The Pedagogical Perspectives of Change

Change is inevitable, be in nature or self, physical or non-physical. The nature of universe and the human-self represents change with their varying phases. Universe with the changing position of celestial objects, the alternate days and nights, the formation of weathers signifies the same. The humans, right from the changing position from their mother’s womb to the moment they stepped into the existing world, every day denotes their varying persona, rather every second a person is new as after every second, a second gets added to the quantum of his age.

يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَى رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِيه
O man, you are changing your positions and moving on towards your Lord, Willy ni11y, and are about to meet Him.(Chapter 84: Surah Al- Inshiqaq: 6).

So, the change, a complete transformation, a modification in the position, variation, and difference, specify it by any synonyms… it is inevitable. When we talk of change in a teacher’s persona, it becomes more important than just saying “change is inevitable”. The following reasons may justify this claim:

1) A teacher has been entrusted with the responsibility of changing the overall persona of students from imperfection to perfection. It’s imperative that a teacher has to have a double sense of understanding of the dynamics of change. Again, since student’s age and their groups are dynamics, desirable changes needed to either guide or witness their internal and external flow of thoughts and emotions.

2) To be more precise, for an inevitable transformation, consider the pedagogical perspectives. The first thing that warrants a teacher’s attention is that she is supposed to impart knowledge to her students. Imparting of knowledge demands a good stock of knowledge, as effectiveness of the imparting process depends on the quality and quantity of knowledge that a teacher possesses. As it’s difficult to quench thirst from an empty vessel so is the case of a teacher with poor stock of knowledge, from whom students fail to get the required amount of inspiration and guidance. From a different perspective, the Quran explains the same:

وَالْبَلَدُ الطَّيِّبُ يَخْرُجُ نَبَاتُهُ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِ وَالَّذِي خَبُثَ لاَ يَخْرُجُ إِلاَّ نَكِدًا كَذَلِكَ نُصَرِّفُ الآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَشْكُرُونَ
As for the good land, vegetation comes forth in abundance by the command of its Lord, whereas from the bad land, only poor vegetation comes forth. Thus do We expound Our signs in diverse ways for a people who are grateful. (Chapter 7: Surah Al-A’raf: 58).

Now an important question, how a teacher could be good at knowledge-dissemination? Well! The answer is simple; she needs to grow in knowledge. The age and experience should directly proportional to the amount of knowledge that a teacher acquires. The following ways help increase the knowledge base:

1) “Teacher should be an expertise of the subject”, what this statement infers? It actually gives rise to a common notion that the relationship between teacher and subject has wide-ranging implications. It’s all about resorting to a continuous process, rather life-long learning experience that comes through careful reading, referring different books, self-assessment of the performance and working on hands-on-experiments.

2) Every teacher should form a dual-connection, one connection between reading and lecturing and the second connection between performance and reading. It means before going to the class a teacher should put in loads of efforts to acquire knowledge and after the class self-evaluation of performance and reading appropriate material should become imperative. This is how knowledge and action complement each other for an intellectual development:

العلم إِمَام الْعَمَلِ وَالْعَمَلُ تَابِعُهُ
The knowledge precedes action, and action follows it (Bukhari).

The imparting of knowledge has a practical utility to follow, a teacher should help students learn how to understand things by reading, writing and critically thinking over the lessons taught.

Imparting of skills depends on how well “knowledge-base” is teacher’s approach. A teacher well verse in the subject surely allows students to learn the way they want and ask what they want. Absolutely no restrictions like “sit properly”, “keep quiet” and “don’t ask”. Imparting of skills to the students means, a teacher should:

1) Make use of various methods apart from just verbal communications.
2) Permit students to perform various activities to understand what is being taught.
3) Allow critical thinking; let them ask the way they want. Let them be a bit harsh on a teacher’s approach. Let them challenge her knowledge-limit. Let them come out with their own unique ideas about what is being taught.
4) Approve their group activity or discussion for some time; let them come out with their own explanations.
5) Let the students fly high, reach to the new heights, they represents none but their teachers. It shows that the teachers have empowered them to fly in the vastness of their sky and in the vicinity of their knowledge and wisdom.

A realistic methodology coupled with a parental approach could boost both teaching and learning experiences. The ideal of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has this piece of advice for the students:

عن أبي ثعلبة قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَخْبِرْنِي بِمَا يَحِلُّ لِي وَيُحَرَّمُ عَلَيَّ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْبِرُّ مَا سَكَنَتْ إِلَيْهِ النَّفْسُ وَاطْمَأَنَّ إِلَيْهِ الْقَلْبُ وَالْإِثْمُ مَا لَمْ تَسْكُنْ إِلَيْهِ النَّفْسُ وَلَمْ يَطْمَئِنَّ إِلَيْهِ الْقَلْبُ وَإِنْ أَفْتَاكَ الْمُفْتُونَ (مسند احمد

Abu Tha’laba reported: I said, “O Messenger of Allah, tell me what is lawful and unlawful for me.” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, Righteousness is serenity in the soul and peace of mind in the heart. Sin is not serene in the soul and not satisfying to the heart, even if the judge (muftī) gives you approval. (Musnad Ahmad).

The pedagogical demands stress upon a teacher to be efficient with a strong knowledge-base and effective approach. There has to be a clear reflection of the same from student’s side too. They should shine, every time a teacher speaks to them and enlightens them with the knowledge. The visibility of a thing is greater because of the greater amount of falling light, so what we deem is, shining of a student depends on the greater knowledge-base of a teacher, greater the knowledge; greater will be the expanse of shining students. For a student to be a glittering star, the following three distinct qualities are quite essential:

Understand: Students should understand the knowledge that is being given to them, no matter which subject is being taught. Student’s understanding is an integration of teacher’s approach and their response. A clear and fair amount of understanding is always appreciated. The presence of students in a classroom, with their interest and expressions, involvement and response, is but a precise reflection of their understanding.

Remember: The remembrance of what has been taught is a heightened expectation that a teacher must have with every student. The sense of student’s understanding should be so strong that they never tend to forget what they have already learned. It means, in the process or remembering things a teacher is their constant companion and a constant motivator. A teacher remains in touch with the students to know how things are being studied and remembered. Hence, there should be undeclared forms of “assessments” in a teacher’s list of “duties and responsibilities”. There can’t be a greater sense of responsibility than alongside the formative and summative assessments; a teacher has her own ways of assessment.

Apply: It’s a true empowerment of students that they should know how to put in to practice what they have learned? How and in what ways they can articulate the acquired-knowledge to get the desired results? This application aspect forms crux of student’s life. As a small child is deemed as learning when he writes the alphabets on his own, clearly and readable, accordingly by “apply” we mean a students should be able to put “things-understood” in his own way.

These are the pedagogical perspectives of change, beginning with the knowledge base of teachers and concluding with its application by the students. The transformation of knowledge from teacher to students and from students to a book or oral explanation and eventually to the practicality of their lives demands a teacher should make it a habit of changing herself for the good and changing as per the good. For these desirable changes; a teacher’s should possess qualities like:
Passion: Teaching profession more than a job, way ahead of the prescribed responsibilities and beyond the four-walls.

In-depth knowledge: Knowledge-based teaching and teaching-based knowledge.

Love for the students: Familiarity with their in and off the campus life.

Sincerity: A strong commitment with the self, students and institutions.

Parental approach: Loving and caring attitude towards students and their academic and non-academic needs.

Greed for the betterment: Untiring efforts for changes in the self and in the lives of students.

Promotion of critical thinking: Allow students to react the way they want, criticize a teacher’s approach and differ with the ideas.

Nourishment of wisdom: Let student’s be God-fearing and responsible and learn the art of doing things with ease and perfection.

Sense of accountability: a sense that the future of countless students has been integrated with a teacher’s devotion and discipline, for everything a teacher is accountable before the Creator.

In short, these qualities should become synonym of a teacher’s persona.

© Muhammad Abdullah Javed – August 2017

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