Structure of the U.S. Education System: Credit Systems

First, let us discuss the same system which is being followed in The United States of America.

The Structure of the U.S. Education System:
Credit Systems

USNEI

International Affairs Office, U.S. Department of Education     Feb 2008

U.S. educators at the secondary, higher, and adult/continuing education levels use a variety of formulae to calculate, record, and interpret the amount of earned academic or training credits that students accumulate en route to earning certificates, diplomas, degrees, and other qualifications. In most cases, the earned credits are identified by the term “credit hours” or “credit units.”

Several important points need to be understood about credit:

  • Credit hours or units represent a mathematical summarization of all work completed and are not the same as the actual classroom contact or instructional hours.
  • U.S. institutions use credit formulae to record all types of academic work, not just taught courses. A U.S. doctoral student’s academic record, for example, will contain credits earned for independent research, often expressed as if the student had been enrolled in classes, even though the actual work was independent research.
  • Credits are a convenient numerical way to assess tuition and fee charges and determine student status. Even unsupervised doctoral candidates must be registered as students and pay tuition charges.
  • Registered student status is usually defined as being enrolled in a given semester or quarter for a specified minimum number of credit hours, which are assigned to any type of study recognised and required by the faculty, and tuition charges are usually calculated by the instructional cost per credit hour.

SECONDARY LEVEL CREDIT UNITS

The most widely used credit systems in U.S. secondary education are based on the Carnegie Unit system. Carnegie Units were proposed in 1906 as a basis for measuring school work. A unit would represent a single subject taught for one classroom period for five days a week. Fractional units would be awarded for subjects taught less frequently. The term “Carnegie Unit” is still used to describe this system as are other terms such as “annual credit unit.”

What is the Carnegie Unit?

The unit was developed in 1906 as a measure of the amount of time a student has studied a subject (originally designed as a standard for student exposure to subject matter). For example, a total of 120 hours in one subject—meeting 4 or 5 times a week for 40 to 60 minutes, for 36 to 40 weeks each year—earns the student one “unit” of high school credit. Fourteen units were deemed to constitute the minimum amount of preparation that could be interpreted as “four years of academic or high school preparation.” http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/faqs/

In essence, it was an opportunity-to-learn standard—assuring that students received at least some common base of academic study in the high school and post-secondary systems that were emerging early in the 20th century. Today the Carnegie Unit functions as a currency that organises a vast array of educational transactions: everything from academic calendars to faculty workloads and compensation, transfer and graduation requirements, athletic eligibility, and the distribution of billions of dollars in federal financial aid. “The Carnegie Unit was never intended to measure what students have learned,” says Silva, a Carnegie Foundation senior associate. “Measuring learning was left to the discretion of individual teachers and professors. Given the great diversity in goals and activities in the U.S. educational system and the autonomy enjoyed by faculty, particularly in higher education, creating an alternative to the Carnegie Unit poses formidable challenges. While the Carnegie Unit has many limitations, it does provide a minimum guarantee of student access to opportunities to learn.” http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/newsroom/news-releases/carnegie-foundation-releases-results-two-year-study-carnegie-unit/

Some secondary schools assign credits by semester.  These semester credit units are based on the formula that a semester credit unit equals a single subject taught for one classroom period for five days a week.  Still, other schools assign credit by the classroom period, or “hour.”  Since the standard secondary class load is five subjects, five hourly credits equal on semester credit unit, which is doubled for annual credit units.

POSTSECONDARY CREDIT SYSTEMS

Semester Calendar Credit Hours. Most U.S. higher education institutions operate on an academic year divided into two equal semesters of 15-16 weeks’ duration, with a winter break of 2-3 weeks and a summer session of 10-12 weeks, plus additional shorter breaks. The actual amount of academic work that goes into a single semester credit hour is often calculated as follows:

  • One lecture (taught) or seminar (discussion) credit hour represents 1 hour per week of scheduled class/seminar time and 2 hours of student preparation time. Most lecture and seminar courses are awarded 3 credit hours. Over an entire semester, this formula represents at least 45 hours of class time and 90 hours of student preparation.
  • One laboratory credit hour represents 1 hour per week of lecture or discussion time plus 1-2 hours per week of scheduled supervised or independent laboratory work, and 2 hours of student preparation time. Most laboratory courses are awarded up to 4 credit hours. This calculation represents at least 45 hours of class time, between 45 and 90 hours of laboratory time, and 90 hours of student preparation per semester.
  • One practice credit hour (supervised clinical rounds, visual or performing art studio, supervised student teaching, field work, etc.) represents 3-4 hours per week of supervised and /or independent practice. This, in turn, represents between 45 and 60 hours of work per semester. Blocks of 3 practice credit hours, which equate to a studio or practice course, represent between 135 and 180 total hours of academic work per semester.
  • One independent study (thesis or dissertation research) hour is calculated similarly to practice credit hours.
  • Internship or apprenticeship credit hours are determined by negotiation between the supervising faculty and the work supervisor at the cooperating site, both of whom must judge and certify different aspects of the student’s work. The credit formula is similar to that for practice credit.

A typical bachelor’s degree program of study on a semester calendar requires at least 120 credit hours to be earned by the student. Normal full-time registration is usually 15 credit hours per semester or 30 per academic year (shortfalls can be made up in summer sessions or independent study). This roughly translates into at least 30-40 courses (depending on the major subject and thus the proportion of types of credit hours earned) and represents at least 5,400 – and probably more – actual hours of dedicated academic work for a non-science or non-art concentration, and well over that total for graduates of programs in the sciences, engineering, fine arts, or performing arts. A master’s degree program requiring at least 33 credit hours and including a research thesis or project represents over 4,000 actual hours of supervised and unsupervised (independent research) study, while a doctoral program can represent 8,000 or more actual hours of advanced study and research beyond the master’s degree.

Quarter Calendar Credit Hours

Some U.S. institutions use a quarter calendar, in which the academic year is divided into three terms, called quarters, of 10-11 weeks’ duration plus a summer session (considered the fourth quarter, but optional), a short winter term and other calendar breaks. Quarter credit hours represent proportionately less work than semester hours due to the shorter terms, about two-thirds of a semester credit hour. Thus, a bachelor’s degree at an institution on the quarter calendar may require a minimum of 180 quarter hours, which compares to 120 semester hours.

Other Post-secondary Credit Systems.

The semester and quarter hour systems are only the most commonly used credit systems in the United States. Several institutions employ their own special systems for recording credits, ranging from unit systems similar to the Carnegie system (one course = one credit) to point systems based on various formulae.

Education leaders from eight American states and seventeen Chinese provinces shared ideas and discussed efforts to improve teacher professional development and to implement effective student assessments.

Education leaders from eight American states and seventeen Chinese provinces shared ideas and discussed efforts to improve teacher professional development and to implement effective student assessments.

U.S. leaders visited schools in Shanghai before the dialogue began and the American delegation was particularly impressed by the students and faculty at Shanghai Shibei Junior High School.

U.S. leaders visited schools in Shanghai before the dialogue began and the American delegation was particularly impressed by the students and faculty at Shanghai Shibei Junior High School.

Students entering the U.S. higher education system with credits from other systems have these credits converted to U.S. credit hours using formulas for the transfer of credit that each higher education institution has established. The principles that govern these formulas include:

  1. The assumption that the basic academic content and student academic load is similar across universities and higher education systems, even if the local policy on the award of credits differs from place to place; and
  2. Dividing the number of credits to be transferred from a home campus or system into the number of credits that would be awarded in the receiving campus or system for the same work.

This formulation can result in students from systems where the credit system awards more than 30 credits in an academic year seeing a reduction in the number of credits when translated into the U.S. credit hours system, and vice versa for students from systems where the standard academic credit load is less than 30 credits per year.

The Structure of the U.S. Education System:
Experiential Credit Conversion

Higher education credit can be awarded for experiences and training obtained outside the higher education system. Common examples include credit for military training programs, employer training and certification and refresher training done as part of the requirements of professional associations and licensing authorities. Credit can also be earned for self-study and other experiences that provide evidence of learning under some circumstances.

The requirements for being able to assign credit for such experiences, called Prior Learning Assessment in the United States, include the following 10 standards:

  1. Credit should be awarded only for learning and not for the experience alone.
  2. Higher education credit should only be awarded for learning at that level.
  3. Credit should be awarded for learning that demonstrates theory and practical application.
  4. Determination of competency standards and the decision to award credit needs to be made by appropriate academic and subject experts.
  5. Credit should be appropriate to the academic context in which it is considered for acceptance
  6. Credit awards and recording should be monitored to avoid duplication.
  7. Policies and procedures should be fully disclosed and available for review.
  8. Fees for credit award procedures should be for assessments and not based on the amount of credit to be awarded.
  9. Assessment personnel should receive adequate training and professional development opportunities.
  10. Assessment programs should establish regular review procedures and a continuous improvement process.

Continuing Education Units (CEU)

Continuing education units, or CEUs, are awarded by many education and training providers to signify successful completion of non-credit programs and courses intended to improve the knowledge and skills of working adults. Among the most common uses of CEUs are to record refresher, transitional, or knowledge improvement accomplishments for professional workers undergoing what is called continuing professional education.

The typical CEU represents approximately ten (10) contact hours of experience in a structured continuing education experience (class, seminar, retreat, practicum, self-study, etc.) that is supervised in some way by a qualified continuing education provider.

CEUs are similar in theory to academic credits but differ in two important respects:

  1. CEUs are not awarded for academic study and do not represent, or provide, academic credit; and
  2. They may be awarded for a variety of experiences in different settings whose only common criterion is that they be measurable, supervised educational or training experiences with defined starting and ending points.

CEU CONVERSION

Some CEUs can be converted into academic credit hours. This is done by both higher education institutions and special examining and assessment services. Academic credit can only be granted for CEUs if

(1) the subject matter and nature of the CEU experience is approved as applicable to consideration for academic credit;

(2) the continuing education experience has been analyzed for content and level and, if necessary, the person holding the CEUs has been examined; and

(3) a formal recommendation is made by competent academic authorities (faculty, review board, etc.) based on an agreed conversion formula. CEUs are most commonly converted via a formula that considers at least ten (10) CEUs to equal a single academic credit hour.

U.S. Grading Systems

A variety of grading systems are used in U.S. education. The decision on what grading system to use is a matter within the exclusive authority of the individual school or higher education institution, and usually up to the individual faculty member or disciplinary department within the school or institution.

 NOTE: There is no nationally mandated grading scheme in the United States. The examples described below are only some of the most frequently encountered grading systems.

NORM-REFERENCED GRADING SYSTEMS

Norm-referenced grading systems are based on a pre-established formula regarding the percentage or ratio of students within a whole class who will be assigned each grade or mark. The students, while they may work individually, are actually in competition to achieve a standard of performance that will classify them into the desired grade range. For example, a faculty may establish a grading policy whereby the top 10 percent of students will receive a mark of excellent or outstanding, which in a class of 100 enrolled students will be 10 persons. A norm-referenced grading system might look like:

A (Excellent) = Top 10 % of Class
B (Good) = Next 20 % of Class
C (Average, Fair) = Next 30 % of Class
D (Poor, Pass) = Next 20 % of Class
F (Failure) = Bottom 20 % of Class

The underlying assumption in norm-referenced grading is that the students are roughly equal in ability, and the goal is to select the best performers in the group. Norm-referenced systems are most often used for screening selected student populations in conditions where it is known that not all students can advance due to limitations such as available places, jobs, or other controlling factors. Highly competitive and oversubscribed programs of study, such as law and medicine, or related preparatory programs may use norm-referenced grading to reduce the class size that is allowed to enter or continue such programs. U.S. students often refer to norm-referenced grading systems as “grading on a curve,” a phrase that reflects the formulaic character of such systems.

CRITERION-REFERENCED GRADING SYSTEMS

Criterion-referenced grading systems are based on a fixed numeric scale, usually equated to a letter mark, from which the faculty assign grades based on the individual performance of each student. The scale does not change regardless of the quality, or lack thereof, of the students. For example, in a class of 100 students, there might be no one or any number of students who score high enough to achieve a grade of excellent, or who fail. Criterion-referenced systems might look like:

A (Excellent) = 95-100 or 90-100
B (Good) = 85-95 or 80-90
C (Fair) = 75-85 or 70-80
D (Poor) = 65-75 or 60-70
F (Failure) = -65 or -60

Criterion-referenced systems are often used in situations where the faculty are agreed as to a standard of performance but the quality of the students is unknown or uneven; where the work involves student collaboration or teamwork; and where there is no external driving factor such as needing to systematically reduce a pool of eligible students.

In many situations, faculty may wish to indicate that certain students, despite achieving a specific score, demonstrated qualities that cause the faculty to believe that the grade by itself does not reflect the student’s actual contribution or potential. In such cases they may attach plus or minus signs to the letter grade (examples: A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, etc.) to refine their evaluation. These refinements can be important in calculating cumulative grades and awarding honors.

It is noteworthy that many U.S. criterion-referenced grading systems use the principle of subtracting points from a defined perfect score, which is usually, but not always, set at 100. This approach differs from that sometimes used in other countries such as the United Kingdom, where points are added from a defined lowest score (zero or another number). Understanding this difference can make comparing criterion-referenced grades easier, since grades representing similar achievement but calculated in these different ways can be as much as 20 or 30 points apart.

Dimension Criterion-Referenced
Tests
Norm-Referenced
Tests
Purpose To determine whether each student has achieved specific skills or concepts.To find out how much students know before instruction begins and after it has finished. To rank each student with respect to the achievement of others in broad areas of knowledge.To discriminate between high and low achievers.
Content Measures specific skills which make up a designated curriculum. These skills are identified by teachers and curriculum experts.Each skill is expressed as an instructional objective. Measures broad skill areas sampled from a variety of textbooks, syllabi, and the judgments of curriculum experts.
Item
Characteristics
Each skill is tested by at least four items in order to obtain an adequate sample of student performance and to minimize the effect of guessing.The items which test any given skill are parallel in difficulty. Each skill is usually tested by less than four items. Items vary in difficulty. Items are selected that discriminate between high and low achievers.
Score
Interpretation
Each individual is compared with a preset standard for acceptable achievement. The performance of other examinees is irrelevant.A student’s score is usually expressed as a percentage. Student achievement is reported for individual skills. Each individual is compared with other examinees and assigned a score–usually expressed as a percentile, a grade equivalent
score, or a stanine.Student achievement is reported  for broad skill areas, although some norm-referenced tests do report student achievement for individual skills.

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ALTERNATIVE GRADING SYSTEMS

Pass-Fail Systems. Some U.S. faculties, schools, and institutions use pass-fail grading systems, especially when the student work to be evaluated is highly subjective (as in the fine arts and music), there are no generally accepted standard gradations (as with independent studies), or the critical requirement is meeting a single satisfactory standard (as in some professional examinations and practica).

Non-Graded Evaluations. A number of U.S. faculties, schools, and institutions do not assign numeric or letter grades as a matter of policy. This practice is usually based on a belief that grades introduce an inappropriate and distracting element of competition into the learning process, or that they are not as meaningful as measures of intellectual growth and development as are carefully crafted faculty evaluations. Many faculty, schools, and institutions that follow a no-grade policy will, if requested, produce grades or convert their student evaluations into formulae acceptable to authorities who require traditional measures of performance.

Good learning happens when:
…students are given a clear learning objective that states what they will learn and how they can show that they’ve learnt it successfully. (Learning intentions and success criteria)
…students are given feedback that is geared towards teaching them how to improve.
…students are given multiple opportunities to practice something.
…students are assessed using criterion-referenced rubrics which are written in clear, accessible language. Students understand the rubric and know what success looks like.
…assessment is designed to teach.
…the emphasis is not on exams, but on more representative tasks that show student learning, rather than their ability to rote memorize. [ http://thinkedu.net/blog/criterion-referenced-assessment_learning-objectives/ ]

North American GPA equivalents in other countries 

source: http://www.universitiesintheusa.com/american-education.html

Country  GPA 2.0 GPA 2.5 GPA 2.75  GPA 3.0 
Bangladesh 46% 55% 60% 65%
China 70% 75% 78% 80%
France 10 11 11.6 12
Georgia 3 3-4 3-4 4
Ghana 3/C 2/B 2/B 2/B+
Hong Kong 50% 57% 60% 65%
India 46% 55% 60% 65%
Indonesia 6 6 7 8
Iran 12 13 13.8 14
Japan 3 3-4 3-4 4
Jordan 50% 60% 66% 70%
Kazakhstan 3 3-4 3-4 4
Korea 2.0 – 70% 2.5 – 75% 2.5 – 78% 3.0 – 80%
Macau 60% 65% 68% 70%
Mexico 6.0 – 60% 7.0 – 70% 7.3 – 76% 8.0 – 80%
Nigeria 7 6 4 3
Pakistan 46% 55% 60% 65%
Qatar 3 3-4 3-4 4
Russia 3 3-4 3-4 4
Saudi Arabia 3 – 70% 3 – 75% 3 – 78% 4 – 80%
Spain 5 5.5 6 7
Taiwan 60% 65% 68% 70%
Thailand 2 2.5 2.8 3
Turkey 5 6 7 8
UAE 70% 75% 78% 80%
Ukraine 3 3-4 3-4 4
Venezuela 10 11 13 14
Vietnam 5 5.5 6 7
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“With Great Powers Comes Great Responsibility”——– Spiderman

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“He who learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run….”

——– Friedrich Nietzsche

Accept Responsibility

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“Responsibilities gravitate to the person who can shoulder them”

 —— Elbert Hubbard

When people accept additional responsibility they are actually giving themselves a promotion. Responsible behaviour is to accept accountability. That presents maturity.

Acceptance of responsibility is a reflection of our attitude and the environment we operate in. Most people are quick to take credit for what goes right but very few would readily accept responsibility when things go wrong. A person who does not accept responsibility is not absolved from being responsible. Your objective is to cultivate responsible behaviour.

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Stop the Blame Game

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Avoid phrases such as:

  • everyone else does it.
  • or no one does it, or
  • it is all your fault.

People who do not accept responsibility shift the blame to their parents, teachers and genes. God, fate, luck or the stars. Responsible behaviour should be inculcated right from childhood. It cannot be taught without a certain degree of obedience.

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Obedience does not mean mindless obedience or absolute obedience which would always be counterproductive.

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OR

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Johnny said, “Mama, Jimmy broke the window.” Mama asked,”How did he do it?” Johnny replied, “I threw a stone at him and he ducked”.

Privileges

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People who use their privileges without accepting responsibility usually end up losing their privileges. Responsibility involves thoughtful action.

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Pettiness Causes Us to Ignore Our Responsibilities

Think about it. Petty minds are busy passing the buck rather than doing what needs to be done.

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Social Responsibility 

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 Ancient Indian wisdom teaches us that our first responsibility is to the community, second to our family and third to our ourselves. When this hierarchy is reversed, a society starts degenerating. Social responsibility ought to be the moral obligation of every citizen. Responsibility and freedom go hand in hand. A sign of a good citizen is that he is willing to pull his own weight.

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

—— Winston Churchill

Societies are not destroyed so much by activities of rascals but by inactivity of good people. What a paradox!

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If good people can tolerate destruction by being inactive, how can they be good? The question is, are they discharging their social responsibility?

“For evil to flourish, good people have to do nothing and evil shall flourish.”

—– Edmund Burke

Adapted from “You Can Win” by Shiv Khera.

Great Teachers inspire the youth….by Dr A P J Abdul Kalam

May I be a protector for those without one,
A guide for all travellers on the way;
May I be a bridge, a boat and a ship
For all who wish to cross (the water).

….. by Acharya Shantideva,
a Buddhist Master of 8th century
(Nalanda University)

When I see you all teacher friends, I see in front of me a source of creativity.

What is creativity?

Creativity

“Learning gives creativity

Creativity leads to thinking

Thinking provides knowledge

Knowledge makes you great”

How many great people for the planet earth, the great teachers have created.

Friends, you are the creators of creativity.

My greetings to all of you.

Friends, teachers create beautiful minds. Beautiful minds are creative and many times with indomitable (impossible to subdue) spirit. Our nation was fortunate to have beautiful minds in science, humanities, law, industry and political leadership right from our pre- independent period who were created by great teachers and due to whose efforts, we are experiencing the freedom and growth of our country today. I was also enriched by my teachers at various phases of my life. When I am in this atmosphere of great givers, I would like to talk on the topicGreat teachers inspire the youth.

My perceptions of teachers with myself as a student and teacher

Friends, the relationship between teacher and student is very unique. A teacher lives through the entire life journey of a student. A teacher inspires students by his role model behaviour. A teacher enjoys the success of the student even more than his own. A teacher is inspired by the curiosity and creativity of the student and learns more and more to help the student.

Teacher Muthu Iyer: It was the year 1936, I recall my initiation of education at the age of 5 years in Rameswaram (a city in southern India)  Panchayat elementary school. I had a Teacher Muthu Iyer who took special interest to me mainly because I performed very well in a class exercise which he gave to all the students. He was impressed and next day he came to my house to tell my father that I was a very good student. My parents were happy and got my favourite sweet from my mother.

Another important event while I was in first class which I can not forget. One day I did not turn up to my school. Teacher Muthu Iyer noticed my absence and same evening he came to my father to ask what the problem was and why did I not go to school and whether he can do anything to help me. On that day, I was having a fever. Another important thing, which he noticed was my handwriting was very poor. He gave a three-page writing exercise and told my father that he should ensure that I do the exercise every day regularly. By these actions of my teacher Muthu Iyer, my father told me in later years that teacher Muthu Iyer is not only a good teacher to me in teaching but he influenced and shaped me with good habits.

My another teacher in the primary school, Shri Sivasubramania Iyer not only taught me about bird flight but also put the spark of a mission in life of pursuing a career in flight. My college lecturer Prof. Thothari Iyenger was not only an expert teacher but also introduced me to great people like ancient astronomer Aryabhata, inspired me for life. My teacher Rev Iyyadurai Solomon focused importance purity in life through his life and lifestyle. Rev Fr. Chinnathurai taught me nuclear physics. They way he taught, I loved the subject and later it has become a passion. Now he lives in Dindigal, India. I am meeting quite often and give my respect. A few days back, I was very happy to see my teacher’s best wishes on my birthday on 15 October 2010. These teachers and others come in front of me whenever I have to deal with some practical and sometimes difficult problems in life. When I was teaching Societal Transformation in Anna University, I realised the power of youth to inspire a teacher. Their attention, their questions, their aspirations and above all their affection, motivate a teacher to excel. When I have been with the I.I.M ( Indian Institute of Management) Ahmedabad students or with students of Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky, U.S.A or when I field questions of several from the 17 million students I have addressed, I realize how the combined power of students and teachers can make a difference to society.

‘Teachers’ who love teaching, teach children to love ‘Learning’.

Friends, I just see a scene in a school having about 50 teachers and 750 students headed by a Principal. It is simply a place of beauty for creativity and learning.

How is it possible?

It is because the school management and the Principal selected the teachers who love teaching, who treat the students as their sons, grandsons or granddaughters. The children see the teacher, as a role model in teaching and how always they look pious through their daily way of life.

Above all, I see an environment in which there is nothing like a good student, average student or poor student. The whole school and the teacher system is involved in generating students who perform the best. As I said about my primary school teacher Shri Sivasubramania Iyer, who taught me, when I was a ten-year-old boy, how the birds fly, in the classroom, and later by taking us to the seashore to give a practical example. The way he taught, gave me what to dream of life and what should be the pattern of education which I have to follow. And above all what should be the traits, I should possess based on teachers life both inside the classroom and in the village. When my classroom students in primary school and secondary school observed and learn a unique experience. When certain teachers walk, students saw the radiation of knowledge of the teachers and the purity life from the teachers’ lives. This race of teachers should multiply.

Teacher as a facilitator of innovation

Friends, teachers have to emerge as a facilitator of new ideas and lead to lifelong innovative thinking in the young minds.

This reminds me of a poem “The Student’s Prayer” by a Chilean biologist Maturana. I will narrate a few lines from the poem.

The Student’s Prayer

Show me so that I can stand

On your shoulders.

Reveal yourself so that I can be

Something different.

Don’t impose on me what you know,

I want to explore the unknown

And be the source of my own discoveries.

Let the known be my liberation, not my slavery.

I am sure, the teachers assembled here would be a great facilitator of learning and innovation. Now I would like to talk about creative teachers.

Creative teachers

During my visit to Singapore and Finland, I have seen that there are exclusive schools for teaching primary school teachers. The curriculum is rigorous (painstakingly careful and accurate) and the students have to qualify with distinction before being appointed as primary school teachers. This type of capacity building may be taking place in our country in certain places. It has to spread all over the country; so that, all our rural schools also have high-quality teachers, who are equipped to build creative capacity among the children. These aspects may be taken into account while teachers go for training.

The traits of Nobel minds

When I am in the midst of great teachers, I thought of sharing with you an incident about Sir CV Raman, a Nobel Laureate in Physics for discovering Raman Effect. Raman scattering or the Raman effect is the inelastic scattering of a photon. It was discovered by C. V. Raman and K. S. Krishnan in liquids, and by G. Landsberg and L. I. Mandelstam in crystals. The effect had been predicted theoretically by Adolf Smekal in 1923.

  • When photons are scattered from an atom or molecule, most photons are elastically scattered (Rayleigh scattering), such that the scattered photons have the same energy (frequency and wavelength) as the incident photons. A small fraction of the scattered photons (approximately 1 in 10 million) are scattered by an excitation, with the scattered photons having a frequency different from, and usually lower than, that of the incident photons. In a gas, Raman scattering can occur with a change in energy of a molecule due to a transition to another (usually higher) energy level. Raman Scattering

Sir C.V. Raman was in the first batch of Bharat Ratna Award winners. Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian honour, conferred for exceptional service towards advancement of Art, Literature and Science, and in recognition of public service of the highest order by the Government of India. The award ceremony was to take place in the last week of January, soon after the Republic Day celebrations of 1954. The then President Dr. Rajendra Prasad wrote to  Sir C. V. Raman inviting him to be the personal guest in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi, India, when Raman comes to Delhi for the award ceremony.

Sir CV Raman wrote a polite letter, regretting his inability to go. Raman had a noble reason for his inability to attend the investiture ceremony. He explained to the President that he was guiding a Ph.D. student and that thesis was positively due by the last day of January. The student was valiantly trying to wrap it all up and Raman felt, he had to be by the side of the research student, see that the thesis was finished, sign the thesis as the guide and then have it submitted. Here was a scientist who gave up the pomp of a glittering ceremony associated with the highest honour, because he felt that his duty required him to be by the side of the student. It is this unique trait of giving value to science that builds science.

An ideal Teacher

An ideal teacher is the one, who visualises every student to be having unlimited potential, without any kind of bias, for or against anyone.

Some time back, I met a teacher who has become a role model to all his students. I asked him what was the secret of his success. He told me the following:

  1. He has been able to adapt himself to the age of the student.
  2. He practices everything he expects his students to do.
  3. He ensures transparency in all his transactions and treats all students alike, irrespective of their religion, caste, language and economic status.
  4. He has a foresight and visualises the student’s growth in long-term perspective.
  5. During the 11 years of his tenure, he has ensured that at least 2000 students who were average performers have been groomed to excel in their studies.

I am sure many educationists and teachers assembled here would reflect these characteristics and also add few more important traits.

Dynamics of Smile

When we see a child, we see the innocent smile of the child. When we come across, the child in the Primary School, the smile is reduced, since the child has to carry a heavy school bag. When we see the child in their teens, their smile slowly fades away and the sign of concern appears. This is because of the anxiety about the future. When they complete their education, the question uppermost in their mind is,

What will I do with my education?

Will I get an employment?

Will I get a proper employment?

Can the Principals and teachers see this dynamics of smiles of the child and preserve the smile in their faces when they complete their school education. The Student should be confident that “he can do it”, he should have the self-esteem and the capability to become an employment generator rather being an employment seeker. The management of education and a leader in education have to facilitate such type of creative teacher in large numbers in primary school and then the secondary school. This transformation can only be brought about by a teacher who has a vision to transform, who has the ability to take risk against all challenges, who is a good listener, who is a good innovator, who maintains a cordial interpersonal or intrapersonal relationship, and who has the ability to carry the parents, community, media and the teachers for accomplishing the vision of generating an enlightened citizen of the nation.

Generosity in making his students Nobel laureate

Chandrasekhar Subramanyan’s most famous discovery was the astrophysical Chandrasekhar limit. The limit describes the maximum mass (~1.44 solar masses) of a white dwarf star, or equivalently, the minimum mass for which a star will ultimately collapse into a neutron star or black hole following a supernova. The limit was first calculated by Chandrasekhar while on a ship from India to Cambridge, England. The Chandrasekhar Limit led to the determination of how long a star of particular mass will shine. In 1983, Chandrasekhar Subramanyan got the Nobel Prize for this discovery. Two of Chandrasekhar’s students in 1947 were the doctoral candidates Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang in Particle Physics research. Even though Chandrasekhar Subramanyan maintained his office at the Yerkes Observatory in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, he would regularly drive the one hundred miles to Chicago to guide and teach Lee and Yang and others many a time in difficult weather conditions. In 1957, these two of his students won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work in particle physics research. This also brings out Chandrasekhar Subramanyan’s commitment to science and thereby to his students. Science indeed is a lifetime mission for Chandrasekhar. It is this characteristic which makes youth to become passionate towards science.

Mission of Teaching

When I look at you dear friends, I see one integrated system of education, the system of learning and system of knowledge.

The seeds of peace in the world have their origin in the righteousness in the heart of every individual. Such righteous citizens lead to the evolution of enlightened society. Education with value system has to be so designed that the righteousness in the heart is developed in young minds. That should be the mission of education. The prime learning environment is five to seventeen years of age for over 25,000 hours. This reminds me of an ancient Greek teacher’s saying,

Give me a child for seven years; afterwards, let God or devil take the child. They cannot change the child“.

This indicates the power of great teachers. True education is the acquisition of enlightened feelings and enlightened powers to understand daily events and to understand the permanent truth by linking citizen, to his environment, human and planet we live. I would like to quote from the great philosopher Dr. S. Radhakrishnan particularly for the benefit of students and teachers –

“The sense of human need is there and the teacher can satisfy it by giving to the youth an idea of the fundamental power and worth of a man, his spiritual dignity as a man, a supra-national culture and an all-embracing humanity.”

My best wishes to all the teachers assembled here for success in your mission of developing enlightened citizens through good educational practices and purity in life.

May God Bless you.

Eleven Point Oath for Teachers

I have designed an eleven-point oath for the teachers which I would like to administer to this important gathering of teachers.

  1.  First and foremost, I will love teaching. Teaching will be my soul.
  2. I realise that I am responsible for shaping not just students but ignited youths who are the most powerful resource under the earth, on the earth and above the earth. I will be fully committed to the great mission of teaching.
  3. I will consider myself to be a great teacher for I can lift the average to the best performance by way of my special teaching.
  4. All my actions with my students will be with kindness and affection like a mother, sister, father or brother.
  5. I will organise and conduct my life, in such a way that my life itself is a message for my students.
  6. I will encourage my students to ask questions and develop the spirit of enquiry so that they blossom into creative enlightened citizens.
  7. I will treat all the students equally and will not support any differentiation on account of religion, community or language.
  8. I will continuously build the capacities in teaching so that I can impart quality education to my students.
  9. I will celebrate the success of my students, with great happiness.
  10. I realise by being a teacher, I am making an important contribution to all the national development initiatives.
  11. I will constantly endeavour to fill my mind with great thoughts and spread the nobility in thinking and action.

Dr. A.P.J Abdulkalam

An Open Letter to ‘The Director’ of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Respected Sir (Dr. M. C. Misra),

I read your vision statement SIR at the following web address http://www.aiims.edu/images/vision-statement.pdf. Most humbly, although would look a bit absurd: I, Jeevanshu Dhawan being an independent citizen of a democratic country would like to provide you with few inputs regarding the future of healthcare and premier medical institutions in India; which I think is very important for every citizen, who truly believes India has every right to become a knowledge and research powerhouse for the entire world, as it did many centuries ago. This quote aptly describes my endeavour.

“Every heart that has beat strong and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

Future_directions_Image

Sir, you start your vision statement with the following lines “AIIMS has become a household name in India and abroad with people from all strata of society looking up to it to provide unbiased, affordable and quality healthcare. This stature and trust from fellow citizens have not come overnight. It has taken decades of extreme hard work, by our founding fathers, to reach to this level. I believe that there is immense untapped potential in AIIMS which with the proper nurturing can make AIIMS a truly global brand.”

Medical-Tourism-Destination-India

Indeed what you said is true, but a lot of credit for the success of ‘AIIMS’ as a brand, also goes to the public in general, who let go of a few thousand schools that could provide their children world-class education and other basic amenities like toilets, which they forgo, and provided you with a budget which surpasses the best in the world

[around ₹11.24 billion (US$180 million) per annum; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_India_Institute_of_Medical_Sciences_Delhi].They also provided you with a vast gene pool, from amongst whom, you could find the best talent currently available in the world. They also provided you with rarest of rare diseases, providing the basis on which to perform your research, and a vast population of diseased patients, on whom you could practice your talents, eventually realising your true potential. AIIMS that you envision should keep the betterment of the 125 crore population of India and that of neighbouring countries, and not just a select few. One should work with the aim of service to these citizens of the country, not as masters with a thought of having a firm grip on their future, rather, as servants with care and compassion.

Righteousness

Where there is righteousness in the heart

There is beauty in the character.

When there is beauty in the character,

there is harmony in the home.

When there is harmony in the home.

There is an order in the nation.

When there is order in the nation,

There is peace in the world.

————Dr. APJ Abdul kalam

These are the excerpts from the Inaugural Address at the ILLUMINATI 2014 Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, September 15, 2014.

Culture of Excellence

Excellence in thinking and action is the foundation for any mission.

What is excellence?

Friends, you all belong to a youth community, which should stand for a culture of excellence. Moreover, excellence is not by accident.

It is a process, where an individual, organization, or nation continuously strives to better oneself.

The performance standards are set by themselves, they work on their dreams with focus, and are prepared to take calculated risks, and do not be deterred by failures as they move towards their dreams. Then they step up their dreams, as they tend to reach the original targets. They strive to work to their potential, in the process, they increase their performance thereby multiplying further their potential, and this is an unending life cycle phenomenon. They are not in competition with anyone else, but themselves.

That is the culture of excellence.

I am sure; each one of you will aspire to become unique with culture of excellence. Now, let me visualize how a dynamic healthcare centre or a hospital should be.

My visualization of great Healthcare centers

Dear friends, I visualize a great healthcare center with the following characteristics where:

1]. Patient is the most important person in the hospital. When the patient enters, the hospital presents an angelic look and all the team members of the hospital always wear smiles. The patient feels that “I am going to get cured”.

2]. The hospital consumes less electricity and less water by adopting green building for all modernization tasks. The choice of the power source is solar and wind.

3]. The hospital premises are totally noise free.

4]. All the test reports and treatment schedule are attached to the database of the patient through Electronic Medical Record without the need of the patient or the relatives to search for the reports. The data-base is updated and authenticated every hour.

5]. Maintain the database of all the cases treated by the hospital in the past, which are easily retrievable.

6]. Patient is not subjected to diagnostic pain.

7]. The surroundings of the hospital are green with full of trees with seasonal flowers and pleasant wall paintings.

8]. Further expansion of the hospital is in vertical mode leading to fast movement of the patient and doctors for medical treatment.

9]. There is no case of hospital-induced infection to the patients due to bio-contamination.

10]. The patients feel that this is the best place to get treated.

11]. The hospital is fully IT enabled leading to virtual connectivity of the patient to the doctor, nurse and the chief of the hospital 24×7. Hospital is also networked with other hospitals nationally and internationally for seeking expert medical advice on unique cases.

12]. The daily medical conference, attended by the Chief of the hospital, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and relatives of patients of unique cases, reviews problems of the patient and find integrated solutions.

Biology of Beliefs

Now friends, I was asking myself, is there any inputs and research which is coming from both, physio-psycho and brain researches, because of the advent of neuro-sciences coupled with quantum theory. I was reading a book, “The Secret Path” by Paul Brunton.

According to the author, the conscience is explained scientifically for the reason that the thinking process and biological processes converge through quantum mechanics. He says, that Physics and Biology are interlinked and that “At atomic level matter doesn’t even exist, it only has a tendency to exist”.

Recently, a friend of mine, who is a scientist sent me a book “Biology of Beliefs” by Dr. Bruce Lipton. The author is one of the greatest scientists in the bio-science and after 20 years of research he attributes the origin of human diseases and their cure have a basis on our intrinsic thinking and the relationship with our bio cells. The book talks about a new approach which highlights the importance of placebo effect and how it is actually a powerful belief effect. The author says “Doctors should not regard the power of belief as something inferior to the power of chemicals and scalpel. They should let go of the belief that the body and its parts are essentially stupid”.

Brainstorming in John Hopkins Hospital

Friends, Institute of Health in the US, in a survey found that 95,000 deaths every year occur in the United States due to medical errors. Though this information can be debated, this information was found to be very disturbing. It was recognized that there is a need for change in approach in medicare to improve the safety and quality of care to patients. In this connection, it was felt that it is important to train the doctors, nurses, paramedics, technicians and everyone connected with medicare the need to follow the treatment line meticulously. Modern hospital is a very complex organization and there are challenges ahead to improve the safety of the patients. Quality medicare is possible only when people work together as a team. I am told, that a seminar was conducted at Johns Hopkins Hospital where there was a brainstorming session between the doctors, medicare personnel, patients and the relatives of the patients, which brought out all these factors very clearly. I will be very happy if our super specialty hospitals conduct such type of review periodically in the combined meeting of doctors, nurses and paramedical staff. I am sharing this to the medical community, because this type of integrated conference has been conducted after the occurrence of tragic incident in Johns Hopkins Hospital. A child’s life was lost because of poor judgment in the diagnosis. The mother of the child briefed the whole incident to the combined gathering of the hospital team. It was a moving experience of the mother. I would like to share with you, particularly while attending the cardiac patients in pre operative, operative, post operative and recovery period, large number of sophisticated instruments and monitoring systems are used. In this scenario, experience of treatment profile and the problems have to be shared together on fixed days of the week and the results documented. It will become a teaching wealth for cardiac care specialists. pill-india3

Six virtues a care giver must possess

Friends, in conclusion, I would like to share my experiences with Choakyi Nyima Rinpoche, the Chief Monk in Kathmandu and a medical researcher. After nearly a kilometer of walk, I reached the white Kumbha where the chief Monk and his disciples were waiting to receive me. After reception the Chief Monk said, let us go to our study room and I followed him. He climbed the first floor, the second floor, the third floor, the four floor and the fifth floor, just like a young boy. Probably the life style has a positive impact on the mind and body. All along I was following and following. When I reached his chamber, I saw a laboratory and a spiritual environment over-looking the Himalayas. What surprised me was, his research students come from different parts of the world. Particularly he introduced me to his co-author David R Shlim, MD who is working on a research area, Medicine and Compassion. The Chief Monk Choakyi Nyima Rinpoche and myself exchanged few books. The Monk has written with Dr. David R. Shlim a book titled “Medicine and Compassion”. I liked this book and read it during my journey from Kathmandu to Delhi. This book gives six important virtues which a medical practitioner has to possess towards their patients.

First virtue is generosity;

the second virtue is pure ethics;

third is tolerance,

fourth is perseverance,

fifth is cultivating pure concentration

and the

sixth virtue is to be intelligent.

These virtues will empower the care givers with a humane heart. I am sure, the medical community assembled here, practice all these six virtues as a habit while dealing with the needy patients. This itself is a great example of synergy between mind, body and medicine.

Conclusion

Friends, I want to leave you all with a thought today.

What is the one action, which will make you great?

Every one of you has a page in the history of the world?

What is that page?

How do you make that page which is going to be referred by the posterity?

There is a need to give a vision to your ambitions.

What is that mantra?

Yes, the mantra is the following:

“What I will be remembered for?”

If you find an answer for this question in a few lines, that out-of-the-box idea will drive you for the rest of the life. You will be definitely thinking something different ?

an out of box mission, what are they?

Can I visualize along with you?

Each one of you will derive your own vision.

1]. Will you be remembered for bringing smiles of health and joy to all the patients?

2]. Will you be remembered for helping create a unique, cost effective vaccine against malaria and thereby saving more than one million people, mostly children who lose their lives due to the disease?

3]. Will you be remembered for creating a roadmap for reviving the 23,000 Primary Healthcare Centres, across the nation, which would enable them to deliver the much needed primary health facilities to the remote regions?

4]. Will you be remembered as a champion of preventive healthcare in the areas of cardiology, diabetic and infectious diseases?

5]. Will you be remembered as a great teacher in preventive care for the disease to the families of patients?

6]. Will you be remembered for contributing in a unique way in finding a cure for diseases such as cancer and HIV?

My best wishes to all the participants of ILLUMINATI 2014 for their deliberations and success of AFMC in the mission of providing quality and research oriented medical education. May God bless you.

Oath for medical professionals

  1. I love my medical profession- a noble mission.
  2. I will follow the motto “Let my care, remove the pain and bring smiles”.
  3. I will always radiate cheer to give confidence to patients and their families.
  4. I will be a life-long learner, I will practice what I learn and I will train my team to be competent.
  5. I will deliver quality care with high standards irrespective of whom I am treating.
  6. I will not introduce any diagnostic pain.
  7. I will work with integrity and succeed with integrity.
  8. My National Flag flies in my heart and I will bring glory to my nation.

Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam

Let me close my letter with these famous lines by H.W. Longfellow:

“So let us be up and going, With a heart for any fate, Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labour and to wait.”

Thanking You,

Yours faithfully,

Jeevanshu Dhawan.

Why Home Education of a Child is Very Important- Even Kindergarten is Late!

Wiring of Brain

An individual animal’s history of interaction with the environment—its “experience”—helps to shape neural circuitry and thus determines subsequent response.

In some cases, experience functions primarily as a switch to activate innate behaviours. More often, however, experience during a specific time in early life (referred to as a “critical period”) helps shape the adult behavioural repertoire.

Critical periods influence behaviours as diverse as maternal bonding and the acquisition of language.

Over the first few years of life, the brain grows rapidly. As each neurone matures, it sends out multiple branches (axons, which send information out, and dendrites, which take in information), increasing the number of synaptic contacts and laying the specific connections from house to house, or in the case of the brain, from neurone to neurone. At birth, each neurone in the cerebral cortex has approximately 2,500 synapses. By the time an infant is two or three years old, the number of synapses is approximately 15,000 synapses per neurone (Gopnick, et al., 1999)[Gopnic, A., Meltzoff, A., Kuhl, P. (1999). The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind, New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.]. This amount is about twice that of the average adult brain. As we age, old connections are deleted through a process called synaptic pruning.

Synaptic pruning eliminates weaker synaptic contacts while stronger connections are kept and strengthened.

Experience determines which connections will be strengthened and which will be pruned; connections that have been activated most frequently are preserved. Neurones must have a purpose to survive. Without a purpose, neurones die through a process called apoptosis in which neurones that do not receive or transmit information become damaged and die.

Ineffective or weak connections are “pruned” in much the same way a gardener would prune a tree or bush, giving the plant the desired shape. It is plasticity that enables the process of developing and pruning connections, allowing the brain to adapt itself to its environment. Source: https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/plast.html 

Although it is possible to define the behavioural consequences of critical periods for these complex functions, their biological basis has been more difficult to understand. The most accessible and thoroughly studied example of a critical period is the one pertinent to the establishment of normal vision.

  • These studies show that experience is translated into patterns of neuronal activity that influence the function and connectivity of the relevant neurones. In the visual system, and other systems as well, competition between inputs with different patterns of activity is an important determinant of adult connectivity. Correlated patterns of activity in afferent axons tend to stabilise connections and conversely a lack of correlated activity can weaken or eliminate connections.
  • When normal patterns of activity are disturbed during a critical period in early life (experimentally in animals or by pathology in humans), the connectivity in the visual cortex is altered, as is the visual function. If not reversed before the end of the critical period, these structural and functional alterations of brain circuitry are difficult or impossible to change.
  • In normal development, the influence of activity on neural connectivity presumably enables the maturing brain to store the vast amounts of information that reflect the specific experience of the individual.

The capacity of the nervous system to change—generally referred to as neural plasticityis obvious during the development of neural circuits.

The adult nervous system exhibits a plastic change in a variety of circumstances. Studies of behavioural plasticity in several invertebrates and of the neuromuscular junction suggest that modification of synaptic strength is responsible for much of the ongoing change in synaptic function in adults.

  • Synapses exhibit many forms of plasticity that occur over a broad temporal range. At the shortest times (seconds to minutes), facilitation, post-tetanic potentiation, and depression provide rapid but transient modifications based on alterations in Ca2+ signalling and synaptic vesicle pools at recently active synapses.
  • Some patterns of synaptic activity in the CNS produce a long-lasting increase in synaptic strength known as long-term potentiation (LTP), whereas other patterns of activity produce a long-lasting decrease in synaptic strength, known as long-term depression (LTD). LTP and LTD are broad terms that describe only the direction of change in synaptic efficacy; in fact, different cellular and molecular mechanisms can be involved in producing LTP or LTD at different synapses. In general, these different forms of synaptic plasticity are produced by different histories of activity and are mediated by different complements of intracellular signal transduction pathways in the nerve cells involved.

untitled

Functional changes in the somatic sensory cortex of an owl monkey following amputation of a digit.

(A) Diagram of the somatic sensory cortex in the owl monkey, showing the approximate location of the hand representation.

(B) The hand representation in the animal before amputation; the numbers correspond to different digits.

(C) The cortical map determined in the same animal two months after amputation of digit 3. The map has changed substantially; neurones in the area formerly responding to stimulation of digit 3 now respond to stimulation of digits 2 and 4. (After Merzenich et al., 1984.)

Longer-lasting forms of synaptic plasticity such as LTP and LTD are also based on Ca2+ and other intracellular second messengers. In these more enduring forms of plasticity, protein phosphorylation and changes in gene expression greatly outlast the period of synaptic activity and can yield persistent changes in synaptic strength (hours to days or longer). Different brain regions evidently use one or more of these strategies to learn new behaviours and acquire new memories.

 

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Functional expansion of a cortical representation by a repetitive behavioural task. An owl monkey was trained in a task that required heavy usage of digits 2, 3, and occasionally 4. The map of the digits in the primary somatic sensory cortex prior to training is shown. After several months of “practice,” a larger region of the cortex contained neurones activated by the digits used in the task. Note that the specific arrangements of the digit representations are somewhat different from the monkey shown in Figure 24.14, indicating the variability of the cortical representation of particular animals.     (After Jenkins et al., 1990.)

 

 

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Different responses to injury in the peripheral (A) and central (B) nervous systems. Damage to a peripheral nerve leads to series of cellular responses, collectively called Wallerian degeneration (after Augustus Waller, the nineteenth century English physician who first described these phenomena). Distal to the site of injury, axons disconnected from their cell bodies degenerate, and invading macrophages remove the cellular debris. Schwann cells that formerly ensheathed the axons proliferate, align to form longitudinal arrays and increase their production of neurotrophic factors that can promote axon regeneration. Schwann cell surfaces and the extracellular matrix also provide a favourable substratum for the extension of regenerating axons. In the CNS, the removal of myelin debris is relatively slow, and the myelin membranes produce inhibitory molecules that can block axon growth. Astrocytes at the site of injury also interfere with regenerationProximal to the injury, neurone cell bodies react to peripheral nerve injury by inducing expression of growth-related genes, including those for major components of axonal growth cones. Following CNS injury, however, neurones typically fail to activate these growth-associated genes. As a result, axonal damage in the retina, spinal cord, or the rest of the brain leads to permanent blindness, paralysis, and other disabilities.

 

Neuronal damage can also induce plastic changes. Peripheral neurones can regenerate axons following the damage, though the capacity of CNS axons to regenerate is severely limited. In addition, neural stem cells are present in certain regions of the adult brain, allowing the production of some new neurones in a few brain regions. These various forms of adult plasticity can modify the function of the mature brain and provide some hope for improving the limited ability of the CNS to recover successfully from trauma and neurological disease.

Source:  Neuroscience, 3rd edition

Editors: Dale Purves, George J Augustine, David Fitzpatrick, Lawrence C Katz, Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, James O McNamara, and S Mark Williams.

Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates; 2004.
ISBN 0-87893-725-0

Stay Away From Negative Influences…Peer Pressure and Peer Power

but don't fear changebeautiful

The Woman in Leadership Success Podcast 5 Ways Positive Influences

“Impressionable minds get influenced by adult behaviour and media. Peer pressure affects not only children and teenagers, it is also prevalent in adults. it shows a lack of self esteem when people do not have the courage to say ‘no, thank you’ and stay away from negative influences?”

Negative People

An eagle’s egg was placed in the nest of a prairie chicken. The eagle did what the prairie chickens did. It scratched in the dirt for seeds. It clucked and cackled. It never flew more than a few feet because that is what the prairie chickens did. One day he/she saw an eagle flying gracefully and majestically in the open sky. He/She asked the prairie chickens: “What is the beautiful bird?” The chickens replied, “That is an eagle. He/She is an outstanding bird, but you cannot fly like him because you are just a prairie chicken.” So the eagle never gave it a second thought, believing that to be the truth. He/She lived the life of and died a prairie chicken, depriving himself/Herself of his/her heritage because of his/her lack of vision. What a waste! He/She was born to win, but conditioned to loose.

Source: Media: A Negative Influence on Teens Perceptions of Beauty

The same thing is true for most of the people. The unfortunate part of life is as Oliver Wendall Holmes said,

“Most people go to their graves, with music still in them.”

We don’t achieve excellence because of our own lack of vision.

Michelle Fegatofi

If you want to soar like an eagle, you have to learn the ways  of an eagle. If you associate with achievers, you will become one. If you associate with thinkers, you will become one. If you associate with givers you will become one. If you will associate with negative people, you will become one.

Whenever people succeed in life, people will take cracks at them and try to pull them down. When you refuse to fight petty people, you win. In martial arts, they teach that when someone takes a crack at you, instead of blocking you should step away. Why? Blocking requires energy. Why not use it more productively? Similarly, in order to fight petty people, you have to come down to their level. That is what they want, because now you are one of them.

Don’t let negative people drag you down.

Remember that a person’s character is not only judged by the company they keep but also the company they avoid.

At some institutions/establishments, such are the tactics that are employed by the administration, so that they can easily create a stranglehold over their students and employees. Residents are used to target fellow residents.

“Are we here for becoming good doctors”.

But shouldn’t a good doctor be also  a good human being.

This is the reason why there is an increased spate of suicides at some premier medical institutions in India: but the blame is put on increased work pressure all in the name of maintaining QUALITY.

They call it as a philosophy of Naturalism [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalism_(philosophy)](http://www.thefreedictionary.com/naturalism) ,

and

‘Empiricism’ [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism]

but the real reason is

Hazing [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazing]

and

Workplace Harassment [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workplace_harassment]

Source: http://vishveshhayabusa.blogspot.in/2013/09/stay-away-from-negative-influences.html


I quote “The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on — because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.”
― Noam Chomsky

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….”
― Noam ChomskyThe Common Good

“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.” 
― Noam Chomsky

[within the context of above mentioned institutions and establishments.]


I was shocked to recognise that for these acts they even employ doctors from Indian armed forces that get admitted in these institutions, purely on sponsored seats. Aren’t we a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, or military dictatorship is deliberately allowed to linger in nooks and corners of these institutions of national importance to achieve some desired but blatantly illegal objectives.

Even intelligence agencies are employed to closely monitor every aspect of residents’ lives, they are entrusted with security of the consultants/faculty of these institutions. They want to control every aspect of the lives of their residents and future consultants.

I thought we were freed from colonial rule way back in 1947! or is it ?

Do read,  Suicide Diary of an A.I.I.M.S student

https://jeevanshu.quora.com/Suicide-Diary-of-an-A-I-I-M-S-New-Delhi-Student and

Indian Army : Do all of them deserve the same kind of respect ? What is their role in A.I.I.M.S, other Indian Institutions and Establishments?

https://jeevanshu.quora.com/Indian-Army-Do-all-of-them-deserve-the-same-kind-of-respect-What-is-their-role-in-A-I-I-M-S-other-Indian-Institu

But we should only abide by the ‘The Constitution of India’ which is the supreme law of India the basic tenets of which includes

JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation

“It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.”
― Noam Chomsky

“I was never aware of any other option but to question everything.”
― Noam Chomsky

Recently, I came across the news of opening up of 17 new A.I.I.M.S or ‘All India Institute of Medical Sciences’ by Health minister of India. Do we really need that many super speciality centres in a developing country like India, with almost 1/3rd of the population living at the bare minimum of <$1.25 per day; the answer is ‘YES’. With a population already having crossed one billion mark at the turn of the century; it is a necessity that one has to learn to live with.

Source: http://www.ppdvp.org.nz/2014/03/26/ppdvp-gender-approach-pga/

But with current system of affairs where honesty, sincerity, credibility and integrity has no value (here we tend to put a price tag on everything) where unscrupulous and crooked individuals rule the roost;

Can India truly become a global powerhouse in the field of medical education?

A question which the concerned authorities be made to answer.

[Certain sections, adapted from ‘You can Win’ by Shiv Khera https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiv_Khera].

India is a Republic because it ruled by a bunch of representatives, backed by a body of law. This is in contrast to a monarchy, where one person can dictate terms without heeding to the existing laws. When the Constitution of India was officially brought to force on Jan 26, 1950, India formally became a republic and the day is celebrated as the Republic Day. Because then the representatives had a rule of law to guide them.

Since India is a democratic republic, even if the majority of the population, through the Parliament, want a certain law, it can still be struck down by the Supreme Court of India. Because, it is the constitution that is supreme, which acts as a guide to formulate various policies and laws, sometimes, even accommodating whims of the public at large.

That said, in the modern parlance, most democracies are republics too. However, a few centuries ago these terms means were quite opposite of each other. In a traditional democracy, it is all about people and their vote. People gathered in a town hall and then voted which direction something should move. It doesn’t really matter if that decision is consistent with past decision, or problems that might be faced by a country in future, as they do not have the required expertise.

As you can see, this can be quite chaotic and deadly. The people who vote are the same people who “like” and dislike various stuff on Facebook [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook].

What if you decide national policies on how many “likes” it receives?

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Image Credit: http://lifehacker.com/5831343/everyone-is-a-genius

 

Albert Einstein recognized individual and unique God given glory inside each creation. Each gifting flourishes in a given predetermined environment if you allow it to be. The absence of a particular gift limiting performance in a particular environment does not connote stupidity. He uses the analogy of a ‘fish climbing a tree’ to underscore the fact that fish do not have the physical and genetic make up for climbing but excellent in water as we all know. You may not be an excellent accountant but an excellent historian. You may not be a good chef or a good cook but an excellent eater. You enjoy everything edible thrown at you. In other words everyone is a genius. You need to identify your area of exceptional performance to let your glory shine. If you cannot be a fish, be a panda. If you can’t be an elephant, be an insect or if you can’t be a rock star, be a ferocious boxer. William Odoch


It is not about smartness or stupidity, every citizen has a different level and area of expertise, I believe everyone is different, has a different talent, interests, weaknesses and strengths. In order for one to thrive and excel, one needs to be put into the right environment where they get to exercise their strengths and passion, not their weaknesses. For example, a creative, visual person would struggle in a data-driven environment. A superb accountant would probably do a poor job at coming up with a logo design. A designer would also do poorly at crunching numbers. [Mo Seetubtim]

I am a doctor but I am extremely stupid at singing because that is not my area of talent or expertise.

Hence, not every citizen has the ability to understand, tricks and nuisances of politics, nor the ability or talent to judge, formulate and interpret various policies, and laws, that can decide the future of an entire nation, or for that matter the whole planet. 


This fear was known for centuries and had disturbed the U.S.A founding fathers quite a bit.

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

 http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html


U.S.A- the United States of America (USA), commonly referred to as the United States (U.S.) or America, is a federal republic composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major territories and various possessions.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States


Thus, the ‘Democracy’ was tempered with the ‘Republic’ where the people don’t directly decide policies but elect representatives for a few years, who will vote on the policies and run the nation in accordance with the body of law. India and other democracies got inspired from the U.S.A model and these days the term ‘democracy’ has become the term to mean the U.S.A style of ‘democratic republic’. However, there are still various types of democratic ideas without the republic idea [say referendums] and such things must always be tempered/controlled [one reason why Indian constitution doesn’t allow referendums to decide sovereignty]

Reference: http://blawgniti.quora.com/India-is-a-Republic-because-it-ruled-by-a-bunch-of-representatives-backed-by-a-body-of-law-This-is-in-contrast-to-a?__snids__=1293489459&__nsrc__=2

On a personal note, I would like to add.

Peer pressure is when the social media platform is being used for detrimental purposes like — bullying someone; when someone pretends to like EDM (Electronic dance music) music just because it is popular with others in their social circle.

Peer influence on Facebook has also been found a contributing factor for teenage alcohol and drug consumption; adoption of fashion and undertaking unnatural cosmetic treatments to get a particular ‘look’; mass bunking in colleges.

Even, joining Facebook or any other social media site is often an action taken under peer pressure. This behaviour is born out of the fear of missing out and the fear that one will be left out of their peer group which eventually leads to stress and depression.

On the other hand, Facebook/social media enables peer power. It empowers today’s youth with collective strength, it helps them contribute to change with far reaching consequences and the technology has been a catalyst in today’s youth being conscious and confident; it would include the recent selfie culture.

Peer power is highlighted when the country’s youth participated in larger number to contribute to matters of national importance like the Anna Hazare movement, the AAP movement, large voting turnouts; the revolution at Tahrir Square where social media helped people mobilise themselves and topple a dictator.

Power is when students can connect with and befriend professors leading to more meaningful knowledge sharing.

It has lead to the success of independent music and films, which have benefitted from crowd sourcing and crowd funding; it has lead to the creation of flash mobs; the success of fundraising for cancer research under the Terry Fox runs; it has lead to important projects like Wikipedia; it enables customers to benefit from peer reviews and opinions and has made companies more sensitive towards customers.

With all these boons, we have only started with harnessing the power of peer influence on the social media. In the years to come, we will see more revolutions in this space. Also, the generation currently contributing to this phenomenon is young and it is when they reach the age when they can meaningfully contribute to a society that its real effects will be seen. In the good and bad of peer influence through social media, I would like to side with the good, as I believe that the power surpasses the pressure.

I feel that youth sharing their feelings, fights, breakups, and troubles on the social media should be encouraged, as there will be someone who will pick this up and initiate a conversation. There have been numerous instances when such an act has lead to an aversion of suicidal tendencies.

Yes there are grave issues with this trend, but that is true for all things from a pen to a gun; they have the power to save and to kill. It is when we focus on the positives and deal with the negatives that we harness the real power of trends and technologies.

Source: Peer pressure vs peer power: Be positive, don’t leg negativity pull you down 

IS HAPPINESS OPAQUE ?

 

“Alcohol has taught me one truth”,

the drunkard said aloud.

A young man, standing on the edge of a cliff, about to end his life, and thus far absorbed in his own world, suddenly wanted to hear the drunkard complete the statement. But nothing happened for a minute. With impatience boiling inside him he shot the question directly to him instead,

“What truth?”

“Happiness is opaque.” The drunkard replied promptly.

“Really?” The young man mocked.

“It never allows the light of our congenital talents to express themselves.”

“Then what does?”

Half a minute went by in silence.

“The prism of adversity allows us to express our true colours. Only after going through it does our V-I-B-G-Y-O-R, the one reflecting our core, is visible to the whole world.”

The young man – as the drunkard’s words made a nest in his conscience – found himself standing with his back at the cliff…already.

Rayleigh Scattering

This is an excellent piece of a short story by a very well renowned Indian English novelist Mr. Novoneel Chakraborty that I came across during my post-graduation days. Thought, I had to share it with my students.
Though on a lighter note;

‘Rayleigh scattering of sunlight in the atmosphere causes diffuse sky radiation, which is the reason for the blue colour of the sky and the yellow tone of the sun itself’. When photons are scattered from an atom or molecule, most photons are elastically scattered (Rayleigh scattering), such that the scattered photons have the same energy (frequency and wavelength) as the incident photons. A small fraction of the scattered photons (approximately 1 in 10 million) are scattered by an excitation, with the scattered photons having a frequency different from, and usually lower than, that of the incident photons. In a gas, Raman scattering can occur with a change in energy of a molecule due to a transition to another (usually higher) energy level.

Rayleigh scattering, named after the British physicist Lord Rayleigh (John William Strutt), is the (dominantly) elastic scattering of light or other electromagnetic radiation by particles much smaller than the wavelength of the radiation. Rayleigh scattering does not change the state of material, hence it is a parametric process. The particles may be individual atoms or molecules. It can occur when light travels through transparent solids and liquids but is most prominently seen in gases. Rayleigh scattering results from the electric polarizability of the particles. The oscillating electric field of a light wave acts on the charges within a particle, causing them to move at the same frequency. The particle, therefore, becomes a small radiating dipole whose radiation we see as scattered light.

Rayleigh scattering of sunlight in the atmosphere causes diffuse sky radiation, which is the reason for the blue colour of the sky and the yellow tone of the sun itself.

Rayleigh scattering of molecular nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere includes elastic scattering as well as the inelastic contribution from rotational Raman scattering in air; since the changes in wavenumber of the scattered photon are typically smaller than 50 cm−1. This can lead to changes in the rotational state of the molecules. Furthermore, the inelastic contribution has the same wavelengths dependency as the elastic part.

File:Why is the sky blue.jpg

a piece of blue glass, through which the light shines orange, seeming to behave like the sky at sunset. There is a long commentary on why the sky is blue. Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Why_is_the_sky_blue.jpg

In addition, the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere absorbs wavelengths at the edge of the ultra-violet region of the spectrum. The resulting colour, which appears like a pale blue, actually is a mixture of all the scattered colours, mainly blue and green. Conversely, glancing toward the sun, the colours that were not scattered away — the longer wavelengths such as red and yellow light — are directly visible, giving the sun itself a slightly yellowish hue. Viewed from space, however, the sky is black and the sun is white. The reddening of sunlight is intensified when the sun is near the horizon because the volume of air through which sunlight must pass is significantly greater than when the sun is high in the sky. The Rayleigh scattering effect is thus increased, removing virtually all blue light from the direct path to the observer. The remaining unscattered light is mostly of a longer wavelength, and therefore, appears to be orange.

Diagram of Raman scattering:  Incident light (yellow) that loses or gains no energy is scattered back at the same wavelength is called Rayleigh scattering.  If some of the energy is transferred to the ground state, the scattered light is scattered at a longer wavelength (red).  Fluorescence is another effect that causes light to be re-emitted at longer wavelengths.  It often masks Raman scattering. http://www.symphotic.com/What_is_Raman.htm

Diagram of Raman instrumentation: Incident laser light (yellow) is scattered at the light surface. Most of the light is scattered at the same wavelength as the incident light.The lightt that is Raman shifted also is scattered in random directions. A lens is used to collect the light, and a filter is used to block the wavelength of the incident light. Longer wavelengths (Raman scattering) is transmitted to the monochromator and detection system. The frequency shift of the scattered light will determine the chemical structure of the sample material. http://www.symphotic.com/What_is_Raman.htm