If you have a problem, fix it. But train yourself not to worry, worry fixes nothing. - Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Notes to my students and me: Life writing!

As a teacher, I often learn from my students more than what I teach teach them. My learning happens in many different ways and it usually it goes far beyond the classroom.

Last night, I was checking some papers – essays written by my students. It was an essay they had to write in 40 minutes and they had to write at least 250 words. I found two scripts where the writers wrote far below their capacity because they wrote too much. They seemed to be in a tearing hurry to write whatever they knew and had to say on the topic. Should you do this, particularly if you have to complete the task within a given time-frame?

The answer obviously is a big NO. If you tried something like that, you would commit avoidable errors and have no time to check the work in the end. Besides, since you were trying to cover far too many points, you wouldn’t be able to develop them adequately or offer evidence to prove them. So your essay could well be a hodgepodge of semi-developed ideas and taste like uncooked biriyani. Whatever great ideas you might have would be wasted. Just as the finest basmati rice would be, if it wasn’t cooked properly!

So dear Students, whenever you have to write an essay, do write slowly. Write only as much as you can within the given time. Give your brain the time to process and organise thoughts and give your fingers the opportunity to write neatly. First, decide what the most important points are, and then think: how many of them can you write down neatly in the given time, leaving a few minutes for checking in the end? In any exam, it is the quality of your writing that matters primarily. The quantity matters too – but that’s far too secondary.


When I opened my eyes this morning, I was thinking about these answer sheets. Suddenly, my long to-do list flashed before my eyes. And then the penny dropped. Don’t we commit the same mistake in life all the time? Aren’t we trying to do far too many things than what our time and energy would permit? Is everything that I think is important really important? Can I have less worries and more peace? Less junk and more quality?

How many of the things to do in my list really matter?  Let me strike off half of them, for good!


Wednesday, 05 August 2015