What are Transferable Skills?

I discovered this as I was wrapped in my own cocoon for the past month after I went over revisiting my strategy for writing and hustling to meet the deadline for a book that I was writing with one of my mentors and now a business partner. I couldn’t resist the urge to come out of my cocoon for a while to blurt about this and go back for some time.

A lot of people ask me what exactly I have been leveraging from cross-platform learning. I simply let them know the very word initially when I heard it from one of my good friends which sparked a thought. It’s simply taking a step back to see in which other area of my life can I use my existing skills.

What are the areas of my life where I can transfer a skill that I’m using in another area. 

It’s amazing that one can ordinarily build on existing skills thru applying them to different areas like using tracking in health to track your routines and rituals, in finance to keep an eagle’s eye on your spendings. Just starting off with such simple activities which most of us don’t do at all. We simply brush it under the carpet not knowing the tremendous pay-off’s this insight can potentially have 6 months down the line. From all I have learnt and researched about Habit making – one thing that’s clear is that beginning with a cue to perform a habit provides a better ROI over the long run versus getting into the strategy of getting the attitude right before doing something.

It amuses me to see people now including a lot of friends professing about how ATTITUDE is everything. There is simply a better way to start anything. Set-up an extrinsic reward, pick the smallest behavior, pace it up with continual behaviors that leads you to a routine. A few months later, you will wake up one day not needing the cue at all to perform that very same HABIT!

How might this be? One can ask –

What happens is our body naturally over time begins to recognize the difference b/w intrinsic rewards and extrinsic rewards. If it’s health for example – you will naturally begin to feel good after exercising for a period of time because your body has learnt the benefit from the neurotransmitters like endorphins which are now produced on a regular basis and distinguish that from the external reward that got you started on the habit towards the outcome which was – BETTER HEALTH!

Here tracking becomes a foundational skill that you could tweak and apply to learning. Say, you are just starting off with learning about auto-responders, lead generations, traffic strategies, for your online business. What if you actually set up different learning visual trackers and distinguish your mentors to learn in each segment whenever you get stuck.

Godsend! Right??

You have a system now which helps you get unstuck and keep moving to the next thing. The same thing is true for skills like

Following Through

Mutual Accountability

I began getting better at automating my finances after learning and spending the time and effort to improve my health. One day I just as I realized Woah! They include skills like –

  • Tracking
  • Setting realistic goals

Both which are very much applicable to finance. Once you make this connection, you can start applying them to tons of other areas. Sometimes I have even applied the same skills to a business challenge where I had to pace myself, work through fatigue etc. One major reason WHY am I telling you all this if you still haven’t figured it out yet is that –

Wake up sleepy head!



Maybe it’s losing 10 kilos.

Maybe it’s starting a business

Maybe it’s giving up your 9-5 lifestyle

All you have to do is a little TWEAK to connect the dots to reap massive benefits over the new few months should you choose to test this strategy out.


The Read Junk Hack

I have been missing out on my blogging behavior a lot lately and though I hate giving excuses but this time around I got so absorbed into writing and finishing a deadline for a book that I’m writing along with one of my mentors who is also a business partner now.

Though I began writing as a mere hobby over the last three years I feel like as If I was born to just read and write and do nothing but that. I guess that’s exaggerating it a bit too far….  In today’s world there are so many opportunities for anybody irrespective of the location they are in to become an entrepreneur at-least an Internet Entrepreneur in their area of interest. Though everyone needs to put down the work and the months and the years to make it happen. We so often swayed by overnight successes and search for these magic bullets and shortcuts. I have been a victim of this same charade day in and day out until finally I saw the futility of what I have been doing….

Think about it every person I speak with tells me two reasons all the time –

  1. I don’t have an idea .
  2. I don’t have the time/money.

Usually these are the top two or three reasons people get stuck going about becoming their own boss. One of the core mistakes that I have made in the beginning times and also I see others doing is they don’t know who they are talking to. This seems so simple but it is a very hard thing to do. I am learning more and more that in any venture 10% of your work is your work and rest invariably falls down to “MARKETING”. Yup that’s right. No matter who you are, even if you have written the next bestseller that will “SWEEP THE WORLD” nothing is going to work for you if you don’t start thinking about who you should talk to and either reach to influencers who will get your work noticed else come up with even a self designed book tour perhaps! In the beginning you need to do a lot of things that you hate. I have often observed even in myself the resistance to taking the time to truly spend time on this.

It’s about time for all the blinded entrepreneurs to see what is really important: making a connection with an audience. The term–not exactly new–that seems to be displacing SEO is OAO, online audience optimization. Now it’s not really about the new Hummingbird algorithm that I’m talking about although you do have to tweak the way you use your Ad-words and tags now. Even this is useless tactic when you start out. You need the next best thing.

One hour a day, read. Read everything in the world except your business. Read junk. Very much junk. Read so that anything that interests you will stick in your memory. Just read, just read, just read… There is your audience. There is the language. There are the words that they use ~ Eugene Shwartz

I’ll take it a step further. Not only do you need to know how they talk, which lets you better guess how they might specifically look for what you offer, but you also need to understand what they find funny. What scares them. What is important to them. How they think. Until you do, they’re only marks and you do nothing more than run calculated cons. After you do understand them, they’re real people and you might find yourself caring a bit about them which is a good thing to cultivate. Empathy drives authenticity and when you incorporate that in your content everything shifts in seconds when it clicks with “YOUR” audience.

Do you care about your family or friends? If so, then there are plenty of times that you’ll do specific things that you know make them happy. Emotion isn’t an abstract concept, but something that drives behavior. Let the same thing happen in your marketing after you start to care about the audience. Inject the emotion of your audience into your content. When you they read your offer or content  – if it makes sense that you understand their pain more than anybody else. Then, price always comes last. They wouldn’t think twice in reaching out to you or signing up to your newsletter or buying your product.

It’s like going into a shop you like where the people recognize you and get your interests and tastes. That’s all you’re trying to do. When the technology, any technology, gets in the way, throw it out and return back to the basics. If you are talking to everybody you are talking to nobody. Strategically talking to your audience is the key.

Hack of Perspective Ignorance

The Hack of Perspective Ignorance.

What I do mean by this is all of us in this information driven age are swamped with information every single day and not many of us have the effective mental frameworks to sift through this information overload.

It leads to two things.

1> We always jump from one shiny idea to another which eventually keeps us glued to square one.
2> Analysis Paralysis – We just can’t seem to discern step 2 all the while pontificating to glory while still being glued to square one.

I watch and read almost everything like a big creep always consuming information but one fine day it just hit me when one of my mentors pointed the obvious to me. You seem to come up with such crazy ideas that are phenomenal yet why don’t you direct your intention and put your collective potential into manifesting just one.

I thought to myself – it’s easier said than done! Right! Then even he acknowledged that it’s one of his struggles as well to keep up with different ideas and stick to just one. I was taken away when he said that to me. Wow! I thought to myself.

I just came up with this term at that moment. Maybe I need to be ignorant of all my potential shiny ideas not that I don’t need them. From then on, I’d just made the habit of making a note of it in my diary and forgetting all about it knowing that my idea vault is always there should I need them at any time.

This allowed me to have perspective ignorance to not get sucked away by one single perspective while still having more perspectives and has been one of my powerful triggers to hustle and get things done while learning new stuff all the time!


Let’s Rethink Learning

Writers BlockI guess I could call myself smart. I can usually get good grades. Sometimes, I worry that I am just a tape recorder…I worry that once I’m out of college  and people don’t keep handing me information with questions in another job, I’ll be lost.  – Person A

The things I’m scared of is, say I got fired, I’ve got nothing, nothing to help me get another job..I’ve got no other skill.  – Person B

These were the exact words of two youngsters among others who answered to my inquiries with them and I wouldn’t like to take the names of these two people: one who is pondering over leaving his current job, and the other who is about to graduate from college which says not only a lot about themselves but also about the sad state of education in India.

There are 2 good reasons for reconfiguring 21st century education: economic and personal. The well-rehearsed economic argument says that knowledge is changing so fast that we cannot give young people what they will need to know, because we do not know what it will be. Instead, we should be helping them develop supple minds, so that they will be able to learn whatever they will need  to. If we can achieve that, we will have a world class workforce comprising people who are innovative and resourceful.

My personal argument converges on the same conclusion. Many young people are floundering in the face of all the complexities and uncertainties of modern life: the relatively successful children of the middle class, like Person B, as much as the more conspicuous, traditional failures of the education system such as Person B. Person A sees himself as ready for a life of tests, but not the tests of life. Person B doesn’t even believe that he has it in him to master a new skill. Now people like Person B are labelled the “losers of the system. These are the people for whom the system isn’t working!

They differ greatly in how ‘literate’ and ‘numerate’, but Person A & B are both, in their different ways different! They think that school hasn’t only failed to give them what they need; it has actually compounded the problem, and they are right again. Many young people live in a Matrix world in which there is often no consensual ‘reality’, no agreement about what to do when they don’t know what to do. Their public culture of ‘cool’ is, in part, a reaction to their sense of inadequacy and a sense of extreme insecurity in the face of real difficulty. Young people want more real-life gumption, initiative, just as their prospective employers and anxious governments do. More fundamental even than the concern with literacy is the need to protect and develop young people’s ‘learn-ability’ (A word that I’m throwing around). That the need is personal and social, even more, than it is economic.

Government reforms have tinkered with existing provisions and structures in dozens of ways: the timetable, the curriculum, the methods of assessment and so on. Such tinkering has been going on for a long time, and it hasn’t addressed the hole in the heart of education which is leading young people to make statements like the ones mentioned above and these are a result of what they are experiencing so keenly. However, recent progress in the human sciences is beginning to fire people’s imagination with new possibilities. Science cannot tell a society what its schools should be aiming to achieve, but it can suggest new avenues of thought. One of these is that its actually possible to help young people become better learners – not just in the sense of getting better degrees, but in real-life terms. One contributory line of thought comes from cognitive science, one from neuroscience, and one from a Russian psychologist Lev Zygotsky. Let me address the first two as the last one has been addressed before here.

P.S. There is another worldview / model that I’ll present in the coming months which is a hush hush secret for now!

In cognitive science, a revolution has taken place in the way we think of ‘intelligence’. For a while, people believed that it was a blob of mental resource that God or your genes gave you when you were born; that it didn’t change much over the course of one’s life; that if followed you around from place to place and didn’t vary with the situation; that it’s main effect was to set a ceiling on what you could achieve; that when you struggled or failed, that was evidence that you had got to the limit of your ‘ability’; and that you could make a reliable measure of the size of someone’s reservoir of intelligence by asking them to solve abstract puzzles under intense pressure. We now know that this model is scientifically vulnerable, factually incorrect, and educationally insidious. It is vulnerable because, you cannot separate ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’  in that way. Its incorrect because intelligence varies enormously across time and place, and IQ bears no relation to being real-life smart.

Its dangerous because it leads people to feel ashamed (rather than challenged) when they find things difficult, and therefore it undermines their ambition and determination. Here is a wonderful online service that I have been following for the last one year and now it’s available for people. They can create their own memory banks online and for free! It’s called Cerego. Check out their awesome learning platform here.

In fact, there is enormous room for everyone to get smarter by developing their ‘learn-ability’. Even if there were some hypothetical limit on my ability, in practice I am nowhere near it. True, I am never going to be as fit and strong as Micheal Phelps, nor as fast and tough as Usain Bolt, but that doesn’t mean that it is therefore a waste of time of me hitting the gym. And when I don’t go, the whole point is to get sweaty and find it ‘hard’. Pushing myself needn’t mean ‘I’m hopelessly unfit – and that’s that: it just shows that I’m in the process of getting fitter.

Lauren Resnick, the doyenne of educational psychologists in the US, now defines intelligence as ‘the sum total of your habits in mind.’ And habits grow, change, and can be broken.”

This work is also showing that growing more intelligent isn’t just a matter of learning a few techniques, or even mastering some new skills like ‘critical thinking’. Its as much to do with attributes, beliefs, emotional tolerances and values. And these change more slowly. You can’t change someone’s interest in learning overnight. But schools and classrooms have systematic, cumulative, influence. For example when teachers change their way of talking with their students about learning, those students’ attitudes change, in turn, within a term (and by the way, their results go up). To get a deeper insight into this, I’d highly recommend Parker Palmer’s book – The Courage To Teach & The Heart of A Teacher.

The second discipline is neuroscience. One has to tread carefully here, for a great deal of B.S is being talked about the implications of brain science for education. It isn’t true that playing your baby Mozart will make him/her smarter, nor that your child’s brain will dry up if your kid isn’t drip-fed water from a fancy bottle, though some people will try to tell you otherwise. What is important is the understanding that the brain is built to distil the world’s hidden regularities into practical expertise, fueled only by interest and attention. It does so continually, without any supervision, either internal or external, and often in the absence of any conscious comprehension of what is going on. Indeed, the effort to seek or maintain conscious comprehension can get in the way of this brilliant ‘natural learning ability’. Something I learnt myself and have seen it in action from another one of my sources. His name is Jinan and he runs a natural learning initiative around India and blogs about it. Check out his radical insights here.

Thinking too much can decrease your intelligence. Being explicit and strategic are not always the smartest ways to learn, and people who become too addicted to conscious clarity undermine their creativity. We are discovering that, during early life, this natural learning ability, placed in an adequate setting, develops itself by discovering and exploiting a range of ‘learning amplifiers’. There are many cells in the human brain – the ‘mirror neurons’ – that automatically get ready to initiate an action that they have just seen someone else do: so many, that it begins to look as if we are hard-wired to pick up the habits of those around us.

As the brain builds up a stock of mental models of different people, so we become able to ‘put ourselves in others shoes’ which is another ability that is activated only after the age of 7, and lets us explore different scenarios. We can sometimes benefit from turning down the ego control, and become quietly receptive to the internal pattern-seeking and metaphor making that is latent in the brain’s modulus operandi, and this intuitive receptivity, if we cultivate it, becomes central to creativity. And, with language, we develop a whole new toolkit of ways of thinking and learning.

Each of these ways of learning –

  • through Experiential Learning
  • through Imitation
  • through Imagination
  • through Intuition
  • through the Intellect

We never grow out of the need for any of them, nor do we ever cease being able to refine and develop their power further.

Yet education has tended to treat intellectual learning as the tops, and to neglect the continuing development of others!! If a teacher never lets her students see her being a learner, but only a ‘know-er’, s/he is depriving them of the vital experience which their brains are built to pickup, and to turn into more effective ways of learning for themselves. Helping young people, become better learners means daring to give up the old-fashioned belief that a teacher’s top professional responsibility is to be omniscient.

There are, in short, many lines of educational exploration that are being opened up by the new learning sciences. Already dozens of practical methods for building young people’s ‘learning power’ have been devised, and ingenious teachers throughout the world are developing more by the day. Some of these are quite unusual or challenging, while others add depth and coherence to more familiar aspects of ‘good teaching’. Many more questions have been raised that we are yet to solve – but that, or course, is the essence of learning.

  1. What kinds of topics are best for developing different kinds of learning muscles?
  2. How are minds stretched differently by hard and soft sciences?
  3. How is resilience, say, different for a 4 and 15 year old?
  4. How widely do people vary as learners, and can we help them import their best learning habits from sports or the dance class into school and the other way round as well?
  5. What ways of organizing schools will be the most successful for both developing learn-ability and mastering important bodies of knowledge at the right age and facilitated by the right person with a correct understanding of the child?

As I say, we do not yet have the answers to all these questions. The realization that learning is learnable, and that learning is a much more complex and variegated process than schooling has traditionally assumed, will underpin innovation and changes in the field of educational research going ahead. Stay tuned to my further posts in the coming months, I’m working on something crazy along with my mentor and friend Glen to address this issue.

P.S. (If it’s knowledge you want, it’s usually easier now to get it from the Internet, anyway.)

‘Thought’ Hack

Your thoughts hold power. The power of your thoughts, secrets of the mind and reality. A lot of us on our journey have had our share of “Aha!” Moments. Aha! I get it now – we say to ourselves!

A similar moment happened to me long time back but over the last few months I have a better understanding no scratch that, when I gave up my understanding I began to just observe with brutal awareness and allowed the impulse of the moment to guide my next action.

The light bulb goes off right in our heads, that’s what happened many times in my journey as well. We live in the world we are thinking of. Whatever we are thinking we are creating. The universe aligns to our thoughts, our thoughts are information highways that send messages to and from the body. Many times, if we look at the events in our life, overcoming certain challenges, its because we have changed the way we think.

It all starts with our thinking. When you see it in your life, then you see that we are co-creators, we are gods, we are made from the same fabric as the universe which is fascinating because then we also get to see on the flip side how much RESPONSIBILITY we have, because we are the architects of our own reality.


Everyone wants your mind. (Seriously they do!). I say, let go of society’s expectations. (This is what I tell myself). In clearing the mind of utter B.S. we have to see this, just look with a willingness, just LOOK. This is why the newspapers are full of information, the TV…everyone wants to control your thinking. We have to see that our thoughts are so powerful that they create the world around us. If someone can control your thoughts, they can control your world. Every thought we have is a catalyst for every action.

Positive thinking has a huge effect on the body because such thoughts change the bio-chemistry of the body. It is also why “ATTITUDE” is also important as the way way we think affects the way we feel. Thoughts are a collection of emotions. “E-MOTION” as in energy in motion. We are living in a sea of energy. A sea of infinite potentialities and possibilities.
What I found out about positive thinking is that it does wonders! But, we mustn’t forget NEGATIVE THINKING, and the power of negative thinking. Let me give you an example:

Many times when people get angry, we say that this is a negative emotion. However, there is a lot of energy being generated. It becomes internally destructive as its essentially an implosion from within. We are bringing all the energy internally which we must learn to release externally. This goes back into mythology as well. We had many princes in folktales who were slaying the dragon, but guess what they didn’t kill the dragon as they saw the power of the dragon. It could take them anywhere they desired. To infinite heights, the DRAGON was the representation of their lower nature. So, in essence, once we master our lower nature which is “Negative Thinking”, it can actually propel us to a higher self. For me, what I do on my journey now is – I don’t judge Negative or Positive thinking by itself. It’s a myriad of separation of what many of us have gotten ourselves into. But, it all starts in the way we see the world. How we see the world is how the world responds to us.

We see this in quantum physics as well, even Max Planck, Greg Braden who have done so much work on this. But, it goes back to the ancients – they knew that everything in the world was connected. They knew the power of our thoughts. Everything is mental.

mind_over_matter_by_elixsir-d4dauv7.pngIn quantum physics, they now see that – THE OBSERVER CREATES REALITY SIMPLY BY OBSERVING. The observer is the observed. The observer isn’t separate from the observation. The experimenter isn’t separate from the experiment.

Just by thinking about something, we are changing it. That is how deep thoughts go! Sometimes many of us in our lives we are thinking about other people and coincidentally there is a saying that “IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT SOMEONE, THEY ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT YOU”. We are sending text messages through our thoughts. This mind that we have is the original internet. We are the original technology. When I am walking, running or just sitting, I am conscious that I am creating my reality through my thoughts. We have to become aware that we have infinite power and that is why there is a war on “CONSCIOUSNESS” on the planet because once you know thyself you become super-powerful. You begin to strip all of these layers that society has labelled on us.

You are this. You are that. No!

  1. We are whatever we think we are
  2. We are whatever we tell ourselves.

On a deeper level, many of us living in the 21st century have these desires. A lot of people say –

  • I want this beautiful woman.
  • I want money.
  • I want this handsome man.
  • I want that dream job.
  • I want that house on the hill.

Whenever we say “I WANT”. We are sending a signal to the universe that we don’t have what we desire. Therefore, we will remain in LACK!

What I began doing in my life since the last 3 months in my HOP (A daily ritual of mine) is to move from


I don’t say I want health, I say I AM HEALTH and so on. Scientifically, studies have also shown that while trying to lose weight If a subject says – I am thin even thought h/she is fat. The results are much more in the favor of the subject over a period of time than the person who says to himself – I AM FAT and I AM GOING TO LOSE WEIGHT. This is again one of the rules of the mind that we must understand to take advantage of.

What is Expected Tends to be Realized

To know more about other mind rules follow this link.

Changing the words changes the thoughts. The thoughts change our actions and interaction with the world around us. The field, the energy around us, the DNA within our bodies influence the world around us. Aha! sends off electromagnetic signals to the world around us. It’s more powerful than the brain.


Therefore, the power of aligning with your heart influences the world and can help raise the vibration of the planet. Our thoughts are so powerful, that once we take hold of a positive intention. we can create miracles. I have seen it in my life. That’s why we have to be careful where we place our focus.

Because whatever we focus on grows.

We Turn Into Whatever We Are Tuned Into

The affirmations we have, the way that we see ourselves shapes who we are. And that’s why it all starts with perception. It all starts by having the best image of yourself in the head because that’s what creates who we are. A lot of us, we go on with what people tell us. We feel that we aren’t good enough. We have this internal dialogue. We are forgetting that the words we use also govern us.

That’s why instead of I can’t  I usually say “I CAN”.

(Akshay, who is a mentor of mine will be laughing when he reads the below content and probably will gear up to sue me for copyright issues :-P) Jokes apart read on –

Questions and affirmations like

  • What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
  • When was the last time I did something for the first time?
  • Cows chew, leaders take notes
  • Be Shameless! Request support and admit you’ve messed up
  • Get Uncivilized. The worst thing that could happen is for you to get civilized.
  • Normal is boring.
  • Confidence comes not from always being right but not fearing to be wrong.
  • My mouth talks and I do.
  • There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.
  • My deeds today, decide my better tomorrow.
  • Be in a peak state.
  • No matter how ugly/bad the situation is, OWN UP for it.
  • I am a Champion and I know it.
  • Be a Challenger- Create possibilities, drop considerations.
  • Hackers are not satisfied till they get their job done.
  • Leadership is not about who you are or what you do, it’s about who you are being.
  • Being is decisive.
  • Leadership is not about feelings. It’s about commitments.
  • Life never exists someday. It exists now.
  • Use leadership to contribute, not to dominate.
  • No new actions, no new results.
  • Be an Owner- Drop complaints, take responsibility.
  • Have the willingness to stand for your dreams, even if it means to stand alone.
  • The future doesn’t just happen. I create it.
  • Step out of your comfort zone.
  • You have got to be unreasonable if you’ve got to be unbeatable.

We have to see that, there is a power in the words that we use everyday. Language is the power of thought. If I’m thinking of a table, then I’m creating a table. You can’t say a word without thinking about it. Words are therefore spells. We have to use words that empower us. We have to use words that help us create our own reality.

Through mind-power we can do phenomenal things. Haven’t we all heard stories of people recovering from a terminal illness when they were told they had 6 or less months to live.

Because they told themselves –


That is the power of thoughts. ANY FUCKING THING IS POSSIBLE. We begin harnessing our thoughts when we begin tapping to the power of now. When we begin living in the present moment. When we are following our heart-space, when we are opening our heart-space. When we are letting go of fear. All around us there is distraction, there is media-manipulation through the TV, certain ads, religion. Anything that you can think of, that doesn’t remind us of what we are. We have to remember WHO WE ARE.

The sub-conscious programming affects our thoughts without us even knowing it. Certain times, people fall asleep with a certain song. Not realizing that. Because all thought is is energy. Through sound vibration you can actually change the way people think. That is why its amazing to listen to uplifting music to your heart, mind and soul. There is a difference between thinking and being.

Many of us, we are caught up in thinking, thinking and thinking. Sometimes, we see people staring into thin space.

I-think-too-much-and-then-put-myself-into-a-bad-moodWe have to ask ourselves, how are our thoughts serving us ?

Are they elevating us into higher realms of awareness or are they draining our energy away? Many of us, we get caught in the trap of thinking about the same thing over and over again. What I found that has helped me is to let go of thoughts.

Okay, but how the fuck can one do that ?! You might ask! Read on…:)

Secret – Tapping Into The FLOW

We may have experienced doing some activity when we stop thinking completely. For me its playing BASKETBALL. The bills I got to pay, places I have to go to, all of which evaporates and there is nothing but the flow of infinite energy. Sometimes, people get headaches.

What is a headache? It is but a thought above your head that isn’t going away anytime soon. (:-P) So, to free ourselves from that, we have to stay dynamic, stay fluid. We must always unblock the energy in us through eating beautiful food, getting back to nature, planting our feet. Being in a environment that allows us to tap into our being where we won’t have to do all the time, because our thoughts are our commands.  When we step into being, we are letting go. There is nothing to do as we are embodying the totality of our existence. It just takes once idea to change the world.

That is why its amazing to see the whole world uniting, raising the frequency on the planet. The world is an idea. All ideas must change. Money is an idea, schools are an idea. The buildings around you are ideas formulated in the mind of someone like you and me. Therefore, the world is never one thing, it’s dynamic, it’s forever changing. In essence, we are a reflection of the world. If you desire peace in the world, you must create peace within yourself first. And, the more and more I see how we are architects. We are painters. Life is a canvas we draw on in our minds. We are living in magical times right now on the planet, we have to open our minds to a whole world of infinite possibilities.

So make your own way. The power lies within you.

The Hack of ZPD

Let me begin with two questions.

What is learning?

What kind of instruction is optimal for a particular child?

Without doubt, such questions are immediately comprehensible to any committed teacher in virtually any country in the world, and most of them are likely to want concrete answers to the question, not only as a theoretical puzzle, but in relation to their immediate practices. If one were to look to scientific psychology and educational research for advice in relation to this practical problem, what would the answer(s) look like?

This simple question raises several profound problems. Normative and political issues about the goals of instruction and the resources available for realizing these goals must be resolved. A theory of learning is needed that can explain how intellectual capabilities are developed.

Can we come up with a vision or a platform where dialogue, diversity and collaboration become the driving principles to let a child explore his deep aptitudes as much as s/he can.

If not can we help educate parents to let them know about the ZPD (Zone of proximal development) process. I have been a fan of Lev Vygotsky’s ZPD process for a while now. I have used it to teach myself and experiment this with my parents and family in helping them to learn something with their skill-set at their current level along with the principles of Behavior Design and Gamification.

In a classroom of 30 students, each student has a learning pace and style that is most appropriate for him or her, yet differentiating instruction for all 30 can be a formidable challenge. At the same time, we also know that teaching without taking into account what students already understand and what they still
need to work on is ineffective.

ZPDPsychologist Lev Vygotsky coined this term in the 20th century to describe the sweet spot where instruction is most beneficial for each student – just beyond his or her current level of independent capability.

His work being in Russian was one of the major reasons it took a long time for others to know until it got translated into other languages. This was later took further and using scaffolding, it was applied and was found that with the aid of appropriate scaffolding, students can gain skills and knowledge by completing tasks (with assistance as needed) until they are eventually able to complete them independently.

“the aim of scaffolding is the ultimate transfer of responsibility for the task to the child as adult support decreases and child capability increases”

The common thread between formative assessment practices and the practice of identifying and teaching within the ZPD is the idea that in order for teaching and learning to be effective, instruction should focus on skills and knowledge that are attainable for students (not too easy, not too difficult, but just right). With constant feedback, or scaffolding, we know that students’ learning and understanding
can continue to develop at an appropriate pace.

When I first read more about this, it became clear to me that this is again Behavior Design in essence.

What if we could apply this to our school systems and take away grading completely and include teachers in the learning process as learners and teachers. Now wouldn’t that environment be organic and the learning holistic?

Of course, the learning curves can be amplified further once the learning becomes fun using other technologies that can speed up learning as per each learner’s desire. Learning that’s fun gets done. One can ask, what might the benefits be of such a model.

Here something that I came up with:

Students can be provided with:

  • challenging but reasonable tasks that stimulate thinking and motivate efforts to learn
  • meaningful instruction and feedback that helps drive further development at an appropriate pace
  • a learning environment where they are valued as individuals, a collaborative
    group, and a class
  • a learning environment where their creativity and thought processes are
    acknowledged and accepted

Teachers could:

  • identify and use areas of strength and weakness to tailor learning experiences at the individual and group level
  • engage students in social interactions to enable learning
  • better understand students as individual learners, learners in a small group
    setting and learners in a larger social setting
  • discover unique thought processes that different students may use to solve

The Administration could:

  • promote higher quality differentiated instruction in schools or let self designed learning drive the administration rules which can be flexed with some order in it.
  • emphasize better teacher student relationships
  • work with more motivated teachers and students

How can I locate and teach in the ZPD?

Here are some questions one can ask ? I have placed small wins that can be used to tailor the material and generate insights.

  1. Do I know what I want my students to understand by the end of this unit?

    ZPD Small Win – Identify the target level of knowledge and
    understanding you want your students to attain (e.g. for the year, a specific unit or a specific concept). Chunk it down, prepare a trail of breadcrumbs.

  2. Do I have an idea of the skills and knowledge that students must have in order to reach this level of understanding?

    ZPD Small Win – Work backwards from the end‐of‐unit goal(s).
    Ask yourself: “What needs to be understood before this goal can be reached?” Develop a model of the learning progression that you
    expect students to follow in order to attain the targeted knowledge and understanding

  3. Do the tasks and activities I have created help me see what my students
    understand and what they still need to work on?

    ZPD Small Win – Create tasks, activities and problems that allow
    you to gather information about students’ understanding of the topic at hand while they are learning.

  4. Am I observing, assessing, and listening to my students in order to understand the thought processes they are using to arrive at their

    ZPD Small Win – Observe, assess, and listen to student behaviors
    and inquiries in response to the topic. Frequent assessments, whether formal or informal, allow patterns of strengths and weaknesses to
    emerge both at the individual and group level. This will help you identify students’ ZPDs.
    This can help collect a set of data points out of which consistent patterns will start to emerge over time which can be leveraged later.

  5. Am I adjusting my instruction based on what I see my students have
    grasped and what they still need to work on?

    ZPD Small Win: Modify instruction, activities and groups based on information you gather about what your students can do independently, what they can do with peers, and what they are struggling with overall.

  6. Am I providing feed forwards that uses students’ strengths to build on their weaknesses?

    ZPD Small Win: Work with small groups and individual students. Push their thinking by asking guiding questions, modeling and providing demonstrations as necessary.

    Research has shown that interactions between a child and a more competent peer or adult in which everyone is actively engaged tend to produce higher student achievement. And even if assessments are made they should be made so that the teacher gains instructionally valuable information about students’ independent thinking. + I’m curious to see what would result if a ZPD learning system like this is taken outside the classrooms and then seeing if the learning is much more accelerated or not. 🙂