COVID-19 Education Society

Be relevant.

Be relevant and live in the Present.

When you come to the end of the light of all that you know and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen; there will be something firm to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.”  Barbara Winters

The world as we know it today is has undergone many changes and it will go through more. By the passing of time, generally man is in a state of loss because of the inadequacy of how to manage life. Life is time and time is life. Therefore, if our lives are irrelevant to the life we have to lead, we are living just like sophisticated animals save that we have more brain power. If our brain power gets us to sit on mighty thrones at the expense of our sanity then all we achieved is personal glory that washes away with the first storm. Being relevant means living in the present and knowing that around the personal throne of success lies trials, tribulations and events that are swirling.

“Circa Ridna Thona” – Turkish proverb. “Around the throne the thunder roars.”

Our lives are on the thrones of our jobs, family, friends, investments and much more and each of these thrones makes us plan for a distant future. The future is so bleak because we base it on fears that encroach our lives as a result of what hear, see and perceive for ourselves through all mediums of news and social media. This brings its own thunder and we are panic only because of the sound and become so frantic that we do not think and act.

Thunder brings the rain because the land cries for its nourishment. WHY? Due to that fact that the earth gives of itself space for the seed to grow and relevant to the seasons the right type of fruit and vegetables grow. Relevance is knowing the right action for the right time and at the right place. The throne of the king roars with the events of kingdom because, the demand for action is so immense and tremendous. The thunder is also the relevant discontent of the people and the cry of the oppressed. It must be that the king addresses all in context of the time otherwise, his relevance is called to question. The point made here is that we have to know the world we live in to make a difference because the thunder that will roar under our throne will be one of regret. You are the king of your life and you choose the throne to sit on because it will determine your own happiness and success. Enriching your life means being the king you want to be: despotic or merciful.

The thrust of my message today is to give you some meaningful advice so that you leave enriched. In doing so, I hope that you find a niche in this world and begin to master it. You really cannot be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Become the king that will leave a legacy and not a gap that requires millions to fill it all because you did nothing.

You are the king of your own life. Don’t checkmate yourself. Be relevant.

Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay 

Tony Wagner in his book, THE GLOBAL ACHIEVEMENT GAP, cites seven survival skills. Each point, he makes gets me on edge of all that I know and that is a point of learning. He says that “…Specifically, is there a conflict between preparing students for the world of work and teaching them about their roles as citizens? While educators assume that they are readying students for citizenship as a matter of course, I confess that I’m sceptical about the idea that high school graduates will automatically be better citizens for merely having taken the usual required classes.”

Do think on this: You have come through a journey of educating yourself and are ready to graduate, but how has all this learning made you better citizens of the country and how has it made you a global citizen. Tony Wagner offers these seven learning curves for us to really ponder on and apply our minds to. They are:

1.Critical thinking and Problem solving. 

2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence. 

3. Agility and adaptability. 

4. Initiatives and Entrepreneurialism. 

5. Effective Oral and written communication. 

6. Accessing and analysing information. 

7. Curiosity and imagination of change.

2020 has been a year of unprecedented events that reshaped history and introduced a new normal. The world navigated the uncharted waters with grit, passion and resilience because we understood that the journey of change is going to a long one. Our esteemed teachers embraced the e-learning with such agility and adaptability that critical thinking and problem solving became a team effort. Each teacher began to work independently to master the craft on online teaching from ZOOM to Google Classroom which they all mastered in context of their own progression on the digital platform. When they did this they began to collaborate with teachers from other schools and across the world too as the world became a global village with the fast-paced artificial intelligence and robotics that enhanced ICT. Interestingly, the initiatives teachers took to ensure credible content and effective teaching put them on the path of entrepreneurship which in essence leveraged their potentials as providers of knowledge and content creators. What was even more incredible was the deliberate effort they made to refine their oral and written communication skills because with the ‘live online’ classes they had to be on point. This remarkable achievement leveraged their abilities at accessing and analysing information so that the content that created was well suited and appropriate for the pupils they were teaching online and in real time when restrictions were lifted. In all of this the teachers’ curiosity and imagination sky-rocketed and that was the game changer. This led to schools establishing their own video content, their own online active newsletters, their own personalised websites and so much more to meet the demands of the time. The vibrancy of these monthly productions made waves in the uncharted waters and unknown to us until later, it was making waves far across the Indian and Atlantic oceans. The crowning jewellery were and will always be the pupils that make up each and every school. 

The whole endeavour of schools, I believe, is for the pupils and because they are our gems, we must continue to strive, to seek and to learn how to improve ourselves for their holistic life. 2020 was a year that made us think on the favours Allah, the Unique. HE has over the centuries and still continues to give us bounties which we take for granted and today, we count our blessings because we realised what we had because we lost it.

We lost the art of relevance because to everyone outside of our establishment, social group, museum, club, society and nationality we either look like we are welcoming them or not because we are not aware of how we are perceived or how the hidden messages we send out by our appearance and behaviour actually turn people away. Relevance is knowing or asking what meaning will I get in the endeavour or how much time it will take. When you take these two questions and transpose it on the teachers in schools, on the frontline COVID-19 staff, jail wardens, zoo keepers and every one else we find that we lose relevance when we see ourselves as exclusive and not open to outsiders. Being relevant is the openness to new ideas, projecting influence in an unbiased way and willing to embrace the values, traditions, religions and cultures of others with a sense understanding and not comparison to perceived superior cultures and traditions. This has been best described and discussed by Nina Simon. She is the Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. What I find amazing about her life is that she lives of the grid in the Santa Cruz mountains with 14 people, 27 chickens, 5 dogs, and 1 zipline, yet is active within a larger community and very relevant to the world.

Nina Simon has been called a “museum visionary” by Smithsonian Magazine and a Silicon Valley Business Journal “40 under 40” for her audience-centered approach to design.

The evolution of thoughts from the beginning to this point illustrates how relevance works. It works in a way that nothing remains static. Change is dynamic it is the only constant therefore, when one remains stagnant there cannot be growth or the establishment of a new understanding. Nina Simon makes the point of becoming relevant by working with outsiders. Outsiders are all those people who are not of your type in the least but, have inclinations to your ideas, ideals and vision but, have some reservations. Their reservations stem from feeling like an outcast or pariah but, with right stimulus they shed their perceptions and pariah status and join you with great zeal and become your greatest supporters. This happens when you want to be relevant in a world that is filled with so many attractions and distractions. Imagine making a museum relevant to people in light of all other pass times and creating a movement on creative thinking around it. One cannot fathom the myriad of other positive spin offs that changed world views and enhanced lives so much so that it became more meaningful. This is ‘quanxi’ in action – one good turn deserves another also. Reading between the lines on the issue of relevance, the discerning mind is visceral in latching on to the fact that it grows the circle of concern and the circle of influence exponentially. This gives you wings of success to fly. You will fly with faith from darkness into light.

When you come to the end of the light of all that you know and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen; there will be something firm to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.” 

Barbara Winters

The world as we knew it prior to March 2020 has now changed and for many, because of remaining relevant, found firmness in faith and learnt how to fly from despair, darkness, anxiety into the realms of hope, light and serenity. Relevance makes you have opinions that change the hearts and minds of people in a way that become commendable in thought and action, whilst the indifferent follows conventional opinion many times over, and it’s the opinion of fools, charlatans and not of the courageous. Sad, but true and today for them is nothing but, the view of others or the viewing of others for faults and more.

Conventional opinion is the ruin of our souls. – Rumi.

Image by Christo Anestev from Pixabay

Today is the harbinger for tomorrow because tomorrow you will determine how you want to live and it must not be just another day you regret because:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing. (Macbeth)

The world awaits your response for what tomorrow offers. If you make yourself irrelevant then, your tale will be ‘told by and idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’ but; if you are relevant you will not ‘go gentle into that good night.’ You will ‘rage against the dying of the light.’ Stay relevant and live in the present.

Abdullah Sujee


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