Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Late for your class? Did you try clapping?

Once when I was conducting a session for a group of faculty members in one of Bangalore's engineering colleges, a senior faculty member, Prof. Raghu (name changed) had an interesting revelation to share with me. After lunch, while we were waiting for participants to get back into the session, he was keenly observing the behaviors of all participants. Before leaving for lunch, we had agreed to assemble back at 2PM. But, it was already 2:05 and 80% of the participants had shown no signs of returning on time. He said to me "when we are conducting a class, we expect our students to come to class on time and promptly complete their assignments. However, now I realize that when we are learners, we are also behaving in the same way that our students behave!" This was one important learning for him and I hope he is now more empathetic towards his students.
During the next tea break, I decided to introduce a clapping ritual. Since we had decided to gather back by 3:45 PM after tea, I suggested to the participants who got back to their seats that whoever comes late, we will all clap for them. When the first late comer entered, all of them started clapping and laughing. The person who entered was quite surprised, embarrassed and confused as to why everyone was clapping. With more people coming in late, the clapping only increased in intensity. We also decided on the winner for that day...i.e. the one who came last. There was a record keeper who noted how delayed the last participant was. Before leaving for the day, we said this ritual would continue for the next 4 days of the workshop.
Next day morning, I noticed faculty members literally rushing in to not only avoid embarrassment of being clapped at but mainly to clap for the others. While we had decided to meet at sharp 9AM next day morning, I found that all of them were in the room by 8:50AM!
This clapping ritual works wonderfully in disciplining the learners without directly punishing them.

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