Learning to Self-Learn

Learning to self-learn:
Soon after chatGPT was launched,Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that self-learning through technology is an opportunity for today’s generation: https://lnkd.in/d9FJN9Jh
Press release from PMO dated: 20 JAN 2023 11:59AM by PIB Delhi
One thing most successful people have in common is the desire to self-learn. It’s the modern way of learning, and it has proven to be more effective and convenient. Although self-learning hasn’t replaced the traditional ways of learning – yet, with the advancement of technology, it has become possible for most individuals. Nowadays, you can learn how to do anything with a mere YouTube tutorial, or learn an entirely new language with a single app.  And the recently introduced Generative AI Chatbots like chatGPT and Bard serve to accelerate this self-learning.
The NEP 2020 at para 4.6 states that its thrust will be to move the education system towards real understanding and ‘learning how to learn’ – and away from the culture of rote learning. Its goal will be to create holistic and well-rounded individuals equipped with key 21st-century skills. Self-Learning is perhaps the most important 21st Century Skill. Once a person has ‘learnt how to learn’ the person is on the way to become a self-learner. Robert Frost, the famous poet and Professor said “ I am not a teacher, I am an awakener”. And Richard Feynman in his famous “ Lectures on Physics” quoted Edward Gibbons ‘ and the power of instruction is of little efficacy except in those fortunate dispositions, where it is almost superfluous’.
The futurist Thomas Frey says “If we continue to insert a teacher between us and everything we need to learn, we cannot possibly learn fast enough to meet the demands of the future”.
I have designed a weekend WhatsApp course that spreads awareness about self-learning, it’s benefits and how to pursue it.
Flow of topic/themes:
Day 1: Saturday
L2SL01: Self-learning: the most important 21st Century skill?
L2SL02: What is worth Learning?
L2SL03: Self-learning as a vaccine against ‘uselessness’
L2SL04: Mindsets and other barriers to self-learning
L2SL05: The Science of Learning
Day 2: Sunday
L2SL06: Attributes of a successful self-learner
L2SL07: Techniques to become a better self-learner
L2SL08: The SmartLearner’s Toolkit
L2SL09: Levels of self-learning
L2SL10: Wrapping up:
This weekend course will be available on the first weekend of every month beginning from Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th March 2023.

  • The fee for the above 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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TLCM: The language called Mathematics



TLCM: The language called Mathematics
Rishi Sunak, the UK Prime Minister, recently made a controversial suggestion that all UK students should learn Maths till 18 years of age: https://youtu.be/AdfsRg97qEY
I am proposing a subset (a mathematical concept) of that vision to make it possible for everyone who wants to learn Mathematics to be able to do so, with the use of AI powered pedagogies. This is especially relevant in India because many students wanting to learn Maths at the 11th and 12th are denied so, because they did not score well enough in Maths at their 10th Board examinations.
Mathematics is our best tool for describing how the world works. This unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics is both an asset and a curse. It’s an asset as it generates interest in the subject to have key problems solved. But it’s a curse because it leads people to expect all math to have obvious immediate applications.
The purpose of this weeklong WhatsApp course is to develop an interest in the subject and kindle the desire to know more about Mathematics. 
The phrase “ Mathematics is a language” was used by John Willard Gibbs, a very distinguished American Scientist. He was of course echoing what Galileo had said hundreds of years earlier “ Nature is written in mathematical language”. 

Day 1: The language called Maths
1.1: The myths and misconceptions regarding Maths
1.2: The Beauty of Mathematics
1.3: Recognition for Maths achievement
1.4: Is Mathematics invented or discovered?
1.5: The Map of Mathematics

Day 2: Overcoming Maths Phobia
2.1: Maths anxiety and its symptoms
2.2: Causes of Maths phobia
2.3: Inspiring Mathematicians
2.4: What neuroscience tells us about learning Maths?
2.5: Habits that help in learning Maths

Day 3: Techniques for learning Maths
3.1: Mathematical Thinking
3.2: Procrastination and Time Management
3.3: Focus on concepts not process
3.4: Mastery Learning
3.5: Chunking

Day 4: Resources for Learning Maths Yourself:
4.1: Books for self-learning Maths
4.2: Internet resources for learning Maths
4.3: Mobile Apps for learning Maths
4.4: Khan Academy: Bill Gates choice
4.5: YouTube videos for learning Maths

Day 5: Learning Maths Yourself: guided by the mother
5.1: Pre-school stage
5.2: Foundation stage
5.3: Primary years
5.4: Middle School
5.5: Secondary School
Enrolment and fee payment: 
* As the course is delivered through WhatsApp the enrolment process is simply to send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724. 
* The fee for the above course is Rs 2500/- 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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Why learn Quantum ?


QT1: Why learn Quantum  ? 

Backdrop :

Quantum physics is perhaps the greatest intellectual triumph of human civilization, but the public in general is not aware of it. Even many professionals who studied or are studying Science at School are not aware that ‘life’ is in its essence driven by Quantum Mechanics. The universe as we know it runs on quantum rules, and while the classical physics that emerges when you apply quantum physics to enormously huge numbers of particles seem very different, there are lots of familiar, everyday phenomena that demonstrate  quantum effects. Have you ever wondered how birds instinctively find their way across thousands of miles of open sky during migration? Or pondered on how photosynthesis happens, or how the human sense of smell works?

Despite our best efforts to understand them, natural processes such as these are puzzling. But recently, scientists have been using quantum physics to unravel some of nature’s enduring mysteries.

Another important purpose of this course is to develop pride in our own Scientists and their fundamental contributions at the Quantum  level which have been unjustly ignored. Raman effect for which Sir CV Raman was conferred the Nobel Prize in 1930 was essentially a ‘Quantum’ effect. Satyendra Bose after whom a class of particles have been named Bosons has also made signal contributions. Jagdish Chandra Bose had demonstrated that plants also conform to the laws of Physics, which we now believe is Quantum Mechanics. And in recent times, Luv Grover developed a Quantum algorithm that goes by his name. 

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics for experimental work on Quantum entanglement has laid the foundation for a new era of quantum technology, being hailed as the 2nd Quantum Revolution. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/2022/popular-information/

The flow of the topics for this weekend WhatsApp program :

Day 1: The Quantum World

1.1: Quantum making news 

1.2: Quantum Physics in everyday life

1.3: The dramatis personae in Quantum Mechanics

1.4: Quantum is fundamental: classical physics is a special case

1.5: Quantum myths that need to be busted

Day 2: Preparing for a Quantum future

2.1: Key ideas in  Quantum Mechanics

2.2: Quantum Computing

2.3: Quantum Biology

2.4: The 2nd Quantum Revolution

2.5: Self-taught Quantum professional

This brief course is a fascinating introduction for the curious, with sufficient guidance for more, for the serious. Somewhat more than magazine articles but less than UG courses of a good rigorous academic program.

  • The fee for the above 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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Standing on the shoulders of Giants

Standing on the shoulders of giants:
Backdrop:
We all seek to be motivated and inspired to become better versions of ourselves. Such Inspiration and motivation may come from a variety of sources. A song on the radio might spur you into action, or a scene in a movie. Seeing somebody accomplish something extraordinary, defy the odds, or overcome adversity can do the same. And sometimes all it takes is a simple inspiring quote!
My favourite are anecdotes.
The phrase “standing on the shoulders of giants” means “using the understanding gained by other major thinkers to make intellectual progress”. This concept has been dated to the 12th century,but its most familiar and popular expression occurs in a 1675 letter to Robert Hooke by Isaac Newton. “if I have seen further [than others], it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

In the Yaksha Prashna episode of the Mahabharata, the Yaksha asks Yudhishthir “What is the path ? “. And Yudhishthir answers “ Argument leads to no certain conclusion, the Srutis are different from one another; there is not even one Rishi whose opinion can be accepted by all; the truth about dharma and duty is hid in caves: therefore, that alone is the path along which the great have trod.” Or in Sanskrit महाजनो येन गतः स पन्थाः

I share a few inspirational and motivational pieces with you, as a one month WhatsApp course, where over 4 weeks, 5 days a week I post these at a scheduled time of the day and only a few minutes a day are needed for you to go through them . And you can do this at anytime that is convenient for you. If you have a thought that you want to share or a query that you wish to make, go ahead and post it. I will respond to the query when I am able to do do. This is an example of a-synchronous nano-learning, of which you will see more in the coming years.
The first edition of this course begins on Monday 2nd January 2023, and thereafter there is a fresh version every month. The course is continuously evolving ( mutating to use the language of the virus).
Learners are welcome to join on any date of the month. Since those newly joining a WhatsApp group, do not have access to earlier posts, those who join later in the month will be sent as direct messages all earlier posts. 
To join this course group please send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724
The fee for the above monthlong courses 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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Personalisation of Learning

Personalized Learning through Edu-Technology:
1: As a young physicist studying condensed matter using Quantum Physics, I was often asked “How does such fundamental scientific knowledge help Mr TC MITS, the celebrated man in the street?”. At that stage I did not have a ready answer although I could expand on the importance of Basic Scientific research, as has been done by Alex Flexner in “ The usefulness of useless knowledge “ ( https://youtu.be/zN0Aps_iJdw)
Today this question has a very compelling and visible answer. The ubiquitous GPS helps Mr TC MITS be on the right street because of atomic clocks and Einstein’s theory of General Relativity.
In the educational context, we have two very ambitious targets before us : aspirations of the NEP 2020 and targets of SDG Goal 4, and they require the personalisation of learning accessible to billions of people, perhaps through a mobile learning device much like the GPS of physical space, helps a learner navigate the journey through ‘learning space’ from their initial position to the desired position.

2: Benjamin Bloom, the well known educationist had in a 1984 research paper, ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom’s_2_sigma_problem?wprov=sfti1 ) formulated the 2 sigma problem. Clayton Christensen had clarified that the disruption in education will be the personalisation of the learning experience. Broadcast technologies such as MOOCs do not personalise learning. Personalized learning has long been a “holy grail” in education. Ideally, we would love to be able to work with each student to achieve a more personalized level of learning that taps into individual interests, skills and desires. M.M. Pant, “Experiment with self–paced instruction in undergraduate Physics”, J. of Phys. Education, 3, 1 (1975).

3: We may soon be witnessing predigital educational technology, from Sidney Pressey’s mechanized positive-reinforcement provider to B. F. Skinner’s behaviorist bell-ringing box ( https://www.nea.orgstrategiesadvocating-for-change/new-from-nea/far-reaching-legacy-first-teaching-machines ) evolve to a new teacherless personalised learning environment ” mobile first, wearable next” with wireless Internet and personalised flipped, blended and other ‘active learning’ strategies espoused by the Physics Nobel Laureate and the Stanford educationist Carl Weiman (https://www.nature.com/articles/d42473-019-00339-6).

4: But technology alone does not lead to personalisation. The uniqueness of each learner, the neurodiversity ( Review: neurodiversity in education in 2022 – Ayoa Blog ) , neuroplasticity (What is Neuroplasticity & How Does It Impact Education?  (Infographic) and neurogenesis ( IBE — Science of learning portal — Neurogenesis, learning, and memory ) coherently deployed will help in achieving the goal of a personalised learning experience for everyone. Neuroscience and AI are the future of education : https://youtu.be/_cYIvfS-knA . The drivers of the 5th education revolution.

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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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