“THE ASS AND HIS DRIVER”

Fables sometimes contain morals suitable or applicable to real life. In these restless and shaky times, one often tries to make sense of what is happening by turning to reading as often as one can. It may serve as a tonic to find peace within oneself or it may allow him to stumble on words of wisdom or stories containing morals.

Here is one story from the Aesop’s Fables.

THE ASS AND HIS DRIVER

An Ass, being driven along a high road, suddenly started off and bolted to the brink of a deep precipice. While he was in the act of throwing himself over, his owner seized him by the tail, endeavouring to pull him back. When the Ass persisted in his effort, the man let him go and said, “Conquer, but conquer to your cost.”

Now imagine the “Ass” in the human form as a leader of an organisation or a country and also imagine the “Driver” as the staff of an organisation or the electorate of a country.

The staff of a company will be on edge when they know very well how recklessly the leader of their organisation steers their company through difficult business periods. As their livelihood is dependent on their jobs in the company, they are naturally anxious to see the company “float” in a shrinking business environment.

The same applies to the electorate of a country. As the greater good of a nation is dependent on its leadership, the electorate of that nation is naturally anxious to see the country “float” in economically-troubled times ahead. The anxiety expressed by the members who make up the electorate is not misplaced. Their fears are real and substantiated when they see the leader of their country lead it in a reckless and carefree abandon. It leaves the electorate and the leader on the edge of a precipice.

The citizens of that country are not in a position to hold the leader “by his tail” and demand him to turn back on the road of governing sensibly as his executive powers make him invincible. As such, the citizens can only let go and say this to the leader, “Conquer, but conquer to your cost.”

Dear reader, do you understand the moral of my story?

Advertisements

HONESTY AND SINCERITY IN WRITING

Why don’t you do something entirely different for yourself? Write an essay of 500 words about your strengths and weaknesses. Be brutally honest. Write as if your life depends on it. In this way, you will be able to discover the skeletons lurking in your closet.

Present that essay in a professional manner. You are learning to be systematic. Your written English must be very good. Watch your tenses, sentence structures, parallelism, etc. In many cases, a reader will be struck by a piece of writing by the way it is presented in a truthful manner.

Honesty and sincerity in writing make a world of difference. Honesty and sincerity in writing separate the civilised from the brute. Keep writing many times. Attain the level of perfection where your writing attracts the reader to the way you think and feel about certain issues.

OF SCHOLARS AND SCHOLARSHIPS

Who is a scholar? Can everyone be a scholar? Can everyone who has passed a competitive pre-university examination be deemed a scholar in its strictest sense?

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English defines a scholar as a “person who studies an academic subject deeply”. Can everyone who has passed a pre-university examination be called a scholar who is able to study an academic subject deeply in a university?

Many people believe so. They are the many misguided and misinformed people who believe so. Every parent wants the best for his child. There is no harm in that. But can every parent expect his child to be a scholar when that child doesn’t even exhibit an iota of scholarly bearing?

Sometimes, parents expect too much from their children. Some children may be better suited for vocational studies as they are not academically inclined.

By insisting their young to enrol for academic programmes in a public or a private university, some parents may be damaging their children’s ability to earn decent wages in the future. With the ever increasing number of unemployed graduates in many countries, parents should seriously question why this phenomenon exists.

In the current global economic uncertainty, parents will be foolish to spend money blindly on their children who are not fit to be scholars. Parents need to do some soul-searching if their children are really capable of becoming scholars who will one day graduate from universities to be gainfully-employed in the working world.

Instead of academic studies which will render the majority of the young unemployed and which will drain the finances, parents should help their children acquire SKILLS that will be of real help in earning a living for their young.

Governments may be well advised not to dish out scholarships to every Tom, Dick and Harry or Jill, Jane and Joan freely. It behoves a government to test the suitability of a candidate seeking a scholarship for further academic studies. Most of all, a government needs to send out a clear message that a candidate who has passed a competitive pre-university examination is not automatically entitled to a scholarship for further academic studies.

In addition, even those who are eligible for scholarships based on a certain set of criteria need to be tested further if they possess the right qualities of a scholar to pursue academic subjects deeply. Some of those right qualities are competence in English in all its four skills (if the candidate is pursuing tertiary studies delivered in the medium of instruction called English) and subtlety of thought. Testing these future scholars rigorously will enable a government to foresee to what extent its funds will yield at the end of their academic studies. Furthermore, the depth of knowledge acquired by a scholar during his academic studies in a university will propel him, his society and his country to greater heights in all aspects in the long run.

Funds for any endeavour don’t come easily these days. Therefore, a government must be wise to invest money in people who will fulfil the role of scholars in the truest sense.

THEY STILL DON’T SEE IT COMING

Things look rosy on the outside or they are portrayed to be rosy to the outside world. By portraying so, the inner rottenness can be concealed from the outside world.

Some governments run their economies in the same manner too. Only the top echelon in the policymaking bodies in these governments are privy to the actual workings of their economies. The information and the figures concerning the real state of their economies remain at the top.

If the information and the figures of an economy are really good, they can be revealed to the general public and the investors. The economy prospers.

If the information and the figures of an economy are really bad, they can be suppressed or tampered with so as not to create a panic among the general public and chase away the investors. The economy may experience turbulence or even collapse altogether.

What if the information and the figures about an economy keep getting worse by every quarter? No matter how good the members of the top policymaking body in a country try to suppress or tamper with the information and the figures, they will finally have to tell the truth to everyone as hiding that information can trigger something even worse for the economy later on. No matter how good a maestro is in his calling, he still has to admit his failings sometimes.

Governments have an obligation to tell the real truth about the performance of their economies. They cannot keep it under wraps for long. They have to say the truth as it is. If it means the introduction of austerity measures spanning all vocations in the land, massive cuts in operating expenditures and large-scale job cuts, so be it. If the economy needs to be trimmed to stay lean and mean for the long run, so be it.

Get the real picture?

“THE WORST IS OVER.” REALLY?

A new economic phrase has been bandied about by research houses in many economies, albeit subtly. Many of the experts in these research houses “expect the worst is over” for their countries’ bleak economic performance and future scenario. But the worst just keeps getting better.

Some countries are adopting an insular approach as they want to protect their respective currencies, their national interests and their borders against encroachments by refugees fleeing from other lands. Worst, some countries are tearing trade pacts meant to improve their citizens’ livelihood. All these happenings have an effect on the world’s economy.

Is the worst really over or is it just the beginning of the worst?

During these tumultuous times on the global economic front, a country may be forced to go it alone as policymakers from various developed countries will put their citizens’ benefits first and foremost at the expense of the benefits for people in the third-world economies.

Sentiments are powerful. They can make or break people.

Sentiments concerning a country’s economy among its population are even more powerful. They can make or break the country, economically and financially. In addition, negative sentiments about the economy, if they are allowed to fester for a period of time, can eventually break the will of a people, who are desperately making ends meet.

In order to maintain positive sentiments about the economy of a country, experts in the research houses, economists and policymakers constantly harangue its population on how good that economy is performing even though the country is drowning, economically. Hence, the phrase “expect the worst is over” is perennially played to minimise the level of panic and fear among citizens of any country.

Unfortunately, the citizens become more panic-stricken when they hear that “the worst is over” as the economic environment, internal and external, unfolding right before their eyes tells a different story. As a result, the citizens become jittery about the actual situation pertaining to their countries’ economic status because the global business environment keeps fluctuating without showing any signs of consistency. It is like sitting on a see-saw – swing up and down, swing up and down, swing up and down, etc.

Let’s hear what the experts in the research houses, the economists and the policymakers have to say then.

“The worst is here”?

GOD AND COUNTRY

A soldier’s first duty is to obey orders and he does it truthfully with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. A good and dutiful soldier never ever entertains the idea of betraying his country as it is tantamount to betraying his Creator. A group of good and dutiful soldiers will ultimately produce a fighting force to be reckoned with in any conflict or warzone.

Enter the politician. Politicians have their own plans to serve their interests most of the time. As they have “access to facts” which the layman is not privy to, politicians can wage wars or create conflicts in distant lands just to fulfil their interests.

These interests may be good or bad for the citizens of the country. If they are good, that is fine. If they are bad, they can take a terrible toll on the soldiers fighting in the warzones as the families of these soldiers will suffer too back home.

Is there a price that good and obedient soldiers pay for the rhetoric of wily politicians with interests?

God and Country. This phrase can whip up a lot of emotions among the population of a country. Many loyal soldiers have laid down their precious lives for this phrase.

WHERE IS GOD IN A CHAOTIC WORLD?

Men, women and children from different persuasions are being killed for nothing lately. This situation does not bode well for the world at large.

People really need to ask serious questions about their religious beliefs. Are their religious beliefs a hindrance in the present-day world? How far have their religious beliefs enabled them to bring peace to others living in poor countries and in war-ravaged countries? Can the prayers of the religious people from various faiths soothe the pain and suffering of innocent souls desperately searching for lasting peace?

In all this chaos and mayhem, where is God? Why doesn’t He prevent terrorist attacks and wars from taking place? Why doesn’t He alert the faithful of impending dangers beforehand? Since the faithful are constantly praising God in all His majesty, why can’t they sense negative events coming their way? Isn’t it the duty of God to warn and protect His flock?

These days, people are dying needlessly. We really need to ask ourselves this question: Where is God in this chaotic world of ours? Is He just a spectator to these chaotic events?

Does God even exist?

THE MOTHER OF ALL LANGUAGES

Can you believe it?! The English still dominate the whole world through their language. Which other race on earth can boast of such an achievement?

Practically, every discipline on earth owes its development through the English language. When new inventions and further discoveries are made, they are disseminated through the English language as it is the one language that can reach many people in the four corners of the globe effectively. No other language comes close to the English language in the spread of information on a large scale.

Therefore, if anyone wants to make an impact on the world’s stage, he needs THE MOTHER OF ALL LANGUAGES – ENGLISH – to do so.

Is the English language ONLY for the English people? I don’t think so.

Holy Mother!

THE BRUTAL TRUTH ABOUT LANGUAGE ACQUISITION – PART 2

It is the accepted practice that after numerous tests and re-tests, a hypothesis or a guess (in a layman’s term) becomes a law.

What about prolonged observations about a certain issue? Can’t those prolonged observations about a certain issue showing certain results be accepted as facts in the absence of tests or studies conducted?

When that issue has produced only a certain form of results for decades, can’t those prolonged observations be accepted as verifiable truths in the absence of tests or studies conducted?

When certain issues are subjected to tests and re-tests, threatening to reveal contrary and embarrassing results concerning the majority of a population, wouldn’t the entity called the government of the day try its level best to stop such tests from taking place?

Thus, the same results about a point in question gathered after prolonged observations in the absence of tests or studies conducted over a period of time can be accepted as verifiable truths.

Even governments can work hand in glove with parties that advance particular interests to alter the results of studies pertaining to any endeavour related to man’s progress in order to conceal the shortcomings of certain sections of their population. The results of these studies may also be used by these governments to advance the suitability of a course of action for the greater good of the country as a whole in the future. Governments can tamper with the outcomes of studies conducted on certain issues to legitimise their stranglehold on the various vocations affecting the citizens’ livelihood. That is the brutal truth.

Learning any language involves its four skills.

A person competent in any language should also exhibit the SUBTLETY OF THOUGHT to express his feelings and ideas to the greater population of the world.

I define subtlety of thought as one’s ability to give an intelligent account of a matter from all angles honestly in order to deal with all the parts that make up the whole.

Honesty is vital in any argument or debate. If parties in an argument or a debate are not honest at the outset in admitting any shortcomings with a view to rectifying them immediately, then that argument or debate is an exercise in futility. There will be no progress made at all where the matter is concerned. Things will remain stagnant forever or they will get worse.

We need to realise that not ALL environments are the same. We also need to realise that the learners whom we teach in one environment are not the same kind of learners in other environments. There are many other factors that come into play about certain races in the world.

Characteristic as an adjective means “being or revealing a quality specific or identifying to an individual or group”. The synonyms are distinctive, peculiar or specific.

Characteristic as a noun means “something that marks or sets apart”. The synonyms are feature, point or trait.

Certain races display certain characteristics.

One of them is INTELLIGENCE. Some races show quickness of understanding, and therefore have an upper hand over other races in certain disciplines on earth. Look around the world. What do we see? Can’t we see that some countries are developed and some countries are still in the third-world category? Not ALL members of the human race are capable of learning anything, anywhere. Perhaps, their environments lack the necessary infrastructure with the competent manpower or their environments are ravaged by war. Hence, some races need the structured manner to learn something valuable for their future. They can’t just jump to the complex without knowing the simple.

Another is the INCLINATION TO WORK. Some races are very hardworking. On the other hand, there are races who lack the will to work. Despite all the incentives given to toil and prosper, some races are still lazy to work. The degree of intensity to work varies considerably among the races of the world.

Not ALL members of the human race are the same in terms of characteristics, and so they don’t possess the same degree of qualities required for certain vocations.

An example will show this clearly.

When many students gain admission into universities for tertiary studies delivered in the medium of instruction called English, they are expected to show competence in English as well as subtlety of thought. After graduation, they don’t possess competence in English and they are at a total loss in expressing their thoughts clearly upon any subject-matter with confidence. Why is that so? How did they prepare their assignments in universities? What benchmark did the university authorities use to mark their students’ assignments? HOW DID THEY EVEN GRADUATE?! Is the profit-motive the only criterion for the public and private universities of a country? These “graduates” are herded into the public and private sectors of an economy. And some governments even spend a lot of money to train and re-train these “graduates” in their respective economies. HUH?!

My observations are not those of an anthropologist. My observations are those of a layman watching ordinary events pertaining to ordinary people in their everyday lives.

When a person possesses competence in a language in all its FOUR skills along with the subtlety of thought to express himself clearly in the spoken and written forms of that said language, he can truly claim to be proficient in that said language.

As such, if anyone wants to learn a language, he must bear in mind the time, effort and money (in some instances) involved to attain proficiency in the said language.

But when a lot of resources of various kinds have been put in place by an entity called a government to improve the proficiency and use in that said language of a population with no tangible results using MANY approaches over a period of decades, what does it mean?

Naturally, the blame must fall on the people who teach and learn that said language.

Naturally, these people may not just be suited to teach and learn that said language at all.

Am I a racist for telling the truth?

THE BRUTAL TRUTH ABOUT LANGUAGE ACQUISITION

The major hurdle in any language teaching and learning is the approach used. The approach to teach and learn any language makes a world of difference to the person teaching it and to the person learning it.

When the approach used incorporates materials that contain a body of objective facts presented logically to teach and learn a language, it will definitely yield the vital results of language proficiency and usage among learners over a period of time.

Those materials containing a body of objective facts presented logically to teach and learn a language must not include fun in teaching as well as learning, telling stories, strumming guitars, singing songs and dancing. One cannot teach or learn any language in the world in a playful manner.

Those materials containing a body of objective facts presented logically to teach and learn a language must include its grammar, vocabulary, sentence structures, sentence-building, summary, reading, essay writing, letter writing and comprehension. To teach or learn such materials demands a teacher’s or a learner’s serious commitment on a prolonged basis.

Interest and motivation to learn that particular language that contains a body of objective facts presented logically will be aroused in the learners and that same interest and motivation will sustain the learners’ willingness to study the language further.

When countless approaches used to teach and learn English don’t give the necessary results in proficiency and usage among students for decades, then those approaches should be abandoned altogether as they have failed to sustain the willingness of students to learn English over a period of time. Naturally, the rot sets in and repels learners to continue learning English. Then, these learners will fear learning the English language altogether.

The true substance of English teaching and learning is its logical presentation of materials based on the solid foundation of grammar. The mastery and usage of English grammar related to its sentence structures as well as sentence-building sets the stage for further work incorporating its summary, essay writing and letter writing which are essential items for a learner in his adult life.

It is also a FACT that some races around the world will not have the ability to learn English at all but these same races of people display a lot of ability to learn other languages besides English. Wouldn’t a sane, sensible and thinking person then conclude that some races around the world are just not suited to learn the English language?

Consider the fact that some members of these races, who don’t have the ability to learn English, become teachers of the English language. Wouldn’t English teaching and learning become A HORRIBLE AND TERRIBLE AFFAIR? The standard of English can NEVER improve.

Some races of people around the world are not suited to teach and learn English.