EOCF: Enhancing Own Cognitive Fitness


EOCF: Enhancing Own Cognitive Fitness 

In the 21st century, learning faster and using your brain more effectively may be the most important advantage for success and prosperity. 

We all take our brains for granted and don’t really take time to nourish and exercise it.  What would your life be like if your brain did not work or slowed down? We all know that when we do physical exercise and eat a balanced and nutritious diet, we feel better and are healthier.  How many people (including yourself) ever say…..I’m off to exercise my brain? Well, you should be doing it daily. Most of us just feel like our brains are just another organ and do not really need our attention until you felt that your brain is not working properly. We need to keep our brains fit and healthy in order for it to function as it’s supposed to If you don’t, then the rest of your body is going to feel it. Remember our brains are the master control center of bodies and sends and receives messages allowing us to function. 

Cognitive fitness goes far beyond memory. It embraces thinking, learning, recognition, communication, and sound decision-making. This course will show you how to sidestep threats to your brain’s wellness. Cognitive flexibility refers to the brain’s ability to transition from thinking about one concept to another.  The quicker you are able to switch or “shift” your thinking from one dimension (e.g. color of an object) to another (e.g. shape of an object), the greater your level of cognitive flexibility. You’ll learn how to build a “cognitive reserve” to address your brain’s changes. You will be informed of the steps that spur and protect cognitive fitness. It includes and integrates proven approaches like optimal nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, social interaction, sleep, and stimulating activities.

Day 1: ( Saturday) What is Cognition?

1.1: What is cognitive science?

1.2: Meta-cognition 

1.3: Cognitive load, cognitive reserve and cognitive dissonance

1.4: Cognitive flexibility 

1.5: Cognitive decline

Day 2: ( Sunday) Enhancing cognitive fitness 

2.1: Diet

2.2: Exercise

2.3: Stress

2.4: Cognitive activities

2.5: Cognitive fitness measures

Enrolment and fee payment: 

Fresh cohorts for the above weekend course begin on the 4th Saturday of every month. The next batch of this course will run on Saturday 26th and Saturday 27th February 2022. 

  • 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 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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THYL The 100 year Life

THYL: The 100 year life :

The life-spans and life expectancy at birth have been continuously increasing over the last decades, creating unforeseen and important changes in the social and economic fabric of society as well as personal challenges for those with the blessings of a ‘long life’. 

But during the last few years, in the US there has been a slight drop in this trend of increasing longevity. It can be dismissed as insignificant or interpreted to suggest that leading a long life is not enough. Humans want to lead a meaningful life as well. 

Japan on the other hand has a large number of happy persons who have found their Ikigai and are living to be 100 and beyond ( many in Okinawa). There are many other ‘blue zones’ around the world where there is high longevity with healthy eating, active lifestyles and community involvement. 

In May 2018 an unusual movie was released “102 not out”. It starred Amitabh Bachchan as a 102 year old father of a 75 year old son ( Rishi Kapoor) whom he planned to send to an old age home. 

It is an amusing story about old age and some of its challenges. 

The psychologist Karl Jung was perhaps the first one to suggest that one cannot lead the second half of life on the principles applicable to its first half and lamented the lack of a ‘ School for the second half of life’.

This program attempts to fill that need in part, and shares the tasks that Jung recommended for the 2nd half of life. 

The flow of the weekend program:

Day 1: (Saturday): Understanding the Ageing phenomenon 

1.1: Drivers of increasing longevity 

1.2: What Science says about ageing? 

1.3: Lifestyle to promote healthy ageing

1.4: Positive Ageing  

1.5: About death and dying 

Day 2: (Sunday) : Your action plan : making old age a blessing not a curse

2.1: Becoming a lifelong learner gives you a longer life

2.2: Finding meaning and purpose in your life ( your Ikigai)

2.3: The 7 tasks for the 2nd half of life ( Karl Jung) 

2.4: Interviews with 100 year olds

2.5: Wrapping Up: Developing your Lifestyle plan

Enrolment and fee payment: 

Fresh cohorts for the above weekend course are formed on the second Saturday of every month. The next batch will run on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th February 2022. 

  • 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 the above course is Rs 1000/- and can be easily remitted through PayTM to MM Pant ( mobile number : +919810073724).
  • For those who would 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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FAST: First Principles and Scientific Temper

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 next edition of this weekend course is on offer on Saturday February 5th & Sunday 6th. Thereafter it will be offered on the first weekend of every month. 

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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TLCM: The Language Called Mathematics

TLCM: The language called Mathematics: 

This weekend WhatsApp delivered course aims to create an interest in Mathematics, a subject often disliked and dreaded. In February 2022, it is scheduled on Saturday February 19th and Sunday 20th. In future it will be offered on the 3rd weekend of every month. 

The purpose of this unique course is to kindle an interest in Mathematics and awaken the desire to learn more.A nano-learning strategy for tech-enabled self-learning is detailed  for situations where there is no good Math Teacher. 

The phrase “ Mathematics is a language” was used by John Willard Gibbs, a distinguished American Scientist. He was echoing what Galileo had said hundreds of years earlier “ Nature is written in mathematical language”. 

Flow: 

Day 1: ( Saturday): What is Mathematics?

1.1: The myths and misconceptions regarding Maths

1.2: The Beauty of Mathematics

1.3: Recognition for Maths achievement 

1.4: Mathematical Thinking

1.5: The Map of Mathematics

Day 2: (Sunday): Learning Mathematics

2.1: Overcoming Maths Phobia

2.2: Inspiring  Mathematicians

2.4: Is Mathematics invented or discovered?

2.4: Strategies for learning Mathematics

2.5: Wrapping Up : Resources to learn Maths

Methodology:

  • On the 3rd Friday of every month, I will form a WhatsApp group of all those who have expressed their interest in joining this course.
  • I will be making a number of posts to the group during the scheduled time slot between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm.These posts may be in the form of text, images of PowerPoint slides, my audios, my videos or curated videos of others…
  • 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. 
  • 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 

Enrolment and fee payment: 

Fresh cohorts begin on the 3rd Saturday of every month. 

  • 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 each of the above course is Rs 1000/- and can be easily remitted through PayTM to MM Pant ( mobile number : +919810073724).
  • For remittance into a Bank account, the 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 send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724

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Education for a long fulfilling life

Education for a long fulfilling life: 

* In his book “ The fourth Education revolution”, Sir Anthony Seldon states that there have been only 3 education revolutions in the long history of humanity, the most recent one having been brought about by the printing press, about 400 years back. 

* Both Sir Anthony Seldon and Sir Ken Robinson ( https://www.ted.com/talks sir_ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms ) have attributed the current dominant education model to the factory model of the Industrial Age. 

* The current driver for education is ‘education for employment’ that arose during the Industrial age, with a greater demand for skills that led to better employability. The recent illustrations of this are the demand in skills for the IT age, the AI age and now the coming age of Quantum Technologies.

* One of the unintended consequence of this model of education was what is called ‘overfitting’ in the context of machine learning. This led Guy Claxton ( https://youtu.be/JxWybvns1jg)  to suggest the building of ‘ learning power’ rather than rote learning of specific chunks of content (syllabus) in subjects which results in ‘taughtitis’. 

* One of the effects of recent advances in medicine and technologies for healthcare is that longevity is increasing and both the lifespan as well as the health-span are now more than they were a few decades ago. There is a rise in centenarians – people who are 100 years old or more. The global population is moving from a young population towards an ageing population with each new generation projected to live longer than the last.

* This is changing the goal of education from finding an immediate job and a career path to a lifelong pursuit of learning to carve out a niche for oneself in the ‘gig’ economy and lead a long and fulfilling life. 

* Socrates had said long ago that ‘an unexamined life is not worth living’. Frederich Nietzsche exhorted us to be Ubermensch and Swami Vivekananda said “ Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached”. More recently Yuval Noah Harari (https://youtu.be/OMDlfNWM1fA ) warned us against falling into the ‘useless class’. 

* People who live longer and more fulfilled lives are life-long learners with strong social support systems, cultivating rewarding relationships, being happy and content with who they are and what they have, adopting healthy diets, maintaining better mental and physical health, ensuring overall well-being, and being intellectually active. 

* In this age of data driven decision making, it is a good idea to draw upon a study by Harvard’s Grant and Glueck( https://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/want-a-life-of-fulfillment-a-75-year-harvard-study-says-to-prioritize-this-one-t.html ) which tracked 724 participants from varying walks of life over the course of 75 years, to find the key to long-term happiness and fulfillment. 

* The only path to achieving the goal of a fulfilling life is to have fulfilling relationships, and those relationships can only be created by consistently connecting through meaningful interactions. And one of the best ways to do this is to become part of a lifelong learning community that you create and nurture.

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Learning How to Learn @ School


‘Learning How to Learn @School’

The NEP 2020 proposes a complete overhaul of the school system with rote learning being replaced by strategies to help the child “ learn how to learn”.  That was stated about 2 years back, in the pre-Covid era. 

We saw that during the last two years, the absence of the skill of self-learning has impeded the learning opportunities of a large number of School going children, leading to “ learning poverty” ( https://centralsquarefoundation.org/articles/learning-poverty-world-bank-new-kind-facing-india-children-reading-foundational-skills.html) as evidenced by various National and global surveys. 

It seems that the most important and urgent need for School goers is inculcating in all and as fast as possible, the skill of “ learning how to learn”. 

Thomas Frey, a futurist (https://fb.watch/ayuF-MqK9J/)  while speaking on the future of education stated  “If we continue to insert a teacher in between us and everything we need to learn, we cannot possibly learn fast enough to meet with the demands of the future”. 

 Guy Claxton ( https://youtu.be/JxWybvns1jg )  has drawn attention to the occurrence of “taughtitis” in young school goers as an unintended side effect of the present model of instructor led teaching. 

Where there is no doctor, a very widely used book, was created for those parts of the world, where physicians are not available and diseases are rampant, until better solutions are created. It is based on the belief that people should take the lead in their own health care. While the first edition was published in 1970s,the English edition was published in 1992. We now have a similar situation of “ when there is no teacher” for millions of prospective learners which is driving the need for better equipped self-directed learners.  

Yuval Noah Harari in a short video draws attention to the emergence of a ‘useless’ class with obsolete skills and little possibility of acquiring the new in demand skills in a short time: https://youtu.be/OMDlfNWM1fA. The response to this warning is to “vaccinate” oneself and one’s children against ‘ uselessness’ in analogy to the vaccination against many diseases and now Covid. Learning to think  ( critical thinking, creative thinking, computational thinking, design thinking) could be the booster dose. Learning how to learn will give the learner at School  the ‘escape velocity’ to economic progress in the emerging knowledge economy. 

Education has not evolved like some other disciplines such as Science, Technology or Management, nor have Educators positioned themselves as Professionals, like Doctors, Engineers or Lawyers. In the field of Medicine, for  example, the outcomes of research are applied in practice to develop new protocols for healthcare, as we saw in the recent past in response to the Covid pandemic. 

But educational models seem to remain enshrined in centuries old tradition, and educational practice remains unaffected by progress made in our understanding of how learning happens.

I have made an attempt to imagine what could the research in education and allied fields of cognitive psychology, Neuroscience,  Artificial Intelligence, and human behaviour, be informing us about the techniques and practices for becoming better more productive and confident self-directed learners, and warns us against prevailing study habits and practices that turn out to be counterproductive. 

In view of the difficulties of such a program being delivered in person in a classroom, the program has been designed to be accessible through WhatsApp on a mobile phone. In situations, where Zoom is   the preferred mode, this can be also delivered through Zoom or any other similar tool such as Google Meet, Microsoft Teams….

Where the conditions are conducive for usual classroom delivery, this can be delivered in the standard classroom manner.

The present education paradigm is based on a number of key ideas, which seem obvious, but have been found recently to be incorrect. We have seen this earlier in the paradigm shift from a geocentric to the heliocentric view of the planetary motions. The paradigm shift today is from the focus on teaching to the emphasis on learning.  We assume a fixed mental capacity of learners and categorise them as Science- non medical, Science-medical, Commerce and Arts etc. based on their earlier performance in related subjects. We now know that the brain is capable of changing itself, ( https://youtu.be/VIdWFuuZaxw ) with the possibility that every learner has the potential of realising his or her dream. 

This program is designed with students at the level of class 8 in mind, to be pursued over an academic year. Students who are already in class 9 or class 10, could do an ‘accelerated’ version of this, and complete it in about 6 months ( a semester or a term). Those students who are in classes 11 and 12 could do an ‘intensive’ version and do this over 3 months. Thus whole school coverage can be obtained rather swiftly. 

The program is structured as 10 modules, with each module being made of 4 units. Each unit is further made of 3 sessions, with each session being about 40 minutes of learning. There will be a total of 120 sessions adding up to about 80 hours of learning. 

Even a genius like Isaac Newton acknowledged that I have been able to see further than others, because I stood on the shoulders of giants. As I have stated earlier, I have drawn upon the insights and ideas of great scholars and thought leaders to construct my model. There are too many of them to acknowledge all, but I am listing here 15 books from which I have drawn inspiration. They are listed here ( in alphabetical order of first name):

 Books that have been relied upon for creating this program: 

1: Alistair McConville, Barbara Oakley, and Terry Sejnowski: Learning How to Learn

2: Angela Duckworth : Grit

3: Benedict Carey : How we learn? The surprising truth about When, where and how

4: Blake Boles: The Art of Self-Directed Learning: 23 Tips for Giving Yourself an Unconventional Education

5: Carol S Dweck: Mindsets: the new Psychology of success

6: Dr Dheeraj Mehrotra : The 200 habits of highly effective learners: Making Learning a Habit

7: Guy Claxton : The Learning Power approach

8: Howard Gardiner : Changing Mindsets

9: Jo Boellers: Mathematical mindsets

10: Norman Doidge: The Brain that changes itself

11: PeterC Brown, Mark A McDaniel, Henry L Roediger III : Make it Stick : The Science of successful learning

12: Peter Hollins : The Science of Self-Learning

13: Sanjay Sarma and Luke Yoquinto : Grasp: The Science transforming how we learn

14: Scott H Young:  Ultralearning 

15: Stephen Covey : The 7 habits of highly effective people

Here is the detailed flow of the program in modules and units that has come about. Each unit comprises 3 sessions of about 40 minutes learning. The 120 sessions are not listed here: 

Module 1: Self-learning: the most important 21st Century skill?

Unit 1.1: Drivers of self-learning

Unit 1.2: Examples of well known self-learners

Unit 1.3: Mindsets and other barriers to learning

Unit 1.4: Stephen Covey’s habits of successful people

Module 2: Discipline : a key to learning success

Unit 2.1: Motivation

Unit 2.2: Procrastination 

Unit 2.3: Time Management

Unit 2.4: To Learn lists

Module 3: Habits fostering success

Unit 3.1: Grit

Unit 3.2:Focus

Unit 3.3: Habits of successful learners

Unit 3.4: Dispositions of unsuccessful learners

Module 4: Techniques to becoming a better learner

Unit 4.1: Gagne’s steps of Instruction: 

Unit 4.2: The Feynman technique

Unit 4.3: Chunking of content

Unit 4.4: Spaced repetition

Module 5: Mind maps for better understanding 

Unit 5.1: What are mindmaps?

Unit 5.2: Why do mindmaps help in better understanding 

Unit 5.3: How to draw mindmaps 

Unit 5.4: Alternative ways of  organising information

Module 6: Learning with MOOCs

Unit 6.1: The origin of MOOCs

Unit 6.2: Well-known MOOCs

Unit 6.3: SQ3R technique for effective learning 

Unit 6.4: Navigating MOOCs

Module 7: AI powered apps for learning

Unit 7.1: Speech to text and text to speech

Unit 7.2: Automatic Machine Translation

Unit 7.3: Duolingo 

Unit 7.4: Other AI based learning Apps

Module 8: Social Learning

Unit 8.1: Importance of Social Learning 

Unit 8.2: Effective Social Learning

Unit 8.3: Learning with Social Media

Unit 8.4: Switching between Social learning and individual learning

Module 9: Building Learning Power

Unit 9.1: What is Learning Power?

Unit 9.2: Why developing Learning Power is so critical?

Unit 9.3: Building  Learning Power

Unit 9.4: Learning Power:  a vaccine against ‘uselessness’

Module 10: Unusual  aspects of Learning

Unit 10.1: Learning while asleep

Unit 10.2: Ultralearning 

Unit 10.3: Types of content: fact, concept, process

Unit 10.4: Levels of autonomous Learners

While recognizing the need for teaching School children to “ learn how to learn” is one thing, designing and delivering an engaging program is another. I have tried to do this and I am happy to share this first version of the program. In due course, this may evolve to be the number one choice of all school goers. 

To know more or to join this program “ Learning How to Learn @ School” please send a WhatsApp message to Prof. MM Pant at +919810073724.

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A21st Century Learner’s Toolkit and a personal future readiness plan for School students

A 21st Century learner’s toolkit, and a personal future readiness plan for School students:

Flow of this narrative:

  • Backdrop
  • Need for a learners toolkit?
  • Features of the toolkit
  • Taxonomy of tools in the toolkit
  • List of tools in the toolkit
  • A personal future readiness plan for School students 

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Backdrop :

Our education ecosystem comprises a few Institutes of excellence, which cater to a very small number of students and a large number of ordinary Institutions that serve the learning needs of millions. It has been considered axiomatic that quality can only be achieved at the cost of quantity. But our need today is of a high quality education for an aspiring billion or so, more so if we think of education as life-long learning rather than for a limited number of years and hours of receiving instruction at designated Institutions of Instruction. 

I have had the good fortune of being part of an exclusive learning community of the IITs, having received my Ph.D. in Physics from Roorkee University ( now an IIT),having been a faculty for about a decade at the IIT Kanpur, and a member of the Board of Management at IIT Delhi for 6 years. I have also been a faculty of Computer Science at the IGNOU, the National Open Univerdity for about 15 years. I therefore have a vision ( dream like that of Dr Martin Luther Kung) of providing high quality world class education to  everyone who is motivated and determined to put in the required effort. Not restricted to a chosen few, but available to millions. 

In 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan for eliminating poverty through sustainable development. One goal ( listed at no.4) on the agenda is to ensure everyone in the world has equal access to a quality education. It aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Specific targets include completely free primary and secondary education, access to updated education facilities, and instruction from qualified teachers.

In 2017 Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, predicted that robots would begin to replace teachers in classrooms within 10 years. It was a polarising statement that brought considerable debate to the world of automated education. Artificial intelligence will soon provide “an Eton education for all” in schools, allowing each pupil to learn from their own personalised device rather than from a teacher at the front of the class, he said.

Thomas Frey while speaking on the future of education stated  “If we continue to insert a teacher in between us and everything we need to learn, we cannot possibly learn fast enough to meet with the demands of the future”. 

Need for a learner’s toolkit ?

Estimate of teachers required to meet the targets of Goal 4, is around 69 million new teachers. Their identification, selection and training is a gigantic task. The only way to make meaningful progress is with the deployment of technology ( in particular Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning) and empowering learners to become more self-directed autonomous learners. Instead of trying to provide young humans with the knowledge they might need (just in case), the role of education needs to equip people with the tools and skills to acquire knowledge themselves (just in time). 

We can draw parallels with the situation regarding the US Census of the year 1880, where the  collection and compilation of the data into usable form could not be completed until 1888. This in fact gave rise to the field of automated tabulation and computing and the company IBM. 

Why self-learning is important in the 21st Century : https://link.medium.com/UPyOnniy6lb

Where there is no doctor?

This very widely used book, was created for those parts of the world, where physicians are not available and diseases are rampant, until better solutions are created. It is based on the belief that people should take the lead in their own health care. While the first edition was published in 1970s,the English edition was published in 1992. 

To know more, follow this link : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Where_There_Is_No_Doctor

We now have a similar situation of “ when there is no teacher” for millions of prospective learners which is driving the need for AI empowered teacher-less education. 

In 1947, Dorothy Sayers delivered a speech at Oxford University with the title “ The lost tools of learning”. It has since been republished countless times due to its sheer eloquence and articulation of the 3 “lost tools” in classical education: grammar, logic and rhetoric. Dorothy Sayers 

had drawn attention to the trivium and quadrivium as essential elements of a sound education. This essay was written in the post-World War II era. She makes a strong case for the classical Trivium-Grammar, Dialectic, Rhetoric…in today’s parlance “critical thinking.” We could add Computational Thinking and creativity if we like triads. But there  is more to being adequately prepared for the exponential realm of the 21st Century and beyond. The key idea that I want to pick up from Dorothy Sayers is the concept of a tool-kit for learning, and what would it look like in early 2022 as we prepare for becoming ready for the 3rd decade of the 21st Century. 

What is a Toolkit ?

For our purposes, the meaning of a toolkit here is a collection of expert skills, knowledge, procedures, or information for becoming a successful learner in the 21st Century. 

Features of the toolkit

The big change needed is to transform passive learners suffering from ‘taughtitis’ to active learners …. https://youtu.be/JxWybvns1jg

The present goal of education seems to be to update you with the knowledge, information and skills that your predecessors have already acquired. This kit will empower you to learn what is needed when it is needed,and perhaps learn beyond your seniors. 

These resources will equip you to continue enhancing your knowledge by helping you learn, unlearn and re-learn to keep abreast of the latest advances in the frontiers of knowledge, and become a successful lifelong learner. 

This is your vaccine : against obsolescence, against unemployment, against irrelevance and the elixir to flourish and thrive in an unknown and uncertain future, sometimes referred to as a VUCA ( Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world. More than any time earlier in history, we have a clear view of the MegaTrends in forthcoming technologies, but we don’t quite know how exactly they will play out in our lives. 

Taxonomy of tools in the toolkit: 

The tools for learning change over time. Neuroscience offers many new insights into both the structure and function of the human brain. One of the most well-known models of brain structure,was provided by neuroscientist Paul MacLean, whose ’Triune Brain’ model is based on three dominant structures in the human brain. Those who subscribe to the triune brain model believe that the three major brain structures developed sequentially. First of all, the basal ganglia (found at the center of the human brain) was ‘acquired’, followed by the limbic system (which consists of various component brain structures, such as the amygdala and hippocampus), then the neocortex (which is implicated in conscious thought, language and reasoning).

In an analogous spirit, the learners today must have :

  • the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic though with digital tools and skills. Arithmetic may be advanced  to ComputationalThinking. Reading with comprehension is essential for further mental growth, the absence of which leads to learning poverty. 2: Writing : the 5 paragraph essay…  and other writing skills.
  • supplemented with what are now widely accepted as 21 Century skills ofCollaboration and teamwork, Creativity and imagination, Critical thinking and Problem solving.
  • We may top these with the suggestions of the World Economic Forum’s recommendations : https://www.coorpacademy.com/en/blog/learning-innovation-en/world-economic-forum-the-soft-skills-to-prepare-employees-for-the-future-of-work/

List of tools in the toolkit: 

1: A web browser, an Office suite and a search engine

2: Cyber safety and practice: choosing and managing passwords 

3: A set of trusted information sources. Guidelines for placing trust. 

4: A set of online course platforms: Coursera, edX, Futurelearn, Khan Academy, SWAYAM

5: A range of social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram,  Clubhouse, Pinterest 

7: A website creation or blogging tool: WordPress: curation tools ( padlet) 

8: A variety of productivity tools and Apps, including learning Apps such as Grammarly, Duolingo,iMath

9: Digital tools for making infographics, presentations, videos, animations etc. 

10: A range of communication and collaboration tools: Google meet, Microsoft team

11: Text to Speech, Speech to Text converter and Automatic AI based translator

Of course, in addition to the above, you will need a good connection to the Internet, a smart device with Kindle or an alternate e-book reader. 

The Smartphone will be the ubiquitous learning access device of the future.  There are already millions of apps which enable countless functions and abilities. More AI powered learning Apps will be added every day. 

A personal future readiness plan for School students:  

The toolkit is under development for some time, and it’s first version will be available on Saturday 5th February 2022, which is the auspicious day of Basant Panchami, Saraswati Pooja. Saraswati is considered the goddess of knowledge, art and music. 

In addition to this toolkit for all learners, at any stage, I have also designed a 5 year program delivered through WhatsApp and accessible through a SmartPhone for school goers from class 8. The suggested learning path is the following:

  • Class 8: Learning how to learn. Apply it to achieve mastery learning in all subjects learnt during classes 6,7 and 8. 
  • Class 9: Reading proficiency; Writing Skills; fluency in Mathematics; introduction to AI
  • Class 10: Critical thinking, Computational Thinking, Creativity and developing a Scientific temper 
  • Class 11: AR, VR and related digital skills ; Design Thinking; Conversation Design
  • Class 12: Data Science, Deep Learning, 21st Century Mathematics, Quantum Readiness

To know more, and to  receive the kit when ready, or joining the program for School students please send a WhatsApp message at +919810073724.

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Learning to Self-Learn:

Learning to self-learn: L2SL

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’.

This course begins with drawing attention to the significance of self-learning, describes the attributes of successful self-learners, illustrates how technology in general, and AI in particular can help in making a better self-learner, and concludes with sharing the techniques ( or you may call them the toolkit) for becoming a successful self-learner.

The methodology:

This is a one month ( 4 weeks) program with approximately one hour sessions from Monday to Friday every week, a total of 20 sessions. There are suggestions for activities to be carried out by the learners during each of the four weeks. The weekends are for reflection and practicing the principles, practices and techniques shared during the week. Guidance is also provided for weekend activities for three weekends. The fourth weekend may be used to peruse additional resources, and develop a personal learning plan and “to learn” lists for the future.

Course access and delivery process:

1. A WHATSAPP group will be created for each edition of the program. The group formation is not contingent on a minimum number being enrolled. The program will be delivered, even if there is only one participant, enrolled, for a particular week.

2. At a time that will be announced in the WhatsApp group, I will be posting content. The posts may consist of of text, images of PowerPoint slides, my audios, videos or curated videos.

3. If any course participant has a query, question or observation, and if it concerns the whole group, (s)he may raise it, instantly, within the Group.

4. However, if it is meant as a message to the Course Administrator only, please prefer sending a direct message, rather than posting it in the group.

5. If I can make a quick, short and effective response, without losing the thread of the conversation, I will respond immediately, else I will pool such responses and make a special additional post.

6. 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.

Program structure:

Week 1: Self-learning: the most important 21st Century skill?

L2SL1: Drivers of self-learning

L2SL2: Examples of well known self-learners

L2SL3: Mindsets and other barriers to self-learning

L2SL4: Self-learning as a vaccine against ‘uselessness’

L2SL5: Range : Why generalists succeed ? David Epstein

Week 2: Attributes of a successful self-learner

L2SL6: Motivation

L2SL7: Overcoming Procrastination and efficient time-management L2SL8: Angela Duckworth: Grit: Focus, perseverance and persistence 

L2SL9: Tony Buzan’s Mind-mapping to enhance understanding

L2SL10: Paul Tough : How children succeed? Habits fostering success

Week 3: Techniques to become a better self-learner

L2SL11: A stepwise approach to self-learning and The Feynman technique to learn anything

L2SL12: Scott Young : Ultralearning

Third Weekend

L2SL13: Switching between social learning and individual learning

L2SL14: Guy Claxton: Building Learning Power

L2SL15: Learning while asleep

Week 4: The 21st Century Learner’s Toolkit

L2SL16: Learning from WhatsApp, other mobile apps, Internet and MOOCs

L2SL17: Speech to text, and Text to Speech

L2SL18: Using Automatic Machine Translation

L2SL19: Duolingo for language learning : AI powered apps for learning

L2SL20: Learning Prescriptions

• Fresh batches of this 4 week program begin on the first Monday of every month. The next begins on Monday 1st November 2021. 

• In order to enroll for the Programme, please send a WhatsApp message, with

the following text: ‘L2SL’ to +91 98100 73724.

• Please do mention your name and WhatsApp mobile number on which you would like to pursue the programme through WhatsApp

• You will be included in the cohort beginning from the nearest Monday to your request date.

• The Programme Fee of Rs. 5000/– (Rupees Five thousand only) may be remitted by PayTM to mobile number 9810073724 or deposited into the following Bank account:

• Name: Madan Mohan Pant

• HDFC Bank Account No. : 26451000000301*

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

• IFSC: HDFC0002645

• Address: HDFC Bank, Unitech Cyber Park, Sector 39, Gurgaon

• Should you desire to know more, please WhatsApp, your query to :

• Prof. M. M. Pant at +91 98100 73724

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UberSmart Learning Hour

UberSmart Learning Hour: 

The prevailing model of education is very old, and doesn’t adequately meet the needs of the future. In fact, Anthony Seldon in his book “ The fourth education revolution” states that there have been only three education revolutions in the last three to five million years. And the third education revolution happened about 400 years ago, with the arrival of the printing press. 

There is vast amount of research demonstrating the ineffectiveness of lectures, but most of present day education is still centred around lectures. Innovations such as ‘ flipped learning’ have greatly improved learning outcomes. The learning pyramid ( https://www.educationcorner.com/the-learning-pyramid.html) suggests that “Lecture” is one of the most ineffective methods for learning and retaining information. Lecture is a passive form of learning where you simply sit back and listen to information being spoon fed to you by your teacher or professor. Guy Claxton draws attention to the unintended consequence of present day schooling to produce victims of ‘taughtitis’ (  https://youtu.be/JxWybvns1jg ). It is therefore of great importance that we help develop active learners. 

Of the various possibilities for education in the third decade of the 21st Century, before teachers are replaced with AI, I have created a model  for a ‘niche’ that is aspirational,for those who hope to prosper, thrive and flourish in the coming age of Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Technologies, when the majority is condemned to perish,becoming part of the “ useless class” identified by Yuval Noah Harari (https://youtu.be/OMDlfNWM1fA). 

The UberSmart Learning Hour is an attempt to develop active learners, who can then evolve to self-directed lifelong learners. The futurist Thomas Frey says “ Over the coming decades, 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.”

The UberSmart Learning Hour comprises 4 familiar elements, to make it more effective than the standard lecture. The first is a 20 minute explainer talk by the faculty, similar to a TED talk, delivered through WhatsApp. This is followed by about 30 minutes of Q&A by the learning cohort. Finally a 10 minute wrap up by the faculty based on the interaction that happened. The fourth element is a set of further readings and links to audio and video resources to pursue further.

The UberSmart Learning Hour will be observed around dinner time from 8pm to 9pm, on Monday to Friday, has at present 10 topics which are delivered according to the following schedule:

Monday (1st and 3rd week of the month)  : Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence

Tuesday (1st and 3rd week of the month) : Avoiding Natural Stupidity

Wednesday (1st and 3rd week of the month) : Re-Program your mind

Thursday (1st and 3rd week of the month) : Living a long fulfilling life

Friday (1st and 3rd week of the month) :  Quantumgency Planning  ( Contingency Planning for a Quantum World)

Monday (2nd and 4th week of the month): Reading Effectively

Tuesday (2nd and 4th week of the month): Using Artificial Intelligence to improve your English

Wednesday (2nd and 4th week of the month): What is worth learning?

Thursday (2nd and 4th week of the month): Dispositions for Success

Friday (2nd and 4th week of the month): Exploring human consciousness 

In addition to this “menu” of topics, if a learner is curious about anything else such as time crystals, meta verse, metallic hydrogen or anything else, that you would like someone to ‘explain’ to you, just go ahead and make a request to Prof MM Pant by sending a WhatsApp message at +919810073724. Active and regular participation in these UberSmart Learning Hour( USLH) is a sensible “ Quantumgency Planning”, Contingency Planning for the age of Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Technologies. 

Methodology : 

Every evening there is a USLH, according to the schedule given earlier. 

You can begin by sending a WhatsApp message to +91 9810073724 indicating the topic of the session and the day/ date when you would like to join. 

Please do mention your name and WhatsApp contact information on which you would like to participate in the session through WhatsApp

The participation fee for each session is Rs. 500/– (Rupees Five Hundred-only) may be remitted by PayTM to mobile number 9810073724 or deposited into the following Bank account:

Name: Madan Mohan Pant

HDFC Bank Account No. : 26451000000301*

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

IFSC: HDFC0002645

Address: HDFC Bank, Unitech Cyber Park, Sector 39, Gurgaon

Should you desire to know more, please WhatsApp, your query to :

 Prof. M. M. Pant  at +91 98100 73724

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Quantum Readiness:


Towards a Quantum Ready workforce: 

Young people, still in School have a common interest in pursuing careers and studies that will help them have a good future. The answer today is the old Boy Scouts motto “ Be prepared” followed by the words “for a Quantum World”.

Ever since Richard Feynman first theorized a practical Quantum Computer in 1982, the field has been marked by a wide diversity of opinions – on hardware approaches, scientific theory, the best path to commercialization and more. But one issue has everyone united: There’s a huge shortage of quantum computing talent.

A trained, well-rounded quantum workforce is key to realizing the full practical value of quantum computing.There isn’t a direct pipeline from universities, and there’s fierce competition for the limited talent that is available. Currently, most quantum scientists are from other related fields, despite the highly specialized tasks they perform on the job, such as designing quantum computer shielding systems or building quantum processors.

To continue expanding the quantum ecosystem, we need to grow the number of quantum-literate experts — now. Stakeholders in governments, universities and private companies – have to step up by investing in the budding quantum workforce and encouraging their peers to do the same. We’re entering an increasingly specialized economy, particularly in the quantum industry, and that makes identifying and developing talent tough. The good news is that there are a few fixes we can make to grow the quantum talent pool.

Quantum education has to be approach-agnostic if we want to realize the full potential of the technology. There are many viable theoretical approaches to quantum computing, but going all-in on one method inhibits innovation. Look at the landscape today. IBM is pursuing gate model. Microsoft is going after topological qubits ( which received a slight setback recently). D-wave has built an annealing quantum computer. Each holds its promises and challenges, and each approach requires talent.

Quantum computing holds tremendous business opportunities and will benefit virtually every part of the economy. Many of these areas are critical to act on now, like energy distribution, climate change and drug discovery. Quantum computing’s power to impact nearly every facet of society means that broad investment in our workforce is crucial.

We are in the midst of 2 great revolutions: the 4th Industrial Revolution and the 4th Education Revolution: they have to be responded to coherently and concurrently. 

Alvin Toffler had exhorted us to pursue learning, unlearning and re-learning. Understanding the Quantum World is a good project to pursue with this in mind.

21st Century educators, especially in the 21st year of the 21st Century must be enthusiastic lifelong learners who share and spread their enthusiasm for lifelong learning. 

The NEP 2020 emphasises learning how to learn and lifelong learning…. learning about the Quantum World is a good way of doing this. 

Phrases like Quantum Jump are part of everyday vocabulary now. On 12th May 2020, the PM said “ the country needs an economy that brings quantum jump, not incremental change.”

Earlier in the budget in February 2020, the FM made an allocation of  Rs 8000 crores for a National Mission on Quantum Technologies.

So if you want to benefit from the opportunities in this field for your students, children or grandchildren, you must start to appreciate the magic of the Quantum World. Watch this video : The trillion dollar Quantum gold rush : https://youtu.be/wKN8wBl4X1M

Quantum technologies will impact, not just a few, but like the Internet have a universal effect. China has already made progress with the Quantum Internet. 

To have a glimpse of what the future has in store, please watch this webinar (1 hour 40 minutes). There are some glitches during the first 3 minutes of the video. But the webinar on Quantum Readiness (1 hour 40 minutes)  : https://youtu.be/U5XZL5F0vwE  is very informative and timely. 

To know more and to pursue a one month awareness course on Quantum Technologies visit : https://mmpant.com/qt4fr/

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