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Topper ?

Thanks once again for taking your time to read this! Remember to write down your views in the comments form at the end!

What’s the definition of a topper? Who is a real topper? When a new parent walks into the small waiting/reading room at our academy, they get a chance to see the (vinyl?) printed colorful boards of smiling students with their scores. Of course all the pictures are of the top performing students. However, very soon while you are reading the below you will learn why a topper is not really a topper. Let’s go back into historyto the culture-based divisions in India: Bramhins, Kshatriyas, Vyasyas, and Shudras.

STAGE 1: Amongst the four divisions, only the first ones (Bramhins) were believed to be educated. They sat under a tree with natural surroundings and a pleasant atmosphere. They had a very strict and respectable sage who put them through the process. They had NO TEACHING AIDS at all! Their only mode of learning was listening and practicing what they heard. During this stage, the only option these people had was an auditory-based learning system.

STAGE 2: The Kshatriyas were not trained in the same manner. These warriors were shown maps and weapons. They learned by seeing.

STAGE 3: The Kshatriyas were later trained by using and practicing with the weapons instead of just hearing about them or only seeing them.

Let’s now summarize what we have learned. There were three stages of learning. Stage 1 emphasized audio learning. Stage 2 produced visual learners. Stage 3 taught students through kinesthetic lessons. The last one seems like it was the most difficult of all. Why is this?

Let’s go back to our childhood prior to our formal schooling. We were taught the alphabet and numbers. More interestingly, however, is the fact that we were taught not by listening or looking at the teacher but rather by using equipment or playing with toys to understand the concept.

I still remember shifting the beads of the abacus back and forth to learn about units and how to count. The transition begins when students begin reading by using the blackboard. This generally starts from the 1st standard of school all the way up to degree programs. Few of you would disagree. Please understand that even the latest technologies still give us a visual and animated learning – not kinesthetic learning.

So what is kinesthetic based learning? It’s simple. “Do and feel learning” uses all your sensory organs. Wow! I wish every teacher, parent, and human being knew about this

Let’s move ahead. We learn the same way throughout our school years with this system of learning all the way to graduation with our bachelor’s degree. This is what happens:

  1. We read lines in a textbook that are usually dull and boring. Most of the time they are in black and white. Sometimes they are colorful.

  1. We listen to a teacher who is boring, monotonous, and tired of teaching.

  1. We imagine or memorise the subject with our minds in order to try to understand it.

  1. We reproduce the information on a plain sheet of paper during a short period of time. Is this a memory test?

We religiously followed this method while ignoring the most powerful way of learning – kinesthetic. Then, when one takes up a profession or business or obtains professional qualifications, the student once again uses kinesthetic learning. Future doctors cannot just listen to lectures (audio) or read books (visual). Instead, they have to assist someone for 5 years and have hands-on experience (kinesthetic) before they become a surgeon. Lawyers cannot simply read a rulebook, take exams, and then argue in court. They need experience working with someone. The same is true for software engineers who cannot start their duties without kinesthetic learning even though their education was quite grueling at times. I can give you thousands more examples. A painter cannot be a painter just by watching someone perform or just by reading books. How did you learn to drive a car? Did you learn by watching someone else drive or by listening to a lecture on how a car works? No! You learned by hands-on experience by trying to drive the car. Do you think a pilot learned to fly by only reading books? No!

Let’s look at another example. Let’s say that you buy a new mobile phone or an electronic device. There are three ways you can learn how to use it: 1) Call a friend (audio), 2) Read the manual (3% of people read this document before they use the equipment), or 3) Start using it to learn about its features (setup, navigation, etc.). The majority of us fall into this 3rd category. This is because it is kinesthetic - the best mode of learning. Hands-on learning allows people to touch and see at the same time.

At the beginning of this blog, I asked whether a topper is a topper? Has a person learned just because they have a good memory through audio lessons? Is he a topper?

I have conducted many experiments with many types of students. So-called dumb and useless students were actually ignored most of the time! However, when I asked them a question from one of my tests, the results were simply amazing. Students who had done the experiment by themselves understood the concept extremely well even if their written answers were not properly structured. So, are these students really dull and dumb? No!

Kinesthetic learners are students who cannot sit idle in class. They are the ones who constantly want to do something with their bodies. Some have the habit of spinning pens, balancing books on a finger, carving on a desk, drawing patterns on books, or even pinching and irritating other students.

Unfortunately, teachers loose their cool and call these talented people “mischief makers.” In reality, with good directions these people can be exceptional leaders in all walks of life. The next time you feel you have achieved something great by scoring 90+, ask yourself whether you learned by doing it and feeling it. If so, you are the real topper. Otherwise, you were just a topper for a memory contest!

Here’s one final tip. The next time you instruct a kid, student, colleague, or anyone else, don’t ask them to listen to you (auditory). Don’t ask them to watch you perform (visual). Instead, make them do it, feel it, and experience it (kinesthetic).


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