Bangladesh: Wind of change

| by Mouli Tasnuva

( February 09, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) Much has been said and written recently on changing our attitude towards various aspects of life. Adding to that, I humbly request to consider some changes in the methodology of teaching as well. But before I start saying anything, would you mind thinking a bit? Has it ever crossed your mind why don’t you watch BTV or listen to Bangladesh Betar? The obvious answer is – ‘because they are boring to the roots!’ The same voice, same style, same pace (and its VERY VERY slow), same quality, set, furniture, even the same curtains- are being used for ages! You can easily predict what the programme will be like. And that is the problem.
AP File Photo
Now, would you mind thinking a bit again? Can you find any similarity between the media (namely, TV and radio) and teaching? Let me tell you a major one. Both convey messages, don’t they? When teachers convey messages, students are the audience. Now tell me what do you do when you find a boring channel over telly? You simply change the channel, right? Because YOU have the control of your remote. It’s your choice what you would watch and what not. Whatever the channel concerned says or does, it can’t change your decision. Would a channel ever claim that “my audience is stupid, they don’t know what’s good and what’s bad”? NO!
The same happens with teaching as well. One of my respected teachers used to say- “There are no boring students. There are no boring lessons. There are only boring teachers!” And the students WILL change their channel quite naturally if they encounter any boring class. It happens automatically, you see? They will be looking through the window, they will be thinking about something else, they will be talking to others and choose from many many other options with the bottom line – they will lose concentration and they won’t attend to what we are trying to hammer home. And they DO this, oftener than I’m ready to admit!
There was a time when we were students and we used to shiver at the thought of our teachers (with exception, of course!). The power and control were associated with the teachers at that time. And now when we are teachers, the control, and even the power is associated with the students! (Gross injustice! What do you you say?) But we have simply nothing to do. Can we say – “Cell phones should be banned” – however annoying it might be at times? We can’t, because we can’t move back. So we have to accept the changes in teaching-learning continuum as well as teacher-learner relationship. In modern teaching-learning theory, learner-centred classroom gets the sole importance. Learner autonomy is the buzzing word. And we have no other option but to get it into practice.
I’m sure many of us know what I’m going to share now, but it’s the rest of us for whom this write up is dedicated. The essence of learner-centred classroom is the involvement of students in the classroom. We have to engage our learners in the classroom activities. We have to ensure that learners participate with enthusiasm. Once we can instil curiosity and interest inside them, they themselves will come up with their own ways of learning new things. An effective idea for involving learners is incorporating humour in our lessons to be taught. As we all know humour lowers one’s affective filter and inhibition, making learners more ready to learn. “Laughter helps us forget about ourselves, our problems, our fears and allows us to lose ourselves momentarily” (Chiasson, P. 2008). That’s right! Do we think how we look, how we sound, what others are thinking about us – when we laugh? No, we just laugh. Laughter creates a very positive and effective environment in the classroom also. Again, as teachers we all came across some learners who are very introvert and shy. They do not easily response or are reluctant to interact with other learners and/or teachers. And here comes laughter. Laughter reduces stress and anxiety and prompts them to communicate and participate without feeling any threat of losing face. And on top of these, as bonus, we would get more popular among them! But while using humour, we should be careful and take proper preparation as we do in all our other activities. Jokes or humour should be contextual and must not hurt anyone’s feeling. We can find a lot of other useful suggestions through internet on how to use humour in classrooms.
Being teachers we cannot afford our students to change channels on our faces! So it’s better if WE become more interesting. Otherwise they will simply move to some other channel(s) that offers more fun. There’s a saying – “laughter lubricates learning”. So let’s try it and see whether it works or not. It’s really time we provide our students with satellite channels and FM radio! It’s only fair for this century, wouldn’t you agree?

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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