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MID NINETIES LESSONS

About 20 years back (Grade 4, in 1995), I am reminded of my primary school days as a little boy at Manjolo Primary School (Binga). There are many lessons which I drew ranging from motivation; working together as a community; determination to achieve objectives and the priceless contribution made by others into our lives.

It is funny to recall how i began the long journey. My mum tricked me by indicating that i will be registered for Grade 1 if i take a bath (it was in Jan 1992) [Expectancy Theory applied in action]. I willingly took a bath and quickly went to bed; woke up early in the morning only to be told i was under age. I took that as a joke as i had to trick her back by crying non-stop till i get registered. The strategy helped me as it saved me – the registrar couldn’t help out as i even failed their entry test (raising one’s hand over the head, touching the shoulder). I was motivated to go to school as it was like that’s where all the other kids are at – nothing like pre-school was there in my village.

I never knew that going to school comes with a price of being early and life long learning starting with vowels; alphabetic letters; and own name. I was not shy to cry all the way to school every morning. Well, my sisters took turns daily, slowly running to school. Late or early, it didn’t make any difference. When left to walk on my own to school, i would clock even at 10am in class.

We used to go to school with plates in plastic bags and come lunch, we knew that our lunch will be freely provided (pap and beans, sometimes nutritious porridge or mahewu). As young kids, we were not shy to carry our plates around and pushing each other in the queue even making a second round. Villagers voluntarily took turns to cook at the school (Singwemu; Sikalenge; Damba; Chibondo; Manjolo; Keelameenda etc). Well, the efforts of our parents were sacrificial though we seemed to take it for granted. Honestly, I was motivated going to school every day though the six hours before lunch seemed to be like a full day.

Prize Giving ceremonies and sports competitions were conducted by the school which made no sense to me – they only translated as a day not to go to school. Not only because I never got any prize but because no one pumped sense into my head about them. I preferred to assist with cultivating in the garden or fields than going to watch others. Up to now, I have not been moved by this, I would rather read a short story than watching a movies (I translate it as helping others make money at the expense of my time).

I can say we had free education. Paying fees of Z$0.50 per term – at one time we had a two dollar note with two of my sisters and got back a Z$0.50 change. Books and pens were given freely. I am not sure if some would not call that free education.

I was motivated when my teacher would scribble a “Good” in any of the exercises – I measured success by the frequency of them in any exercise book (Grade 4). My favourite exercise book had been one with most “Good” remark comments. The most hectic thing was writing “Corrections” for any exercise. This meant that whatever you got wrong, have to be perfect this time around. The teacher seemed to be putting special attention when it comes to “Corrections” – we as learners observed that we were expected to master what we got wrong in the first place (not just copying from a colleague without a good understanding).

I have no words to describe our learning style. One day, as I was coming from the rest room, under a tree was a class with a frustrated lady teacher hitting students shouting “WHAT IS A VERB?” – From that moment, I had to master the definition of a verb. I slowed my pace until I heard her saying – “A VERB IS A DOING WORD” . . . . and she gave some examples.

Sometimes, we had afternoon classes till around 3pm. One day, our teacher taught us on how we should be prepared for uncertainty in life (that’s my own conclusion). Our Mathematics topic was “Multiplication” – a learner was expected to recall the multiples of any numbers from 1 to 12 (luckily, our exercise books had those tables at the back). So it went like this: the teacher set a condition that EVERY learner should recall multiples of any number from 1 to 12, however, the teacher randomly picks one. That was a FAIR play but not easy for every learner. Well, I had no strategy for tackling the challenge. I unfortunately had to master everything. When the student gets ready, they raise a hand and then everyone listens to them. It was one of those days when we went home individually (instead of walking as a group) as everyone could n’t wait longer for the stuck colleagues.

After recalling this, I now understand how privileged we were, not necessarily comparing with others. But, above all, we face many challenges which leverage our forward movement though we take them for granted at times. It takes no cost to to appreciate such positive contributions.

I wonder what a current Grade 4 student at the same school would recall in 20 years time (2035). Surely, that would be a different story.

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Continuous Learning

MOTIVATIONAL QUOTE

Any piece of knowledge I acquire today has a value at this moment exactly proportional to my skill to deal with it. Tomorrow, when I know more, I recall that piece of knowledge and use it better.

Mark Van Doren (Columbia University)

With the above quote, I hope you will be energised to strive to master at least one concept every time when you study, be it five minutes or less. Learning is a lifetime investment that cannot be taken away from you.

Enjoy the day!!!

Supreme Educators – 2014

Many thanks to “Supreme Educators blog viewers” from South Africa, United States and Philippines for ranking first to the third respectively. I am glad that you found meaning on what i write on. Also, not forgetting the other 60 countries not mentioned.

Click here to see the post which received most views in 2014 – “Becoming a millionaire while others are sleeping – 8 hour versus 5 hour sleep

Service Excellence

What an inspiring scene in the morning at Golden Arrow buses – Cape Town station. After the driver reached his final station, a group of passengers (about 6 – 10 women) requested the driver to step out as they queued and hugged him one by one.

It was a challenge for me as I learnt many lessons in terms of, perhaps, good service rendered by the driver; good relationship between workers and clients; and or milestone achieved. With such relationships, a company is destined for long-term success.

As I took a second thought on it, I was someone tempted to think that this might be a daily thing. The driver is an asset to Golden Arrow bus company.

It is essential to play the role of such a ‘driver’ in whatever business you are working for or anything you are doing.

Work like you are building an empire – long-term relationships pays for the sustainability of the company.

Lesson From Soccer

I am not a soccer fan though I have picked something to learn from the player-teamwork exhibited throughout every match. I have read on various awards won by different players such including goalkeepers but have not read about celebrations with their team players and opponents (awards). Music is another area which can be used as a point of reference as well product manufacturing companies. These are a few point of reference that resembles high level of teamwork needed which I believe celebrations should done considering other players.

I have to admit that I have no idea on how they embrace their success. I, however, wonder if the award winners remember their fellow players when they spend the money (when the award is in the form of money). I understand though that the goal celebration as well the overall match win is mutually celebrated. Examples of activities involving teamwork includes goal scoring in soccer match. Sometimes, more than five players would be directly linked to a goal for instance yet only the goal scorer receives much praise forgetting that one could not have achieved it individually.

Secondly, some instances are common when a goalkeeper wins an award. Do they appreciate their opponents for making them strong? I am of the opinion that such a person would have not to forget the efforts exerted by the opponent as the award would not have been achieved without the troubling efforts by opponents (other soccer team).

LESSON 1: We should, at times acknowledge and celebrate our success with concerned individuals in other words, those who contributes meaningfully towards it.

LESSON 2: We become champions as a result of the challenges which come along our way. Therefore, we should be glad to experience challenges; they help us to become sharper as well prepares us for the worst unfortunate incidents. Our abilities are sometimes correlated to our experiences – challenges, in this context are a blessing in disguise. Someone once said, “I consume challenges as my breakfast’.

Motivation for Exams

It takes one to realise that no one can motivate oneself better than oneself. No matter what mark you got in the past, there is nothing you can do about it except learning from it if it was a poor mark or get inspiration from it to do more. What are your dreams? Did you know that your future begins in the next ‘second’ and now is the time to work upon your dream. Right now, you have the ability to take action, through study, research or writing. Maximise your potential during your most productive moment.

TIPS
– Only take a break when it is necessary.
– Sleep to relax your brains and not to enjoy you will be sleeping the way you like when you achieve that dream.
– Most dreams are not achieved not because of complex misfortunes, but because of poor timing.
– Spend your time wisely, for studies. Reduce the time which you spend with your friends when you are supposed to study unless you are having revision or discussions. Truly, your friends will not help paying tuition tomorrow.
– Life is pleasant with friends when there is money but the opposite when it is otherwise.

Graduate with a Cum Laude!

Is it better to graduate with a Cum laude qualification?

For so long, I have been wondering why there are grades in every level of studies and I always wanted to get a clear understanding on what is believed as the difference between an excellence performer and an average student. It is indeed debatable to judge a student by the grade of the qualification which one got as some students can score the 90%+ as a result of cramming rather than studying for understanding yet someone could get a 60% average degree but with a great understanding of the degree content covered. Despite that, high percentage degrees are preferred in the job market as they are always attached with the level of intelligence to the qualification holder.

During my primary, my report was characterized by numerical grades i.e. 1, 2, 3 up to 9 (from the highest to lowest), my secondary education was however characterized by the following grades: A, B, C, D, E and U. however, passes from A to C resembling the highest grade to the average pass respectively. When I did my Advanced level of education, grades almost similar to Ordinary level were used with a ‘U’ replaced by ‘F’ and an ‘O’ grade being an additional grade which is higher than ‘F’. However, an ‘E’ is rendered as a pass different from the Ordinary level standard which has a ‘C’ as a least pass grade. To me, these grades translated the level of intelligence to the results bearer. Does it resemble performance or intelligence of the student? I always got confused to strike the difference. Well, my opinion might not be legitimate without supporting evidence. Different universities have different grades of passes however, mostly 50% being the pass mark. I always told myself that there is a reason why there are these entire grades instead of merely having failure and pass.

This article dwells much on tertiary level qualification grades and particularly – a cum laude. I learnt that there are also different levels of passes also at tertiary level with the common being: ‘Fail’, ‘Pass’ and ‘Pass-with-Distinction’. Some universities use grades such as 3; 2.2; 2.1 and 1 which classifies a qualification from average to highest grade. Most employers prefer graduates with highest grade especially in the private sector where competence, efficiency and productivity are a priority. This tend to be contrary when it comes to the public sectors which does not emphasises on top achievers as it ensures to be mean as it also strives to reduce unemployment by employing graduates who cannot be absorbed in the private sector.

Let me not focus on the difference of getting a ‘fail’ compared to passing because it is simple in that one is rendered not competent for a job whereas those who ‘pass’ stand a better chance to get a job. In a different note, those who fail to get a qualification tend to mostly get absorbed in family or friend’s businesses. Surprisingly, such individuals can be found doing extremely well which could prove that getting a qualification is not the only way out to a greater life.

In the mind of an entrepreneur, failing to attain a qualification does not mean much but signals ‘a need of another way of doing things’. There exists a difference in the quality of qualification as discussed below. For every qualification, there are admission requirements hence at some institutions, some lower level grade qualifications are not good enough unless where work experience counts as an advantage. In this regard, high grade qualification becomes an added advantage when a graduate seeks to study further as an admission enabler or when opting to join the private sector for employment. Also, when one seeks for a sponsor to further one’s studies, a need to have attained a high quality qualification is highly recommended.

With the growth of the usage of internet, educators or lecturers are capable of collaborating with learners in achieving maximum possible performance hence the competition among graduates can be said to be high with the use of this logical explanation. However, how good can be the qualification? A cum laude is title used to describe a qualification which is excellent such as attaining an average of at least 75% to 100%. With Latin honours, these are the following grades of cum laude qualifications as presented by encyclopedia:

“Cum laude – with honour

“Magna cum laude – with great honour”

“Egregia cum laude – with outstanding honour”

Summa cum laude – with highest honour”

Maxima cum laude – with very great honour”

However, different countries use different categories for grading criteria which is, unfortunately, not covered in this article. These grades are much used to undergraduates and rarely used to students taking masters or doctorate.

A different perception presents an objection with regards to getting cum laude grade. A friend of mine once told me that some employers do not go for high performing students simply because they might be lacking a skill of ‘managing failure’. A graduate with a mark range of, for example 82% to 98, on a transcript in other words could symbolise that the graduate has never experienced failure hence if employed in a business; the graduate might find it extremely challenging to cope with failure if ever the business gets into trouble. Such employers mostly prefer graduates with transcripts with varying marks which could reveal that the graduate somehow faced some challenges which the graduate managed to overcome. However, this is debatable on the basis of the perceptions of different managers.

I managed to graduate with a cum laude in Diploma in Entrepreneurship due to various factors. The most crucial was the love of the subjects that forms part of the qualification. At times, I never studied to pass but to improve my understanding in the field of entrepreneurship hence I could even read more that what was required for the assessments giving me a holistic understanding of the whole qualification. However, there were modules which I thought they should not have been part of the course which happened to be de-motivating to study. At times, I just studied to pass but not to understand as I viewed them as time wasters.

In conclusion, a high grade qualification is more preferable as indicated above. As indicated above, when a graduate aims to pursue another qualification to gain admission preference and sponsor during studies, a high grade qualification in crucial. It has also been identified that when understanding of the qualification content is the priority, from the content covered, an ordinary qualification is good enough for mastering the skills. Therefore, the most crucial thing is for the individual student to know what they want to accomplish after attaining their qualification. This puts one in a better understanding on whether one will be able to get admission in the chosen field of study and institution. This prepares for the elimination of some frustrations such as to be rendered as incompetent for further studies or having challenges to secure a sponsor.

 

What an Easter Holiday!!

2013 Easter Holiday, turned to a “marathon-study-recovery-session” by a University Student

Easter holiday is a most common Christian holiday celebrated across the world. According to Wikipedia, it estimates a total of around 2.5 billion of people who celebrated the holiday: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations_by_number_of_members].

The holiday is aligned with university holidays such as here in South Africa hence the students would be on a mini vacation [10 days Easter inclusive]. Most of the students take it as the time to take a real break on their studies as student life is not the best with some courses. On the other hand some students remain preparing themselves in terms of assignments and further understanding on the material they would have covered. It is rare to note how other students remain cluttered to their books when everyone is taking a break to refresh. Globally, most companies have a break and students have locked their books in their trunks only to wait for the opening of university over the Easter holiday. This is typical to students, however, a historical scientific theorist Douglas McGregor refer to such students falling under the Theory X category. Is n’t it difficult to understand where some students get the zeal to maximise output when almost everyone is relaxed? Or perhaps it can be said that the student would have been playing throughout the term and only . . . .

Anyway, that is my case as I write this article. My first term was characterised by a couple of challenges which drew my attention away from schoolwork. I barely got the motivation to concentrate on my studies and as a result, I only saw the accumulation of chapters which need my precious time. This is one of the moments when I easily related my scenario to another theorist Clayton Alderfer on his ERG Theory of motivation. Just because other needs required immediate attention, my focus easily got distracted from my studies. I later found that my Easter Holiday would be turned into a “Marathon Study Recovery” and it turned to be a reality.

On a Good Friday, I quickly woke up at 3am and managed to draft a 10-day recovery plan. It took me 2 and 1/2 hours to complete a plan which required me to generate 80 hours to complete 30 chapters for my 5 subjects. Surprisingly, refreshment breaks were not included on this plan. To cover up for this, I made a target of creating “12 productive hours” per day which saw me generating between 96 to a maximum of 120 productive hours over my 10-day vacation to cater for some variations due to uncertainties. This translated to about a minimum of 90 minutes of accumulated breaks per day. Now, this seems not to be enough for a 12 hour productive day hence I ensured that I complete some chapters in less that the allocated 2-hour sessions. I made sure that I write down every hour spent and on where it has been spent. The plan seemed to be perfect and I quickly took a 2-hour nap which saw me embarking on my new project at 5:30am. For my Easter days, my plan worked perfectly as I worked in line with my schedule. During the period, I learnt that the most important aspect in life is implementation of plans as that’s where the line between the rich and the poor lies according to my opinion. Unfortunately, I got distracted by some other interesting learning experiences as I ended up taking some “coding” lessons online which completely affected my plan as I remember I once spent a continuous 15 hours in front of my laptop. Therefore, implementation is very important.

My door remained locked mostly throughout the marathon session, with my phone on an “offline-vacation” mode. My friends were not happy about it but I was content with it as I clearly knew what I wanted to achieve. Life without friends is unpleasant but life taught me that I meet friends in various stages of it and have to be careful not to regret due to their influences. With that in mind, I always put my studies first before friends. This is simply that the investment I am making towards my education will help not myself alone but my family too, and even my friends. I always see it as an opportunity cost to spend time meant for studies with friends. This becomes a burning issue when I think of millions of people who never get the chance to achieve basic education not mentioning tertiary level.

In short, while people may be busy relaxing globally, one can get self motivation to work beyond a normal schedule and I admit that it pays in the long run. You are the best person to motivate yourself – by knowing your weaknesses and strength gives room to maximise performance in your strong areas.