The Power of Continual Learning

“A great teacher is one who realizes that he himself is also a student and whose goal is not to dictate the answers, but to stimulate his students creativity enough so that they go out and find the answers themselves.”



How can teachers grow if they don’t engage in continual learning? When teachers stop learning, they become estranged to the experiences of learning. Affective teachers identify with their students’ struggles, challenges, and excitements in the process of learning because they experience all these emotions on a daily basis…because they too, are LEARNERS!

New ideas are the keys to GROWTH! To obtain new ideas, one needs to constantly learn, be it in the classroom or outside of the classroom (exposure to new learning opportunities and environments).

The day a teacher stops learning is the day when he/she starts decreasing in value, expertise, and contribution. Since learning is a dynamic process, it is sustained by constructive and continuous effort. But to understand learning, one has to be a student (who knows better about learning than a learner him/herself?). Thus, a caring teacher strives to be a student first, before he/she attempts to play the role of a teacher! Needless to say, a good student always make an excellent teacher!

Copyright June 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan,

I want to thank Mr. Marthonoh Jessen for allowing me to use the quotation by Herbie Hancock posted on his site.

Learning to Take Responsibility

I am sure that we have heard the story about Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody time and again, at different occasions. We laugh and enjoy the humorous word play presented ingeniously in the story everytime we hear it. Let me just refresh your minds of the same story at this juncture.

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

everybody, somebody, anybody, nobody2.gif

I bet you laughed reading the story yet another time. However, the application of this story to the realities of the school system is startling. I would imagine that Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody represent different social catalysts responsible for the establishment and sustenance of the school system. Teachers, parents, school administrators, and the society, all know for fact that the most important job to be done is to empower and nurture individual students to discover and maximize their potential to become constructive contributors to life on earth. However, experiences like anger, guilt, regret, and blame constantly influence educational scenarios in many societies. In the case of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody, at least they knew what their job was. Sadly, teachers, parents, administrators, and the society are not even aware of their job (in the first place) to be able to move on to the next level of action. As such, the school system has been “existent” for many decades, but have always failed to “live”.

The Existence of a school connotes a desire of its members to survive (in which case, the quality of the survival is not as important as the survival itself), while a school that is Living does not merely survive but also strives to make a genuine difference in all of its members! As far as I see it, the school and every member involved in the functioning therein are responsible for one thing and one thing alone…

To establish a caring and passionate ‘working-relationship’ with students so that the teaching-learning experiences at school become meaningful and personal – leading to increased assimilation of what is taught – useful for the present as well as the future. Of course this is not accomplished by some magic tricks. It takes a lot of time, effort, intelligent thinking and planning, and commitment to ensure this outcome.

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Nevertheless, the possibility or impossibility of the above mentioned goals are significantly dependent on how well the four main catalysts of the school system work toward (collaboratively) making this a reality. Instead of ‘passing the baton without running the race,’ (or engaging in social loafing) – teachers, parents, school administrators, and the society might want to re-consider and accept the crucial responsibilities placed in their hands to effect positive changes in the lives of students who would someday, become the future. Let us not forget that we care for our students because someday soon, they too will CARE for us! (now you know why many parents end up in old-folk-homes instead of cherishing the remaining days of their lives with children and grandchildren???)

Copyright June 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan,

Learning IS Experiencing!

Thought for the Day: A Direct Quote from MeaningfulLearning

Everyone can learn anything as long as it is meaningful. Learning can be made meaningful. Support and encouraging words will make any learning a challenging and creative experience. The freedom of choice is of all importance but the choice of words is a freedom we can all share. Our kind words can contribute in making learning meaningful.

I have discovered in my own teaching that learning is most effective when it is experiential in nature! When concepts, ideals, and principles are taught in a way that students can relate to them in a personal manner, learning increases exponentially. This implies that teachers who stimulate both the intellectual as well as the emotional faculties of students do a better job in assisting them to assimilate and internalize learning materials. This is accomplished by utilizing teaching strategies that allow students become active participants and contributors (in the learning process) rather than remaining passive and fed with information all through the teaching-learning process.

The Engines for Education Team advocates this very idea most aptly in the following manner…

There is really only one way to learn how to do something and that is to do it. If you want to learn to throw a football, drive a car, build a mousetrap, design a building, cook a stir-fry, or be a management consultant, you must have a go at doing it. Throughout history, youths have been apprenticed to masters in order to learn a trade. We understand that learning a skill means eventually trying your hand at the skill. When there is no real harm in simply trying we allow novices to “give it a shot.”

Parents usually teach children in this way. They don’t give a series of lectures to their children to prepare them to walk, talk, climb, run, play a game, or learn how to behave. They just let their children do these things. We hand a child a ball to teach him to throw. If he throws poorly, he simply tries again. Parents tolerate sitting in the passenger seat while their teenager tries out the driver’s seat for the first time. It’s nerve-wracking, but parents put up with it, because they know there’s no better way.

When it comes to school, however, instead of allowing students to learn by doing, we create courses of instruction that tell students about the theory of the task without concentrating on the doing of the task. It’s not easy to see how to apply apprenticeship to mass education. So in its place, we lecture.

Copyright June 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan,

Personal Testimony of a Student (Ms. Sara Saunders)

Class: PSYC 315 Psychology of the Exceptional Child

This is the last journal entry (April 21, 2006) of Ms. Sara Saunders in the above mentioned class. She has transfered to a university in the US after successfully completing her first year of college education in Thailand. The following jounal entry is published with Sara’s permission.

In Sara’s own words

Journal [ last one! 🙁 ]

Dr. Roy, thank you for this class. I really appreciate your teaching, especially how you make students feel like they have something meaningful to contribute. Some teachers tend to give the impression that they are the bottomless well of knowledge while we are ignorant children. Thanks for making this class more inspiring. Try some fieldtrips next year! God bless!

Copyright June 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan,

PSYC 244 Social Psychology

For class notes, please go to this link

Social Psychology deals with attitudinal, behavioral, and cognitive changes that take place due to relationships forged between an individual and his/her social surrounding. It attempts to study the power of THE PERSON as well as the power of THE SITUATION, and how these two interact. The interaction between an individual and his/her social and physical environments results in complex behavioral and thinking patterns. By studying these complexities in behavior and thinking, Social Psychology attempts to uncover the answers for many social-psychological questions, and eventually facilitate meaningful living and relationships among people.

It Takes Only ONE (Caring Teacher)!

With changes and advancements all around us in a highly global world, it is important to have the school play a leading role in shaping the thoughts and aspiration of young people. The collapse in family structures and the significant neglect of children in many societies have predisposed an added role on teachers.

Teachers do not merely instruct students. In fact, classroom instruction is only a small portion of a teacher’s responsibility. More than ever, teachers are required to be caring toward their students. This ‘care’ entails a relationship that carries both the teacher and his/her students to a platform of interaction that makes success and growth possible on a progressive manner.

Students do not become successful and functional members of the society by default. There are different things that teachers do in the classroom to help inculcate the desire to become successful (in students). ‘Care’ is fundamental to all teaching-learning processes and the relationships therein. ‘Care’ should color every responsibility that a teacher holds and performs in the classroom.

Every successful individual that we encounter today bears witness to the fact that at least one teacher was caring toward him/her and made a world of difference in his/her life. Every potential that students possess come alive and shines brightly for the benefit of others because of the existence of special kind of teachers who look for the best in their students.

What we need in a world filled with ‘high-risk’ students is CARING TEACHERS whose life examples and choices of behavior in the classroom would motivate, empower and change the attitude and behavior of students for the better. When this happens, we can expect a collective success at school and in the nation as a whole.

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The book “How to Become a Caring Teacher: A Daily Guide for Highly Affective Teaching” presents this attitudinal and pedagogical approach to teaching. The author is convinced that this is the type of teaching that works most effectively in the 21st century and onward. When a teacher is caring toward his/her students, every other success experienced in the classroom becomes meaningful and lead to future achievement.
The book presents the following characteristics of a caring teacher in a practical and illustrative manner, made possible by the author’s actual experiences in the classroom:

  1. Caring teachers are caring individuals who develop relationships with their students.
  2. Caring teachers hold positive and high expectations that not only structure and guide behavior, but also challenge students to perform beyond what they believe they can do. Caring teachers are concerned about building students’ competence level by being a bridge between tasks and the students themselves.
  3. Caring teachers place a lot of responsibility on students when it comes to learning and encourage them to participate actively in all sorts of things that go on in the classroom. In other words, caring teachers treat students as responsible and respectable people.
  4. Most important of all, caring teachers believe in their students to accomplish become resourceful members of the society.

Copyright June 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan,

Stop…! Are You Really Ready to ‘Deal’ with Students?

Every human born into this world posseses unique temperaments that distinguishes him/herself from other humans. These temperaments interact with the environment throughout the developmental stages of an individual to form and establish relatively stable personality patterns. These patterns of personal profile further entail preferences that determine people’s life-styles (behavioral and cognitive priorities).

Consider the following…

We all come in different SHAPES and SIZES.
We all have STRENGTHS and weaknesses.

What’s right for one person may not be right for another.

There are things that are important to me, that you don’t care about at all!

And sometimes your behavior doesn’t make any sense to me.

But I want for us to understand each other, and communicate well,

because we live together in the same world.

I know I can’t expect you to want the same things that I want.

We are not the same person, so we will not always see things the same way.

I have my own Thoughts and my own Ideas,

that may or may not fit into your vision of who I should be.

A caring teacher knows and attests to the following fact about every student in his/her classroom…

Each child is unique and has unique needs that they express in unique ways. Each child will become an original adult with their own STRENGTHS and weaknesses. Sometimes we know what’s best for our kids and sometimes we just think we do! We can’t expect our kids to want the same things we want, or to behave the same way that we behave. By learning more about our children’s personalities, we can HELP them develop their strengths, overcome their weaknesses, and become independent, happy adults.

There are basically 16 personality types that teachers commonly deal with in the classroom. They are:

* ISTJ – The Duty Fulfillers
* ESTJ – The Guardians
* ISFJ – The Nurturers
* ESFJ – The Caregivers
* ISTP – The Mechanics
* ESTP – The Doers
* ESFP – The Performers
* ISFP – The Artists
* ENTJ – The Executives
* INTJ – The Scientists
* ENTP – The Visionaries
* INTP – The Thinkers
* ENFJ – The Givers
* INFJ – The Protectors
* ENFP – The Inspirers
* INFP – The Idealists

Personality Types

With such a variety of personality types, it is impossible to treat each student as a part of a ‘whole’ that fits into a single mold. The classroom should be a place where students get an opportunity to explore and expand their personality traits and enhance their potential. The final aim of all educational endeavor is the development of the ‘whole’ person (which entails an individual’s personality – overall structure of his/her existence). If students are not provided with this opportunity, their development will be ‘skewed’ toward intellectual growth without much progress in all other important areas of living and functioning. Is this kind of development worth working for? Definitely NOT!

Click on any of the 16-personality-types link above and see for yourself the many positive traits an individual of a particular personality profile possesses. This is a clear indication that students come into the classroom with immense potential and great personal resources. These must be harnessed to maximinze the present and future functionality of students. Failure to do so will prove to be a significant waste of human resources on the part of a teacher.

A caring teacher takes the time and makes the effort to KNOW his/her students (as accurately and comprehensively as possible) before providing educational or psychological intervention. Having a proper knowledge about A STUDENT (“who he/she really is?”) is the pre-requisite for dealing effectively and meaningfully with him/her. When this takes place, students will benefit both academically and socio-emotionally in the classroom.

Ask yourself the following question today, “How much do I really know my students to be able to deal with them in a personal and genuine manner?” When you can answer this question without much difficulty, you are on your way to becoming a caring teacher at heart and in practice!

Copyright May 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan,

Here Comes the Principal!

Have you ever been threatened to be taken to the principal’s office when you misbehaved at school? Many of us (when we were school-going kids) would do almost anything to avoid trips to the principal’s office simply because they were too scary. A visit to the principal’s office is often a nightmare to students. The scenario continues even up to this day.

When I was young and energetic (elementary school age), I loved cycling. My parents bought a bicycle for me and allowed extensive rides during the day, and sometimes, in the night. However, they quickly realized that I was becoming too attached to the bicycle. I started neglecting my studies. As all parents do, they had to intervene. They took the bicycle and hid it in one of the rooms when I was sleeping one night. When I got up in the morning, they told me that the bicycle was in the ‘other’ room and that the room was now being guarded by ghosts. I believed in them and thereafter, never went anywhere close to the bicycle. I avoided even the sight of the ‘other’ room because it produced a lot of fear in my heart.

Whenever I recall this experience, I somehow associate it with the experience of visiting a principal’s office. Why? Because both elicit the same amount of fear and cause intense anxiety and discomfort.

A principal is the leader of an educational institution. An educational institution is essentially a human system developed to nurture and equip young people to become functional members of the society. However, the role of a principal has been viewed and carried out on the basis of ‘crude’ authority, even at the cost of instilling fear in students and teachers. When fear dominates the system, the processes of teaching and learning are ‘delayed’.

Educators often wonder why a school struggles to make any progress in spite of various intervention extended to the people involved in its operation. However, a careful examination of relationships among people in the school will reveal that the leader him/herself is not demonstrating care and concern for his/her own ‘sheep’. Instead of being emotionally involved with them, he/she constantly detaches him/herself from them to preserve the existing professional distance. In the end, the principal fails to obtain the confidence and trust of the very people he/she attempts to lead toward success and accomplishment (of various institutional and educational goals).

The principals that I came across so far display the same kind of ‘distorted’ attitude and about their job description. They usually feel that they are supposed to be hardhearted and stern in order to ‘push’ people and get the job done! They tend to be stony, unsympathetic, unemotional, and separated from the relational realities of the school life. At their best, they SCARE students and teachers, thinking that they portray a positive view about themselves and their position of leadership by doing so.

After all these years of schooling and teaching, I finally met with a principal (who is the Chief Administrator of the Satya Sai School, Lopburi, Thailand) who is different from all other principals. I would personally recommend him as an exemplary principal for schools worldwide. He is the honorable Dr. Art-Ong Jumsai Na Ayudhya. I had the privilege of meeting with him to deliver a complimentary copy of my first book How to Become a Caring Teacher. During my visit, many students stopped by him, gave him a big smile, greeted him with a hug, and talked to him about their lives, before continuing with their daily activities. He responded to them with love and genuine care. It was evident that both students and teachers were attracted to him. He was not scary. Instead, he was so comforting that students and teachers were enthralled about being with him. They shared their concerns with him without any reservation.

A Caring Principal
The Caring Principal

Educators like Dr. Art-Ong Jumsai make visits to the principal’s office more joyful and less anxiety-provoking. If principals thought that order and productivity can be improved by being impersonal with students and teachers, they ought to think again. It is their existing approach to leadership that is causing inefficiency in all areas of the school system. Once principals learn that a personal and genuine relationship with students and teachers yield a significant success in the area of teaching, learning, and school governance, they will want their offices to be the most visited and least feared in the whole school.

Until then, the principal is the most feared person at schools everywhere!

When I was studying in high school, the principal of the school would go for rounds at least twice a day (or whenever he got tired being in his office). He would announce his rounds by intentionally shaking a big bunch of keys. When they keys knocked each other, they made a loud chattering sound. Whenever students and teachers heard this sound, they knew that the principal was around. They would quickly get themselves together and put up an act just to please the ‘passing’ head of the institution. Once he was gone, things were back to square one!

Every time someone says, “Here comes the principal,” students and teachers respond to the statement with fear. When fear drives students and teachers, they only thing they can think of doing is to deceive a principal into believing that everything was ‘okay’, when in actual fact, it is not okay!

Caring principals dispel fear and instill trust in students and teachers to enhance teaching and learning experiences.

Copyright May 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan,

Losing the Battles, Winning the War!

It was a hectic day for everyone. Students were trying their best to pay attention to what was happening in the class. At the same time, some of them couldn’t help but flip through the pages a textbook for another class. Their test was scheduled in the afternoon on the same day.

As usual, the teacher wanted students to participate in group discussions and contribute to the overall teaching-learning process. However, one particular student was not really excited about doing this. For her, the test in the afternoon was more important than being engaged in a cooperative learning activity (she probably didn’t prepare for the test earlier). The student behaved as if she wanted to communicate the following to the teacher and others in the class:

“Don’t trouble me. All of you should be happy that I am not absent from the class; at least I am not as bad as those who skip classes to prepare for another test!”

Somehow, this got through to the teacher. She noticed that the student intentionally avoided work and remained uncooperative, depriving others (in the group) of vital learning opportunities. Her countenance indicated annoyance. She continued revising for her test in spite of becoming increasingly aware that the teacher was noticing her moves (by this time, others who didn’t prepare for the test decided that they will have to face the consequence of procrastination, and quit ‘serving two masters’).

The teacher tried to convey her displeasure for what was happening through non-verbal facial expressions and gestures, and reinforced it with verbal messages (very sparingly). However, the student pretended not to understand these messages and carried on with her own agenda. Tension arose; it was felt by both students and the teacher. The situation could have exploded at any moment. Being familiar with the ways of affective teaching, the teacher raised a white flag and rested her case. The student walked out of the class that day feeling like a winner. Others in the class felt sympathetic toward the teacher. They felt that the ‘stubborn’ student was impolite to treat the teacher the way she did. The teacher however, remained calm and did not display any hatred (or anger) toward the student.

Later that week, the same student paid a surprise visit to the teacher in the office. The teacher greeted the student with a smile and asked if she could be of any assistance. After a short silence, the student opened up and told the teacher that she was very sorry for the way she behaved in the class. She added that she didn’t mean to act rudely. Toward the end of their meeting, the teacher also came to know that the student was having her monthly menstrual cycle and couldn’t help but get easily irritated.

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For the teacher, the reasons didn’t really matter. Before any of this could happen, she had already decided that she would remain ‘a caring teacher’ no matter what, even in the most hopeless and helpless situations. She was prepared for many such emergencies. She has firmly decided that she will handle every crisis (in the classroom) by applying the principles of affective teaching.

Caring teachers may lose battles. The battles lost in the classroom serve as opportunities to foster students’ psychological well-being. When two egos clash, one has to become subservient to the other (in all crises, only one ego wins). Usually, the injury caused to a weaker ego is not easily cured. Thus, a caring teacher (who presumably possesses a stronger ego) ‘chooses’ to let his/her ego be ‘punched’ in order to allow the weaker ego of a student remain in-tact and eventually become stronger. When teachers contend to prove that they possess stronger ego (which is unnecessary), they engage in ‘ego-slashing’ that consequently pulls students’ self-esteem to a significant low! When this happens, a teacher wins the battles, but loses the war.

A caring teacher is focused on winning the war! What do I mean by this? In the example of the situation presented above, the student went back to the teacher because she realized that the teacher was not her enemy. Although she made a mistake, she could still approach the teacher and vent her feelings. If the teacher focused on winning the battle (the situation) she would have lost the student, forever! Teachers who ‘fight’ with their students may win battles in the classroom. However, these teachers will eventually LOSE all their students! When a teacher loses his/her students, he/she has lost the war.

A caring teacher always wins the war. Initially students might despise a caring teacher (this is not unusual because students become confused when a teacher suddenly cares for them – sadly, students are not used to being cared for at school). But with time, caring teachers harvest the greatest reward for their sacrifice and effort – winning the trust of every student!

Copyright May 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan,