Monday, May 17, 2010

What next?

As I go through this period of transition, which is both interesting and challenging, what I want to do next is the question I have to contend with constantly. One needs a direction, indeed, and uncertainty and instability are hardly enjoyable conditions. Like everyone, I would love to put some dates and plans on my diary; but, to be honest, I am taking it easy at this time, allowing myself the space to reflect, exploring possibilities and seeing life with a panoramic view.

Last three years of my life was very challenging. In a way, these were my Don Quixote years, with all elements in full play - the sense of honour, and the windmill. This was hard, indeed, and in the end, I was in a permanent state of resignation. That does not help: A sort of certainty which was going nowhere in the end. I feel well now as I contrast that lack of freedom with the current state of possibilities, and uncertainty is a small price to pay.

I should not say the years were all wasted though. It is not. For a start, I have understood what I don't want to do in life. That's a huge achievement by itself. Besides, I have a full view of my skills, and my shortcomings, attained through constant reflection and useful discussions with colleagues. I emerge from my last job sobered, but also better equipped and focused on what I want to do.

Also, travelling around for last three years, meeting people, discussing possibilities and ambitions with students, tutors and employers in different regions, I have got a first hand feel of the globalization, not just of technologies and investment opportunities, but also of aspirations and abilities. This is interesting to me: My generation which wanted to migrate and make a good life somewhere in the West are increasingly pushed away by a new Asian generation, which will create wealth, opportunities and possibilities by internalizing skills and knowledge available globally.

I see this as an opportunity and not a threat. I think everyone should see it that way. Human progress is not a zero-sum game. Asia's progress does not necessarily mean Europe's fall. It is not set up to happen that way. In fact, this only means more talent, more opportunities, fresh ways of looking at things and fresh minds to solve problems. Consider all the decline-and-fall literature and we shall know one thing: Decline is always an internal thing. We set it off internally. Civilizations, or for that matter, nations don't decline just because another one progresses. They decline because they close their doors, and minds. They go against the invariable force of technology, knowledge and ideas. They become cultural fundamentalist, supremacist. That starts the decline, it always did. However, if we can see that there is only one civilization - the human civilization - and we are all parts of the whole, each making contributions and each enjoying the fruits of collective knowledge, this Asian resurgence will mean enormous opportunities.

I see my opportunity here, facilitating this international flow of knowledge and skills. This is an ever emerging opportunity, and frankly, I believe we are not even at the threshold. This is an area which technology will impact next, and impact big: I am not talking about just e-learning here. Education is at the threshold of a revolution, primarily because our societies have changed so much but our education ideas have not. Or, they have only just started to come to terms with what needs to be done.

Besides, this is an area of human endeavour which is affected by so many other externalities - legal environment, politics, social power equations, religion, economic conditions. Education, I feel, is one of the most common human activities, but one of the most regulated, most complex and most hindered by dated thinking. The good news is - we are at a breaking point. The dam will burst soon. I would want to be there when it bursts.

So, I am currently focused on picking up skills and abilities in International Education. I have lots of ground to cover - to understand the practises, have a good grip on theory and policy, understand and master technologies, understand management principles and define an overarching goal of my private endeavour - but I have taken the first step: Commit myself. I am looking for jobs in the area, as well as investing in relevant skills and abilities, and making the necessary connections. Some of it is reflected on this blog, as I maintain this as a scrapbook of my ideas; the rest will reveal itself in what I do next.


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How To Live

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

Last Words

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

- T S Eliot

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