Years of working with young people has taught me a lesson or two in dealing with them and bringing out the best.
I have realized that the mistake we do when we interact wit young people is that we underestimate their strengths and abilities. The cascading effect of our observation and feedback on the person’s performance as an adult or a teacher leaves a long lasting impact on the individual and then the class.
What. then is the best way to go about in training or teaching?
Set the bar high, really high.
I really mean this. The last semester we had a course on Design Thinking for the students. Students were supposed to work on projects of their choice in groups of 6-10. As the groups set out to work, I said, ‘This very classroom in which you are seated now, has witnessed some very good presentations by your seniors. In fact, there were times when I was propelled to my feet out of sheer enthusiasm generated by the excellence of the presenter. I am sure you can do that too maybe even try and out do your seniors.’
As the days went by and it was time for evaluation, I was more than impressed when the students carried a huge apparatus to the classroom. They had been working on it for weeks together, they said. They met after class hours, pulling themselves out of their comfort zones to bring out a miracle.
I was staggered in surprise and shock and was absolutely speechless.
What could I say to such ingenuity, to such a show of sheer grit and hard work?
As the students carried the working model of a car to the class, they said that everyone on the corridor wanted to know what is that really?
It made them feel proud they said.
You really pushed us to outdo ourselves, mam, they said simply.
Surely, it was not me but their team spirit and enthusiasm that won the day so much that I was compelled to propose the idea of hosting an exhibition of Design Thinking and Team Building and the enthusiasm it created in the student community, re-emphasized to my mind the thought that the higher you aim, the higher you fly.
To the sheer strength of spirit and joy of creative inquiry, three cheers!!!