages of life ? And most importantly, of India’s contribution to World Philosophy. I will do this in the WhatsApp group “ Philosophy Matters”. 

Use this invitation link to join my WhatsApp group: https://chat.whatsapp.com/HW4qW2E0VOdHFo5S2nJOxG

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The education of TC HITS

The education of TCHITS:

This is inspired by a book that I read in the 1950s when I was in School. The book with the intriguing title “ The education of TC MITS” is a 1942 book by Dr Lillian Rosanoff Lieber on Mathematical Thinking for everyone. An ordinary person is given the name TC Mits (acronym for “the celebrated man in the street”. Now 80 years later to the publishing of that book and about 70 years of my having seen that book, I wanted to create something which was like lifelong learning for everyone in the 3rd decade of the 21st Century. 

And in this age of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, a lot of effort is being made to ‘teach’ or ‘train’ computer models to perform useful tasks. In keeping with the trend towards gender parity, I changed MITS to PITS for ‘person in the street’, and then to HITS for humans in the street, because today we have self-driving cars and robots sharing the street with humans. So, my program is named “ Educating the celebrated human in the street”. 

I have also been influenced by the famous Vedic mantra ( Rig_Veda 1.89.1) that has been evangelised by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan “ नो भद्राः क्रतवोयन्तु विश्वतः” ‘ (meaning: Let noble thoughts come to me from all directions). This program is propelled by these 2 ideas.

It is available in two formats : one an in person face to face conversation (not a mere lecture) for about 90 minutes and the other a weeklong WhatsApp delivered program. The WhatsApp program is detailed below:

Day 1: Opportunities galore!

1.1: Education is still an exclusive privilege. More people are denied an educational opportunity, than provided with one. 

1.2: It is the emerging technologies that make life easier for the HITS  by making tools and services available to a larger population. Think of the ubiquitous GPS. 

1.3: Learning is about the brain. It has to be driven by Educational Neuroscience.

Day 2: Non-traditional opportunities for learning

2.1: Learning with MOOCs

2.2: Learning from YouTube 

2.3: Websites and mobile Apps for learning

Day 3: Taking charge of your learning

3.1: Pursue active learning. Nobel Laureate Carl Weiman on the ineffectiveness of lectures

3.2: Building Learning Power. Guy Claxton on suffering from taughtitis and building learning power

3.3: Barbara Oakley on learning how to learn. Key ideas from ‘make it stick’

Day 4: Specific learning opportunities

4.1: Learning and Improving STEM skills

4.2: Learning AI on your own

4.3: Learning Quantum on your own 

Day 5: What is worth learning? 

5.1: In this age of abundance, one has to discriminate between genuine learning and junk learning. Much of popular learning is junk learning. We need to progress to real learning.

5.2: Ideas in our brain build from simple to complex, just like a child learns to roll over, before it sits, sits before it stands, stands before it 

walks and walks before running.

5.3: Developing a lifelong learning disposition

The in person discourses would cover the same ideas.

To know more, please send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724

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The 5th education revolution :

The 5th Education Revolution: 

We will soon have before us, the 5th education revolution with its core feature being the focus on learning rather then on teaching, and this ‘active learning’ will take place in the Metaverse. 

It will be informed by recent advances in neuroscience and cognitive science, and use technologies like the blockchains and SmartContracts for record keeping and managing credentials. There will be a transformation of the passive,reluctant and petrified learners to self-directed enthusiastic, autonomous learners supported by AI/ML for personalised learning content and learning pathways. This has been reflected in the NEP 2020 where ‘learning how to learn’ and being exposed to Philosophy for better thinking have been explicitly stated several times.

The 5th education revolution will be able to achieve the SDG Goal 4 targets by the year 2030, which otherwise look unachievable with the prevailing models, even with the NEP 2020. This is reminiscent of story of the 1880 US Census, the use of Hollerith punched cards and the developments of data processing and the emergence of IBM as a computer company.

The most important aspect of the 5th education revolution is that it will not be based on the favourite ideas of great individuals, but informed by most recent advances in cognitive science and neuroscience to achieve the desired goals. 

It will not be forced upon the educators to adopt, but the educators will lead and drive the 5th education Revolution, leveraging the power of AI to automate such of their tasks as help enhance their effectiveness and efficiencies and directly engage themselves to use neuroscience to shape not only young minds, but continually do so over a lifetime. 

To help erstwhile educators successfully play the new roles expected of them, I am in the process of writing a book with the title “ The fifth education Revolution” with the following proposed structure :

Preface: The drivers of the 5th education Revolution 

Chapter 1: From teaching to accelerated personalised learning

Chapter 2: Education in the Metaverse

Chapter 3: The irrelevance of traditional credentials

Chapter 4: Developing a Quantum Ready Workforce

Chapter 5: The Science of Learning

Chapter 6: Learning Prescriptions and other educational innovations 

Lists of supplementary resources :

In addition to the above book, here is a consolidated WhatsApp delivered courses to help erstwhile educators to be prepared for the fifth education Revolution :

Monthlong Courses : 

  • MSOP:Making Sense of Philosophy 
  • L2SL: Learning to Self-Learn
  • MSAI: Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence
  • TQTE: The Quantum Technologies Ecosystem

Weeklong Courses : 

  • PFLW: Philosophy for Living Well
  • ECLE: Early Childhood Learning Environment
  • EITM: Educating in the Metaverse
  • UBIE: Using Blockchains in education

Weekend Courses: 

  • WLP: Why Learn Philosophy?
  • FAST: First Principles and Scientific Temper 
  • TLCM: The Language Called Mathematics
  • EICF: Enhancing Own Cognitive Fitness

To know more, please send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724

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Innovation as an ecosystem in Schools:

Innovation as an ecosystem in Schools:

About a year and a half back, I had made a blog post on Innovations in teaching : https://mmpant.com/2021/02/21/innovations-in-teaching/ to further spread some of the ideas that I was presenting at an FDP program at Central University Jammu.

It so happens that later today, I will be doing a webinar for Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan on the theme “ Innovation as an ecosystem in schools”. This blog has some useful content for this webinar as well, the most important of which is the UKOU reports on Innovative Pedagogies for the last 10 years. Here is a link to the essential ideas in those reports spanning a decade : https://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/innovating/?page_id=582

It is quite overwhelming to process 100 such innovative pedagogies for their underlying principles and then try to adopt and adapt them to one’s special circumstances. This will be best done by building on the experience of senior education leaders, and cannot be handed out to them as ‘best practices’ to be followed, but rather they will come up with their own ‘next practices’ to make the learning experience more fruitful and help all learners realise their full potential. 

I have explored innovation in teaching practices, since almost 50 years back. I had experimented with personalised mastery learning long before personal computers had become available. A report was published in: 

 M.M. Pant, “Experiment with self–paced instruction in undergraduate Physics”, J. of Phys. Education, 3, 1 (1975).

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