Why Learn Philosophy?

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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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Teachers have to be future-proof:

Teachers have to be future-proof: 

If something is future-proof, it will continue to be useful or successful in future when the situation changes.

Being an educational futurist is not only about building scenarios for the future, and sharing it with others and exhorting them to follow your suggestions. It is more about developing in all who care about their future or the future of their children, grand-children, nephews and nieces, the attitude. competencies and skills for anticipating their own possible futures and choosing the best one. 

Since most learners and educators today depend on some other person or committee to give them an ‘authorised’ vision of the future, this is a rather challenging task. To make it easier for such persons I have created a set of 4 WhatsApp sessions of about an hour each, which can be pursued on Friday evenings. The set of 4 sessions can be completed over a month. 

1: Developing Foresight:

Backdrop:

All of us must learn to anticipate the future. All sportsperson playing cricket, football or tennis for example have to guess ( successfully) where the ball is headed. Foresight is the secret ingredient of all success, because without foresight we cannot prepare for the future.

One characteristic of intelligence is to be able to imagine the future. It may be a short time ahead or even a long term future. In fact the biggest success of AI applications is in making good predictions at low cost, giving rise to the success of companies like Amazon or Netflix. 

All of us can learn to anticipate the future. All sportsperson playing cricket, football or tennis for example have to guess ( successfully) where the ball is headed. Foresight is the secret ingredient of all success, because without foresight we cannot prepare for the future. Effective foresight has always been important in human life, but it is now much harder to come by, because our modern world is changing faster than ever before. Our technologies, jobs, institutions, even some of our treasured values and ways of thinking are all shifting radically, making it very difficult to plan ahead and prepare for future challenges and opportunities. Indeed, in our age of hyper-change, many people have no notion of what sort of world they should prepare for. 

Proposed flow of WhatsApp posts for this session. The sequence and titles of these themes may be tweaked for each edition in response to recent developments as well as the specific interests of the learner cohort.

  • Why anticipating the future is important.
  • Ostrich versus Giraffe : Newton’s quote about standing on the shoulders of giants. 
  • Challenges to predicting the future 
  • The Gartner Hype cycle
  • Technology MegaTrends
  • Developing foresight: 5 ways
  • The world in 2030
  • Social MegaTrends 
  • Resources to be kept informed

2:  Avoiding natural stupidity: 

Backdrop:

The literal opposite of Artificial Intelligence is natural stupidity, and you would be surprised by its pervasiveness. Even if we may not have the help of AI technologies to empower ourselves, we could significantly improve our lives, if we could cut down on the natural stupidity prevailing in our lives. 

These are times when Artificial Intelligence is everywhere. Either Godlike who will help in solving the most difficult problems of the day or as the devil incarnate out to harm us in every imaginable way.

The literal opposite of Artificial Intelligence is Natural Stupidity, and more people are regular practitioners of this. There is a famous quote attributed to Einstein “ Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.“ Edward de Bono has also noticed the rampant stupidity all around and has a book with title “ Why so stupid? How the human race has never really learned to think “

There is another interesting book by David Robson. The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things and How to Make Wiser Decisions

There’s even a word for the significant mismatch between intelligence and rationality: dysrationalia.

Earth has its boundaries, but human stupidity is limitless :  Gustave Flaubert

If we want to avoid repeating past mistakes, we must acknowledge that even the brightest people can do monumentally daft things.

Gullibility is a failure of social intelligence in which a person is easily tricked or manipulated into an ill-advised course of action. It is closely related to credulity, which is the ( stupid) tendency to believe unlikely propositions that are unsupported by evidence. 

The purpose of this session is to help us reflect on our actions, and avoid the elements of stupidity in them. One definition of critical thinking is to “ thinking about your thinking while you are thinking to improve your thinking”. To that extent this may be seen as drawing attention to critical thinking.

Proposed flow of WhatsApp posts for this session. The sequence and titles of these themes may be tweaked for each edition in response to recent developments as well as the specific interests of the learner cohort.

  • What is stupidity? Definitions, Descriptors and its basic laws
  • Why take interest in Stupidity? Reflecting on one’s own stupidity
  • Avoiding stupidity is easier than seeking brilliance.
  • Common Causes leading to Stupidity ( functional stupidity) 
  • Stupidity in the digital world
  • Stupidity in Everyday life: Laws, Regulations, Conventions
  • The intelligence trap : why smart people do stupid things?
  • Protecting oneself against deception and frauds
  • What next?

—————————

3: Ideas: their generation and spread

Backdrop: 

It is widely believed that we have evolved from hunter-gatherers, agricultural, industrial to a post industrial society driven by creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. And ideas are the currency of such a society. The goal of this session this is to give you pointers and examples of how you could play an important role in both generation of new ideas, as well as being a propagator or evangelist of useful ideas generated by others. 

Proposed flow of WhatsApp posts for this session. The sequence and titles of these themes may be tweaked for each edition in response to recent developments as well as the specific interests of the learner cohort.

  • What is an idea? Philosophical perspectives 
  • Creativity: generation of new ideas
  • Where good ideas come from?
  • The structure of good ideas 
  • Innovation : incremental and disruptive
  • Propagation of ideas: memes, diffusion and viral
  • Brilliant ideas that are not so well known
  • Protection of ideas: Intellectual Property Concepts
  • Begin your own ideation process

4: Questioneering : the skill of asking incisive questions.

Backdrop: 

We were not only born learners, but naturally curious with a lot of questions. The growing up process required that we stop questioning and accepting the various authorities. This session draws attention to the importance of asking questions and how one becomes wiser for having asked good questions.

Isidor Isaac Rabi, the Physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1944 was once asked what made him choose  a career in Science. He said “My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. “Izzy,” she would say, “did you ask a good question today?” That difference — asking good questions — made me become a scientist.”

The essayist Robert Louis Stevenson in his well known but short 2 page essay ‘ El Dorado’ ( http://web.thu.edu.tw/ccj/www/El%20Dorado-Robert%20Louis%20Stevenson.pdf ) says “ Desire and curiosity are the two eyes through which he sees the world in the most enchanted colours…

Please watch this 18 minute video on why you should question everything? https://youtu.be/EmbwS-maS0A

It seems that children aged about 4 years ask the most number of questions. On average, kids under four ask an average of 73 questions per day, some over a grueling 14-hour stretch. But there was an instance of a 3 year old girl who asked her mother about 400 questions in a day. 

Read More: Ever Wonder How Many Questions Your Kids Ask Every Day? | https://wnaw.com/study-shows-kids-ask-parents-an-average-of-73-questions-a-day/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral

It may come as a surprise to many that the Indian Constitution is perhaps the only one where the citizens have been cast a duty to ask questions. 

Article 51A: FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

It shall be the duty of every citizen of India-

(h) To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;

Developing the spirit of enquiry and a Scientific temper begin with asking questions. That is why I began this piece on Questioneering ( the skill of asking incisive questions) with the story of Rabi’s mother checking whether he had asked a good question at School. 

Here is a link to a very interesting and stimulating article in the New Scientist on the biggest questions ever asked : https://www.newscientist.com/round-up/biggest-questions/

At the end of the session, we share a playlist of videos that help you develop the skill of Questioneering. 

The proposed flow of the sessions is as follows. The sequence and titles of these themes may be tweaked for each edition in response to recent developments as well as the specific interests of the learner cohort.

  • Why Questioneering ? 
  • The story of Rabi
  • El Dorado: Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Thorstein Veblen
  • Why no questions ?
  • A template for questions 
  •  Attributes of a good question 
  • How to ask a better question?
  • A questioning habit

Enrolment and delivery process: 

  • These sessions are being offered for the first time on Friday 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th September. And thereafter on the first to fourth Friday of every month. 
  • A WhatsApp group will be created for each ‘talk’. The group formation is not contingent on a minimum number enrolled. Even if there is only one person enrolled for a particular slot of a course, the course will be delivered to that person. 
  • I will be making my posts during the scheduled time slot of 10pm to 11pm. These posts may be in the form of text, images of PowerPoint slides, my audios, my videos or curated videos of others…
  • About 10 minutes before the scheduled time of my posts I will post a message in the group to the effect that the session is about to begin
  • If any course participant  has a query, question or observation, they may go ahead and make it right there. If this concerns the whole group, please make it in the group. If it is meant as a message to me, then please send me a direct message rather than posting it in the group.
  • If I can make a quick short and effective response, without losing the thread of the conversation, I will respond right then, else I will pool all these and make a special post in response. 
  • Towards the end of the session I will share the PowerPoint slides as a pdf file that can be used in ways that the learners find convenient.
  • You may keep posting your queries and comments even after the scheduled time for my posts is over. All the posts and conversations ( including audio) will remain with you until you consciously and deliberately delete them. This is the greatest advantage of this method 
  • As these ‘talks’ are being delivered through WhatsApp, the enrolment process is simply that of sending a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724
  • There is no FEE for participation in any of these evening events.
  • Those who have already expressed their interest in joining these sessions, and have received a confirmation from me, need not confirm again. They will be included in the WhatsApp group, and receive a message within that group a few days before the start of the session. 
  • To know more, please send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724
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Fostering a Scientific Temper:

Fostering a Scientific Temper:

India is perhaps the only country which has an entry in its Constitution Article 51A(h) about fundamental duties that are expected to be performed by the citizens,among which is the duty ‘to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform’. 

Until the maturing of the Internet it was not easy for an ordinary citizen to fulfil this obligation, but today, especially with the 5G connectivity likely to be available soon, this should well become possible. The internet has become increasingly more relevant as a source of information about science. 

I am sharing in this post, a wide range of resources for the interested citizen to develop a scientific temper by just  viewing videos. And the curious would then follow Wikipedia, Medium and other relevant resources to know more. 

We begin by listing a few YouTube channels to watch. YouTube is a particularly relevant platform because of its enormous reach: it is the second most accessed website worldwide, where 2 billion registered users watch videos monthly. 

1: World Science Festival 

2: Closer to truth

3: Royal Institution

4: Nobel Prize

5: Big Think

6: TED talks: TED, TEDx, TED-Ed

7: MIT

8: The European Graduate School

9: Oxford University

10: UCTV: University of California TV

11: Santa Fe Institute

12: ICTP: International Centre for Theoretical Physics

13: Talks at Google

14: Microsoft Research

15: IBM Research

For those who want to get into Physics at length, here are some :

90 Physics YouTube channels : https://blog.feedspot.com/physics_youtube_channels/

It is also a good idea to follow a few individuals that are great science communicators:

1: Carl Sagan

2: Michio Kaku

3: Brian Greene

4: Brian Cox

5: Max Tegmark

6: Richard Feynman

7: Lex Friedman

8: Niel de Grasse Tyson

9: Jim Al Khalili

10: Jeff Hawkins

11: Arvin Ash

For those who may want to pursue more rigorous academic courses, here are a few distinguished academics to follow:

Walter Levine: Physics

Gilbert Strang: Linear Algebra

Andrew Ng: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Michael Sandel: Justice, morality and ethics

While it may not be obvious, democracy is strengthened by citizens having a scientific spirit of enquiry and reforms. Active, engaged citizens strengthen the institutions of a good democracy, and build a better society. 

This is not a complete or exhaustive list, but something that I could put together easily and contains many sources that I am familiar with and follow regularly. I would be happy to learn of more resources from others that helps make this a better collection, and I will include them in my later versions of this 

For those who want to explore this theme a little more, I have created the following  weekend course delivered through WhatsApp 

FAST: First Principles and Scientific Temper

First Principles is a framework for deconstructing complex problems, applied by Elon Musk for his enterprises, and inculcating a Scientific Temper is a Constitutional duty cast upon all of us under Article 51A(h). 

In the NEP2020, the phrase is mentioned at 4 places: on pages 5 and 6, on pages 16,34 and 38. 

Elon Musk has said that if he hadn’t used first principles thinking to advance Tesla technology, he would have been stuck in the horse-and-carriage stage of the transportation revolution. The real power of first-principles thinking is moving away from incremental improvement and into possibility. 

The two together help in creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, and are essential to flourish, thrive and prosper in an unknown and uncertain future. This course is perhaps a rare effort to make these concepts accessible to a large number of interested learners, simply through WhatsApp on a mobile device. We elucidate what are and more importantly what are not ‘first principles’.  We also share strategies to enhance our scientific temper. 

In this era of availability of large number of digital learning resources, it is even more important to become aware of the importance of thinking from first principles and training the youth in it. 

The structure of this weekend course is as follows:

Day 1 ( Saturday): What are first principles?

1.1: Philosophical Origins

1.2: Elon Musk on the importance of first principles and its applications

1.3: The step-wise approach to first principles thinking 

1.4: What is not a first principle? Barriers to First principles thinking

1.5: First principles in marketing strategy, in law and in daily life

Day 2( Sunday): Developing a Scientific Temper

2.1: Origins of the phrase: mentions in the NEP

2.2: Directive principles of the Indian Constitution 

2.3: The Scientific approach : Science and pseudoscience

2.4: Asking Questions : the basis of Science

2.5: Science as public knowledge 

Enrolment and fee payment: 

Fresh cohorts for the above weekend course begin on the 1st Saturday of every month.

  • As the course is delivered through WhatsApp the enrolment process is simply that of sending a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724
  • 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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Greetings on 76th Independence Day: 75 years of freedom:

Greetings on the 76th Independence Day: 75 years of freedom:

I made a post last year at the same time: https://mmpant.com/2021/08/15/greetings-on-75th-independence-day/

There are of course many challenges that the country faces today, but I will focus on just one, and perhaps a very important one, on which I have experience and some insights: education. Having always been engaged with ‘what’s next?’ I may perhaps describe myself as an “education futurist”, meaning thereby that my interest is not only in being ‘future ready’ but more so in actively “shaping the future”. This is a point made by RA Mashelkar in his book “ From leap-frogging to pole vaulting”. 

Being an educational futurist is not only about building scenarios for the future, and sharing it with others and exhorting them to follow your suggestions. It is more about developing in all who care about their future or the future of their children, grand-children, nephews and nieces, the attitude and skills for anticipating their own possible futures and choosing the best one. 

Since most learners and educators today depend on some other person or committee to give them an ‘authorised’ vision of the future, this is a rather challenging task. To make it easier for such persons I have created a set of 4 WhatsApp sessions of about an hour each, which can be pursued on Friday evenings. The set of 4 sessions can be completed over a month. 

The themes are : 

1: Developing Foresight: 

2: Avoiding Natural Stupidity

3: Ideas: their creation and spread

4: Questioneering

Brief descriptors of the themes:

1: Developing Foresight:

All of us must learn to anticipate the future. All sportsperson playing cricket, football or tennis for example have to guess ( successfully) where the ball is headed. Foresight is the secret ingredient of all success, because without foresight we cannot prepare for the future.

2: Avoiding Natural Stupidity: 

The literal opposite of Artificial Intelligence is natural stupidity, and you would be surprised by its pervasiveness. Even if we may not have the help of AI technologies to empower ourselves, we could significantly improve our lives, if we could cut down on the natural stupidity prevailing in our lives. 

3: Ideas: their creation and spread

It is widely believed that we have evolved from hunter-gatherers, agricultural, industrial to a post industrial society driven by creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. And ideas are the currency of such a society. The goal of this session this is to give you pointers and examples of how you could play an important role in both generation of new ideas, as well as being a propagator or evangelist of useful ideas generated by others. 

4: Questioneering??

We were not only born learners, but naturally curious with a lot of questions. The growing up process required that we stop questioning and accepting the various authorities. This session draws attention to the importance of asking questions and how one becomes wiser for having asked good questions.

Enrolment and delivery process: 

  • These sessions are being offered for the first time on Friday 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th September. And thereafter on the first to fourth Friday of every month. 
  • A WhatsApp group will be created for each ‘talk’. The group formation is not contingent on a minimum number enrolled. Even if there is only one person enrolled for a particular slot of a course, the course will be delivered to that person. 
  • I will be making my posts during the scheduled time slot of 10pm to 11pm. These posts may be in the form of text, images of PowerPoint slides, my audios, my videos or curated videos of others…
  • About 10 minutes before the scheduled time of my posts I will post a message in the group to the effect that the session is about to begin
  • If any course participant  has a query, question or observation, they may go ahead and make it right there. If this concerns the whole group, please make it in the group. If it is meant as a message to me, then please send me a direct message rather than posting it in the group.
  • If I can make a quick short and effective response, without losing the thread of the conversation, I will respond right then, else I will pool all these and make a special post in response. 
  • Towards the end of the session I will share the PowerPoint slides as a pdf file that can be used in ways that the learners find convenient.
  • You may keep posting your queries and comments even after the scheduled time for my posts is over. All the posts and conversations ( including audio) will remain with you until you consciously and deliberately delete them. This is the greatest advantage of this method 
  • As these ‘talks’ are being delivered through WhatsApp, the enrolment process is simply that of sending a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724. 
  • There is no FEE for participation in any of these evening events.
  • To know more, please send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724
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Artificial Intelligence and education: the educator’s perspective:

Artificial Intelligence and education: the educator’s perspective.

General public access to the internet began in India on 15 August 1995, 27 years back. It was earlier limited to an academic and research community within the project ERNET. Indira Gandhi National Open University was perhaps the first one to adopt Internet based learning for formal University credentials. 

Internet access has grown exponentially and soon we will also have 5G. What does the future look like?

  • “SCHOOLS, COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES as currently constituted will be redundant in 2035. Instead, we will have institutions of learning that are virtual/meta/open in character. Although the actual education needs of different segments of our population would vary enormously based upon life circumstances and livelihood opportunities, certain core targets in the area of education would be critical to achieve. Due attention would be paid to their cognitive development even before informal education begins at age 3. All people would have affordable re-skilling opportunities to meet the changing requirements of the job market. In a longer-living and ageing society, everybody would have access to second careers and lifelong learning.”
  • “SCHOOLS, COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES as currently constituted will be redundant in 2035. Instead, we will have institutions of learning that are virtual/meta/open in character. There would be no school dropouts. All children would have access to quality and affordable education, independent of social, economic, geographic, physical and even mental constraints. Due attention would be paid to their cognitive development even before informal education begins at age 3. All people would have affordable re-skilling opportunities to meet the changing requirements of the job market. In a longer-living and ageing society, everybody would have access to second careers and lifelong learning.”
  • The above text has been extracted from page 61 of the 2015 report by Technology Information,Forecasting and assessment council (TIFAC)with title “ Technology Vision 2035” available at https://www.anilkakodkar.in/assignments/Technology-Vision-2035.pdf } 

For any further information please send me a WhatsApp message at +919810073724

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Teacherless Learning: Education 5.0

Draft post: 

Teacherless Learning in Education 5.0

This post is largely driven by the opening words in the preface to Prof John Ziman’s book “ Principles of the theory of Solids”. The frontiers of knowledge (to coin a phrase) are always on the move. Today’s discovery will tomorrow be part of the mental furniture of every research worker. By the end of next week it will begin every course of graduate lectures. Within the month, there will be a clamour to have it in the undergraduate curriculum. Next year, I do believe, it will seem so commonplace that it may be assumed to be known to every schoolboy. 

It has also been inspired by an anecdote attribute to Albert Einstein. The story is told of how Albert Einstein one day gave his students a final exam that was a year old. In fact, Einstein had given his students the exact same final exam the year before. His assistant noticed the “error” and timidly made the famous physicist aware of his mistake. Einstein looked closer at the newly distributed sheet and answered: “You’re right, these are the same questions as last year – but the answers have changed.”

And more recently the futurist Thomas Frey made an important observation ( https://youtu.be/McV9AMV2LiI ) that if we continue to insert a teacher in between ourselves and everything that we need to learn, we cannot possibly learn fast enough to meet the demands of the future. 

I have been for sometime now evangelising and advocating the use of Internet and allied technologies, including the often maligned social media as a means of self-directed learning. I am sharing here a list of 10 topics at the frontiers of new knowledge on which one can get useful information, which as Thomas Frey says you are unlikely to get from a CBSE recognised School, a UGC approved University or an AICTE/ NAAC degree awarding Institution, whether public or private. And if you are not ready with new relevant knowledge, you have your place reserved in what Yuval Noah Harari describes as the “ useless class”: https://youtu.be/OMDlfNWM1fA

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