My whole project of 100 days, which, by the way, I am doing well with, is about changing my life. However, changing my life to what is still perhaps unresolved. The overall goal, to go beyond the compromises I had to do after my last experiment at a breakout, remains: But what the next breakout is about needs more thinking.
As I noted in an earlier post, my enthusiasm about the world of education ventures have now somewhat dampened. The reason for this is a realisation, which comes with the exposure I have had over the last several years, that all the talk about education innovation is really neither about education nor about innovation. It is, mostly, about some desperate excess money following concepts and ideas past their sale-by date. And, this does not excite me enough: Or, let's say, it does not make me feel that any hardship is worthwhile to build another of those education apps that no one wants to pay for, or, for that matter, that For-Profit school that would peddle vocational courses and build on a credulous student population which craves for an 'foreign' degree. This is what education innovation in the venture world really is: It is not about new ideas but rather 'scale', a word which has come to mean more students for less cost, and that pursuit of efficiency, rather than effectiveness, dominate all the conversations.
Which is a big mistake. Economists are quite good at formulating theories and models, but have not done, for understandable reasons, one for the self-destruction of capital. The Schumpeterian vision of creative destructuction can be seen in action in the world of venture investment, in education as in others, where the herd mentality rules supreme, and the supposed smart money goes dumb as it follows the boastful illusions created by the few pied-pipers, who produce glitzy reports, collect their fees and watch other peoples' money to line up and self-destruct. This world, which I have become familiar with, runs on gossip, rumours, half-truths, urban legends and usual unfounded claims which the bankers are so capable of.
My predicament, of course, is that I am somehow stuck in this world. If I set my goal to build a better education offering, I have no other alternative, or not any in plain sight, but to turn to one of these sources of funds and get consumed in and by various ideas of better education spun by people who never taught for a day in their lives. Besides, that mad pursuit of scale is always usually focused on tried and tested new ideas, the pun is entirely intended, and the whole conversation is about copy-and-catchup route of being unique. The conversations are always centered on Cost of Student Acquisition and Teacher-Student Ratios, the analysts' prisms to measure efficacy of education, and almost never about what and how they learn. My aims of building an education to make better citizens and leaders have really no chance of surviving in this world.
So, I continue to live two lives, or, really, two and half lives. One of these would continue, from right now to beyond the 100 day mark, and I shall continue to hawk my business experience and knowledge of markets to whoever would pay for it. The key realisation in the last several years is that it is not worth making sacrifices for to build a For-Profit Education business. I should continue to work, perhaps outside the boring bounds of big companies where executives are more concerned about keeping their jobs than doing anything worthwhile. Something worthwhile may indeed come from it - there are some things which I am involved in may have some potential - but it is not something I wanted to define my life with.
Here, therefore, is the scope for a second life, which I live in waiting. I can afford to be estoteric here - I want to build a humanities education offering using all the tools of the trade that I have learnt through my day jobs, like education technology, project-based and activity-based learning, commitment to practice rather than theory - as I am getting ready to make the sacrifices necessary for it. I am acutely aware that this is not for any venture money - that is after an instrumentalist version of education and completely oblivious of the social and political change around us - and I have to find different kinds of money, public, philanthropic or crowdsourced, to do this effectively. This is what I spend time preparing for: Thinking about how to make humanities education come alive, to break out from its implicitly elitist assumptions (not just those backing technical education thinks humanities is for the leisurely, most people in humanities departments in the universities emphasize that they serve no immediate practical purpose, and are taken to imply that there is no practical objective for a humanities education at all) and to make good humanities education available to a large number of people.
Between the idea and reality, the future and current projects, is my half life, which is my quest of building an working identity, just as I believe one has to do to effect a change in career (an idea advocated by Herminia Ibarra of Insead). I am working to build a business model for a Leadership and Strategy Education, for students in High Schools or College (that bit is yet to be determined) using History, Literature and Philosophy, and through projects, travel and conversations. This is all an imaginary exercise right now - I have no funds and no ability to work on this - but I am hoping that this would provide me with something to focus my mind on, to build partnerships and conversations with like-minded people from across the world and even a context to explore the economic and operational model seriously.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
In our age, the only way to be politically correct is to be democratic. This is a post-70s affair - those days, still, some people had alternative ideologies in mind. Those alternate ideas are dead and gone, long discredited, and it seems that we have only one system which can make people happy, free and live longer. So, we have this huge export industry of democracy, and democracy's warriors, which the American security establishment has lately become. The democracy's businessmen, the bond traders, the media barons and the Hollywood types, are feted everywhere. The consensus is deafening and dumbing. It is indeed awkward to ask now - whether democracy is the right system for every society. It indeed should be. Collective wisdom is better than individual autocracy. In societies where democratic elections have been few and far between, the popular vote has demonstrated the extra-ordinary political savvy of the usually disinterested masses. Democracy has proved to be an excell
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.