Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Lesson Plan as a Meme

My colleagues and I have been working in education in India for a decade. The first few years were particularly hard as we explored in many directions. Five years ago we "invented" a highly practical and detailed sort of lesson plan that had fixed structure, a certain number of parts, and given format. The structure reflected what we considered the "best" teaching practices e.g. goals of the class should be clear, wherever possible hands-on experience be included, emphasis on reflection, representing information in multiple ways to include more children, more time for group work and children talking, regular assessment and feedback etc. This coupled with other elements - like training, student materials, assessment, now digital aids - became the XSEED program that has now spread to close to a thousand schools in a fairly short period of time.

This morning I was reading the chapter "Memes vs Genes" in Mihay Csik.'s book called The Evolving Self. Now, the word meme apparently was invented by Richard Dawkins to "describe a unit of cultural information comparable in its effects on society to those of the chemically coded instructions" in the human gene. Or more simply "any permanent patten of matter or information created by human intentionality". He goes on to explain that everything from a brick, to a score of music by Mozart, a political ideology, a catchy jingle, are all memes. You can read more there...

Jumping back to the lesson plan experience, all this made think of three things at least : Memes like genes are about survival and till you have one/several your survival is under threat; Memes like genes are about spreading, once you have it makes it easier; Memes interact with the environment and alter both the creators and those that interact with them. More about that later. What do you think? 


  1. Hi Ashish,

    I had been wanting to contact you you for some time but could not. I wanted to explore opportunities in the field of education but am not sure. Is there a way I could bounce off my thoughts with you? Please do share me your mail id if ok with you.

  2. Sure. Write to Might take a bit but will be happy to help.

  3. Thanks for writing on memes and it is really fulfilling reading your thoughts which are original and experiential. Thanks for inviting me to meet with Howard Gardner. I really had a fulfilling experience of my life time.
    With regards