Author: thecoolgeek

Modern Ekalavya Learning Technique 2 – Selecting a Learning Path

Modern Ekalavya Learning Technique 2 – Selecting a Learning Path

With an attention span of a fish, we can hastily abandon the course we have selected. It’s not a surprise that just one course would not suffice for learning that skill. We would not require a 4-year bachelor’s degree otherwise.

Many of the MOOC platforms have already started curating individual courses into learning paths. These learning paths help you master the skill in a much more comprehensive manner. I have tried out Lynda’s and Coursera’s learning, and they seem to be good enough to pick any skill. We could even apply those skills immediately after we have completed the learning path. Even Marketing guru in his article talks about the importance of MOOCs not just only for adults but for children too.

Suppose you want to learn Machine Learning. Without a doubt, Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning course is good to start. However, when you register on Coursera, you will notice that it will ask you about your learning goals and suggest you a learning path accordingly. In the learning path I have chosen, there are three courses I need to complete. You can select Python or R Machine Learning paths depending on the skill you want to specialise.

Ekalvya was clear he wanted to become the best archer in the world, and he would not have done it without setting up strict learning path. He stuck to his path no matter what for years together.

In today’s world, the learning paths should not only contain courses with skill you want to learn. You also need to keep yourself updated with where all you can apply this skill you have acquired. For example, if you are want to become a data scientist, you also need to improve your visualisation skills or presentation skills.

Once you have completed a course, you need to apply them. Platforms such as Kaggle or KD nuggets help us with that. May real life problems are put up as competition on these platforms. Also, Kaggle now has Kernels and forking which can help you get started quickly.

What are you waiting for, choose your learning path on Coursera and create your account on Kaggle and start participating?

 

 

Should we tolerate the intolerant?

Should we tolerate the intolerant?

Since the beginning of time intolerance has always been not tolerated. In Mahabharata, Pandavas had chosen to war against Kauravas as their behaviour towards Drapaudi was not tolerated. Oath-Bound Bheeshma sat in the court while Kauravas were stripping Draupadi in the court. Just to set the premise, Pandavas lost to Kauravas and had to give away Draupadi to be a dasi to Kauravas. So, they did what they deemed fit with her.

I want to highlight the two sets of people here. One who tolerated the shameful act done by Kauravas. It included Bheeshma, known as the most powerful and respected man at that time. And the other set were those who did not tolerate this act and protected her when she was being stripped.  As per the games honour code, Pandavas could not do anything about it, but Krishna was one such person who saved her during the situation. Here there two sets of people each choosing their side. Either to tolerate or not. If they chose not to, the great battle of Mahabharata would have been avoided. But the fight against intolerance was fought and won by the Pandavas.

After the battle, the ones that tolerated the act were all killed, and the people that chose to sides with these intolerant Kauravas also met their demise. Many among the killed included Pandavas cousins, gurus, friends and other relatives. All of them knew they were on the wrong side and yet they chose to side with Kauravas and fight against their most loved Pandavas.

What should have been the ideal scenario? In the ideal situation, this act should not have been tolerated at all by anyone. A lot of family members life would be saved if only the Kauravas were punished. But a battle has to be fought to punish the offenders and those who chose their side. With this perspective, the intolerant were punished and those who sided with them too.

In another instance much before Mahabharata, Krishna tolerated 100 mistakes of Shihupal which was the son of Krishna’s aunt. But the 101st mistake was not tolerated, and he punished by death immediately. Another perspective where the offender was not tolerated.

Both the stories one thing in common the intolerant were not tolerated even if they were family members. By now it’s already established that it’s easy to tolerate the fanatics acts. Which brings out the following questions:-

  • What level of tolerance should we show to our family members?
  • Should we show our intolerance to a behaviour immediately or provide them with a chance to correct?
  • Who are we to tolerate other people(does not include fanatics) behaviours?
  • Do you know about your behaviour that probably others are tolerating which should not be the case? Or do you think you are always right and all of your “behaviour” have an explanation or have a hidden agenda to fix the other person? Or you may call it an act of self-acclaimed method with an explanation that should be tolerated by the other person?

Perhaps, the line between tolerance and acceptance is so blurred that it’s mostly absent. And it is in its absence, that most often, the justification for everything starts. Tolerance and Acceptance are not of binary values to be a zero or one. It’s not black or white. It’s a combination of both, which heavily depends on the subject. For, after all, the shades of grey only depended on how much black and how much white was in it. For it was never composed of its own.

I appreciate the perspective of Yonatan brings out in his article on Intolerance who in the list of top 50 writers in Politics. But, I would go the quote written by Charles Colson, who President Nixon’s “hatchet man” and has also written many books. After all, tolerance does not mean that we agree or ignore each other’s perspective. It means we make space for them and guide them to improve their perspective.

True tolerance is not a total lack of judgement. It’s knowing what should be tolerated be tolerated, and refusing to tolerate that which shouldn’t.

-Charles Colson

After all, we have the power to make our reasoned choice but be prudent of the dangerous trap of confirmation bias.

If you are interested in reading a perspective on Intolerance, you can read it here.

 

Modern Ekalavyas Learning Technique 1 – Start with Why

Modern Ekalavyas Learning Technique 1 – Start with Why

Coursera has more than 8 million registrations, edX has more than 3 million, and Udacity recently crossed the 2 million mark. While these numbers seem staggering, the course completion rate tells an entirely different story. Across all MOOC platforms, the course completion rate stands at a measly 7%. Much research has been done to identify the reason for this abysmal completion figure, and methods to control the dropout rate. Some research indicates the lack of motivation or a healthy “why?” being the primary reason for the low completion rates. The lack of negative repercussions of abandoning a course midway also contributes towards the dropout.

Think about college. If you quit college midway, you have to enrol again to finish your course. However, with MOOCs, you do not have any penalties for abandoning a course. Enrolling again is easy, and many courses are not even time bound. Even if these courses are time-bound, they are generally spaced out enough for someone to finish them without experiencing a time constraint.

Companies have tried experimenting with various fee structures, but they do not seem to have any impact on the completion rates. This pattern appears to extend to my professional field too. For example, I interact with many professionals who want to switch to analytics, but the average tenure in the field is small. What could they do better? As in the example above, people need to start with their “why?” – Why do they want to switch to analytics? If a better salary is the sole motivation, they might want to reconsider their decision. Anyone who intends to shift to analytics needs to have a love for playing with data, so he or she can use that data to help solve business problems. Simply taking a course does not transform someone into a good fit for a new domain.

Ekalavya had an unshakeable urge to gain mastery over archery, which is why he did not give up even when Dronacharya rejected him, and instead, found his unique way of training himself. Much like Ekalavya, if we are resolute in our determination to complete a MOOC, we will reap benefits quickly, and who knows, we might even master it without having to lose a thumb!

If you want further motivation on starting with “WHY?”, Simon Sinek’s TED talkperfectly explains it. You can also visit his website for further reading. Also, if you like to read his book, you can purchase “Start with Why” on Amazon.

[21/52] The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

[21/52] The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

I could not resist reading yet another children book of Dr Seuss. I am glad I picked up The Lorax.

The Lorax has a profound message told in simplest form. Rapid consumption of natural resources to bring products to market faster is a wide spread today. Most often today, Marketing drives a demand and hence production. It’s not a big surprise we end up buying stuff we don’t need.

The cutting down of Truffula trees made me realise, how costly organic vegetable and fruits have become. The commercially grown or “manufactured” vegetables and fruits are much cheaper!

If every child read this book multiple times during their childhood in India at least, I am sure many would have grown to handle large scale problems such as shown in this book.

You can find this book on Goodreads here.

Taking the Cold Shower Challenge was a good decision

Taking the Cold Shower Challenge was a good decision

Benjamin p. Hardy wrote about taking a cold shower in one of his articles and its benefits. Without much delay, my brother and I decided to take cold showers for the rest of our life. It seemed overwhelming then cause neither of has tested chilled water during the winters.

This simple decision marked a pivotal point in my life.

I always used to think twice before attempting to do an action. With this simple change, I realised I get the courage to do an action without much hesitation.

Apart from creating a shift in mindset, I also observed other benefits. Getting rid of the irritating throat mucus and a blocked nose was one the great achievements of this challenge.

Do I still think to hesitate to take a cold shower? – Yes, I do!

But, that helps me build a mental attitude of taking that extra step needed to make the difference. I am much calm and composed as opposed to the worry wart I used to be.

I started to get up early, which was a practice I wanted to develop for a while. I ensured I practised the keyboard no matter how tired or sleepy I was. I stopped procrastinating tasks I usually get stuck with for a long time. And I can count many such situations I have taken that extra step and won.

I experienced a significant shift in my attitude. I made it a point to get into the swimming no matter how cold it got. Each time I got into the pool, I was able to complete three laps at one time. Today I was amazed at the laps I could do at one time. I was able to first five laps in one go, the next in another go and then I decided just to keep on going for the next 15 laps. To my surprise, I was able to pull it off. It was an achievement but the time in which I did the 25 laps were under 30 minutes which otherwise took me close to an hour.

I am glad I made that decision along with my brother. It has been eight months already into this habit. And I am determined to keep going no matter what.

Winter is coming! Let’s see how many days more can I sustain it.

Now the question is – Are you are ready to take the Cold Shower Challenge?

 

Modern forms of Ekalavya’s learning technique

Modern forms of Ekalavya’s learning technique

Ekalavya from ancient history proves that self-learning is the best form of learning style.

Dronacharya (also Guru Droņa) was a master of advanced military arts and was the preceptor of Kauravas and Pandavas in the epic of Mahabharata. He also is known to be a teacher to Ekalavya but by indirect methods.

Ekalavya approached Guru Droņa to learn the art of war from him, and the Guru rejected his request. Deeply hurt by the rejection, Ekalavya did not give his resolution of learning the art of war.  This situation gave birth to one of the oldest forms of self-learning.

Ekalavya took the mud under the Guru’s feet to the jungle and made a full statue of Guru Droņa. It was a symbolic gesture to follow his knowledge and footsteps. With Guru Droņa statue placed under a tree and with a high amount of self-motivation, Ekalavya practised every day for many years. He chose archery as his focused art of war and gained exceptional prowess. He was even greater than Guru Droņa best pupil, Arjuna.

During that time, there was a ritual of Guru Dakshina. It was a form of paying respect to the Guru for his services. I could not even imagine why Guru Droņa could ask such a Dakshina from a self-taught learner like Ekalavya. Guru Droņa asked Ekalavya to cut his right thumb as Guru Dakshina. Eklavya with a smile cut his right thumb and handed it over.

What Ekalavya did was great. In today’s world, we do have many good sources to learn. Not as difficult as learning from a statue. And definitely, does not involve cutting our thumb as Guru Dakshina.

What are the modern forms of self-learning? 

With access to every information at our fingertips due to “Internet”, we now have access to YouTube, MOOCs and mobile apps that can help us learn anything we want.

We just need to have the self-motivation to learn and even stronger reason of why we want to learn.

Of course, we cannot deny that a mentor/guide/guru would improve our learning. But, let’s face it, racing against yourself becomes of more importance than learning either from Guru or being self-taught. And there is a good chance we might not find the right Guru at the time we require him. And then there is a way that involves the exchange of massive wealth to gain knowledge.

The question you must ask yourself is whether you learn something to satisfy your Ego or you want to learn it because you decided to improve yourself. Once you have this piece figured, you need to find a way to avoid distractions.

How to avoid distractions?

With many resources we have, we also double the distractions. It’s not like the forest Ekalavya practised. The environment was conducive for his learning. Yes, the environment is the answer. We need to create our environment, a system to stick to it to gain maximum from self-learning. Also, it’s a known fact that you must have a defined objective of what is the intended outcome you want from learning something.

Once your system is in place, it’s easier for you stick to it. You gain momentum when you begin to results you could not imagine. You may face down times, but it’s important to get back up and start learning again. You might not be able to make enough progress for 100 days in a row, but you need to keep your senses open, as the world has its way of getting the answer you need when you need it.