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This blog has been designed most for the benefits of my students. I am interested in spiritual intelligence because I believe it leads to happiness and resilience. If you want copies of my published research (conference papers or articles in journals), feel free to contact me.

Ridhwan (fontaine008@gmail.com)

My other blog is: http://happyinislam.blogspot.com/

Monday, June 13, 2011

Psychological Capital

Based on the work in the field of positive Organizational Behaviour (POB), Psychological Capital (PsyCap) are all the positive factors that influences people's perception of happiness. Again, PsyCap is composed of four inter-related constructs. This has been supported by research over the last 20 years or so. These are:

Hope: Not simply the hope for a better future but hope creates a very strong will (willpower) and there is a clear idea of how to achieve that goal (way-power).

Optimism: Based on the work of Seligman, we know that optimism is how we deal with negative events. Specifically, we see such events as temporary and specific.

Resilience: This is the ability to bounce back.

Self-efficacy: This is the belief that we can do specific things (like drive a car or manage people). Self-efficacy often occurs because in the past, we have done something before or we have watched other people do something before.

From an Islamic perspective, my understanding is that a correct understanding of Islam precedes PsyCap. The Islamic belief system and the correct knowledge of Islam allows Muslims to be hopeful, optimistic, resilient and able to get things done. Specific skills (like goals setting, time management, ABCD,....) can help but the core has to be Islamic. That would mean that a correct Islamic core belief systems leads to PsyCap which in turn leads to happiness.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

How to become more intelligent

I have finished reading two books related to strengthening our brain. The first book is by Norman Doidge and is called "The Brain that changes itself". The second book is called "Brain school" by Howard Eaton.

The first book talks about 'neuroplasticity'. This complicated word simply means that the brain has got the ability to re-organize itself. Scientists know that certain parts of the brain relate to specific skills and abilities. One part of the brain is for speech, another part of the brain is for thinking and so forth. The assumption was that if that part of the brain was damage, the damage was permanent and the skill / ability would be lost forever. By using MRIs and studying patients with a damaged brain but WHO RECOVERED their skills and abilities, scientists realised that the specific skills and abilities were being processed by different (and unexpected) parts of the brain. In other words, to overcome the damage to one part of the brain, the functions of the brain were re-organized.

At first, scientists did not understand why this happened. Now, researchers know how to stimulate specific parts of the brain with specific exercises. They can use these exercises to 'change' the area of the brain that processes skills and abilities. If an area of the brain is not damage but is simply weak, they can strengthen these areas. It should be noted that these exercises takes a lot of time and a lot of concentration. I am talking about one or two hours everyday for several months. However, they do work.

The second book talks about how this new knowledge about the brain has helped educators in Canada develop a whole range of exercises to help children with learning disabilities and even social problems. Children that are considered "slow learners" can become normal or above average after extensive coaching for several years. It should be noted that there is a difference between 'cognition' (the brain) and 'achievement' (the academic result). Traditional approaches to help 'slow learners' means that they get coaching to achieve better academic results. But their 'weak' cognition is not developed. Now, the approach is to strengthen the cognition first so that academic achievement improves without any need for special tutoring.

But why should we use these 'brain exercises' only with children with learning disabilities. Why not help 'normal' children become better by allowing them to practice on their own. One interesting website is called "www.luminosity.com'. I am thinking of subscribing to it for my own children. Generally though, we can be pro=active in life or we can be reactive. Obviously, the whole philosophy of this blog is to empower my students and my readers. Before you try anything, do some reading and figure things out for yourself :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Human Capital

A few days ago, I was listening to BFM 89.90, which is a radio station that focuses on business. Every morning at 8am, they have interviews with Malaysian and non-Malaysian CEOs. This particular day, they interviewed the CEO of Booz & Co, a leading US consultant.

One part of the interview attracted me. They were discussing what Malaysia needs to do to be competitive in the global economy. This CEO replied that the only way forward in the medium term is to develop Human Capital. Only 28% of Malaysians continue their education after SPM. It is only by continuously developing their knowledge and skills that Malaysians can hope to compete. If not, Vision 2020 will stay a dream.

This CEO explained that Malaysia is now in what is known as the "middle income trap". That is to say that the Malaysian economy is more sophisticated that poor countries like Vietnam or the Philippines. But it cannot compete yet with more successful countries like Taiwan, South Korea or Singapore. The only way for Malaysia to get out of this middle-of-the-road situation is to embrace high-value added business models. This means that Malaysians have to compete based on knowledge and creativity, not simply low salaries and hard-work.

This brings me to the purpose of the internet-assignments that I give. There is so much information on the Net that nobody has any excuse anymore. The only thing is that you need to feel that updating yourself is your personal responsibility and you allocate some time every week to do just that. If you are not willing to discipline yourself....well, that is your problem.

Another soft skills session