In pursuit of perfection

While the whole world is grappling with all-encompassing Covid fatigue, the very turbulent nature of e-learning fatigue seems to have been completely overlooked of late.


Ambica Sachin

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Published: Wed 27 Jan 2021, 8:43 PM

“That’s not how you write 6,” I muttered exasperatedly as my five-year-old clumsily scribbled out the answer to a math quiz during our morning class together.

While the whole world is grappling with all-encompassing Covid fatigue, the very turbulent nature of e-learning fatigue seems to have been completely overlooked of late.

“But Miss wants us to write like this,” he insisted with all the conviction his face could muster up. “Really? You mean she is okay for you to write 6 which can be read as b too?” I pack in all my pent-up sarcasm into that one single query. “No, no, she wants us to write wrong sometimes,” he stood his ground.

I give up and go back to scrolling through my WhatsApp messages.

Being privy to a digital classroom where most tiny tots come with enhanced parental support, many of whom are quick to jump in to assist their ward when the going gets tough, we had long ago given up on any semblance that we could keep up with the Joneses. No doubt we started off with good intentions, and I believe a lot of parents and teachers need extra credit for successfully juggling a plethora of balls in the air while imparting life skills to little creatures who have only one thing on their mind — how to keep themselves off the radar when indulging in extracurricular activities during class hours.

More than men, it is said women are the ones who tend to pride themselves on being excellent multi-taskers. But at what cost?

You might be patting yourself on the back for crossing out half your to-do list simultaneously, but if you focus on one thing at a time, each one might end up being done in a better manner. So, you need to make that pick - whether quantity matters or quality. It’s another matter that many don’t have the luxury to choose between the two.

This lesson is drilled into me every time I sit down for e-learning sessions with my laptop open and my phone in my hand scrolling through news and messages with my ears peeled to the teacher’s instructions.

The 5-year-old had literally taken this home schooling to mean he gets to attend classes online with his biggest cheerleaders in life by his side 24/7. It took a lot of overt and covert maneuvers to convey the message that the lessons were meant solely for him and not necessarily for his parents however lackadaisical they might have been during their own school days.

Award winning author and Harvard Business School Professor Deepak Malhotra says by maximising the time spent on doing one single thing and minimising the number of times you divert yourself into other things, you will end up achieving much better results. Coming from the doyen of the negotiation field, it could well be a life-altering mindscape for many of us to embrace.

It doesn’t mean you still can’t flip that pancake while overseeing your kid’s schoolwork or answering that all-important call. But maybe when you are tearing out your hair in frustration while desperately typing out your story to meet that all-important deadline, it might be a good idea to just sit tight and not let your colleague’s shenanigans distract you!

Perfection, anyhow, is overrated, nowadays, I’m told. I recollect the advice from my creative writing professor during my university days who, after sampling one of my copies, felt that I was probably putting too much thought into engineering perfect sentence structures.

The lesson didn’t go down well I confess — and my pursuit of perfection over the years has seen me shed tears and rage at some minor editing indiscretions.

I’ll chalk it up to another life lesson learnt from a first grader: You don’t always need to get things perfect in the first attempt. Sometimes it is okay to make a 6 into a b.

Like Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali famously said: Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.


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