[bit.do/azgt2] GT2: Part 2 of talk on “How to be a Great Teacher” – Obstacles in our path, which prevent us from becoming great teachers. Link to Part 1: Introduction. 12m English video is linked here.
Three Obstacles to Excellence:
First Obstacle: Lack of self-confidence: “I am not the best student, the greatest expert, most published researcher, etc. – How can I train great students?”
Counter 1: Great teachers do not have KNOWLEDGE which they transmit. Like SEEDS, students come with BUILT-IN capability for excellence. The teacher’s job is to inspire and motivate, to have confidence in students. Think of Mothers, who inspire their children to reach heights of excellence, by loving them and by believing in them.
Second Obstacle: We don’t believe in our Students! “My students come from rural background, poor English, poor math skills, mediocre educational career.”
Counter 2: Every human life is worth the entire planet. Everyone has been given unique capabilities for excellence. People are like mines – capable of reaching beyond the stars! Have confidence in the hidden abilities of the students.
Third Obstacle: Incomprehensible and Irrelevant Subject Matter:
Counter 3: Eliminate USELESS knowledge from the syllabus. Concentrate on USEFUL knowledge which enters the heart. Teach students HOW TO DRIVE, not how the engine is manufactured. Don’t teach Fish to Fly – take students as they are and where they are, and help them take the NEXT STEP.
A Different Educational Paradigm:
Serious problems arise because a Western education has taught us wrong theories about what knowledge is, and how it is transmitted to students. Instead of thinking that I am one with knowledge, and I am going to GIVE this to students, think of knowledge as a JOURNEY which the students must make in their LIVES. We are all travellers on the journey towards God. So treat the students as Fellow Travelers, following the same path to God. In this context, remember that:
- Seek knowledge from cradle to grave – Learning is a lifetime process.
- Make student a fellow-traveler by SHARING your own journey. Share personal experience with USEFUL knowledge. ACQUIRE useful knowledge by learning problem solving skills.
- This involves CREATING required teaching materials. The books we have studied DO NOT explain how this knowledge is USED in real life. So we have to LEARN this, acquire this experience, and THEN share it with students.
- Sharing experiences reaches HEARTS. Hearts (and not minds) are the target of our educational processes.
Shift from Machiavelli’s Model to the Prophetic Model. Machiavelli: Authority based on shock-and-awe, power and fear. You know, they don’t. INSTEAD, create authority via LOVE and mutual respect. This comes when teacher is the greatest well-wisher of the student. Teacher wants, more than any thing in the world, to see the student SUCCEED in learning (Success does not mean getting grades! It means acquiring knowledge). The student ALSO has to shift paradigms; his/her life has been spent in trying to get good grades. Learning that education is about acquiring valuable knowledge is a radically different way of thinking, which will have to be taught.
To be an excellent teacher, you must develop your own VISION: Learn to see potential in students. Encourage them to try for EXCELLENCE. Allah T’aala has put us on this earth to see who will do the BEST deeds. We only have one chance to live. So let us strive for excellence. Let us try to reach beyond the stars. Visualize, sitting in front of you, Ghazali, Ibne-Khaldun, Albairuni, Ibnul-Haytham. All of your students are human beings, and they have been CREATED with the potential to be the BEST of the creations.
Summary: We lack confidence because we are not very good as human resources. We are not very good at being the best at making money. But LIFE is NOT about making money. The Prophet SAW took ignorant and backwards Arabs, and developed within them the potential for excellence as a HUMAN BEING – with compassion, mercy, excellence in conduct. When we change focus from learning Western knowledge about external world, to learning to be a better human being, and then work on the fellow traveler model, then problems of lack of expertise are resolved.
Misconceptions about Knowledge: Problems arise because we have learned the wrong lessons about knowledge from our Western education. We have learned that “Knowledge is of external world”: NO, Knowledge is based on EXPERIENCES, and knowledge enters the heart. To acquire knowledge, add to your experiences. These can be VIRTUAL – that is, learn how to solve real world problems in theory, by repeating experiences of others. To impart knowledge, add to student’s experiences. Focus on SKILL development – Learn and Teach how to ACT in problem-solving situations
We need to acquire Confidence and Trust in the FINAL MESSAGE of God. We CAN learn to be Human Beings. We are TRAVELLERS, not required to REACH goals. Students are FELLOW TRAVELLERS. The goal of LEARNING to be HUMAN COVERS EVERYTHING we need in life. That is, DONT think that if we shift goals, and if we teach students how to become great human beings, they will not be able to make money, or get good grades.
Next Post GT3: Our Lives for Sale.: The Western system of education is designed to turn us into human resources, commodities for sale in the labor market. We need to learn the Value of Human Lives, to avoid giving this message to our students. Instead, we must teach them that human beings are the best of the creations, and all the gold in the world is not enough to pay for even a small portion of our lives.
URDU VERSION of same talk 15m Video about Part 2: Obstacles to Excellence
Related Material: Follow link for a collection of readings on Principles of an Islamic Education. This sequence of six posts on How to Become a Great Teacher is also listed below:
- bit.do/azbgt]: Intro: The Greatest Educator, The knowledge given to man by God, in form of the Quran, and demonstrated in the person of our Prophet Mohammad SAW, changed the course of history. How can we learn to follow in his footsteps?
- bit.do/azgt2]: Obstacles to Excellence, Some major misconceptions about teaching, knowledge, and education, which are barriers in the path of our learning to become great teachers.
- bit.do/azgt3]: Our Lives for Sale.: The Western system of education is designed to turn us into human resources, commodities for sale in the labor market. We need to learn the Value of Human Lives, to avoid giving this message to our students. Instead, we must teach them that human beings are the best of the creations, and all the gold in the world is not enough to pay for even a small portion of our lives.
- bit.do/azgt4]: Three Mega-Events Which Shape Our Thoughts: Historical Events shape our lives and thoughts in ways that we do not realize, and we are not consciously aware of. These ways of thinking tie us down, and prevent us from realizing our hidden potentials as human beings, the best of the creations of God.
- [bit.do/azgt5]: Reshaping Lives: Identity and Purpose: A great teacher reshapes lives of students by changing their goals and thereby their identities.
- [bit.do/azgt6] The Ghazali Project: Revival of Deen: This explains how global conquest and colonization by West created shock-and-awe of Western knowledge among the Muslims. The post explains how we can recover our lost confidence by recognizing the nature of Western knowledge as being suited to conquest and pursuit of power and wealth. Islam teaches us love, compassion, mercy for all mankind, and pursuit of excellence in conduct. This is knowledge of an entirely different sort, which still has the capability to revolutionize the world, just like it did fourteen centuries ago.