Birdwatching, a key highlight of 2021 for me. Learning and experience of it went on to help me personally as well as professionally.

By casual observation, I used to feel that there are some 15-20 bird species observable around my house (100-200 meters radius). I didn’t know names of those species or their characteristics. At the start of 2021, equipped with Canon EOS 1500D mounted with 55-200m lense and the Merlin App/Google Lense App and leveraging work from home, I started my Birding/Birdwatching journey.

This is what I observed and what I learned from it:

(1) Observation: Though being very casual, I captured (in camera) 47 species of birds by July 2021. I observed but could not capture Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Common Crow and couple more whose names are unknown to me.

Learning: Gut feel do not give you actual picture. In business and othe critical scenarios, we should not conclude based on gut feel but should analyse based on data.

(2) Observation: I used to capture photo, then use AI in above mentioned app to approximate species and identify by comparing features from trusted resources. Still, for some of the species I took a week for confirmation.

Learning: Technology have come a long way. We need to appreciate the super-capabilities we have today. I tried to imagine a time where Ornithologists had to rely on very big hard bound encyclopaedia and telescope only. (I can’t express the profoundnesses in words. Hope you will imagine and understand.)

(3) Observation: With time, I wanted to get better in names of the species, their characteristics, what are different features of bird called etc. Vocabulary (a bit of it) of the domain helped me interact with content and experts in systematic way. This helped me with the next bird I observed.

Learning: Every domain have its own vocabulary, rules and structure. Getting familiar with it helps us learn better and faster. Otherwise context and coordination takes more time of consumption of content than actually understanding it.(even in meetings 🙂 )

(4) Observation: As I started and continued Birdwatching, slowly my family members too started taking interest. They would ask me to to share my learnings. They would spot birds for me and bring to my attention. Even my 2 year old would spot birds while playing outside or while watching outside window and call me to click photos.

Learning: Our enthusiasm positively affects people around us and they try to participate. When peers actively participate, imparting learnings to each other becomes easy. Learning together is more effective than teaching and our unpretentious demeanour with inquisitive mind can help form community at work.

(5) Observation: Birdwatching became hobby and I started to take out some time for it deliberately. Even when there was a stressful phase and some lingering problems, I could find some time for birdwatching. I would forget the problem for some time and it had rejuvenating effect. That helped me to understand actual priority of problem by having high level view and solve problems efficiently with fresh creative thinking.

Learning: We get fixated on challenges and problems. But defocus and distraction are important to be able to focus with fresh perspective and tackle the problem from new angle. Problems (and even solutions) are a very very small part of our life. Life is beautiful and being aware of it makes us be good and do better at work too.

Many of the very difficult problems have simple solutions and they exist right under our nose. Defocusing the mind once in a while and giving time to ‘unimportant’ things helps.

(You can see all the birds I could capture at https://rupeshghagi.in/category/birds-in-the-neighborhood/)

5 things to do to become an independent learner!

Become An Independent Learner !

As a learner gradually proceeds towards higher education, one factor that greatly impacts her(/his) academic success is the self-regulation acquired and practiced. You might not be familiar with the terminologies used by the experts, but we all have experienced the power of simple acts of taking active control of our studies. The dream of ‘affordable quality education for all’ seen by founding fathers of our republic and reiterated by policymakers can definitely be realised when every ‘student’ becomes ‘an independent learner’.

Obviously, independent learning is a superpower to be earned by systematic practice and persistence. (No, there is no genetically modified super-spider which can make you a super with a bite.). Subsequently, I will write about how to address this magical transformation subtly yet efficiently. Till then,

5 things to do to become independent learner

5 things to do to become an Independent Learner!

  1. Change of Perspective: Your learning takes place in your mind and no-one else has better access to your mind than ‘You’. So it is ‘you’-’the learner’ who is incharge of your own learning and academic progress. So take the initiative. Obviously, you can seek help from teachers, mentors, peers etc as per your discretion.
  2. Thinking about thinking: All of us talk about thinking of something or understanding a concept. We rarely try to understand ‘understanding’ or think about ‘thinking’. This higher order thinking skill is called metacognition i.e. awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes. It helps learners to see the bigger picture.  
  3. Learner’s ToolKit: There are various methods of reading, note-taking, studying, scheduling and every other aspect of learning. Good amount of research is available to tell you what are the benefits associated with each, but your own experience will tell you better. Remember, best methods vary with subject, standard etc.
  4. Marshall the resources: Plenty of resources are available for studying, from free to premium. Even the books you have, notes you prepare, questions you solve etc are part of it. Proper indexing with useful summaries of where to find what will be useful. Otherwise the more you study, the greater is the danger of getting lost in chaos.
  5. Channelizing emotions: Inability to handle own emotions is one of the major causes of below par performance for professionals, sportsmen and also learners. Puberty is the most challenging time of once life in this sense. Learning to channelize the emotional energy in order to continue studying under any circumstances is must. 

Mastering self-regulation to become an independent learner is the most important thing you should do. Step out of your comfort zone, keep learning and keep learning about learning.

All the best !

(Note: This is my old blog post, published on one of the websites I am associated with.)

Learners inherit the earth.

Change is not new for us humans. Nor is disruption. We have coped up with the challenges it brought and survived. (I am categorically avoiding the phrase ’emerged victorious’, though it was natural autocomplete suggestion by mind.)

When I say coped up, there are few things to note. Most of the changes occurred over few generations and our natural evolution (mind-body) helped us through it. Story of survival is not that of individuals but of species. What is different now?

Some of us belongs to a generation who saw things change over lifetime. People (most) followed same careers over lifetime. Earlier to that same occupation and way of doing things would serve multiple generations. Tables have turned now- it is going to be multiple occupations in a single lifetime. Many of job roles becoming obsolete very quickly. So are the business models of organisations. Thanks to knowledge economy, the rate of innovations is still rising. Disruption is visibly fast. (Some are worried and some excited about it. Chaos brings opportunities to those who can find patterns in it and connect dots.)

Individuals and organisations who want not just to survive but ’emerge victorious’, mantra is ‘continuous learning’. Short, sweet, but not so simple. Staying ahead in a crowded space: where many others have access to similar avenues of ‘continuous learning’ as you are not that simple, you will agree. ‘Continuous learning’ being necessary but not sufficient ingredient, how will you and your organization find ‘competitive edge’?

Learners inherit the earth.

Disha Learning Model | 01

I have identified the following 10 areas to be part of students overall growth, to be targeted by schooling/homeschooling or other methods till the age of 15. Achieving the learning goals is more important than the completion of syllabus. This calls for setting the learning expectations clearly for each of these areas.

  • Science
  • Mathematics
  • Language and Communication
  • Environment and Sustainable Development
  • Economics and Financial Literacy
  • Civics and Social Sciences
  • Technology and Digital Literacy
  • Sports, Fitness and Nutrition
  • Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Soft Skills