Education

Teaching into the future

THROWBACK TO 2007 – ARTICLE I WROTE ON THE TOPIC

 Teaching into the future! Are you ready?

Imagine this scenario:

The year is 2020 exactly where we are now and through some planning Allah allows two professionals from 1808 to visit the world in their respective professional fields. The one is a doctor and the other a teacher. The doctor walks around and finds the clinic and begins to see if he can help when a patient is wheeled into theatre with severe pains in the chest. Immediately he is at a loss when he sees the huge operating theatre, the lights, the cameras, the heart rate monitors and everything else. Frightened and confused he looks for a way out. He walks out like a thief from a dark house because he feels like a fish out of water. He presses his time button and immediately he goes back to where he came from.

Then the teacher comes on the scene. The teacher walks around and he looks for the first school, madressah, vernacular class, lecture hall and he finds one school. Ahha! He looks inside and he sees the blackboard now green in colour, he sees the chalk, the pupils behind the desk, the ruler and pens etc. He walks in and takes over the lesson and feels so much at home. The 21st century teacher who sees all this and says to 18th century man: “Excuse me, but who do you think you are, coming into my class and taking over my math lesson?” He turns around and says, “Good morning dear madam, I am from the past, perhaps you should go there – we do things very much the same.” Saying that, he gives her his time button, makes her press it, and sends her back to the future!

Get it, the future of education in the 18th century meant a great development from what they already knew and practiced then therefore, we need to see how well we have progressed from then to now – 2015. But, take a critical look at how we teach today – in general sense we have not moved the centre. Believe it or not! You have been doing what you always do in the classroom for the past decade or decades and, some of us have become so outmoded in our practice of teaching that we sound like old records even though ipods are the in thing.

So where to from here!

Sally Tweedle etal in English for Tomorrow says: NEW TECHNOLOGIES WILL NOT INVALDIATE EXISTING REASONS FOR LEARNIG TO READ AND WRITE, is very valid when you look at the big picture of education. Children and adults need to know how to read and therefore, they need to be taught but, they need to be taught in relation to their world experience. No one denies the fact that you have to teach the holy Quran in its proper way however, what stops you from using technology in teaching the holy Quran. Let’s face it, the holy Quran in the Surah Iqra, Allah expounds the first lesson on embryology and yet, we shy away from technology.

The issue at hand is how you use technology in your teaching in an innovative way without innovating the Deen is what we have to look at. Answer these questions:

  1. If I were to use TABLETS (APPLE OR ANDROID) in an innovative way change the way I teach and the way pupils learn would I be advancing learning as a whole?
  2. If I were to use APPS from the APP STORE (APPLE OR ANDROID) to enhance my teaching, what would it do for the learner’s experience with information?
  3. If I use the computer that is plugged to a data projector in a class where the boys and girls are separated by a curtain or otherwise going to interfere in the lesson?
  4. If you got all your pupils to create their own blogspots or an innovative app on recording real time learning,  that illustrated the magnanimity of Nabi Muhammad (s.a.w) in light of all the horrendous slander against him (s.a.w).  Would you be innovating the Deen? **Do you know what blogging is? Well, please find out – “Ask those in authority, those who know if you do not know” – teaching from the Holy Quran.
  5. If use the same setting above (no.1) and on the screen you show pictures of the site of the battle of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq, a map of old Arabia and the new. You then connect to the internet and do a Google search for weapons of the Islamic peoples. The search is complete and then you ask the pupils to please use their computers at home i.e. if they have not brought in to class, to type out an essay on Muslim inventions and they should post it on the webpage’s call for comment. Do you innovate on the Deen? Or have you innovated your teaching?

What if I told you the above was accomplished in a different lesson would you believe me? 

It was done in a poetry lesson – we searched the web for the ‘Preludes’ by Eliot, heard a recitation of the poem off the web, got analysis and then posted our comments of the poem and compared it to people from across the world. Cross posting went on for the year by pupils on various poems. 

Now with the entire Islamphobia shouldn’t we be dispelling the myth people have of Islam?

Do you know that the world looks at us as a people who are bereft of technological progress and party only to war and terrorism? We know this is utter falsehood because we Muslims gave the world the ZERO but today, we need to ask the question:  are giving ZERO to the world?

Think on this: what would be the net loss to the world if APPLE, SAMSUNG, WIFI, INTERNET, GOOGLE, AEROPLANES, RAILROADS were taken off the face of the planet? The loss would be tremendous because we have become so dependent on it that we cannot do without it. 

The call therefore is to embrace technology in the classroom in many creative ways. You do not have to be a genius but, you have to be ingenious in the way you think so that you move into a frame of mind where petty issues don’t become dominant. You need to take up the challenge to learn that you will always have to learn to remain on top of things. Therefore, begin by reading books, journals and the likes that pertain to your subject of expertise and this would immediately make you know how little you know of what you think you know. The pro-action from this would make you study more and embrace the quality of a scholar – always in search for new things to learn that will benefit humanity for Allah’s pleasure.

If children don’t learn the way you teach then you got to teach them the way they learn – anon. This axiom is so true and if applied can obtain some remarkable results. In the Microsft Innovative Teacher Awards (MITA) that takes place every year (it began in SA in 2006) it is amazing to see what teachers are doing from Gr.R up to Gr. 12 in the classroom. The competition is open to all teachers even those in the maktabs and ulooms. When I represented South Africa in the USA in the 2006 MITA it dawned upon me just how few Muslims are participating in these types of programmes. I recall only 2 other participants of the 200 teachers who were Muslim. In 2007, there was only one Muslim – Alhamdulillah, Allah blessed the participant with a 3rd position who participated and it made me somewhat sad. In 2012 there was again only one Muslim teacher who participated and made it into the second round. Why? When I look at the Muslim Schools and their impeccable record of 100% pass rates I am convinced they are doing something right. In effect, we should be in the forefront. The MITA still continues and we urge teachers to look the iTeacher Award as well i.e. hosted by Apple in Education. 

It is hoped that you are inspired to change and move the centre. You need to find the creative talent that is lurking within you – it has been suppressed for far too long. Go out – take a short course in MS Office, save up to buy a lap top or TABLET rather than a shoe or new lounge suite because if you love teaching, you will spend on it. I met with teachers whose savings went into a laptop and data projector and began doing amazing things.  Go on – walk the talk and see the difference it will make. Illustrated here is Allah’s blessings on me, I believe so because, when we  choose to follow the Prophetic style of teaching which in essence is to make every life moment a teaching moment to benefit humanity for Allah’s pleasure with the bounties Allah has provided; life has new meaning. The one bounty expounded here amongst the thousands is the bounty of technology. 

Like or lump it – if you don’t embrace technology in some way or another in education you will be TIMED OUT! Finally, ask yourself this question: “How would the children I teach remember me as a teacher in the 21st century?” Technology does not improve morals but, morals do shape the use of technology. Combine good morals, a good teacher and technology – what do you have? TECHNOTEACHER!

THE 2020 ADDITION

It was really amazing to be with Abdul Chohan, the UK Apple Ambassador, explain how ESSA Academy made great strides in the use of technology. What struck me as awesome were the courses pupils prepared online for the world. It was absolutely astounding to note the depth and the professional delivery of content to a worldwide audience. This proved to me that if the teacher of the 18th century were to walk in ESSA Academy, he would be awestruck and perhaps dumbfounded too to a large extent.

The challenge is on for all. Surf the net and see how you can advance your learning experience with some online courses or, designing your own content for the work.

Tonight I will be hosting a talkshow on Cii – EDUCATION MATTERS from 7:00pm to 8:0pm. The topic is: ONLINE LEARNING – WILL IT REPLACE SCHOOLS.

It will be an interesting talkshow therefore, I hope to pen a new article in light of how E-Learning has impacted the world now in light of the international closures of schools because of COVID-19

EXCITING TIMES.

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