What is “correct spelling”?

Advay (my 7 year old) has developed a fascination for the written form this year. It started with the need to read his favourite story books and then with the need to capture his expression in words.

He was doing a good job expressing his ideas & thoughts through drawings. For instance: after he came back from a trek that he went with his mother, he spent some time capturing what he saw on the trek by drawing it on paper.

Given his affinity to draw, Nandini figured that it wouldn’t be economical to buy drawing books over and over again. So she bought a paper roll (the one that people use in weddings to cover the dining tables before serving food). These paper rolls cost very less, are usually made out of recycled paper, last really long and also offer drawing space that conventional drawing books don’t offer.

Advay started using that for his expressions. Sometimes his art work would be done in “collaboration” with our relatives or his friends in the neighbourhood.

In the past few months though, he has developed a fascination for reading & writing Kannada & English. For the moment he is able to read & write in English better than he does Kannada, but he is exploring both at his own pace.

What I am moved to observe is that “the need for writing” came before “the act of writing”. For example, he would notice his mother write shopping lists before going out. Now he wants to write shopping lists. He invents his own spellings though.

He now knows that written words help recreate their vocal sounds in the mind of the reader. So he tries to capture the vocal sound in letters as closely as possible. Below are his spellings for numbers 1 – 10.

At the moment the letters F, S & R are all mirror images. After writing this, he contrasted his spellings with those on the number chart we had prepared for him a while ago.

He laughed his heart out at his own spellings after comparing his spellings with the “correct” ones. After a while though, he concluded exactly what Shri Amitabh Bachchan had concluded years ago that “English is a funny language.”

All jokes aside, we do notice that the spellings are all wrong. While we remind him about the correct spellings, we are also allowing him to discover correct spellings by himself too. When he reads letters in books, it is a gentle reminder for him to know correct spellings.

However, for now we want him to continue expressing vocal-sounds of words in the form of written-string-of-letters, even at the cost of bad spellings, because we want him to discover the real beauty of the written form. We want him to discover that the written form helps capture vocal expressions on paper. That spoken words from one person can be recorded on paper and they can get recreated in another person when read.

Over time as he shows his writing to more people, he will discover that he needs to get his spellings right so that his written form is accurately communicating to others. He will need to discover that spellings are agreed upon sequences of letters for words so that communication from one person to another person via the written form is accurate. Right now, we are in no hurry to have him spell correctly.

Last week, there was an activity in his school. One by one, kids were asked to sit on a chair with eyes closed. The other kids would come from behind and whisper one thing positive about the kid who is sitting. Once all the kids have heard positive words about themselves from others, they would then sit and capture all that they heard on a piece of paper. Advay decided to capture it in a bookmark. This is what he wrote.

Again spellings are all wrong. But he enjoyed writing good descriptive words about himself on paper. He also loves the logo of my new startup, so he tends to insert it everywhere these days.

It’s wonderful to notice his “tryst with the written form.” As with any love affair, this one will take time too. In the meantime, Nandini & I are in no hurry to have him “get it right ™”

Advay’s visit to “Open Day at IISc”

Nandini recently found out about “Open Day at IISc”. She was excited to go with Advay (my 7 year old) for that event. On Saturday they both got on the Metro and reached the IISc campus.

Through the journey, Nandini explained to Advay what Open Day was and the opportunity that would be available to him. That he would get to see a lot of “science-stuff” and it would all be very interesting. Advay was very keen to check it out.

Once they reached the campus and walked-in, he saw the corn vending counter. Advay loves corn, so he asked for a cup. Nandini buys him a cup-corn. He took his own sweet time relishing the corn in all its glory.

Once he was done with corn, he threw the cup away in the bin and they both started walking towards the area where “science stuff” was happening.

Enroute, Advay notices a lot of people having ice-cream. He turns to Nandini and says – “Amma, so many people are having ice-cream. There has to be an ice-cream counter somewhere nearby. Let’s go find that out. I want an ice-cream.”

Nandini was a little pissed at this point. In her head she is thinking – “Have we come here for Open Day or for eating corn and ice-cream!” But then, she is also given by this thought – “It’s very sweet actually, he is fully being a 7 year old kid!” So, she goes ahead and buys him an ice-cream anyway.

Advay spends his own sweet time savouring every bit of the ice cream. Throws the cup into the bin. Now, seemingly ready to look at the “science-stuff” he looks at Nandini with a “I am now ready, let’s go” expression.

They then stroll around the campus and gathered as much “science-stuff-gazing” as possible. In the end it turned out that the day seemed mostly apt for 10-11+ year olds. Advay did enjoy the display of rockets and airplane models though. Finally they caught a bus ride back home.

When he came back home, he was tired of course. But then he got what he wanted from an “Open Day”.
– Corn
– Ice-Cream
– Rocket & Airplane models
– Metro & Bus ride
– And many many more…

Today afternoon, when Nandini & I were enjoying our Sunday noon nap; Advay spent a good 2 hours making this 🙂

There is so much for me to learn from him!

Anxiety about unlimited freedom

Tight rope walking is scary because there are no rails to hold on to while walking on the tight rope.

So, it causes an obvious anxiety about walking on the rope. Anxiety stems from the fact that, without support, one might fall off to the left OR to the right OR forward OR backward OR slip from both legs and crash land on the abdomen OR many other possibilities. If only there was a railing that one could hold on to, walking on the tight rope would be much easier.

Life is like walking on a tight rope, except that not only are there no rails to hold on to while walking on the tight rope; there is no rope either.

Continue reading “Anxiety about unlimited freedom”

8 habits of highly authentic people

Pardon my cheap shot at free publicity. I couldn’t resist naming this blog post after Stephen Covey’s magnum opus “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“. It was one of the first “real self help” books I read in my life. Up until then I was mostly reading books on personality development, which taught me techniques for manipulating myself and others in an effort to produce results. This was one of the first books that boldly spoke about getting real and genuine. I loved the book. It helped create a lot of value, substance and results in my life.

Having said that, I dont like the idea that there are 7 or 8 or 20 or any finite number of ways in which people can be effective, or authentic in the case of this post. There are plenty of ways, perhaps a lot more than we can discover in one lifetime. Each person striving to live an authentic life can and for the most part does invent ways to be authentic. In this blog post, I share some of the strategies I have learned from books, seminars, other people and also those that I have invented for myself to live an authentic life. My excitement about sharing what I have learned about Existentialism comes from the very real possibility of learning from others about the strategies they invent (or adopt) for living an authentic life. Knowing that no one can ever simply be authentic, offers unlimited opportunity for personal exploration and growth.

Continue reading “8 habits of highly authentic people”

being-for-others – a breeding ground for inauthentic relationships

Sartre and others carve a phenomenon called being-for-others, that leaves a human being with an experience of being an object along with other objects in a world of objects, with fixed properties, labels, behaviour etc. Given that people are seldom, if ever, truly alone these days, each person constantly confronts the existence of other people, not simply as objects in his world, but as subjects who see him and judge him and reduce him to an object in their world. To be an object for the Other is the meaning of being-for-other. My being-for-other is the awareness I have of my own objectification in the eyes of the Other.

In this post, I want to explore being-for-other by enumerating common being-for-other experiences.

Continue reading “being-for-others – a breeding ground for inauthentic relationships”

Anxiety, Commitment & Healthy Dose of Bad-Faith

Bad-faith, or inauthenticity, is living a lie that we dont have freedom to choose in the face of situations and realities that we encounter in life. Existentialists, Sartre in particular says that as human beings we are condemned to be free. Our fundamental nature, he says, is to be a free transcendence of our facticity, for which we are required to willingly take responsibility.

In a previous blog post I have shared ways in which one can slip into bad-faith. More recently, I have also shared about an inquiry that I indulge in as to whether bad-faith directed at another, is my own bad-faith or not. In this post, I want to explore anxiety & commitment and how some amount of bad-faith is healthy and even necessary to live in this world.

Continue reading “Anxiety, Commitment & Healthy Dose of Bad-Faith”

Projects of Bad Faith – Part #2

According to existentialism, authenticity is living life with willingness that who I am is a free transcendence of my facticity. Therefore, I willingly own-up my facticity and make choices & take action by being fully aware of my freedom to do so. I also take note of the fact that my choices & action lead to consequences that I must willingly take responsibility for. The key here is willingness.

Inauthenticity (or bad-faith) refers to modes of being and behavior that has me not being a free transcendence of my facticity. Basically I am inauthentic if I am not willingly owning up my facticity, or willingly take responsibility for my choices & actions, or crib about my lack of freedom and so on. In a previous post, I have shared my understanding of bad-faith and also enumerated a few ways in which people run project(s) of bad-faith. I strongly recommend that you read that post, if you haven’t already.

In this post, I want to explore the question – “Is bad-faith directed at another person an act of my bad-faith?”

Continue reading “Projects of Bad Faith – Part #2”