Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Attitude: It Matters - Anatoli Rochill, Assistant Professor, History







It was possible for a short man like Napoleon to conquer Europe. A young man like Alexander the Great had old kings surrendering to his tactical prowess in battle when he expanded the Macedonian Empire. We also know about the biblical David who challenged the huge Goliath when the rest of the Israelites were cowering in fear. While all the people are from different cultures and different times, they became what they were because of their attitude. 

"There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative." -W. Clement Stone


Attitude: It Matters


Attitude as defined by psychologist as, “a mental state. It is a point of view, which one holds towards a person, objects, task, or an idea.” It stimulates the behaviour of an individual towards a purposeful direction. It can further be explained as a state of mental preparedness. Attitude is a social trait, which gradually develops as a result of an individual’s experiences. The misconception about attitude is that it is quite closely used to terms such as opinion and belief. Opinion refers to the expression of one’s judgement of a particular set of facts, where as an attitude is a generalised tendency to react towards an object or concept. Differences can be made between attitude and belief: belief is the cognitive component of attitude which reflects the manner in which an object is perceived.

Attitude is of two types i.e. positive and negative attitude. Each one of us exhibits either a positive or negative attitude with regard to food habits, culture, religion, politics, subjects, etc. Our attitude defines our entire personality and depending on that, we either possess a strong or weak personality. Attitude, I would say, is dynamic. Attitudes can be impressionable, at the same time they can have a persuasive effect on others. Attitude also motivates an individual towards a particular goal or direction. They differ from individual to individual.

The nature of one’s attitude greatly impacts one’s approach to life, whether personal or professional. I’ve learned from my personal experience that students mostly adopt a readymade attitude towards subjects like history, political science and economics and treat them as difficult subjects. Here, ‘readymade’ means the attitude which one picks up from someone else (friends, seniors, elders etc.). In this context, the student usually forms an attitude towards a subject even before they are introduced to their syllabus, and this attitude has a profound influence on their learning. It is therefore, advisable for a student to possess a positive attitude in respect to different subjects, as the amount of this attitude will motivate them to perform better. As a teacher, it depends on how much we can inculcate a healthy attitude in students with regard to the different subjects we teach. For instance, in order to motivate my students, I teach history in the simplest and most understandable way by using the story telling method, which creates interest among the students. This method of teaching inculcates interest and directly leads to the kind of attention that I expect from them. In this way, we can help the students form a positive attitude to specific subjects.

Teaching is a bi-polar process where both the teachers and the students have to participate actively otherwise, teaching becomes monotonous. A student should possess a positive attitude by developing the habit of  asking questions, clarifying their doubts, responding, taking initiative in various activities, etc. However, in the absence of these positive attitudes,  the teaching-learning process becomes boring and inefficient. As a teacher, one can inculcate the above positive qualities to the students by approaching them individually, asking questions and clarifying their doubts, etc. A teacher should have patience and sympathy in listening to the response of the students. If the student gives a wrong response, the teacher can correct it by using friendly feedback like ‘try harder’, ‘you almost got it’, and other such similar responses. It is advisable to avoid sarcastic remarks and offensive words. In case of a correct response, the teacher should use a positive reinforcement such as ‘well done’, ‘carry on’, ‘good job’, etc. In this way, the students will open up and express themselves more freely. They will clarify their doubts, difficulties, and learning problems which hinder their education. At the same time, the students get room to contribute their ideas and opinions. Classroom learning depends on the participation of both the teacher and the student. Verbal interaction which takes place between the teacher and the learner helps in moulding the personality of the students to a great extent.

An individual’s attitude is significant for satisfaction and success in educational and vocational fields. Development of a desirable attitude towards oneself and others, and participating in a variety of activities are some of the major objectives of education. Education plays a vital role in the formation of attitudes. It is possible to know the extent to which necessary attitudes have been developed among the students. Attitudes also play an important role in the success of an individual in different vocations. Different types of professions require different attitudes. Attitudes determine the choice of career plans. An educational and vocational plan related to the child’s ability and aptitude may be out of reach for an individual because it may not be consistent with his/her attitude. Attitudes give clues regarding adjustment and personality. For instance, our attitude towards different situations determine our mode of reaction and adjustment in these situations. Thus, attitude is an important personality trait.
“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email: admin@tetsocollege.org”.  

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