Saturday, May 3, 2014

How to teach Ekalavya

The story of Ekalavya in Mahabharata is soul stirring tale and has quite a sad and gory end. Ekalavya is an epithet that is best used to describe someone who learns on ones own - in this case, Ekalavya uses the statue of Dronacharya to learn - all the while learning by himself with the guru as inspiration. Dronacharya himself, had no idea of this, until he meets his pupil in person at a later point.

The internet is giving rise to several Ekalavyas. There is a generation of adults and children who are making immense use of the internet to learn. If there were an age of the autodidact, this would be it.

Yes, there are courses, MOOCs, spanking websites with videos, but there are many others who with the power of the long tail - are reaching audiences they would otherwise never dream of reaching.

Case in point - the little one, who alernatively is a fan of Jay Stepher, JangBricks and Zazinombies. Yes, I am very sure you would have never heard of these names - he found them somehow on youtube. And one of his friends also knows these guys. So, as a Lego fan, you get to learn stuff that is otherwise impossible to learn if it were not for these 'gurus'. And he is pretty good at building stuff from blocks - from all these random teachers on the internet. He gets inspired and makes his own creation. He is not going to get any certificate from any school for any of this work, but does this go and sit in his brain somewhere - I am sure it does. And perhaps as a learning methodology - this approach seems to work wonders than the rigmarole of learning Hindi at school - which is neither cool nor adding value as he sees it.

The other person he is a fan of is Jeremy Clarkson and his show on TV - Top Gear. He knows more about cars than any other person of similar age I suppose - and then again I might be wrong. Somewhere, in the backyard there may be a zillion kids inspired by these shows.

These are just two examples. But corporate learning has not got to this stage - atleast not yet. It helps that the Ekalayva generation is just about getting in to workplaces. But more importantly, how are schools and colleges going to cope with this ultra knowledgeable, ultra passionate, self learning generation?

And what are the opportunities in the real world that we can create to tap into this? What other things might Ekalavya be interested in? And how does one get them interested in those?

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