Haiku on learning
Hari Srinivas
Learning Lab Series L-301. September 2012

What is Haiku?

Haiku is traditional Japanese poetry that was just three lines long, having five japanese characters in the first line, seven in the second, and five again in the third line. But writing Haiku in English is not strict, and is usually limited to the 'three-line' rule.

Poetry-in-miniature, Haiku's attractiveness lies in its ability to pack so many images, ideas, thoughts, and memories in such short lines. Reading this -

"Longing to hear her voice
I called her number
to listen to her answering machine"

- is not only poignant, but also shows Haiku's contemporary appeal!

Don't be afraid
of what you know
The unknown can be learnt
Students, whom I teach a variety of subjects, always complain before a looming exam, that they don't know this or don't know that. To calm them down, I always quote this haiku to them. It doesn't calm them, but at least distracts them enough to finish the exam.
Learn something new everyday
To stop learning
Is to die
A Japanese student once told me - "I am glad I attended your class, because after I become a 'salaryman' I will never be able to learn all these things." Wrong, I told him, and quoted this haiku as a response. Ultimately, this is what human development is all about. Learning. Everyday. Something new.
The street - a classroom
Everyone you meet
A teacher
And another student peeve I often hear is how they really wanted to get into the top university and had to make do with a 'regional' university, due to low grades. And my response - the real 'university' is the street - where you learn hands-on. And everyone you meet has something new, interesting and different to teach you. Everyone is a potential teacher. Treat them as such ...
Cannot explain your work
To your grandmother?
Then its useless.
Thinking about strategic communications, and the need to target the right stakeholders, I wrote this ... But the "grandmother" here is a metaphor - think about it:

  1. She has been there a long time [HISTORY]
  2. She likes grand kids [FUTURE]
  3. She is concerned about her family [LOCAL]
  4. She's boss of daily life [APPLICABILITY]
  5. She's wise and can look at different viewpoints [BALANCE]
  6. She knows you well [STAKEHOLDER ANALYSIS]
  7. She likes things simple [COMMUNICATION]
 Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org
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