Being An Acumen Fellow

Friends, I am very excited about my sharing key lessons learning from my experience being an Acumen Fellow Pakistan.

I joined this program in January this year, and I have started learning and relearning some lessons about Being Humble, Risk Taking and joining Conversation. Read the post on Medium.

Acumen Fellows Pakistan

Your Mother is Teacher, Not Mine (True Story)

2003, I was invited to the home of my class fellow. I went to help him with exams, and during at his home.

To tell you the truth, people in my part of the world. Keep women covered and let them meet only with close relatives.

I somehow saw his mother. I excitingly asked him, “If your mother is teacher too.” (I was excited because my mother is a teacher and I’m very proud of her.)

He replied, “No, not at all. We do not let women do such (shameful) jobs.

28 years ago, when my mother was applying for her teaching job. Her younger brother complained to their mother, “So now Razia is going to be a teacher. People would say, look his sister is a teacher.”

Job of mother changed everything for our entire family. Also know, if she would not be teacher, I would be working at a factory or workshop without any formal education etc.

But instead, she changed my life. It changed everything.

Someone said it very truly:

If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation).

I promise to educate a nation (even if it would be small, it’s ok).

All this might come to you as surprise. But this is the real story of a real women.

Would you keep doing the good work, despite what other people say?

It is also true:

People don’t say very much, but we intentionally hear a lot about our fears.

Would you still be teacher no matter how many people discourage you? Would you still be changing lives? If you are afraid of doing something, please write your fears. Then see what happens.

My mom and my brother, at an event I organized. She doesn't understand English as much, but she came to encouraged me. Isn't she amazing person?

She is truly the first one in our family to cross the river. Now gladly, I’m crossing many too.

Rest is said in this video, It Only Takes A Girl, watch it.

Also read:

I am 3.5 Year Old, and I Have Questions

Children are born artists. Here is why, they inquire. An artist is someone who’s mind is curious enough to take action to find out the answers.


Like what will happen if I try to draw that picture, how will it feel if I shall sing these beautiful words. Etc Etc.

Yesterday was Eid, so I had some guests at home. One of them was my cousin with her two little kids. This story is about Zain, a 3.5 years old boy and his conversation with me.

I was at my computer starting with daily reading.

Here are some of his questions and the pictures which made him inquire. I also tried to answer them as well.

1-Why only his eyes are showing up? Where is his rest of face?

Ans. Look, in this picture, he’s only showing up his head and eyes to make it interesting. He wants people to take notice of this picture. Got it?

2- Alright, what is that pink thing on your table?

This is a machine, a small one. I use it with my computer.

Multi-Card Reader

Well, it is used to transfer different things from one computer to another computer or mobile phone.

4-Okay, show me some stuff which we can insert in it.

Yup, here is it, we can shift any cartoon video or picture of yours to our mobile. Right.

5-Why are you typing on computer?

(He noticed that after his questions I was saving them in drafts.) Ah, I am saving our conversation in my computer. Is it fair?

6-How he come up with clothes and full face?

(I wanted to show Zain, the full picture of Seth Godin, so I went on Seth’s Facebook Page. Zain took good notice of this too and asked the above questions.)

Zain, this is another picture of the guy, here he is with his clothes and full head.

That was enough of my feeds, then I stumbled on some cartoon pictures to check his reaction.

7-Why he is going to fire someone?

I think he is just playing with his little toy, it is kind of the same gun as you used to have few days back. But it looks more like a real one. Isn’t it?

8-Why you are writing things which I am telling you?

Actually, I want to share our conversation with my friends. And I hope they like it.

9-Why these cars are not running?

These are the pictures of cars. In pictures, we can not see things moving. Here are the moving cars. (then I played the following video)

10-Why are they hitting everything?

This is because they are driving in rushy areas. Where many other vehicles and stuff is moving.

11-Where do the people go when the car gets broken?

Most of the time, they get out of them and get back to their home. Or if anyone gets hurt then hospital.

12-Does it show the aeroplane as well?

Yes it does.

Later I spent some more time with him. Entertained him with more videos and cool stuff.

So What Is The Point?

This is something not surprising at all. As human, we are born to discover and create remarkable stuff.

But here is why I am worried about Zain or any other little kid. They will eventually be stopped to ask questions, which do not make sense to elders including and especially teachers.

They will be forced to do the work in others’ way instead of with their knowldge and learning. They will be forced to not to inquire, they will be forced to shut the mouth when someone is doing stuff.

But at the same time, I often interact with parents and encourage them to let their child live their life. Let them learn in their way, which shouldn’t necessarily make sense to elders. Here is an incredible TED Talk by Sir Kin Robinson on Do school kill creativity?

What do you think? I am sure when you were a little kid, you were curios same as Zain. Did you lost that curiosity? Have you ever had similar experience with you? Please share your thoughts in comments below.

(At the end of our conversation, Zain said “when I’ll get older, Ill buy a computer too.” I shall talk to his parents and ask them to buy one for him now.)

On Building a Better Classroom and Business Website

At my college, I hated 90% of classes which I took. Thanks to silly, so called teachers, I went to library to feel better. 😉 My class with them looks like this.

Here is what was happening, no collaboration, no energy, no learning.

But here is one of three teachers I liked, Cheryl Burke, here is how my class with her looked like:

It was easy to communicate, everyone was on the same page, energetic collaboration, learning. Yes!

People comes to your class room, or to your business website because of their reasons. But it is your responsibility to facilitate them.

Provide them a platform where they can communicate not only with you, but with other members. You should be the one to host the discussion, serve them.

You will learn more about your students / customers when you’ll have a seat with them, online or offline.

Remember you don’t need  a website, rather you should have collaborative spaces. Go make such space. And if you need help with that, get in touch with me. 🙂

Solving a Math and Life Problem – A Self-taught Lesson

Three watermelons and two cantaloupes weigh 32 pounds. Four watermelons and three cantaloupes weigh 44 pounds. All watermelons weigh the same and all cantaloupes weigh the same. What is the weight of two watermelons and one cantaloupe?

A simple math problems looks like the same as this one (actually this is a real one). In real life, sitting in an examination hall, this three line long question turns really hard for a 10 year old Waqas.

This is what’s been happening with me when I was in my early 10s. 😉 But I sorted it out, thanks to ME, I learned how to solve them.

The same thing is happening with me when I am in my early 20s now. 😉 Life brings all kind of problems towards me and you, no matter if you like a subject or not, we encounter problems every single day. And some times they seems much bigger and complex to us, that it almost seems impossible to solve them.

But here is how I learned solving Math problems and now I and may be you can reLearn the same lesson to apply in real life.

Let me be that 5th grader again. (I hope it’ll not feel boring to you, even it does, solving is important)

OMG! This is such a long question, I forget what was mentioned in first three words, by the time I end reading this question. So here is, read it again. No sense at all. Let’s write the values on paper and may be things get better.

Watermelon = X, Cantaloupes = Y
3X + 2Y = 32lb  , 4X + 3Y = 44lb
Now multiply first equation with 3, and second with 2, and we get
9X + 6Y = 96,  8X + 6Y = 88

Now if we subtract second equation from 1st one, this is what we get.
X + 0Y = 8, in other words, X=8

Now put the X’s value in equation 1
24 + 2Y= 32  ->  2Y = 8  -> Y=4

We need to find weight of 2 watermelons (X) and 1 cantaloupe (Y)
Here it is

2X + 1Y = ?
16 + 4 = 20

It means weight of 2 watermelons and 1 cantaloupe is 20lb. Bingo!

Here are truths about problems in live.

  • The problems looks complex, and solutions seems difficult. (this is why they are problems)
  • When we read / review of a problem, we forget that we can use our background, knowledge, resources and our many years experience.
  • We don’t specify how this problem can be resolved, and we start worrying.
  • We don’t get that, solutions can be divided into small steps, which are easy and more practical, rather looking into whole sphere.
Final Thoughts:

It is clear to me now that, Worrying at First, was the first thing I used to do in my class when looking at math problems.

And it didn’t work for me. So in life, Worrying at First, is not going to help me at all. Not to you as well.

Worrying at first is not my strategy now. It should never be.

PS. This post idea came two hours ago, when I suggested my mother, (who is teaching math to her 5 grade class), to develop the habit of Not Worrying at First in your students. If you really want to be best math teacher in your shool, and more importantly help your students change their lives.

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Want to Learn? Well, First Know What to unLearn

Schools teach us is to do what is told. No question on why the homework is important or why not find any new way to solve this problem. We tried to do that, some of us did it better to get better grades.

On the opposite side in life, we encounter problems which needs unique solutions for every person. And unfortuanetly we have no one to tell us what to do.

This is just a tiny example of why unlearning is important, but it helps to give you an idea. Time is changing all the time, so should our learning be.

Everyday we learn many things, both good and bad. A ‘filter for learning’ can help us better use what is good, and before that help us unlearn what is not good or what did not work.

I wish you a happy un-learning!

“The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”  -Alvin Toffler

Thanks to my friend Sebastian Sastre for bringing the term UNLEARN, he has written incredible stuff on Philosophy is the new plan.