Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Orientation Session - Department of Dance, University of Hyderabad

I am a big fan of Orientation Classes. It sets everybody up with the right expectations. Its definitely not a good idea to assume that everyone knows what to do and how. That's a reason why orientation classes help - to clearly set expectations and shine some light on the way forward. It's like telling cricket teams - boys we are here to win. It's what everyone probably knows but saying it sets the boundaries clear and builds energy.

I requested Dr. Sivaraju, Dean, Department of Dance, to give me a shot at speaking to freshers as they come so they have a full two year period to plan. It's easier for someone who has been there to guide them along the major areas to plan and prepare for. I am so glad Dr. Sivaraju considered the idea and gave me a session early into the semester, yesterday.

The Mindset - Fixed vs Learning / Growth Mindset
If one understands the importance of choosing the right Mindset or Approach one can learn anything. So we examined some of the major points of the bestselling book 'The Mindset - A New Psychology for Success' by Dr. Carol Dwecke.

We examined the advantages of a Growth or Learning Mindset over a Fixed Mindset. The Learning Mindset gives one freedom to ask, to grow and to be fine with not knowing everything. The Fixed Mindset is stuck in the idea that it knows everything and any thing that is not known is a direct commentary on its intelligence or talent. If one gives the freedom of saying I-don't-know but am willing to learn, the other is a self-imposed prison of I-know even when one doesn't.

Some characteristics of the Fixed Mindset are - a desire to look smart (without backing it with hard work, knowledge and process), avoiding challenges, giving up easily, being defensive, seeing effort as fruitless, feeling threatened by others successes and as a consequence, stagnating in growth.

The characteristics of the Learning Mindset are - a desire to learn, embracing challenges, persisting in the face of setbacks, seeking help to find ways to improve, seeing effort as a path to mastery, learning from criticism and finding lessons and inspiration from others' success. The learning mindset is about hard work, high standards and process orientation.

In every way, the growth mindset frees the student. One can ask questions, engage in discussions, seek help without inhibitions, accept that one does not know everything. By adopting this mindset, students can take a huge self-imposed pressure off their shoulders and look to build on what they know.

To change from a Fixed Mindset to Growth Mindset 1) ask for help 2) do small acts that change things 3) work on belief and mindsets 4) get process orientation 5) get over the-world-owes-me and denial (as in my life is perfect syndrome).

The beliefs that anything can be learned with hard work and growth orientation, that intelligence is not fixed, are truly empowering.

The 2 Year Journey at the UoH
The session was more or less about the 2 year journey. It starts with where one is at the moment (self-introspection, analysis, feedback) and a clear idea of where one wants to get (the outcome of this journey, a 20 year, 5 year, 2 year, one year goal). If one gets to see the goal and a fair idea of where one is now, its easy to use the resources at hand i.e. time and energy.

While looking at resources we looked at time on hand - 365 days a year and the same number of hours in each day. Now its a matter of how many hours one uses and how effectively they can be used. An average of 10 hours a day over 600 days will get one ahead of the others by 6000 hours more of practice.

Hard work is the first commitment one has to make then. The next step is working hard efficiently. Good teachers, a learning mindset, a peer group that's active and buzzing, meeting and analysing works of the masters, will help prod the journey forward in a efficient manner. There is no need for force, one can achieve it elegantly.

The Making of an Expert
A brief reference to the article on the 'Making of an expert' and the 10000 hour principle to become an expert were discussed to drive home the idea of hard work. The article talks about how expertise is created by deliberate practice (getting better at what one is good and expanding current skills and also getting better at what one is not good at with specific sustained effort). It includes getting mentors who can help and guide. It make it clear that champions work the hardest.

Since they had all committed to a 2 year journey and were now at a stage where they could use the knowledge of the faculty, the brand of the University for their advantage, students were advised to use the resources i.e. time and energy efficiently, understand current context and then seek a clear outcome in terms of what they want to achieve. Their calendars must be packed with things to learn, people to meet, events to attend and to volunteer, performances to give etc. Once the calendar is packed, get down to doing it.

Here one must share the lovely TED talk by Josh Kaufman on 'The First 20 Hours - How to Learn Anything'.

Good luck students.


Unknown said...

My juniors are lucky to have the session in the beginning days. This session is very useful to their career.

Harimohan said...

Thanks Chudamani. :)