Mike was special among the specials. He was an ant-hill in the glass jar. You could see all the emotions and ambitions clearly across his conscious level. He loved food, attention and sex, and would make no sophisticated plans to meet his needs. He was devoid of any etiquette.
He would forcefully take food from the plate of the person sitting next to him – as and when desired. This he could do with no less than the speed of light. Blink and you miss seeing him picking food across the table.
Sexual cravings were fulfilled in a jiffy as well. Mike would target weaker persons, throw them down and leap on them in no time.
But the best part of it was the stunt he often displayed to gain attention. Any day he felt the attention accorded to him to be insufficient would be the day he would take off at high speed and head for the highway a mile away from where he lived. We could see him run across the meadows, beside the lake like a 100-meter sprinter, except the sprinters don’t scream while running the way he did. The screams echoed and helped him gain attention of almost everyone in the sprawling Texas Facility for the Mentally Handicapped. From the 12 “houses” to the director’s office, everyone would move the curtains to see him run. “Mike is on the run,” would be the phrase repeated no less than 200 times in less than 20 seconds by people working at this one of the largest mental health facility of the US. So now it was the responsibility of the staff of the house number 5 to run after him, and since I was the only male among them, there was no need to call the special session of the Security Council to decide who would chase him before he gets to the highway.
One sprinter would chase the other one. The only difference was the reward. The one in the front gets all the attention he needs, while the one behind him gets to keep the job! Every time this great athletic event took place, I was able to catch him before he got even near the fast moving traffic of the north bound interstate I 35, and that surprised me.
At 5’11” he was well-built and brisk, and could run much faster than me, but still I was able to catch him. It was not till my 10 th run that I had the stamina to observe him during the chase. He never looked in the front. He remembered the track so well that he didn’t have to look in the front. He continuously looked sideways to see how far I was and then he maintained the distance. Actually he never intended to get to the highway. He was smart enough to scare everyone to death and get attention. One day I slowed down and let him get to the highway. By then we were not visible to the people back in the facility. It was me, Mike and the fast moving traffic in front of him. I did not grab him; instead I stood silently and observed him. My heart pounded as he got close to the highway. Few steps and he will be minced by an eighteen-wheeler. But that did not happen. He stayed few steps away from the fast moving cars with his back towards me. He had his head slightly turned watching me ignore him. Then he turned around and came close to me. He held my hand and in his language of gestures pleaded me to take him back.
We all have a Mike in us. The great psychologist and all the great discourses of the human self teach us how to control our Mike. The holy books give us an insight, providing us an understanding of the same fellow hidden inside us that I call: Mike.
On returning to Pakistan, I was blessed to join a number of young and capable educational researchers willing to take up many educational and psychological topics to conduct novel researches. What are our emotions and how they develop? Why and when do they get out of hand? How does our mind work and how well is it designed to control our feelings, and then why on occasions it fails to do so? Together, our team lifted off in another world of thinking, reflecting and developing. We were on a mission to answer these questions and develop a new system. What was this new system? Well we did not know exactly. Some of us thought we were working to improve the existing framework of education. A few with strong religious inclinations were dreaming of coming up with a more Muslim version of school system. A gentleman in our group wanted to see a progressive Pakistan in the 21 st century and for that he was interested in developing a competency based curricula at par with the developed world. Next seven years were spent in achieving a blend of these individual objectives. Where did we end up?
The materials discussed in this book were first to evolve out of educational research, but as you can see it is last to publish. There are 2 reasons for that. We were never satisfied with the research done for this topic. Every time we thought we have put it all together, there was a new piece of information to further expand the horizons of this research. Finally one of our more pragmatic team members thought that enough was done in the last 8 years and this whole research should now see the day-light. She instructed us to put it all together and then really pushed us for the task. We still believe that there are many segments of this research that need further elaboration, but we leave it to the intellect of our readers.
The second reason was the need of the society at large. The NCE research team remained busy developing the preprimary and primary syllabuses and the publishing of this material remained the second most important task. Alhamdullilah, now when the pre and primary system of education of NCE is successfully adopted by 1000 schools across Pakistan, it seems to be the right time to bring forth this research work.
So who will benefit from The Balance? We have three audiences in mind:
* The Reader – The Balance can help the reader evaluate his or her self. The Date Palm Model discussed in this book can serve as the criterion to look deep into one’s self. It can help the reader assess both the mental and emotional strengths. The Balance can assist you finding your strength and weakness, and then the unique approach presented in the book will help the reader grow mentally as well as emotionally. You will find the course of action for personal development defined in the book to be amazingly unique and highly effective.The Balance, as we have seen so far, increases the awareness of the social structures that are in place in our society today. It gives the reader an insight to many global political and economical changes, and helps us find our right place in it.
* The Educationist – The book provides a novel educational framework that can help educators develop lesson plans, instructions and assessments more effectively. The Date Palm Model can easily be converted into the aims of education for any educational institution. It can help educationists draw a road map for the students’ development. Over the years we have seen tremendous improvements in institutions where the contents of The Balance were taken up as the guide posts.
* The Psychologist – This book offers the psychologist with new tools to appraise the predicaments of human personality. In our opinion the book offers the counsellors with a more organized approach towards counselling. We accept that a number of innovative approaches can further evolve from The Balance, which hopefully will be developed by the professionals of the field now that the book is accessible on the World Wide Web. The Balance can help the professionals do preventive work by conducting workshops for psychologically healthy individuals. Moreover, it can help them identify the psychological problems with precision and provide specific instructions during a therapy session. The NCE Research Department wishes you a happy and fruitful reading and looks forward to your comments and suggestions.
DR. RAYED AFZAL