What does it mean to be an educated person? An eight-part series with Dr Robert Long on culture and learning (7/8)

July 20, 2023



Continuing their car casts on the roads in Chennai (India), Dr Rob Long, Dr Pedro Ferreira and Dr Nippin Anand ask a basic question – what does it means to be an educated person? What is a human person? What is personhood and why personhood matters when it comes to understanding culture?

Further information



Nippin Anand  00:00

Hello and welcome to embracing differences with me Nippin Anand, founder of novellus, a podcast series dedicated to understanding different perspectives about how we as human beings, or rather, social beings make decisions. The podcast series draws from different disciplines including religion, mythology, sociology, anthropology, social psychology, biology, neurosciences and stem, making it truly transdisciplinary meaning transporting her rather travelling across disciplines. The idea is not to claim that one method or discipline is superior to the other, but to hold competing disciplines, competing values, diverse perspectives, intention. And when that happens, we create space for doubt and reflection. The idea is to enjoy travelling and the ambiguity that comes with it. Experiencing dissonance discomfort, how else do we learn? This is the podcast about understanding cultural safety culture, and how will we as human beings learn with Dr. Robert long? In this podcast, we ask a very fundamental question, which is what it means to be an educated person. Now, why on the road in Chennai, Dr. Robert long, Dr. Dr. Pedro Ferreira, and I explored a critical question, what does it mean to be an educated person? What is a human person? What is personhood? And why does it matter to understand personhood, when we want to learn and understand from another culture? I hope you enjoyed this one.


Nippin Anand  01:52

Hello, everyone said it. So sethupathi said, What do you want to say hello? Okay, tell them where we are. Yes, exactly. Well, I don’t need to tell much Here is it? No need to so I cannot turn it around. And I can I can do this. This is where we are. That’s good. We are on a on the roads of Chennai. And we it’s about 750 in the morning, and we are headed to the to the workshop venue. And we have four of us in this car. sethupathi you just saw him he said hello to you. bedroll, myself and Dr. Oblong sitting in the back. Oh, and


Rob Long  02:34

this guy has a PhD in navigation.


Nippin Anand  02:37

Yes, yes. Everybody has a PhD in road navigation. Of course, air navigation as well. Included in India. Yeah. Okay, so Rob, what should we talk about?


Rob Long  02:48

What can we talk about? What is the most important question? You think people should ask? Why don’t we talk about it? What is the what question should people ask? You know, of all the of all the questions people have? Yes. What is it? What is? And for me? I think one of the most important questions is, what is it to be a person? So that’s my one. i What’s yours? Pedro? What’s yours? Well, a really important question that people should ask


Pedro Ferreira  03:22

what is it to be happy?


Rob Long  03:23

Okay, what is to be happy? That’s very good yet. Nippin?


Nippin Anand  03:27

I think, I think it would be good to ask the question, what does it mean to be an educated person?


Rob Long  03:33

An educated person? Or? Yes. So they’re all kind of connected to being human? To be a person? That’s right. Yes. And the completeness of being a person? Yes. Okay. All right. That Okay, so, let’s go with your one. Nippin What is it to be an educated person? Maybe, maybe we, we should make a couple of steps back, just to the idea of what is it to be human and what is being what what is being present in the world? So I think I think when even as we drove the streets, you know, there’s a certain necessity to accept what is not to fight or try to control what is because the the agony of trying to control everything in the world is, is a tyranny. It’s a torture, it’s miserable. One of the best things that I’ve experienced in my time in Chennai is relaxing, and going with the flow, relaxing and enjoying these people and being in their world. and accepting their world? How dare I bring my Western assumptions? My Western idea of schooling, my Western idea of what it is to be educated, how dare I bring that to their world and say, this is stupid, you should follow my way. And that’s even more. So when we look at the attitude to religion and things like that. So yeah, that’s so for me, I’d rather go back to being and then that should change the way you think about personhood. What is it to be a person? I don’t know. Federa?


Pedro Ferreira  05:41

Yeah, I think I think we both experienced that yesterday, just for the simple fact of getting on board and tooktook. Oh, yeah.


Nippin Anand  05:52

As a doctor,


Rob Long  05:53

you’re one of these little yellow things is is? Is it is an experience of a lifetime, isn’t


Pedro Ferreira  06:01

that there’s no way you can or you can’t explain. It’s only the minute you step in you’ve you’ve given out you’ve given into the flow.


Rob Long  06:10

Yes, you have to give into the flow, because because there are lanes on the road, but no one uses them. Just there are safety rules and signs everywhere. But no one uses them like this. Yeah. Yet no one uses them that I saw even a rule yesterday on the side saying, please, not three passengers on a motor scooter. Right? Not three, you go. And there’s three, right just there. And sometimes four children and no helmet. Yeah, children with no helmet. And all this look, yeah, there’s too one with foreign one with three. So you learn very, very quickly, that there are rules in name only. Because when you join into this, it’s like, it’s organic. And the funny thing is, it has to be, we’re in a city of 11 million people. And there’s a lot lack of infrastructure like it can’t believe, but it actually works. It just doesn’t work on my system. You know, if you come to my city, people would be outraged at this these outbreaks that a motorbike would cut in and move ahead. You know, because we have this crazy idea of fairness. And I was here first and all that stuff. It doesn’t work like you. Driving on the streets is an act of graciousness. I haven’t seen any road rage. I haven’t seen any anger. People accept this. And you just move in and out. And you go with the flow. What’s that got to do with personhood? Well, part of the problem I think we have in even in my country, is we have such a, a thirst to control other people. And we use rules to control them. That in fact, we depersonalised the other person, the most important thing becomes then what my interpretation of the rule is, and how I can apply that to you. So that you bend to me, you know. And in the Risk and Safety world, we we have hierarchies control, and we have regulations, and that’s how we use them. We use them as instruments of power. And once you do that, you start depersonalising. The other person, I don’t have to talk to you. I don’t have to ask your question. I don’t have to inquire about your culture. I don’t have to understand your cultural values. I don’t have to understand your environment or your experience. Here are my regulations, here are my rules. And I’m now going to use them against them against you to control you. And I often do it in the name of safety. Because if I don’t control you, you’re going to die. So yeah, I find it fascinating. This. I mean, really, I can’t hear you. You go on these roads. I can’t see any controls.


Nippin Anand  09:21

Yes. And you’re not seeing any controls because you’re letting go of the idea of control. Yes, you are. You are immersed in this culture. You want to understand it, not control it. Yes. And that’s what that’s the probably the mistake that we make most of the times that we come with our own lenses. And we think that we want we know what culture means without even understanding the other person’s culture.


Rob Long  09:43

Well, isn’t that fascinating? This is the history of a country, like the history of my country, where colonialists came in. Were my mythologies better than your mythology. So in my story, in my case, Country, the English came in with their belief in God and Jesus Christ in the Anglican Church and Roman Catholicism. The missionaries came in, and they found indigenous first people, Australians, who had been there for 65,000 years before them. But when they came, in our view, our superior view is better than your view. My myths that have made up are better than your myths. And the English did that here in India. They did the same. Were in the region here now. That is 1/3. Hindu 1/3, Christian and 1/3. Islamic Muslim, right? Correct. And so the history is there. The fascinating thing is Nippin It is amazing how they get on. Yes, it is amazing how they tolerate each other. Okay. So despite all the rules of of that are in place in those religions, this place, goes in the flow. And he then goes in the flow. And


Nippin Anand  11:01

we saw that yesterday, the pictures of three different gods, three different religions.


Rob Long  11:06

Also us together. Yeah, take your pick, which method? Do you want to go by today? Yes.


Nippin Anand  11:13

Back to the question, Rob. Yep. What is this rule? What Why is it relevant to the question? What does it mean to be an educated person? Let’s just sum it up.


Rob Long  11:22

Okay. Well, I think it’s important that we don’t confuse education with schooling. Because like Paulo for years, said, schooling, in many ways is like banking. It’s a form of cultural reproduction. But it’s not about the learning, or discovered learning of a person. And so what is it to be an educated person is not to be a trained person or a school person. It’s not about gaining competencies. And we have this crazy idea that skill development and competencies is what education is, it’s not that’s just schooling. The truth of the fact is, a lot of people never talk about the importance of wisdom. And to really be an educated person, you have to move into the ethical, how do we live with others? Not what cognitive knowledge do I have in maths or science? But the truth is, how do I live in this world with others? That’s the tech that is the question when it comes to education. And again, here we are in a place, how can I best live in this culture? I can’t control it. I can’t change its history. And I either either then become educated in it in wisdom, or I can start schooling everyone else and saying, You’re wrong, you’re wrong. Here’s the proper knowledge. Here’s this knowledge. And I’m sad to say, that’s how the risk and safety industry approaches the world. Okay, your knowledge is wrong. Here’s the knowledge this will keep you safe.


Nippin Anand  13:08

Yes. And and that’s a really good point, Rob, because the next question I was going to ask you was that what relevance does this question have to organisational life to organisations?


Rob Long  13:20



Nippin Anand  13:21

because I tell you what I’m thinking, the moment you let go of the idea of control, you are in the space of understanding the other person, you are in the space of meeting the other person. And I think that is very, very important in organisational life because, as Carl Craig very rightly says, You cannot organise me and I cannot be part of your organisation. If you don’t take the time to understand me. The whole act of organising is not about systems and processes. Now it is really about understanding the other person. It’s about building relationships. It’s building trust with other people. And I think that’s really, really important. So the uneducated person, I think, is the essence of organising.


Rob Long  14:01

Yes, yes. I think a lot of people think that organising is about creating systems, creating rules and systems. It’s interesting. I wish I could remember that definition that Carl Vega uses Oh, yes, yes. And organising.


Nippin Anand  14:19

It’s on the second page page of the book, social, social, social psychology of organisations, wonderful book to read a must read book.


Rob Long  14:27

Yeah, honestly, I can’t remember it now. But it, it’s very,


Nippin Anand  14:32

I will put the X up there in the video later on. Yeah.


Rob Long  14:36

Well, it’s like it’s like we were talking this morning about leadership because we’re going to a day today to talk about leadership. And depending on how you define it, I see leadership very much as learning how to serve and learning how to follow and learning how to flip between those roles. So Yes, there are times when the leader needs to exercise power and authority. But in the very next breath, that same person needs to know how to exercise humility and following. But we don’t get that, again, in the western view. We don’t get that idea. It’s more about managing and controlling, rather than, you know, I could walk onto a ship. And the person with the greatest knowledge could be the person who’s got the lowest level. But because they’ve got the lowest level, I don’t talk to them. Or it could be on a building site. And I could, you know, and this often happens, we have safety people with no experience at all in a particular trade. And they roll up to someone who’s been in that trade for 30 years, and tells them how to be safe.


Nippin Anand  15:51

Correct? Correct. Crazy. It’s crazy. Robin, stop it. I think this is this is really good. Yeah, yeah, sure. Sure. Just to


Pedro Ferreira  15:57

go back to the tooktook experience. The interesting thing about all this is the minute you step in, and he starts running around, you go with the flow of the road. Yeah. Did you actually feel unsafe?


Rob Long  16:12

No. I trusted him. Exactly.


Pedro Ferreira  16:15

So the minute you go with the flow, you actually start to feel it feels quite good. And you feel safe. You’re Yes, alert. Yeah, you feel safe, because you build a trust.


Rob Long  16:27

I had no choice but to have faith and trust in in my driver. I had no choice. And actually didn’t worry, good. I didn’t worry. It felt good. Yes.


Nippin Anand  16:37

And just to add to the beautiful thing you said just now, not to feel safe, but to feel your feelings. I think that is the key to it. Yes. Most of the people get to work and they have no connection with their feelings and emotions. No, right? Because they are at a very brain centric level. Never experienced their selves. Yes. So to be an educated person is to feel yourself realise your potential, because that’s where it is. It’s in the unconscious, your feelings or emotions make up for your unconscious absolutes. A wonderful point you made. Oh, yeah, I’ll stop it. Yes. Do you have any questions, any feedback, any comments, any criticism, you can always write to us, you can write to me personally, at support at novella storage solutions, you can also leave a message for us on our website, the Novellus.solutions, you can email me personally at Nippin.anand@novellus.solutions and you can find me on LinkedIn. Until then, have a good day. For those of you who are interested to understand cultural safety, culture and the concept of learning, or rather how we as human beings learn, we have a workshop coming up in Stavanger in Norway, from the fourth to the sixth of October. The the idea of this workshop is to give some practical methods and tools using the framework of social psychology of risk to help people become our I would say invalid, leaders become a little bit more deliberate and strategic about understanding and influencing culture. So you need you can expect a lot of practical exercises, group work, tools, methods that would actually help you to understand culture. I hope you can join us there is all the details on our website novellus.solutions/events, please check it out. And we hope you can make it and we would love to have you with us.