Put your phone away: We just don’t talk anymore… – Dorothy Victor

A revelatory WhatsApp forward has been doing the rounds recently. Titled ‘Family get-together’, the image portrays members of a family gathered in the living room. However, something seems amiss.

As I zoom into the image and squint at it, I see the irony: every single person, with the sole exception of the oldest member of the family, is poring into their cellphone, texting, browsing or otherwise engrossed in their virtual worlds.

The very purpose of the get-together, to talk, laugh and revel in the warmth of companionship, is beaten and lost. Even the senior member of the family, perhaps left with no choice, is glued to another device in the room: the idiot box tuned in the front!

The reality captured by the image is very close to what happens in most homes in today’s world. Youths as well as those of the older generation have embraced the soulless fad of constantly scrolling through their smartphones and ignoring the people around in the process. The medium of human interaction has changed rapidly and the art of conversation is dwindling.

Smartphone addiction

While humans has always been regarded as social beings who thrive on communication and companionship, it is paradoxical that conversations are fading among people. Make no mistake, our communication skills have drastically improved over the years and advanced technology has made sure everyone is merely a phone call or a message away at most times. However, there seems to be a noticeable drop in conversations among us.

Social media and public forums enable us to express ourselves, publicly or privately, with the aid of smartphone applications. The instant messaging facility and quick access to emails have made personal conversations elaborate and superfluous.

Texting has replaced talks over the telephone and email is used even when the situation warrants a face-to-face interaction. The need to express ourselves through WhatsApp and Facebook status messages hogs up our mind space.

In a recent New York Times article, author Sherry Turkle, who has been involved in researching digital culture and its effect on conversation, confirms that in a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, a whopping 89 % of cellphone owners said they had used their phones at the last social gathering they attended and 82 % adults felt that the way they used their phones in social settings affected conversations.

The Goldilocks effect

In addition, the internet age and the self-absorbed world we live in has given rise to an artificial need to appear informed and in control at all times. Texting and email applications come handy to meet this growing need. With the ability to delete, edit and re-draft our communications without hassle at the touch of a button, we swell in pride at our communication skills. Yet, we cross the street to avoid face-to-face conversations, as we are wary of the spontaneity and the risk of slip-ups.

Sherry, who is also a professor of Social Studies of Science and Technology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, elucidates this scenario in her book Alone Together.

“People keep each other at a distance, in amounts they can control,” she writes. She calls the decision the Goldilocks Effect, which is based on the idea that something must fall within certain margins to be comfortable. Just as in the fairytale Goldilocks and the Three Bears, where a child, upon entering a house in the woods owned by three bears, chooses the food, chair and bed on the basis of what seems “just right”.

Neither too hot or too cold, too large or too small, too hard or too soft. Human interactions today are carried with the same rationale, Sherry says.

By doing so, it is perceived that people can be placed just right – neither too close nor too far – and communication can also be restricted to being just right – neither too simple nor too complex.

Benefits of conversation

The question now arises, are conversations necessary when texting meets the needs of precise communication? When all there is to know about what is going on around us can be accessed at a tap on the screen of our smartphones, what purpose do conversations really serve? With technological advances in a constantly connected global village, does lack of conversation result in a deprivation to human development and tainted human relationships?

Numerous studies and continual research on behavioural sciences and human progress reveal a strong and irreplaceable connection between conversation and development of the human race. Results prove that conversations indeed offer myriad benefits.

Conversations, being broad-based and different from formal dialogue, where communication is restrictive, offer greater scope for spontaneity and honest responses. This spontaneity can connect us to our inner selves and draw others to us in understanding. And as conversation entails listening to another’s views as well, empathy and patience are often imbibed from connecting with others. Talking freely with people around gives us better perspectives and takes our focus off the pressures of life.

They’re therapeutic

Again, freely exchanging our opinions is often therapeutic and results in an increased secretion of endorphins, a chemical in the brain that leads to overall feelings of happiness and wellbeing. In a digitally wired environment, being hooked to our smartphones comes in the way of reaping these multifarious advantages that flow to us from simple conversations.

In a 2014 study of children at a device-free outdoor camp, led by psychologist Yalda T Uhls, it was found that after five days without phones or tablets, these campers were able to read facial emotions and correctly identify the emotions of actors in videotaped scenes significantly better than a control group.

On these findings, Turkle concludes, “What fostered these new empathic responses? They talked to one another. In conversation, things go best if you pay close attention and learn how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This is easier to do without your phone in hand. Conversation is the most human and humanising thing that we do. Therefore, the lack of conversation compromises our ability to self-reflect, which is the bedrock of development for the human species.”

There is no doubting the fact that conversation, which is the most natural and effective mode of connecting with others, has also become a complex mode in today’s digital world. Yet it is something that can be relearnt and consciously practised by staying disconnected from our devices and staying connected to the real person in front of us.

It is time to shift the focus from habitual texting and rediscover the joy of a quiet conversation. This simple pleasure in the end will help us revive human bonds, foster understanding, garner wisdom and yes, truly honour the members at our family get-togethers, as we give our attention in an engaging conversation.

Make a plan to meet up with your friends, siblings or parents today. Turn off your phones for a couple of hours and open up to your loved ones.


Doctrines That Need To Be Debunked- J. Lee Grady


Jesus said the truth sets us free. But the opposite is also true: Lies put us in bondage—even if the lies are spoken from a pulpit by a sincere minister or a Christian celebrity.

In my international travels I’ve sat in countless meetings and heard countless examples of bad theology. While traveling in Romania, for example, I discovered that women are sometimes told they cannot receive communion if they are having their menstrual period. (No one could explain to me how this prohibition is actually enforced.) In some Nigerian churches, it is taught that a pastor shouldn’t have sex with his wife the night before he is scheduled to preach.

These are extreme examples of twisting or misunderstanding a Scripture (usually from the Old Testament) to create a religious rule. But this butchering of the Bible doesn’t just happen in developing countries. It happens everywhere, creating religious superstitions that make us look silly to the world. Some of these concepts are repeated so often that they become a part of our Christianese lexicon. People nod and say “Amen” without realizing these statements have no basis in Scripture.

It would be impossible to list all of the quirky doctrines I’ve encountered during my years in ministry, but I’ll start with these:

  1. The children of ministers must carry on their parents work.David passed his inheritance to Solomon, and Solomon gave his scepter to Rehoboam. Then somewhere along the way some pastors invented the idea of a monarchy in the church—teaching that ministers must be succeeded by their sons or daughters. This certainly can happen. But nowhere in the New Testament are we told it is a rule. Leaders are appointed and anointed by the Holy Spirit, not determined by family lineage.
  2. Don’t touch the Lord’s anointed.David refused to kill King Saul when he had the opportunity because he feared God and waited for Him to vindicate him (see 1 Sam. 24:6). But this verse has been manipulated to discourage church members from asking honest questions about a leader’s behavior or decisions. We are called to submit to our spiritual leaders, but it is not wrong to disagree with them as long as we have a respectful attitude.
  3. Christians who commit suicide go to hell.This idea has created untold pain in the church, especially in families with loved ones who suffer with mental illness. The idea is that a person can never be forgiven of suicide since they can’t pray for forgiveness after they commit the sin. But the whole message of grace in the New Testament teaches us that God’s love is greater than our moments of weakness, depression or mental instability. If our salvation totally hinges on whether we immediately pray for forgiveness after every transgression, then we are all doomed. Jesus paid for our sins, and those who trust Him will enter heaven in spite of their frailties and bad decisions.
  4. The husband is the priest of the home.I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this statement from a pulpit. Contrary to what many Christians believe, this is not a Scripture. Actually the Bible teaches clearly that we are all priests (1 Peter 1:9), and husbands and wives function together as priests for their family. It is a heresy to suggest that a wife must go “through” her husband to approach God. The Bible does say the husband is “head of the wife” (Eph. 5:23), but this implies connection and oneness, not domination or control.
  5. Christians can receive “mantles” from other people.The prophet Elijah threw his mantle on his disciple Elisha so he could carry on his ministry (see 2 Kin. 2:13). Ever since this isolated incident occurred, people have been asking famous preachers to pray for them so they can “receive their mantle.” Recently it was reported that some charismatics were going to the graves of revivalists to pray for their anointing to come upon them. That’s silly. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit imparts his anointing. Someone may lay hands on us, but they don’t have to be famous or have a big following. Let’s stop worshiping people and seek the Holy Spirit’s power instead.
  6. “Jesus only” baptism.Early Pentecostals began a famous dispute during the early 1900s over the proper formula for water baptism. Some insisted that people should be baptized “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19. But a breakaway sect of “Oneness” Pentecostals insisted then, as they do today, that people must be baptized only “in the name of Jesus,” as Acts 2:38 instructs. And Oneness believers teach that people who are not baptized according to their formula will not go to heaven. It’s time to retire this hair-splitting argument and recognize that Christians are saved by their faith in Jesus alone, not by words recited at their baptism.
  7. People with strong faith don’t suffer.The oldest book in the Bible is Job—the ancient story of a faithful follower of God who endured suffering. Yet today we have dozens of famous televangelists who tell audiences they can confess their way out of trails and tribulations simply with positive thinking. Some even suggest you can buy your way out of difficulties by giving in their “miracle” offerings.

Never trust a preacher who promises you a shortcut around suffering. We must stop promoting a false gospel that offers instant success, fame and wealth. Jesus promised we would have trials (John 16:33), yet He gave us assurance that our faith in Him would help us overcome in the end.

Let’s preach the truth, expose the lies and break free from Christian superstitions/ and superficial Christianity.

Lee Gradyis the former editor of Charismaand the director of The Mordecai Project.

Could the Antichrist Arise from the 8th Kingdom? – Perry Stone

Could the Antichrist Arise from the 8th Kingdom? – Perry Stone

Among the writings of the Old Testament prophets, Moses is named in Scripture 768 times, while Abram or Abraham’s name is mentioned 303 times. The one individual who holds more predictions about His appearance and ministry throughout the Scriptures is the promised Messiah. The only other person who receives such attention in the biblical prophetic Scriptures is a person identified as the final prince of darkness called the Antichrist.

There are few Christians in America today who have not heard the term Antichrist. The average Christian in the Western Hemisphere who has read prophecy books, watched end-time DVDs or viewed apocalyptic-oriented television specials understands four basic facts revealed in Scripture about the coming Antichrist. They are:

  • The Antichrist is a man who will form a final empire at the end of the age.
  • The Antichrist will make a treaty with Israel for seven years.
  • The Antichrist will eventually set up his kingdom in Jerusalem.
  • The Antichrist will be involved in the final battle called Armageddon.

Two biblical prophets, Daniel and the apostle John, give numerous details in their writings and prophetic visions concerning this man’s rise to power, his realm of influence and his violent reaction to those who reject his mission. Much of the church’s historical understanding of this man comes from two prophetic books, Daniel and Revelation.

After studying this subject for more than 34 years, I have discovered many facts about this topic that are very clear in prophetic scriptures. I have also concluded that some church teachings from the past were based more on men’s traditions or on “private interpretations” handed down from generation to generation. For example, have you ever attended a prophetic conference, read a prophetic book or came across research that taught the following?

  • The Antichrist will be a Jew from the tribe of Dan.
  • The Antichrist will rebuild a temple for the Jews on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

These theories are based on individual interpretations or traditional theological ideas handed down for generations from a few early church fathers’ specific interpretations. I firmly believe the following is an accurate description of coming events related to the Antichrist:

  • The Antichrist will be a Gentile (from an Islamic background) and not a Jew from Israel.
  • The Antichrist will not rebuild the Jewish temple—the prophet Elijah will initiate that process.
  • The Antichrist will control the oil-rich Gulf States and will control much of Europe.

The Antichrist—a Gentile, Not a Jew

During the second and third centuries many early church fathers became quite anti-Semitic in their theological interpretations. Several early fathers like Irenaeus (Heresies, vol. 302) and Hippolytus (De Christo et Antichristo, pp. 14 -15) taught that the Antichrist would be a Jew rising from the tribe of Dan, a teaching based on their interpretation of Jeremiah 8:15-16 and three passages in the Scriptures.

For many years I heard prophetic teachers proclaim that the Antichrist would be a Jewish political/military leader from Israel. This theory puzzled me, because I knew the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims would never follow a Jew who, while living in Israel, would rule and control surrounding Middle East nations, all of which are Islamic. Writers and researchers of eschatology seemed to consistently ignore the importance of the Islamic religion and the Muslims living in the Middle East and Europe.

One explanation was that Islam would be defeated in the war of Gog and Magog. This cannot be true since there are presently 52 nations whose population is predominantly Islamic, and in the war of Gog and Magog, only five major Islamic nations are listed as taking part in the battle. After much study, I believe the prophecies point out that the Antichrist will be a Gentile and not a Jew. I base this on several important prophecies and apocalyptic dreams and visions.

First, in Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a metallic image that prophetically identified all the world empires throughout history. All of the empires represented by the image are Gentile—not one is Jewish. In reality, each empire symbolized by the image has somehow impacted the Jewish people and Israel.

The concept that the final prophetic empire will be Gentile, not Jewish, is also referred to by Christ in Luke 21:24: “They will fall by the edge of the sword and will be led away captive to all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” This prophecy alluding to the fall of Jerusalem to the Gentiles was not just fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed the city. It will occur once more in the future when the Gentile Antichrist will invade Jerusalem, divide the city (Zech. 14:2), and set up an image of himself at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Rev. 13:14-15).

Revelation 11:1-2 also alludes to the Gentile control of Jerusalem. John states: “I was given a reed like a measuring rod. The angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. But exclude the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations. They will trample on the Holy City for forty-two months.’ ” Most scholars believe the book of Revelation was written around 95 A.D. The temple in Jerusalem had already been destroyed in the year 70 A.D. Twenty-five years later John was told to “measure the temple.” How could John measure the temple and the outer court, which we are told the Gentiles would “trample underfoot for forty-two months,” if the temple was already in ruins? The most common answer is that there will be a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem during the Tribulation.

Could the Antichrist Be Muslim?

In early 1992, I met a young woman from Iran who shared with me the detailed apocalyptic beliefs of Shiite Muslims. When I compared her information with the prophecies of the Bible, I became convinced that the Antichrist will claim the Islamic religion as his religion and will proclaim himself—and be received as—Islam’s final awaited “messiah.” He will be a master of war, using weapons of mass destruction to hold entire nations hostage (Rev. 13:4). Those who do not convert to his religion will be beheaded, and others will be forced into starvation (Rev. 13:17; 20:4). Before thinking this is mere prophetic fiction, take a journey with me into the Scriptures to receive a clearer picture of the Antichrist of prophecy.

The Word Antichrist in Scripture

The word Antichrist was coined by the apostle John and is found only in the epistles of John. There are four passages where he uses the word (1 John 2:18, 2:22, 4:3; 2 John 7). Because 1 John 2:18 says that “even now there are many antichrists,” some teach there is not a future person called the Antichrist, but that the Antichrist is only a spirit that throughout history has rejected the divinity of Christ.

I submit to you that the Antichrist is both a spirit and a person. The spirit (or the attitude) of antichrist was working in John’s day. But the Antichrist, the man of end-time prophecy, is yet to come.

What the Early Fathers Believed

There are numerous written statements made by the early fathers concerning the rise and dominion of the Antichrist. At one point some felt that the wicked Roman emperor Nero, a severe persecutor of the Christians, had faked his death and would rise once again from the East as the Antichrist.

There are also those who believe that Judas will once again come back from his confinement in hell and become the Antichrist, basing the belief on passages in John and 2 Thessalonians that call both Judas Iscariot and the coming Antichrist “the son of perdition” (John 17:12; 2 Thess. 2:3).

The theories of Nero rising again and the return of Judas have one major biblical roadblock: Both of these individuals committed suicide and have already died. There is no biblical record of the Lord allowing a disobedient person to leave hell after years of death and return to live on earth for any reason. From all biblical evidence the Antichrist is a mortal man with an “antichrist spirit” that motivates his teaching, his kingdom and his authority. He will arise at the end of the age and unite an army of followers that make war against any who oppose him.

The Conclusion of the Matter

The book of Daniel presents the same climax in its vision of the time of the end. The kingdom of the beast is defeated and destroyed by the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, identified as the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16). I believe you can see that we are certainly in the time of the end. The nations of prophecy are aligning in position for the great battles of prophecy. While there will be differences of opinion concerning certain parts of this teaching, I believe we have given a large-scale picture of what will occur and how recent events come into play.

Now let’s get ready for the final scene in this last-day drama. It’s about to get interesting! But at least you know the outcome, and for believers, it is going to be a great day when Messiah returns.

Perry Stone is an international evangelist and best-selling author. He founded and runs the Voice of Evangelism ministry in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Changing Roles of School Principals – Ali Khwaja

Today, a principal or head of an educational institution is no longer the venerable and respected master, who spends his initial three decades as a teacher and occupies the principal’s chamber for the last few years, managing a decade-old institution whose norms, rules and traditions are well laid out.

Currently, we have corporate schools, institutions promoted by industrial groups in their colonies and by individuals who invest their own money or take a loan to set up educational institutions. We have highly educated and very quality conscious parents who want the best for their wards. And we have more single-child families with the parents’ lives revolving around their only offspring. The irony is that such parents are mostly DISK (Double Income Single Kid) families, leading very busy and stressful lives, yet expecting their child to get an all-round upbringing along with good education in the school.

Gone are the teachers who would spend their entire life in one school right up to their retirement. Teachers keep leaving every year — for better avenues (and fierce competition among schools means very tempting offers for efficient teachers), or because they wish to stop working and look after their children, and others due to transfers of their spouses. This adds to the burden of the principal who is perpetually trying to reduce attrition and simultaneously recruiting, training and orienting new teachers every year.

Due to a spate of media reports of molestation of kids in schools recently, the police and education department are constantly breathing down the neck of all educational institutions. Many principals spend sleepless nights wondering if they will be arrested and put behind bars for some misdemeanor which might have slipped their notice.

But ultimately, the fact remains that heading an educational institution can be very fulfilling — seeing a new generation blossom every year, leading a team of teachers who are responsible for bringing out the best potential of children, and knowing that he or she is working for betterment of the society and country and so on and so forth. Hence, any person who is heading, or is aspiring to head an educational institution should be properly prepared, trained and guided to handle the multifarious challenges that will accost him. These include:

Learning the basics of human resource management. Good personnel management automatically ensures harmony and better efficiency. Skills required would
include interviewing, recruitment, motivation, prevention of attrition, exit interviews.

Leadership traits to improve teamwork and achieve better synergy amongst the teachers. Skill of empathy to understand what goes on in the minds of students, teachers and parents and inventing activities for better bonding between children and teachers.

n Bringing variety into the routine of academics to prevent stagnation and boredom. Motivation through awareness of why education is also important.

n Stress management, balancing work and personal life. Ability to deal with government or school authorities with least distress and multitasking is also necessary.

n At least a concise version of management skills related to marketing, finance and operations management would be appreciated. It is a fact that most managements are greatly concerned about their growth, annual enrolments and profit margins. The principal can be abreast of these factors if he is properly trained, even though the activities are implemented by qualified professionals.

n Networking with other institutions and their heads, sharing experiences, keeping abreast of latest changes in rules and regulations, pedagogy and current affairs. If possible, upgrading qualifications and skills from time to time also helps.

n Basic skills of counselling and psycho-therapy in order to deal with emotional and interpersonal issues of each of the stakeholders in education and to diffuse potentially disturbing situations.

n Developing a visionary outlook, being able to see and think outside the box, plan for the future, including crisis management. This should also include some inputs into ethics and values, since upholding the highest standards is not only essential for producing good student-citizens, but also goes a long way in building up a strong reputation, ensuring long-term credibility and success for the institution.

While BEd is compulsory for most teachers, and MEd does give some insights into management of education, the time has come to develop more advanced, current and practical training for heads of institutions. Recent positive developments have seen the establishment of new institutions and courses specialising in education management. If all aspiring and existing heads of institutions are given opportunity to avail of such courses and then provided internship under the tutelage of a proven and experienced head of an institution, they will be able to manage the 21st century educational institutions with great efficiency.

Courses in education management

The following is a representative list of courses in education management:

G D Goenka University, Gurgaon, http://www.gdgoenkauniversity.com.
Regional Institute of Education, Mysore, nnprahallad@yahoo.co.in.
National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi, http://www.nuepa.org.

Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, http://www.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in.
Indian Institute of Education, Pune, http://www.iiepune.org.
There are many distance learning courses offered by universities in the country:
Indian Soc for Training & Development, New Delhi, http://www.istdtrg.org.
Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, http://www.mkudde.org.
Annamalai University, Annamalai, http://www.annamalaiuniversity.ac.in.
Karnataka State Open University, Mysore, http://www.ksoumysore.com.
Symbiosis Center for Distance Learning, Pune, http://www.scdl.net.
University of Mumbai, Mumbai, http://www.mu.ac.in/idol.

The pursuit of Perfection – Advaita Shyam Sunder

As you get out of the meeting with your client, you are bubbling with ideas. You commit to a deadline for some kind of deliverable to move the project forward. In your mind, at that moment, it’s all crystal clear and you can’t wait to get the ball rolling. But as the date looms closer, something changes. You want it to be amazing, fantastic, flawless. Even though your vision is clear and your ideas solid, you keep delaying the start of the process.

The excitement that you initially felt begins to feel like dread.“I have to do more research, gather more information, find more sources of inspiration before I start…I’ll get started tomorrow,” you tell yourself. Finally, it’s the day before the deadline. You’re kicking yourself for putting the project off and your sense of self flags along with your motivation to act. On the due date, you’re not only beating yourself up for potentially messing up a big opportunity, but also panicking and stressing about putting it all together by the end of the day.

Does the scenario seem familiar? Do you feel that you aren’t good enough no matter what you accomplish? Research shows that extreme perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it often leads to the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life paralysis. Setting a high bar for yourself may be an aspirational thing to do, but if it prevents you from
being your best, you may need to rethink on your style of functioning.

Not that good 

If you are being overly meticulous at work, it can hamper rather than aid your functioning. Here’s how:

You tend to fuss over unfounded problems. Even if you have finished a task, you linger on to find new things to improve on. This lingering process can start as a 10-minute exercise and before you realise it, it extends to 30 minutes or an hour. You fail to see the importance of doing things that lead to results in the realm of your responsibilities.

You do things because they appear like a ‘worthwhile addition’, without rationally considering whether they’re really necessary. Many a time, not only do the additions add no value, but they may even ruin things. You may over-clutter a presentation with unneeded details; jam-pack a layout with too many things.

Often, you don’t even realise that you’re doing something out of the need to appease others. It may be a case of fractured self-worth. Knowingly or unknowingly, most of your effort goes in trying to get others’ approval.

If freedom were a superhero, perfectionism would be its arch enemy. Your perfectionist tendencies hold you hostage and can be so relentless that you may find yourself remembering every mishap you have ever made. This can be counterproductive. You need to have the freedom to mess things up and learn from them, without the mistakes defining you.

Change the pattern

What does ‘perfect’ mean, anyway? An awfully vague concept, it wears the uniform of self-righteousness and nobility. It holds the promise of a reward if you achieve it. But is it always achievable? The quest for perfection often gives birth to a certain kind of rigidity; it can’t really adapt to anything. There’s a huge relief in letting go of perfection. It can be a long process, though. Along the way, you’ll find increasing satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment.

However, to unlearn the lessons of perfection, you need to start with the basics. Here go a few tips to help you get started:

Ground yourself in what’s possible

instead of carrying on the deadly weight of super-high, unachievable standards. Do your best without giving up on things that are important to you — time with family, physical and mental health, leisure time. Tell yourself, “this is what I can do right now and I’m doing it.”

Break down larger tasks into manageable steps. On a chart, write down the goal or deadline and work towards it. Decide in advance how much time you will spend on a task. Remember the goal is to complete the task, not to make it perfect.

As Brené Brown writes in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Healthy striving is self-focused: ‘How can I improve?’ Perfectionism is other-focused: ‘What will they think?’” Understand this difference.

Making mistakes is inevitable as human beings are fallible. To accept this is to ease your reliance on perfectionism. And you’ll, perhaps, enjoy the process as much as the end results.



Faith is never in a state of equilibrium; but it is always:

i. Always developing

ii. Sometimes accepting Divine initiatives

iii. Sometimes questioning

iv. Occasionally straining to understand what that might be.

(Eg.: Genesis Chapters 12 – 44).

“Faith is the entity that activates the Divinity for a supernatural activity among humanity.” – Dr. Vivek A. Gundimi


Is your child not doing well in studies? – K L Nagaraju

There are several reasons for decline in a child’s performance. K L Nagaraju points at three major causes that could potentially upset a child’s academic growth – Bengaluru, July 16, 2015

Every parent wants their child to do well in school. Culturally, we value scholastic achievements to a great extent. Arrival of the progress report is a great event and either there is celebration or disappointment, based on the outcome.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with expecting the child to do well. But parents have to check for the reasons for their child’s lack of progress and do their bit to redress the problem. We can look at the root of the problem to check if it lies within the child, at school or at home. An objective assessment of the situation can help remedy the situation.

Problems within the child
Physical disability or illness of the child could adversely affect the child’s performance at school. Frequent medical checkup and advice is desirable. Children at this age are frequently afflicted with ENT problems. Parents have to guard their children against recurring allergic reactions which affect the health. Vision and dental problems also come in the way of performance.

Underage or lack of physiological maturity could be disturbing factors. Parents are in a tearing hurry to put their wards in the school. In the age of play homes, preschool or kindergarten education, they forget or fail to appreciate the fact that the child needs to grow to perform age-specific tasks. Psychologists have charted milestones for attainment at different ages.

Also, these milestones are reached by different individuals with different speeds. We cannot expect all children to reach milestones simultaneously.

Intelligence and personality factors contribute to achievement of expected learning outcomes. They are the product of nature and nurture. Hence a stimulating environment augurs well for these traits to develop.

The neuron connections in the brain develop fast between the ages of three to eleven and therefore the parents need to ensure that their children get exposed to a variety of experiences and exposures.

Problems within the school
To accommodate growing needs, our schools have to cater to a large number of students. Overcrowded classrooms have become order of the day. Teachers cannot extend individual attention. To carry out meaningful correction of notebooks is a tall order for the teachers. Unhealthy teacher pupil ratio can adversely affect the teaching learning process. Parents are advised to keep this factor while selecting a school for their child.

To get good teachers is another difficulty. Lack of encouragement and ineffective teaching can really put the child’s career in jeopardy. Because of inept teachers and teaching methods, the child may lose interest not only in the subject but with the school itself. This can be really dangerous. The schools have to take great care to remedy the situation.

Strict teachers may intimidate students. Loving and caring teachers can turn round the most disinterested child. Critical remarks by the teacher can inflict incalculable damage on the psyche of the children. Change of teachers or school can also be traumatic. Children need to be helped in the transition when change is inevitable.

Unfavourable peer pressure can also cause stress. They should learn to manage this pressure by not resorting to comparisons. After all, learning speeds are different due to individual differences. Each child has certain strengths and they have to be identified and nurtured.

Problems within the family
Sometimes, parents themselves are responsible for the slow academic growth of their wards. Emotional insecurity at home due to disharmony among parents puts the child in a disturbed state of mind. Parents who nag and find faults with their children put them in a distressed state. Instead of getting help they are ridiculed and belittled.

Their efforts are not recognised and rewarded. Some parents believe in corporal punishment. Children are threatened of dark rooms, deprivation of food or such other silly and archaic punishments. Excessive punishment can only be detrimental to the child’s mental growth. Partiality among siblings is also not fair.Lack of play is also a reason for under performance. Children need to play, preferably outdoors. They should get opportunities to play and socialise.

Interaction with peers during play develops many desirable qualities. Physical development takes place along with mental and social development.Parents need to look up at the issues raised above and help their children. If they are unable to help, a visit to a counsellor is a good idea. A counsellor can always help the students with study-related problems. An objective analysis of the situation and a practical set of solutions help the children.

(The author is retired assistant commissioner, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan)