Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Do Positive Feelings Improve Results?

Yesterday I was trying to help my university students to identify their feelings towards learning Chinese language. I asked them to write 10 different feelings they associated with learning Chinese as fast as they can. I also asked them to write two or three reasons for each feeling.

The three dominant feelings are proud, stressed and confused. Learning a second or third language, especially Chinese is not easy, so it is understandable that they often feel confused. Most of them feel stressed due to the number of Chinese characters that they have to memorize. Despite the difficulties in learning Chinese, they feel proud because they are seen as being able to take on a ‘hard’ subject. A lot of people perceive them as smart and they receive a lot of praise. 

One thing that drew my attention was how their feelings towards  learning Chinese influenced their performance in class.

There are two classes, Class A and B, with 17-18 students per class. When I tallied the feelings for each class, I found that in Class A, the students have more negative than positive feelings towards learning Chinese. While in Class B, they have more positive feelings than negative ones. Perhaps it is one of the reasons why Class B consistently outperforms Class A.

Does it mean that if we want to be better in something, then we need to have more positive feelings toward it?

Please share in the comments about what you think.

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B. Com

Friday, June 04, 2010

How We Get Our Belief System and Values

Yesterday when I had breakfast at Diamond Restaurant, Solo, Indonesia, I overheard a family having a conversation with the restaurant manager. The family consisted of a father, a mother and a teenage boy; I assumed he was in high school. The conversation roughly went like this:

The manager asked the boy, “Hi. At this age, learning to speak English is very important. Don’t you want to go overseas to study?”

The boy didn’t say a word, but the father answered, “He does not need to go overseas to study. I think Indonesian Universities are good enough. Anyway what’s the point studying overseas if after graduation he still has to come back here and continue the family business?”

The manager said, “There are many advantages of studying overseas. First, you can speak English well. Second, you can meet a lot of people from different countries and have friends from all over the world. Having a lot of contacts can help you expand your business”

The father again said, “Well, I can’t speak English, yet my business is doing well.”

The manager asked, “Sir, don’t you want to expand your business?”

The father answered, “No, I don’t want to expand anymore. I’ve been offered to expand by several of my business partners but I refused. What I have is enough.”

The manager said, “Sir, this is the first time that when I asked that question, the answer is ‘no’. Other people usually answered ‘yes’ when I asked them whether they wanted to expand their business.”

When the food came, the manager left after thanking them for the conversation.

The father continued to ramble about the futility of having the children studying overseas. He even said, “What’s the point if he has an overseas education if I am bankrupt and he has no capital to start a business? Perhaps sending him study overseas makes me bankrupt!”

The mother said, “Don’t speak like that. It is not good to speak about bankruptcy or negative things.”

The father told the mother, “You don’t know anything. I don’t care; I talk what I want to talk about.”

During this conversation, the boy was just nodding his head, agreeing to what the father was saying. The mother looked a bit disturbed because she seemed to want the best for her son.

I know that it is not my place to judge, but the conversation made me feel concerned, especially when I saw the boy kept nodding to what the father was saying. He was agreeing to what the father was saying, taking the father’s belief system and values without realizing or even examining them. Perhaps he even thought the father’s negative attitude was not negative at all.

What I witnessed yesterday is how most people get their belief system and values. They get their beliefs system and values from people who are closest to them, mostly parents, other family members, teachers, coaches or other influential people in their environment.

We rarely question or evaluate what they tell us, we just accept them as truth because that’s what we are taught to do since we are young. We see our parents, our teachers as the ultimate authority, they are ALWAYS RIGHT. There lies the problem, they are NOT ALWAYS RIGHT. That’s why we may need to go back and evaluate whether our belief system and values are helping or hindering us in life.


  1. Don’t just believe everything you hear, see, or even what you think and feel. Examine them again; you may see them differently from different perspectives.
  2. Listen more closely to what other people are saying to discover their belief system and values. You may discover interesting things in the process.

Please share with me in the comments if you have similar experiences as above or even how you changed your belief systems and values after something happened in your life that shattered your beliefs.

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B.Com