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What it's like to help children become lifelong learners

July 29, 2013, 10:42 pm | This story has an Influence Score of 731

By riazhussain

Teachers play vital roles in building better individuals. Henry Adams says, ‘A parent gives life, but as parent, gives no more. A murderer takes life, but his deed stops there. A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops’. When children come to school, their minds are like blank slates. The nature of exposure and learning experiences at school along with their own natural predispositions define the content of their mental make-up. If we want to build better individuals, we should focus on having better teachers.  

Today, we are going to talk about a teacher who is working with reformatory zeal to help children become lifelong learners.

 

Riaz Ahmad is a 34-year-old expatriate teacher working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

The Kingdom is one of the largest Arab states in the world.  The world’s second largest reservoirs of oil are located here. The country has been undergoing rapid economic growth since the discovery of oil in 1938. Today, trade and business in this oil rich country are booming. Unprecedented economic growth has brought in large numbers of immigrants, foreign workers and experts who get lucrative jobs here.  These expatriates have brought their families with them. There are private schools and colleges which offer admissions to the children of these expatriate families. Darul Hijra International School & College is one of such institutes and this is where our interviewee teaches English.

Talking about the working conditions in the kingdom, he says that teaching and living in Saudi Arabia is a rewarding experience in many ways. The cost of living is low. The crime rate is almost zero compared with many advanced countries of the world. There are no problems of urban violence. People are hospitable and live peaceful lives. It is a rewarding experience also in terms of benefits, healthcare and transportation. In addition, you learn about the exotic Arab culture. You come to know about the history, heritage and culture of the second largest Arab country in the world.  There are fascinating landscapes: deserts, oasis, mountains, valleys and ancient buildings.

Describing his teaching job , Mr. Ahmad says that the workload is manageable. He has to teach five classes a day. When I asked him about his objectives as a teacher, he said, 'Children are innocent. They are hungry for love. They do respond to interaction based on love , compassion and kindness. So my foremost strategy is love. Love causes them to be respectful and open to learning. This makes the rest of the tasks easy. Once you give them love, they will not forget you all their life.

'In addition', he said  'giving them individual attention, seeing the things from their perspectives and studying their interests helps in understanding the problems they are having in learning'.

He says that he engages their attention by arousing their curiosity by telling them interesting stories . In addition, he tries to vary the pace of learning by using online learning materials.  Thus, he entertains them with stories and anecdotes to alleviate the heaviness of lessons. He says that he never criticizes scolds or rebukes children in front of the other students in the class.

I asked him how he takes care of pupils and students who show poor performance. He said, 'when a child lags behind in learning, I take the boy aside and talk to him. If I start thrashing out children in front of the class, this may damage their self-esteem. I reach out to those who are less active in the class, make them participate in the proceedings of the class. I push them forward to observe things, explore things, make experiments and discoveries, take responsibilities and create things themselves. Besides I motivate them with rewards. I try to enliven the learning environment in the class by giving the students prizes from my own pocket.  I don’t give them expensive things as prizes but even if I give them  cheap things as prizes, they are simply overjoyed to have them.

Through my prizes I try to win their hearts. In addition, I try to help them in debates and in their games and creative work. 

All this gives me some spiritual bliss. They become my friends and I hope they will not forget me and my prizes throughout their lives. All these strategies help in activating the love of learning among students. Once, they get the knack of self-study and discovering things themselves, they become autonomous and life-long learners'.

Recently, his wife has given birth to a daughter, making our compassionate teacher very happy. Now, he can understand what it means to be parent of a child. Her birth has changed his outlook regarding life and education. The world appears to be prettier than before.  Now his teachings are enriched with an even greater amount of love for students than before. He treats his students as if they were his own children.

 

Riaz is happy with working environment at the school. He is happy that he has good people to work with.

He has friendly relations with his colleagues. He never hesitates to learn from seasoned teachers at the school.  

With his copper-bottomed teaching practices, he appears to influence students for good. Learning for him appears to be not an academic exercise confined to the precincts of the school. For Riaz real learning begins outside the boundaries of the school. He seems to present life to his students as a text which they have to read and understand as they move through various phases of life.

  

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