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  • Writer's pictureMidhun K

The Art of Teaching Inquisitively

My childhood revolved around finding explanation for why are the things the way they are. I presume that we all had gone through such a phase in our lives. Inquisitiveness played a major role in my life to choose design as my career and I believe that the interest to understand something by mere observation and questioning can fuel the fire of learning from within.

I have seen the trend in schools and colleges. We have a textbook that we’re supposed to refer to. All concepts are explained explicitly with examples. I suggest a different approach which I believe would yield a more positive impact in understanding fundamentals of a subject with the yearning to learn more.

Make students question Why,How and What.

As teachers, we kill the inquisitive mind of a student by explaining everything for them. I feel, open ended conversations with adequate supervision could make students think more on the line of ‘Why’ rather than only ‘What’.

The inception of handy internet access has certainly reduced human ability to think. Answers are in our fingertips. But early 2000’s back home was much different. Every time my family used to go out, My father used to point out certain parts of a machine and asked me “ What do you think that is? Why is it used?” These small questions from time to time made me think a lot about mechanics and I yearned to learn more about it. This way of understanding something turned out to be very effective as I just didn’t learn something, I learned why it exists , how it evolved and why the things are the way they are.

Self teaching became a part of me. I remember things I’ve learned this way rather than the textbook explanation of subjects. As I was in my 7th grade, I linked physics concepts I learned in class to all the objects around me and it was magical to understand how things worked. It created a positive impact on learning something new. I cherished these moments and the concepts got hardwired into my memory through these live examples.

How I feel teaching should evolve.

Electronic Teaching Aids have become very popular in the last decade. With that we went further away from the world that surrounds us. In ancient India, Gurukul systems provided opportunities for students to understand and question each process in nature and learn by understanding them their own perspective. People were so close to the nature that they started decoding patterns around them and created scriptures that almost explains everything we see around us today. Trying to combine how sages taught their disciples then and our current education structures, I believe that these steps below could align students to a more inquisitive approach to a subject than just mugging up concepts.

  1. Examples In Nature: While preparing the subject, It’ll be great if you can do some background research on the area where the institute is located. List out how you can explain concepts in your subject with the help of things around.

  2. Lay Off The Internet: Encourage student to stay away from internet in order to find answers. Impart the culture of discussing with each other before picking up your smart phone for the answers. Make them understand the value of healthy discussion and constructive debates.Allow them to think as wildly as possible.This would encourage students to collaborate and mainly listen to one another.

  3. Inclusive Activities : Students vary in interests. It’s our responsibility to understand how different media helps different students to express in their unique ways. Every activity conducted should be inclusive in the briefs. This will allow students to stitch their personal interests and new concepts to create wonderful learning opportunities for themselves and others.

  4. Guide Them : I prefer the term Guide over Teachers. We certainly open up new opportunities where students can learn, but we should let them teach themselves. We merely guide them with ethical, moral and realistic parameters so they do not wander away into the abyss.

  5. Teamwork: I have seen students who lack the ability to work in a team. Many because they might be introverts or selectively introverts. It’s ok if you want to work alone but its great if you also know how to work with a team. The ability to collaborate in a team gives students the sense of empathy by understanding one another and learning from each other. Even though it’s a team effort, try evaluating them individually and as a team. This creates the sense of responsibility and ownership for an individual within a team.

  6. Know Each Student: Spend individual quality time understanding the strong and weak points of a student depending on the subject and guide them accordingly. It doesn’t mean individual sessions only because they can be intimidating. Casual talks between activities and individual sessions if you feel it’s necessary.

  7. Outside The Walls: Take your class outside the four walls of the institute and create the fun element in learning. Knitting concepts with examples from nature, you can make them see things in real life and learn. Take your class under a tree for a change. Keep in mind the comfort of students!.

  8. Comprehensive Evaluation: Students try hard to score more in a subject hence forgetting to actually learn something. It’s sadly the current education structure that we see as guides. There are a few points regarding how we can make this more effective.

a)Compare growth not each other : Evaluate how a student has transformed within the duration of the course. No activity should be a comparison level. It should be about reflecting learnings from the course in any way possible.

b)Evaluate from Day 1 : Don’t keep evaluation for an end result. Evaluate continuously throughout the course and on the last day give them individual inputs on how they can focus more on the subject or guide them on what they might be better at. This will reduce the stress on students on a final evaluation and students tend to focus on learning rather than grades.

These points could create a more enthusiastic approach for students towards learning and gives you as a guide, more opportunities to learn from your students.

You can only be a good guide if you are open enough to improvise activities that can engage students to individually learn the same subject through different ways. Always remember that effective learning comes from the art of teaching inquisitively.

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