Saturday, October 20, 2012

Why should a student make a plan instead of only choosing career option?

In my coaching, I have never observed a student making a plan in their student life. In my observation, students do not draft a plan due to three reasons. One, students do not know how to plan. Two, they do not know what to plan. And three, students do not know what to do if the plan fails. In other words, they do not know the purpose and benefit of planning. They are just happy to choose one career option and hope that it will work wonders automatically.

Why should student make a plan?

Single biggest reason of making a plan in student life is to 'excel' academically. If the students IQ is well above average, he can excel in many subjects and areas. He may not need a plan. But most of us need focus of efforts and time to excel. That is why a student must first choose a career option to focus his energy. And then he must also make a plan to channelise his efforts to excel in a chosen career option. This is not possible until he draws a plan. Drawing an action plan in the school life is a plan for 'ensuring excellence in academic life'. Therefore let us call this plan, Unique Learning Plan, or ULP in short.

Unlike a student excelling in entertainment or sports ( such as Lata Mangeshkar or Sachin Tendulkar), a student in cognitive field ( please see this distinction of cognitive and Aesthetic field here) requires a ULP. A student in entertainment and sports field starts his race (playing music or playing sport) at the age of 8 and therefore has a greater chance of excelling. On the contrary, until the age of 21, a student in cognitive field (also called as knowledge field) is engaged in reading and understanding concepts that he may or may not use in the later age. Until the student starts working, he will not apply these concepts in real life and verify his knowledge he has gained. ULP is required because it enables a student to focus his efforts in his long academic life on meaningful actions.

Two critical areas in Unique Learning Plan (ULP) 

The Unique Learning plan should cover at least two type of subjects: Core subject and complementary subjects.

One, it should help the student to build deeper knowledge in his chosen core subjects to become 'excellent'. More often than not, student chose core subjects such as physics, biology, chemistry and mathematics because they are traditionally considered to build the skills that are demanded in a skill-market. These are the left-brain oriented subjects. To ensure admissions, a student has to work with dual objective:  Work on getting good marks in the subject, say physics, and also work on acquiring deeper knowledge of Physics. Most of the coaching classes today help in scoring higher marks in the subject, say physics. But it requires a different type of teacher ( and also some additional avenues like Physics Olympiad) to help the student gain deeper knowledge of a subject in physics. This deeper knowledge helps develop excellence in physics which is later useful in student's work-life.

Two, ULP should also include a plan to understand and apply complementary subjects. Complementary subjects are those subjects that complement the benefits of core subjects. For instance, subjects like Language develop the art of communicating one's thoughts and ideas in a cogent manner. Without this basic skill of communication, a student excelling in physics and maths cannot benefit. Because of this lack of focus on language, you will meet many brilliant students who are unable to express their thoughts coherently and therefore fail to maximise the benefits of their academic excellence. Likewise, subject like history helps student understand the history of our country, and how the philosophies of leftist or rightist political parties are influencing today's policies and governance. Without knowing where he stands in his community, a student feels like a traveller who has lost his way in foreign land. Subject like Geography helps the student understand the inter-related variables of environment and therefore appreciate the dynamic complexities of one's environment. These right-brain oriented subjects are therefore very useful for the student to 'develop the qualities' that will complement the student's core left-brain oriented subjects. For more detailed exploration of right-brain and left-brain, please see Ian Mcgilchrist's detailed exploration.

In earlier days, students typically chose left brain subjects as core subjects to excel in their career. But in today's economy, the right-brain subjects are equally in demand. Today, you will find many students choosing  right-brain subjects like Language and History as core subjects of choice. For them, complementary subjects therefore become physics and chemistry, as they have to learn left-brain subjects to 'structure' their thoughts. Core subjects for one student could be complementary subject for another student and vice versa. Therefore, depending on their ULP, every student has to spend different 'time' and 'type of effort' on each subject.


An ULP therefore helps a student start the race, because there is no benefit in waiting for the race to start. The earlier you start running the race, the ahead you are in the race. The biggest benefit of ULP is fully utilising the years you spend in the academic life to excel. This excellence helps considerably in the later work-life.

However, the biggest benefit of ULP is indirect. It channelises a student's bubbling and restless mental energy  ( adolescent age also brings its own energy and force) in a focused direction. This helps a student discipline his whimsical mind. For instance, taking all the necessary actions in the ULP - studying core subjects or complementary subjects - requires a disciplined mind. As a student mind in this age is easily distracted, ULP enables him to reduce these distractions. LP enables the student to develop the required willpower to focus. As LP requires taking assistance from friends and colleagues to understand a subject; this forces a student to interact and collaborate with friends. In other words, ULP enables student to develop his mind. We have also seen the definition of Mind growth and how it is different than academic or intellectual growth. Mind growth is facilitated unconsciously by LP.

Earlier we had seen how mind growth directly influences work-life excellence. Mind growth also impacts academic life equally strongly. Later we shall see how it impacts the academic excellence and what steps should one take to consciously plan for Mind growth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice post. I went through the post I found it very informative and useful. Thanks for sharing.