Saturday, 30 December 2017

The Spirit of the Season - Limala Longchar, Assistant Professor, Department of English

The Spirit of the Season is all about loving, bonding, giving and sharing with those around us. Are we extending our friendship, warmth and generosity to those outside the comfort zones of our social circles too? Here’s some food for thought for the last few days of the year from our writer this week, Limala, who brings a different perspective about giving to the spirit of this yuletide season.  

The Spirit of the Season

Another two days have passed, since Christmas and New year’s is just a few days away. During this time, a question is usually asked every year, “Have you done anything significant this year?”. To this, everyone has a different answer. For some it is the best year, for some not so good, while some are not giving up yet. But, I shall not aggravate you by asking the same question that you get every  year. 
I would like to shift my focus on gift-giving and sharing during Christmas season. Traditionally, we relate the Christmas festival to carol singing, gift-giving, sharing, attending churches, decorating and lighting our homes. It is very  diverse and vibrant and heart-warming.

Come December, everyone flocks to the market, which is very famously referred to as “Christmas shopping”. It has become synonymous with our culture and way of life. Gifts are given and exchanged between families, friends, near and dear ones as a token of our love, appreciation. The whole atmosphere becomes very euphoric. Sharing is the further extension of gift-giving, whereby you divide your possession in the form of grain, rice, meat, fish, fruits and cakes amongst your family and friends.

Gift-giving and sharing is interrelated. The Naga society is a classless society, but there is no denying the fact that there is a huge disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots”. Likewise, the medium of exchange, sharing and gift-giving is also limited among the equals. The “haves” share and exchange gifts only amongst themselves, which most of them actually don’t need as they already have enough for themselves. Here, we see only one section of the society is uplifted. If we have to make a graph, we will see an increase among the “haves” and a steep decrease among the “have nots”. It gives a very grim picture of where our society is heading. The imbalance is clearly reflected.

Disparity between these two sections of society should be done away with. Sharing and gift-giving should be done within all sections of society. A random act of kindness can go a very long way. As humans, people tend to become very comfortable within their own circle, and their lives revolve only around them. This season, for a moment, can we stop being so engrossed in our own circles and look further. Delving deeper into the different sections of our society can be an eye-opener. We will find that there are so many neglected people whose living conditions are far below the poverty line. Can we shift the focal point from public display of material wealth among equals to a more nobler cause, whereby we can impact the lives of the less fortunate one. A humble suggestion is to outsource the abundant resources and materials to the less fortunate people. This contribution will go a very long way in impacting the life of people. Happiness provided to these people will give you a deep sense of satisfaction, much better than the insincere, overrated gratitude we receive from the more fortunate people.

There is no better moment than this time of the year to reach out to the unfortunate or more needy, or to go beyond our own comfort zones and interact within different social circles. This season is the perfect opportunity to spend with not just our near and dear ones, but to also extend our generosity and friendship to the less familiar. And it is the “haves” who can help bridge the divide between them and the “have nots”.

The balance can only be achieved when the “haves” and “haves not” blend together and work collectively. This is not an appeal for the creation of an utopian state. However, one simple solution can be, seeing the more fortunate take the initiative to strike a balance (minimum). This can be done by starting with people who are neglected, ignored and struggling with daily amenities. Look at the rural areas, where there is no electricity or even basic running water facilities. Light in the dark is a very rare sight for them. Some people don’t even have enough for both ends to meet. Their lives can only be brightened if people from all sections of society work in harmony. The reward can be the happiness you bring into someone’s life. So, now is the time and it can be any one of us.

Sharing and gift-giving need not be loud or a spectator’s game, where it is put on display for everyone to watch and receive ostentatious appreciation. The true essence of sharing and gift-giving should not be tampered with. It can be a very private affair, where the person can even go anonymous or incognito, take a step back, and watch the joy and gaiety of people with a deeper sense of satisfaction.               

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. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Nungchim Christopher, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email:

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Glory or Vain Glory of Our Naga Past? -Seyiesilie Vupru, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

The turn-out at Hornbill Festival 2017 recorded 2.43 lakh visitors in Nagaland. Annually, we have unceasingly been celebrating and honouring the past glory and culture of our forefathers that prevailed prior to colonialism. And it looks like we are doing a great job of it too, while curating this pre-colonial past as a strong identity marker for ourselves. However, as time passes and each succeeding year adds on to form Nagaland’s more recent past, what strikes the mind is - How long can we hope to keep on glorifying only our past glory? Can we also find a reason for our future generations to celebrate the past that we are now creating for them?

Glory or Vain Glory of Our Naga Past?

Looking at the yesteryears achievements of our forefathers, we feel great! It is joyful to rejoice in our past glory. It is a delightful treat to the heart to learn how our forefathers fought and won battles – triumphed, cherished and lived their lives with such admirable principles of honesty, bravery, hard work and unity. It truly brings such bliss and pride to celebrate our past success. After all, there is nothing wrong in feasting upon erstwhile accomplishments. We can proudly marvel at being called ‘children of the head hunters’ because they were good at what they did, doing it with indistinguishable courage and earned respect.

Our forefathers have done great things, and have laid a prosperous foundation for the future generations of which we can always be proud. However, while we sing through this, let us halt for a minute and ask ourselves a few questions – ‘Have we become too comfortable living in our past glories?’ ‘Are we doing anything more or at least enough for today?’ Or ‘Have we become too arrogant and lazy?’ ‘Do we realise we can also make history?’

While we ponder upon these thoughts, let us take a glimpse at the valuable principles our ancestors maintained that earned them unquestionable honour, which they wore around their neck with elegance, not only for themselves, but even to the extent of us – their children – to be recognized because of their great deed.

       For sure, honesty is one of the qualities they always upheld. We have learned from legends how they kept promises among themselves, a friend promising another not to leave each other at the battlefield even at the cost of their lives. We have been told stories of how a man would carry an injured one or the body of a friend without the head to the village – they truly lived up to their words. Not just to their fellow men, but also with their enemies, their integrity was so strong that they never cheated on agreements and honoured the same made between them.

       Bravery of our forefathers is another very commendable characteristic. But, what was it that drove them to be very courageous? Well, we see that it was their determination and discipline – once they made up their mind to go ahead with any work they made sure that it’s done. No matter what situation they met with in life – sickness, turmoil, loss, - nothing could stop them. The saying, “If you have discipline, drive and determination nothing is impossible,” by Dana Linn Bailey suits them very well.

       Along with the laudable trademarks mentioned above we can also add the quality of exceptional hard work our forefathers always maintained. They did not mind starvation and thirst for a short period, instead they worked very hard. If they could earn one today, they worked harder to earn two the next day and so on. After a certain point, this day-to-day collection led them to richness. They knew momentary suffering could not stop them and the reward would be worth the sweat.

       Another attribute of our ancestors worth mentioning was the unity they upheld. The belief and practices the village had was always regarded and maintained by every villager without doubt and question. It was not only within the village, but one village would pursue another to live in harmony. This was done by killing pigs and equally sharing them amongst the villages with the  promise to live in peace with one another.

It is obvious that men and women of such degree of attributes surely have earned their right to be respected in every aspect of life. All those virtues and values our forefathers believed and acted out in their everyday walk of life, certainly teaches us that there is something to be learned from them for our own benefit.

Having said all this, let us come  back to the questions raised earlier– ‘Do we think we can safely say that the present generation is also more or less the same as our ancestors?’ Observing the current scenario ( forgive the pessimism here), it feels like many of us, Nagas, have become too laid back, blinded by our own greed and selfishness. We have become too comfortable to see the wrongs that are eating away our society. Even if we happen to see it, our voices just turn into whispers, lost in thin air.

One of the main concerns of our State is corruption. No doubt, corruption is prevalent in almost all the States of the world, but that does not mean it cannot be stopped or contained. For instance, general election is just around the corner, and we already have heard of stories where one party threatens the other. More appalling is how brothers forget to show grace and love in their craving for power. It would be unfair to forget how a few are working hard to put sense into the mind of the people, to mention one or two - the clean election campaign, ACAUT etc. 

Can we Nagas do the right thing? Yes, we can by coming together, and doing the right thing for all the good that is needed to happen in our land. So, how about we add more value and glamour to the necklace of respect our forefathers have earned? We have two choices, either we can sit back, relax and watch ourselves become a part of the disease and pretend like everything is well or stand up, fight and become a part of the cure. We do not want to die of this plague, therefore, it is time we wake up and be acquainted with what is the need of the hour, keeping in mind we do this because we deserve so for a better today and tomorrow.

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. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Nungchim Christopher, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email:

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Prisoners of Profession? - Rajesh Tanti, Assistant Professor, Department of Commerce

Finding the right job is never easy, but very crucial. Your profession can affect your life tremendously. Either you are happy and content at your workplace or it feels like a prison. Life goals combined with socio-economic factors and the environment around you are strong influencers of job choice. That is why, it helps to start thinking early about the choices and the other factors that inevitably impact your decision. Having a head start with a road map can help. So, especially for students who are appearing for your final exams next year, if you have not begun, it is a good time to start discussing, reflecting and laying the ground-work for your future.   

Everybody wants to have a better career and this is the reason why people spend so much time, money and energy in education. But what is the benefit of all these sacrifices if a person can’t live a happy life.

There is a very strong connection between happiness and career. Lack of job satisfaction is one of the biggest woes of today’s workforce. Have you ever thought about how much time you spend in your job? We spend approximately 8-10 hours of our prime time! Out of 24 hours daily if you spend 8-10 hours, under pressure, complaining, criticizing and condemning than how can you expect to be happy in your life if you follow the same routine for 30-40 years.

People who work for so many years in the same job or profession and live an unhappy life - well, I call them prisoners of their profession. Most of the people become job prisoners because they are caught in the wrong job! And most of the people are in wrong jobs because they live by chance and not by choice.

It is difficult to make students and freshers understand the consequences of being caught in the wrong job. Most often, many realise it, too late. By the time they do, it’s too late to come back and correct their mistakes. For example, if a person becomes a doctor after spending so much money and time, and later realizes that this profession is not meant for him/her then it is not easy to switch over to a new profession or to restart.

Even most of the working people also find it difficult to identify the symptoms of being caught in the wrong job. Here are some warning signs to watch out for:
Fear of getting out of bed and going to work, work schedule tearing family apart, job dissatisfaction, sleep disturbances, short temper, boring becomes the favorite word in workplace, mood swings, lack of opportunities to grow, no social life, dreaming about quitting, low morale, increased use of drugs or alcohol. This does not rule out personal factors from being the cause of these problems, however, there is a relation between our mental and physical well being due to both personal and professional imbalances.

Proper career planning is one of the ways to escape being caught in the wrong job. The saddest thing is that most of the students pursue education without adequate career planning, and most of the educated parents and guardians miss out giving proper guidance too. I feel getting an education without career planning is like people spending their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.

Furthermore, in the guise of career planning, many students follow the traditional method of career planning and easily get caught in the wrong job. In the traditional method, most of the students choose their stream on the basis of marks. For example, if he/she gets 1st division they join Science, 2nd division goes to Commerce and 3rd divisioners pursue Arts. This is a trend in our society; but they should remember that the result of a single exam does not reveal your talent, interest and strength. This is because learning and the method of assessment and evaluation in our State strongly focuses on your memory, writing skills, knowledge of the subject and another important fate decider - the mood of the examiner.

Then there are some parents who want their children to become a doctor just because they are doctors. While some students choose a stream or course because of friendship. There are also some students who choose a stream or course with the intention of avoiding the complicated subjects. In the meantime, there are some students who give up on their dreams due to lack of finance and choose a stream or course which they don’t prefer.  But here I would like to add, before giving up, make sure you have complete information about the financial assistance provided by Government, financial institutions and respective colleges and universities for scholarships and loans.

On the other hand, planning a career scientifically means choosing a career on the basis of one’s personality, interest and skills. To shed more light on this, here is an illustration. Mr. John is a college student and conducted three tests:  personality, interest and skills, and his report says:
Out of six personality types viz. realistic, investigative, artistic, social, entrepreneurial, and conventional, John’s social personality type is strong and the report says, “He is a dedicated leader, humanistic, responsible and supportive. He uses feelings, words and ideas to work with people rather than a physical activity to do things. He enjoys the closeness, sharing, groups, unstructured activity and being in charge.”

The interest report indicates seven interest areas:  outdoor, practical, scientific, creative, business, office and people. His strong interest area is people. So he likes to work mainly with people or that he is concerned about their social welfare. The work of teachers, counsellor, police officers, and welfare workers involves a great deal of personal contact. An interest in working with people can also include jobs such as sales, cashiers, waiters, and secretaries, speaker, preacher etc.

Skills report says that his hidden skill is, ‘communication’.  So if he chooses a profession where he communicates more with people he will be more productive and happy. From the above illustration it is clear how proper career planning can help us in choosing the right career.

*If you are a student who needs any help in choosing your career feel free to send an email to

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. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Nungchim Christopher, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email:

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Heard of the ‘Internet of Things’? - Reshiyunen, System Administrator

image credit-

The internet is one of the most important and transformative technologies ever invented. It has changed almost every aspect of our lives - how we work, think, educate and entertain ourselves. Adapting and being ready to take hold of its advantages are changing the pace at which countries, industries, companies and organisations progress and develop. The Internet of People changed the world. Well, there’s a new internet that has been emerging, and it’s poised to change the world again. This new internet is not just about connecting people, it’s about connecting things, it’s exciting, it’s a game changer and it’s called the Internet of Things.

Heard of the ‘Internet of Things’?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a pretty broad concept overall. It’s the name given to the interconnection of everyday devices like cell phones and headphones to home appliances to automobiles with built-in sensors all the way up to biochip transponders in farm animals and heart monitoring implants in humans. Essentially, it is the way that machines communicate with each other in order to improve automation and efficiency in daily tasks. Now, this may be a surprise to some of us but the IoT is not even close to a new concept though it didn’t receive its name until 1999. The first internet appliance was actually a Coca-Cola vending machine that grad students at Carnegie-Mellon’s Computer Science Department connected to the internet back in 1982. Now though we have advanced by leaps and bounds since the 1980’s, the IoT is actually still pretty limited compared to what it could be and at this point might even be seen as a gimmick to the uninformed individual. The IoT is a giant network of connected "things" (which also includes people). Whether we are automating the production of a factory, giving city residents real-time traffic updates or monitoring our personal health, it’s the common internet of things platform that brings this diverse information together and provides the common language for the devices and apps to communicate with each other.

We as human beings interact, contribute and collaborate with other people in our own environment through our five senses. Imagine ‘things’ with the ability to sense and to touch and then add the ability to communicate and that’s where the internet of people and the internet of things intersect. Sophisticated sensors and actuators are embedded in the physical things that surround us each transmitting data and information. The process starts with the devices themselves which securely communicate with the internet of things platform. This platform integrates the data from many devices and implies analytics to share the most valuable data with applications that address industry-specific needs.

Say for example a wearable device like a smart watch that monitors your heartbeat, blood pressure and other vitals which is then synced with an app on your smart phone that analyses the data and identifies your mood and anxiety levels and tells you whether you need an appointment with the doctor. Now, if we add a smart home entertainment system to the mix that would sync with the smart phone and set up a music playlist suited for the current mood which would start playing automatically the moment you reach home. What if your office equipment knew when it was running low on supplies and automatically re-ordered more? Cars now have sensors that measure performance indicators like tyre pressure, fuel economy and various engine levels like oil pressure and temperature. Companies that are trying to increase home automation are currently focused on optimizing security and comfort, installing internet accessible cameras, locking or unlocking the door with a smart phone app are some of the internet-based advancements available to homeowners today. The scale of the Internet of Things is almost impossible to comprehend, but forecasts by research firm Gartner predict it will be made up of 26 billion to 30 billion connected objects by 2020. To put that into context, in 2012 Cisco estimated the total number of internet-connected devices at 8.7 billion (including phones, tablets and computers.)

All these examples are only the beginning of what the Internet of Things is capable of. Today- most internet and connected devices require human intervention to change anything about them but in the future, as more and more ‘things’ are connected with each other they can read off from each other themselves without our intervention. So, the concern then is that if machines are going to become so intelligent and efficient that they take over most of our day to day tasks then where do humans really fit in? Do we have a point anymore? And this is the main issue that some of the greatest minds of this age are starting to address with this growing implementation of automation.

We are entering into a stage where everything will be connected and experts predict that the impact of IoT will be $11 trillion a year by 2025, across factories, cities, human identification and interaction, health care, work sites and general safety, offices and vehicles. And why now? Because of the ultra-low cost of this hardware, the high availability of resources, the low level of difficulty to compile them and put them together and highly digital and the connected universe that is driving us towards not just connecting our digital space in our digital lives, but our physical space and the things we actually deal with every day.

So, as we welcome the whole universe to the next era of connectivity, I ask, once all our tasks are automated, when the things that we currently do every day, that some of us love and some of us hate, are actually replaced by IoT devices, artificial intelligence and interconnected systems, what do we do? We come back to creativity, innovation and humanity. We cannot replace our need to create new things, to improve them and to build interpersonal relationships. IoT is the beginning of a new era.

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. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Nungchim Christopher, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email:

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Let’s Get Cycling! -Supongtemsu Longchar, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

image source-

 As lifestyle changes and fitness gyms pick up momentum in Nagaland, can cycling be the next big thing? Cycling whether as a hobby, sport, or mode of transportation, there are numerous advantages to it, from being environment friendly to making us fitter and stronger, and even as a cost effective means of commute. Here are some more interesting cycling facts and examples of cities that have adopted it as an integral part of everyday life. 

Cycling has always been a global activity, and in the 21st century a marketing phenomenon. At its simplest, the bicycle is a functional form of transport that was invented sometime in the early 19th century, although attribution to a single inventor is not possible as there appear to have been a number of prototypes developed throughout Europe. However, for many, cycling is a sport first and a mode of transport second. The Tour de France, the most famous and prestigious bike race, began in 1903 as a marketing promotion for the French magazine L’Auto, and in its present form consists of some 200 of the best cyclists racing across 21 stages and covering well over 2,000 miles.

Perhaps the most famous country for bicycles as everyday transport is China, once reported to have as many as 9 million cycles on the road. But as affluence and car ownership doubled, bicycle ownership declined dramatically, by as much as 35% between 1995 and 2005. Bicycles were also blamed for congestion and road accidents with Shanghai actually banning them from some roads in 2004. But just like a cycle wheel, what goes round comes round and since 2011, as air quality has deteriorated and traffic jams are a daily nightmare for Chinese commuters, the bicycle has been brought back into favour with bike share programmes.

Another place renowned for bicycles is Amsterdam, a town designated by its cycle routes and when crossing the road you need to be very aware of both the bike and vehicle traffic. Amsterdam is completely flat and with 4,000 kilometres of bike paths it should be a cyclists dream, but you have to know how to cycle like a Dutch person and never leave your bike unlocked (55,000 cycles go missing every year).. Another bike-friendly city is Copenhagen, where most inhabitants bike to work; half of Danish households don’t own a car. Back in the 19th-century bikes were considered so good for Danish society that cycling unions developed with political goals. Although, like other western cities, the introduction of the car led to a reduction in cycling, in the early 1960s Copenhagen began reducing city centre traffic converting the main Street Stroget in 1962 to a pedestrian promenade. The energy crisis of the 1970s hit Denmark hard and car-free Sundays were introduced to save fuel. People also protested by painting white crosses on roads where cyclists had been killed, and with such pressure the cycle track network was rebuilt in the 1980s and expanded as fatalities and injuries fell.

We've always taken the greenness of bike transport as a given. But if one is just getting started, here are reasons to leave car in the driveway and start covering pavement on two wheels.

It's easier to finance a new bicycle than a new car. For the price of a single car payment, one can buy a well-made bicycle that should outlast most cars. Add a few hundred rupees more for rain gear, lights and accessories, and you have all-weather, anytime transportation.

A bicycle has a tiny manufacturing footprint when compared to a car. All manufactured goods have an environmental impact, but bicycles can be produced for a fraction of the materials, energy and shipping costs of a car.

Bicycles produce no meaningful pollution when in operation. Bikes don't have tailpipes belching poisonous fumes into the atmosphere. They also do not eliminate the oil, fuel and hydraulic fluids dripped by automobiles onto the road surface — which means less toxic runoff into local waterways.

Bicycles provide mobility for those who may not qualify or afford to drive. Not everyone can get a driver's license (or wants one), and the cost of purchasing, insuring and maintaining a car is out of reach for a lot of people. Almost everyone can afford some sort of bike. Other than walking, bicycles are the most cost-effective transportation on the planet.

Studies show that bicycle commuters are healthier, more productive, and require less time off at work. This is why most enlightened employers are eager to accommodate commuting cyclists. Healthy workers are better workers — and that's good for the bottom line. Bikes are smart business.

Chances for cities to become safer and better places to live in will follow when one adopts this mode of transportation. The growth of car use and the subsequent perceived problem of congestion, particularly during peak hour travel causes financial loss and negatively affects residents who live in the central areas. One of the solutions is to invest in a network of cycling infrastructure with strong government support to create priority for cyclists and to provide a safe, comfortable and attractive network that integrates with a spatial policy. The Dutch have followed a spatial policy promoting a compact building style offering mixed use that reduces travel distance, which can be easily made by bicycle. However, to be safe and convenient to use, government policies must, at least, treat cyclists on an equal footing to car users, public transport users, and walkers. If the spatial policy can make the car less necessary and convenient to use, government financial policy can reinforce this through car taxation and tangible restrictions associated with owning a car and using it. They could change the legal system so that there is an insurance bias to protect vulnerable road users. At the local level, promotion of cycling must involve more than physical infrastructure, it must also integrate across policy delivery areas including spatial planning, transport, health and education.

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. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Nungchim Christopher, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email:

Friday, 24 November 2017

The ABC’s of Teaching & Learning - Dr. Nonlih Chohwanglim, Visiting Faculty, Department of English

Arguably marks are indicative measures of your performance in an exam, but they don’t necessarily cover the entirety of what you’ve understood.  Studying just for marks is a short sighted approach and a waste of time in the larger scheme of things. Any academic pursuit must be a quest for knowledge, analysis and understanding, and not only accolades. 

The ABC’s of Teaching & Learning

Kindly respond (frown, smile, or nod) if there are teachers out there who have sent undergraduate level students outside of the classroom for not bringing the textbook in the class. Now, it is understood that every subject or topic at degree level cannot demand for a text, but as someone who teaches literature, I have no innovative idea to teach a play or a poem without the students referring to the text (print or otherwise). How am I to imprint the caesuras, enjambments, poetic devices, and the dramatic tone?!!

Perhaps someone could question the validity of insisting upon the presence of text in the class. In its simplest, truest, and most logical sense, the answer is to be able to TEACH in the best possible way so that the students LEARN in the best possible, accountable way. Being in the teaching profession for a couple of years, I sensed that the concept of teaching methodology is mostly focused upon. Teachers are encouraged and expected to sport innovative, engaging and latest methods of teaching.

However, the given article, by alluding to the presence of the text in the class attempts to focus on the art of learning. The text is seen as the line that connects point A and B of teaching and learning respectively. In some cases, the literal text may not be required, yet the concept of the topic must be constantly present in the mind of the learners, acting as the text. Whether it be the literal text or the conceptualised text, the epicentre is the concept of learning.

Let me highlight an encounter that I had with my students regarding the art of learning. In the process of teaching the Practical Criticism Unit (Poetry) our discussion turned to phonetics. Now, the students had already dealt with the topic of phonetics in the previous semester. The ‘WHAT!!!’ moment struck when many of the students responded stating they had ignored the topic because the vast topic weighed for only seven marks. Hence, even though they had come across the topic of phonetics, it was alien to them. The point here is that they had unfortunately missed out totally on the concept of the art of learning. Regretfully, they had followed the tradition of studying for marks alone, rather than for enriching their knowledge which will stay a lifetime.

In order to make them realise the significance of the art of learning I narrated an encounter I had once with a young student. This particular young student fared very well in all the subjects, except for one subject. When I inquired for the reason behind it, the young mind replied that he did not study the paper well because the concerned teacher was not strict. I felt deeply sad. This is what generally happens. The learner or the receiver fails to fully realise that learning should be for the SELF.

Targeting pass mark, studying depending on who teaches, submitting assignments depending on the strictness of the concerned teacher, attending classes depending on how interesting the teacher teaches and so on are external factors. The learners tend to sideline the essence within. Of course the external factors are very significant, but the learners should also have the will and enthusiasm to overcome any shortcoming of the external factors.

          There are aspects in life where/when we have to prioritise others first. But when it comes to learning, the SELF needs to be prioritised, in a very positive way. This applies not only to my students, or UG students, but to everyone in general. One could be an academician, an officer, an administrator, a musician, an artist, and so on. It is rightly stated that Education is a lifelong process; so learning is a lifelong process. And whatever we learn is for our own self. However, we tend to ignore or underrate the art of learning, and so we tend to make someone else do our work. We let someone else cook for us, draft an application, write a report, do our assignment and what not. The zeal of learning, and mastering the art of learning somehow remains laid back. When one masters this art, one can learn the best. Here, I would totally go with Matthew Arnold. The best that has been learned should be propagated. When the best has been learnt by best mastering the art of learning - sincerity, dedication, right knowledge, positivity are some of the perks that come automatically. And the right approach to learning calls to be instilled at a very tender age. My question is - are we successfully and rightly instilling the right approach to learning?

        Most of the school students are assigned project work. I noticed cases where the students do not lay a hand or a minute on the project work. Being young, they may not be able to complete the work totally on their own. Hence the guidance of elders is required. But unfortunately, there seem to be situations when the parents are too busy to guide and assist or the parents are too concerned about the grade that they do it or hire someone else to do it as they want their child to get the best grade. I doubt if these methods will be beneficial eventually. Could it be that the students suddenly lost track of the right approach to learning after hitting college level, or has the system gone  haywire at a tender age.

The best and right approach of teaching has always been debated on. What is more important is that education be valued as a personal experience, something the soul thirsts for. As long as our students study for getting pass marks, and teachers teach them just to secure pass marks, real education is lost, lost somewhere in the cacophony of erroneous attitudes.

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. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Nungchim Christopher, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email:

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