We don’t teach them to think about themselves

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Oct 2018 09:21:55





By- Vijay Phanshikar

l The assignment was simple. Each member of the group of college students was expected to introduce himself or herself to all. So, stand up, come up front, and tell others about who you are, what are, what you intend to do in life, what are your dreams about India -- all in just three minutes each. Out of the nearly fifty youngsters, only about ten came forward while others just stayed stuck to their seats. Out of those ten, only three could make some sense of describing themselves and their aims and dreams. Others only blabbered something a little and then sped back to their seats. When the resource person insisted upon knowing what actually held back so many youngsters even from trying, answers came hesitantly, highlighting their inability to communicate. But quite a few of them also said, in effect, that they were never encouraged to think about themselves in a profound manner. 


l This one was a much smaller group -- of young business executives with minimum work experience of not less than five years in the company. The assignment to this group, too, was simple. Stand up, come up front, and make a three-minute presentation about yourself and the company. Only a few tried while others chose only to offer sheepish smiles. To the resource person’s insistent questions, most executives replied, in effect, that they were not used to making such presentations at all.

THIS is the real trouble with our ed

ucation -- in families and in schools and colleges. It appears that we lack the culture of motivating our youngsters to speak up and speak out and share their feelings in their fullness and communicate to others what their dreams are -- for themselves and for the country. As a society, we may not think this as a matter of much consequence. And that is the reason why our youngsters are so shy about sharing their minds with others. This is unfortunate, to say the least.

Some may confuse this issue as something related to what they describe as stage-courage and stage-fright. Factually, however, behavioural scientists do not quite buy this populist theory. They have offered a deeper thought to the problem. They have realised that in our society, youngsters are never encouraged to think properly about themselves. They are never taught to think and list the positive aspects of their personalities and also assess the negative aspects of their being. When under pressure, some youngsters might come up with some stray points, but we realise immediately that they are hardly cogent in their thinking.


Of course, we do come across a small number youngsters who stand up, look straight into everybody’s eyes, and talk about themselves in clear voice and clear thought. Once, a smart little fellow stood up and started talking first about his personality’s positive points -- ‘My name is ...! I am a happy person. I rejoice all good things, and grieve about bad things. I am patient. ....”! The list of his positives was really long. The ‘negative’ list was not long enough, but the boy was clear in thinking: “Occasionally, I lose my temper very badly. I also feel jealous of others when they do better than me. I am not very careful about my things. ...”!

The trouble is that such people are in a minority at all places. The majority often fumbles talking about self. The reason is simple: We really never teach our people how to think about themselves -- about their own positive as well as negative aspects.


This is not related just to getting jobs etc where presentation matters. This is related more to a flaw in our manner of bringing up our youngsters. In time, these youngsters grow with that deficiency, and thus carries on a negative tradition. It is time we did something about this.