Sunday, November 18, 2007


Harvard University

There is a story about a man who sold hot dogs by the roadside. He was illiterate, so he never read newspapers. He was hard of hearing, so he never listened to the radio. His eyes were weak, so he never watched television. But enthusiastically, he sold lots of hot dogs. His sales and profit went up. He ordered more meat and got himself a bigger and a better stove. As his business was growing, the son, who had recently graduated from college, joined his father.

Then something strange happened. The son asked, "Dad, aren't you aware of the great recession that is coming our way?" The father replied, "No, but tell me about it." The son said, "The international situation is terrible. The domestic is even worse. We should be prepared for the coming bad time." The man thought that since his son had been to college, read the papers, and listened to the radio, he ought to know and his advice should not be taken lightly. So the next day, the father cut down his order for the meat and buns, took down the sign and was no longer enthusiastic. Very soon, fewer and fewer people bothered to stop at his hot dog stand. And his sales started coming down rapidly. The father said to his son, "Son, you were right. We are in the middle of a recession. I am glad you warned me ahead of time."

What is the moral of the story?

1. Many times we confuse intelligence with good judgment.
2. A person may have high intelligence but poor judgment.
3. Choose your advisers carefully and use your judgment.
4. A person can and will be successful with or without formal education if they have the 5 Cs:
• character
• commitment
• conviction
• courtesy
• courage
5. The tragedy is that there are many walking encyclopaedias who are living failures.

Look at this: -

A study attributed to Harvard University found that when a person gets a job, 85% of the time it is because of their attitude, and only 15% of the time because of how smart they are and how many facts and figures they know. Surprisingly, almost 100% of education dollars go to teach facts and figures which account for only 15% of success in work!

1 comment:

Ir. Hj. Othman bin Hj. Ahmad said...

I've seen this quotes many times but they are actually full of falacies.

The author confuses the son's knowledge of the impending recession as the son's superior intelligence.

If the son were properly educated, he should be able to act on the information that he receives, instead of just telling about facts and figures.

Education is about learning how to apply facts and figures towards solving problems. This is especially true to Mathematical subjects but even English subjects emphasises on the ability to apply vocabulary towards writing a good essay and towards understanding the meaning of the sequences of words. Knowing the the meaning of individual words is not so much emphasises.

The son was certainly a bad college student, instead of a good student because of his failure to formulate solutions to the facts and figures that are presented to him.

The best universities in the world teaches theoretical foundations instead of current technologies. For example, Cambridge University Engineering Schools' Curriculum, do not specialise their subjects until the final year. Unlike most standard Universities. It means that they may not be knowledgeable at a specific technology, but they are well equipped to critically analyse and learn any new technologies.

Malaysian parliament recently lamented the lack of quality of our local universities and started to quote that a student of music at Oxford University were highly paid in a corporate body(or something of this nature), forgetting that students at these Universities were taught differently. They are not taught on specific technologies or knowledge, but the ability to analyse and innovate.

Our local Members of Parliament conclude that this is due to the culture that had been brought up out of their hundreds of years traditions, which is a faulty judgment because many Universities in Singapore have much higher ranking than those in Malaysia that had existed much longer.

As to the figures that 85% of students achieve success in work not due to their success in Universities, implying that it is a waste of money sending our students to Universities, is certainly not accepted by the majority of the population of the world, including the USA, where this information originates.

Look at the facts world-wide. By dollar value, the most successful corporations are still led by academically brilliant CEO's. Many quote Bill Gates as an example of a University dropout, forgetting that he was accepted to the elite University in the USA, implying that his SAT score is among the highest in USA.

In government service, Singapore, that insists on First Class Honours for their top administrators, and most of them are graduates from Oxford and Cambridge Universities, is acknowledged as the best governed in the whole world, much better than the government of USA, that is highly politicised.

The explanation is simple. Although attitude is important, it is the presence of desirable attitude that enables students to excel in University Examinations. The attidute of hard-work, time-management, ability to absorb, manipulate and analyse facts, figures and information, and most importantly, understand what is being written or told, which is the first and most essential step in having a good communication.

A good scholar is simply someone who has a good grasp of issues and understand the relevant information in the most correct way, so that we can communicate with him conveniently. How well he solves problems depends on how well we give him information. If we give him lousy information, he would surely make lousy decisions.

In my honest opinion, the ability to understand, i.e. to communicate effectively through various means, is the most important element in problem solving, above that of knowledge. Knowledge can become obsolete and humans cannot remember for long periods of time. The ability to recall these memory by revising their textbooks and updating themselves with the current literatures is by far the most important ability.

Many scholars are inhibited in making good recommendations due to the lack of materials but by makin g these materials available through the internet, and learning how to master the art of searching for information through the internet, many more scholars will be able to contribute towards solving the world's problems.