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Attitudes

Attitudes affect us all, whether they are of others or ourselves!! Some attitudes affect us directly while others only indirectly. We often develop a careless attitude towards development around us, unless they affect them seriously! We most often care two hoots for the inconvenience we are causing to others. An attitude manifests itself in umpteen number of ways, it manifests when we work hard or are careless; when we splurge money recklessly or when we save it or invest for future security; when we are law abiding or have inclinations towards reckless criminal activities; when we are greedy or being content with what we have similar is the case with being kind, pious, faithful vis a vie wicked, deceit etc. etc. Attitudes reflect prevalent social values and hence the culture. Our attitude is different in different conditions . For example , if someone says that s/he likes to do a particular job, it reflects her attitude regarding work. The appreciation of a social value is also an attitude, it may be one of desire or one of aversion. The attitude is thus the subjective element in a culture. It is the individual tendency to react, either positively or negatively, to a given social value. Some human behavior tendencies appear to be natural in the sense that they are the expression of general human need or the sublimate of racial experience. They correspond to something stable and uniform in the physical conditions of life. Some fear responses, for example, appear to be of this nature. Certain disgusts appear to be of the nature of organic attitudes, and so are a limited number of other behavior tendencies that become a part of one's character. How does one acquire one's attitudes; can attitudes change? If yes how? That is the subject of my reading/thinking today. I have been reading this rather beautiful book entitled, TEACHING AS A SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITY, authored by Neil Postman & Charles Weingartner. In this book the authors assert that our attitudes are formed while we are in a school/college etc. Our teachers help in forming and reinforcing our attitude. For example they have written:

.... the role an individual is assigned in an environment - what he is permitted to do - is what the individual learns In other words, the medium itself, i.e. the environment, is the message. 'Message' here means the perception you are allowed to build, the attitudes you are enticed to assume the sensitivities you are encouraged to develop - almost all of the things you learn to see and feel and value. You learn than because your environment is organized in such a way that it permits or encourages or insists that you learn them. ....... . a television set or a newspaper or a automobile or a Xerox machine can usefully be defined as such a environment. ......'What's on TV?' or 'What's in the newspaper? ........... The beliefs, feelings, and assumptions of teachers are the air of a learning environment; they determine the quality of life within it. When the air is polluted, the student is poisoned, unless, of course, he holds his breath. Now, about changing attitudes. An attitude of a person can change during his/her lifetime. The direction of the change often depends on experiences, that the person perceive as rewarding or punishing. But, attitudes are often addictive and like any kind of addiction have a lot of inertia. An attitude of a person does not change easily, it requires some force. This force can be association with a person, institution or an event. We all often come across instances when we are a witness to remarkable changes in the attitudes of a person we have known for long!! Do our attitudes define us? Rakesh Mohan Hallen