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Question: Nature or Nurture?

Asked by Akash Chander

“Dear Akash, What a wonderful topic for an ongoing age-old debate. It has been debated with all vehemence and experimental evidence by both parties and no one has been able to offer conclusive evidence.
Research in Neurosciences will surely help us in understanding ‘How Learning Takes Place?’ But it will not answer the Debate. Experiments in China on the Plasticity of Brain, the research in gene technology will not also answer your question, since they will support one or the other view.
We will have to perform deliberate Experiments under controlled conditions over a long period of time and begin with a Null Hypothesis and if performing such experiments is ethically permitted and we are able to reach some conclusive evidence, we can with authority answer your question.

For me till then, Nature and Nurture are two sides of a Coin. A Great Spiritual Master was speaking at one of our prestigious I.I.T’s and he spoke of two things, besides other very useful things. One was that recent studies have revealed that all of us have 99.99% Genes in Common and the remaining 0.01%; that is not common is responsible for differences in physical shape, size, colour etc. The other was that as an Individual, each one of us is connected with ones parents (02), grandparents (04), great grandparents (08), and if we keep on going backwards; we will find that we are all connected to one another. Does this interest you?
Dear Akash, let us not divide our already fragmented world further by raising the issue of “Nature” and allow the unscrupulous to claim decent, lineage from Socrates and others and treat the rest with disdain. We already have a race for getting the BEST from our ‘Sperm Banks”. Nor do we need to entertain thoughts that “Nurture” alone is everything, since the privileged will then have an edge over the socially deprived and at a disadvantage. Let us put in our efforts to douse these flames and help create an egalitarian society; wherein your and my Nature bestows upon us the Choice to put to use our inherent talents and abilities in the Environment available, which is always in a state of flux and change.”

Question: Is Intelligence Enough?

Asked by Vincent

“Dear Vincent, Intelligence is a construct and has been defined differently by different Psychologists. We need to give it an 'Operational Meaning" to understand and answer your question.
I would say that 'Intelligence" is the ability of an organism to either adapt quickly to the environment or else change the environment so that it suits the organism. Psychologists have made attempts to understand and study Intelligence, down the ages. We spoke of a General Intelligence and a Specific Intelligence. Guilford tried to explain in terms of Mental Processes and his cube has 120 Cells or Abilities: Products, Processes and Operations: to explain Intelligence. Gardener speaks of Multiple Intelligences and this seems to have more acceptability since it caters to all and even satisfies all. We speak now of Emotional Intelligence and Spiritual Intelligence and thus add EQ and SQ to the already confusing concept of IQ.

If intelligence is inherited, then education can only help it to blossom. If good education and environment promote intelligence, then we can create intelligent human beings, the Gifted and the Geniuses. The problem is aggravated further when applying common sense to various situations is termed as: Social Intelligence, Business Intelligence etc.In any profession, in any pursuit of life; we need ability to equip ourselves with the requisite inputs and skills to succeed. This comes both from our upbringing and our education. Our experiences, our attitude, our confidence, our ability to work hard are also responsible. There is a multiplicity of factors that constitute success in any venture of life. Intelligence is just one of them. Be Happy.

Question: Willingness to accept AUTHORITY FOR TRUTH in Politics and Religion. Why?

Asked by Randy

“Dear Randy, Socrates is no more alive. With him and along with some of his great followers, ended the 'Quest for Truth". Who has the time today to explore, to inquire, to sift chaff from the grain, to weigh arguments in the crucible of logic; who my friend?

As such, it is easier to accept what is doled out to us from two great and important sources acknowledged by Society as centres of Authority-One is Religion and the Other is politics.
Sorry, I deliberately changed the order in which these two exponents of Knowledge and Truth have been mentioned by you in your Question.
Besides, is it not convenient to accept rather than defy? Is it not correct to say that we follow the herd instinct and the path of least resistance and least effort? Face facts, my friend; we all have been doing so.

Question: What brings you the greatest joy?

Asked by Dr. Ann Williamson

“Dear Dr. Ann, I am fortunate to have been born as a Human Being and do not wish for rebirth. I have only one life and hence everything gives me joy. I get the greatest joy from:- Contentment, Smiling Faces of Children, Flowers in Full Bloom, A Family get-together, Lit up faces of my students who have experienced the truths? An act of mine that brings joy to someone, Appreciation and Recognition of my work, and finally being engrossed in my work since that to me is the Divine Purpose of my existence. Thanks. Even reading this question and then answering it gave me immense joy.”

Question: Does it matter where knowledge comes from?

Asked by Bruce


I am sad to learn from you that scholars don't know where knowledge comes from and how it is formed? Are you joking? On the one hand you call them Scholars and then you insult them with such a generalised statement.Scholars are students of Epistemology and know about the origin of knowledge. It is you and I, who are confused. We have to distinguish between Information, Knowledge and Facts.
Knowledge existed before we were born and has immensely grown or should I say multiplied manifold and added to our misery and confusion. Knowledge comes from Authority, be it the Church or the State, and be it Theology or Men in Authority. Knowledge comes from experience. We all muddle through in life and the knowledge we acquire, based on our experience is Empirical Knowledge. Knowledge comes from Experimentation and Scientific Discoveries and this knowledge has greater acceptability since it can be subjected to verification and proved right.

Human beings are gifted with sense organs and a Brain. We receive stimuli from the external world as sensation and this sensation travels to the Brain. The Brain gives it a meaning and we have a Perception. The Brain assimilates and accommodates, classifies and categorises, orders and discriminates and when it is able to put information in a class or category and specify its attribute, value and functions, we say a Concept is formed.
The Brain has its unique capacity of finding relationships between knowledge previously acquired and new knowledge and thus knowledge undergoes accommodation in the Brain. Application of this knowledge is what makes the difference between pseudo knowledge mongers and True Scholars.

Where from has this knowledge come is responsible for our belief in it and the faith with which we put it to use. Hence, the source of Knowledge lends credibility to knowledge and especially helps one in executing and applying this knowledge for the benefit of mankind.
In our presentday advanced Society, we question everything and knowledge is no exception. Credibility of knowledge is therefore dependant upon the way it has been found, established and verified. I hope we are knowledgeable now.”

Question: Emotional teaching for emotional learning: How do we teach issues not included in the curriculum?

Asked by Teddy Parvanova

“Dear Teddy, Our Curriculum lays emphasis on the Cognitive Domain of Behaviour only and we are concerned mostly with Remembering, Comprehending, Applying, Analysing, Evaluating and Creating. These are our Objectives and these happen to be our Learning Outcomes. In the process, we ignore the Affective and Psychomotor Domains of Human behaviour. We forget that Education as modification of Behaviour should aim at transmission of knowledge and culture and besides build dispositions and train in skills.

If we cater to the Affective Domain of Behaviour; we have to attend to its Categories like: Receiving, Responding, Valuing, Conceptualising, Organising and Characterisation. These Categories can not be catered to by including a few Lessons here and there. This will require a special approach and specific activities.
Emotions are after all stirred up states of the mind and any Emotional Teaching (I beg to be excused, I would prefer to use the Term: Teaching for Emotional Development) will have to consider: What are Emotions? What are Good Emotions and which are Bad Emotions? What is sublimation of Emotions? What are the techniques of proper canalisation of Emotions? My experience has been that we generally have Sentiments (Emotions and Feelings) and these are built over a period of time.
Our peer group, work environment, our religion/faith, our values, our cultural heritage, our history, our parents, our colleagues, our aspirations and how the world treats us; all contribute to shape our emotions.
Nowadays, the dangerous trends of herd mentality, religious fanaticism, indoctrination done by the unscrupulous, political claptrap and cliché and above all the glamour of media and the power of wealth are causing an emotional conflict and no one is interested in Emotional Teaching or Emotional Learning.
As Educators, it is our moral responsibility to create awareness for vital societal issues and see that our Curriculum Developers have the freedom to choose from a wide variety of experiences of lives of great men, of issues concerning all of us and teach these both directly and indirectly. We have to teach our teachers as to how to deal with and teach controversial issues. How to teach with Objectivity and keep their self out of the lesson? We can do it and the quicker we do so the better it will be for the world.”

Question: Recognition: what works for you?

Asked by Susie Marks Watt

“Dear Susie, Recognition is what I care for most. Who doesn't?
I look for recognition in the enthusiasm of my trainees. Their non-verbal language speaks a lot; their feedback is my recognition, if that has a few words of appreciation.
Recognition comes to me when my colleagues appreciate the work done, when the press reports about it, when friends call up to congratulate and finally when I am financially benefitted for all my endeavours.
The smiling faces of my students and teachers, the admiration of colleagues and the appreciation of the management; these all are important to me but more important to me than all this is when my wife asks me 'How did it all go?' and if with confidence and with my head raised, I reply that it all went as planned and I am happy.
This self-recognition is the highest form of recognition to me.”