Monday, 19 October 2015

From “Apps to Gyan”.... The Mantra of Winners

To be a Winner, you need to have “Relevant Knowledge”

Equally or more important, you need to know How to Apply this Knowledge, Quickly, Efficiently, Accurately!

Theory is culled from books/media, from what your teacher tells you and from what you learn from the experiences shared by others.

Practical wisdom emanates from your personal application of this theory.

Theory could be boring, drawn out over pages and pages of material, often taught by people who have not lived though those experiences.

 But, theory you must acquire …when? At which stage of the learning process?

Many years back, I conducted an experiment wherein I devised Application Tools in M.S Excel for learning advanced spreadsheet formulae and also understanding Financial Ratios. I devised exercises with easy to refer solutions and asked the students to try and solve the exercises, and if they were stuck for some reason, to refer to the solutions and use logical implication to arrive at the correct answer. I asked them to repeat the process of solving the problems over a number of days and soon they had gained the confidence of solving it without referring to the solutions. At the same time, I asked them to read the theory to try to correlate with it their solving of exercises. I had initiated a paradigm shift. A bottom-up approach from the practicality of it to the theory – building an empirical connect leading to a  correlated learning which got firmly etched on their minds because the links between practice → theory & theory→ practice were so visible and relevant.  So, I had 40 examples of solved advanced Excel formulae and functions, many statements of ratio analysis on Excel which the user just had to solve on the lines of solutions provided. As mentioned, this involved repeatedly referring to solutions for easy guidance. Slowly and surely, when the exercises were repeated, the need to refer to the solutions dwindled till the dependency had become non-existent.  Soon, the ability to deploy the formulae and compute the financial ratios was clearly evident with both the theoretical and practical dimensions standing out in the student.

Over the years I have devised many such exercises using the same modus whereby I start with the Application Format and then integrate it with the Theory Format. The student, through a mechanical process of repeating the exercise “discovers” the connect with theory (which gains on him/her) and soon the empirical relevance sets in. A learning that stays with the student and empowers him/her in time to come.

The above modus can be applied across different streams of knowledge for substantial benefit. This forms the core of my “Riyaaz” – the daily practice for empowerment which is the backbone of my “TRP” skills.