By Bonny Ibhawoh,

Here is an inspiring and truly heart-warming story that captures the resilience of the human spirit and the power of human imagination. Eşref Armağan is a Turkish painter, who, in spite of the challenge of being blind from birth, has produced realistic and beautiful images of a world he has never seen. Most people with the gift of sight who see the world around them daily can hardly produce the images Eşref produces.

There are many insights that Eşref’s exceptional abilities provide us. Physiologists say that it demonstrates for the first time that a blind person can develop on his or her own pictorial skills the equal of most depiction by the sighted. For me, Eşref vindicates my belief in the power of questioning. As a former teacher once told me, there are only two kinds of people that are incapable of learning – the arrogant and the shy- those who either will not or cannot ask questions.

Eşref Armağan’s story is a reminder that we must never cease to question – our beliefs, our convictions, our prejudices, our fears, our teachers, our leaders and our world. For those of us privileged to be teachers and educators, it is a reminder that we must never tire of providing answers and guidiance to those who question in the search for knowledge.

Below is a tribute to the artist and a link to Eşref Armağan’s Website.


Making the impossible possible

A painter blind from birth shows us there’s many ways to learn, but are you asking enough questions?

There are many different ways to learn and make sense of the world around us, says Jorrit van der Togt, VP Learning and Organisational Effectiveness in Projects & Technology (Shell). The trick is to keep asking questions and not to stop until you’ve found all the answers.

I recently went to a presentation by Eşref Armağan, a Turkish painter who’s been blind from birth.

Blind? Painter? Surely, that’s some kind of trick? Not a bit of it. My initial scepticism turned to awe in just under five minutes when I saw him at work in front of 500 people.

You see, Eşref has a special gift. Through stubborn persistence and a unique genius, he’s learned to trace lines with one hand and paint with the other – both at the same time.

This ability – crafted through endless questioning and feedback – has won him widespread recognition and exhibitions in Turkey, New York, Shanghai, Italy, Rotterdam and the Czech Republic.

What struck me most was that Eşref started, like you and me, with an intriguing question and an insatiable curiosity to make sense of the world around him.

We all embark on learning and development programmes to ensure we have the right skills for the business to deliver on its plan and benefit our customer base. This model differs from individual to individual. As Eşref’s story proves, there are many ways to learn and – even if we are weak in one particular area – there are plenty of other ways to make a connection….

Learning should be innovative and fun. We use many modern learning techniques. Classroom work is about putting knowledge into practice, not just listening to presentations.

We aim to get our people skilled up as fast as we can. Still, it’s their engagement, their questions and their curiosity that will truly bring each class to life and help create that value.

In fact, together we can make things happen tomorrow which everyone thinks are impossible today!