Teachers and students learn best when they are given a chance to take on tasks from which they learn confidence, courage and hope to develop other positive traits.
AGATHA Christie, the well-known crime fiction novelist, was once reminded by her father of the four things that never come back to man: the sped arrow, the broken promise, the spoken word and the lost opportunity.
My own father, an avid gardener, once pointed out a papaya tree laden with fruits and asked me, “What will happen to those fruits if you don’t pluck them?”
I was just a child of 12 then and I told him they would be eaten by birds or other animals.
“The same goes with opportunity,” he told me, “if you don’t take it when it comes, it goes to someone else.”
Talking about opportunity, I’d like to share with you the work of a Japanese educator named Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944) who believed that a child learns best when he or she is given the experience to do so.
He developed the “cycle of change” approach as a means to address learning. A teacher could well use this cycle to understand how important it is for one to teach in the right way.
In the cycle forwarded by Makiguchi, three elements are incorporated:
·The opportunity: Teachers must provide students an opportunity to learn and if they take this opportunity, they will then undergo …
·The experience: Students must have the experience of doing something and when they “do” it, they will then undergo …
·The learning: Each student takes a measure of learning from every experience.
In other words, opportunity leads to experience and experience leads to learning.
At one of the state-held RHB-The Star Mighty Minds Challenges recently, I spoke to a teacher who was in the audience.
What struck me about her was that despite having her own children tagging along, she was still keen on bringing two student teams from her school to participate in the competition.
She said to me, “When I was at school, I did not get the opportunity to participate in contests like these. Now, as a teacher, I make sure my students register for all sorts of competitions. I strongly believe that the exposure will do them a world of good.”
I liked her attitude. In the hall we were in, she avidly copied every question asked in the multiple-choice question challenge round. This was for her future reference and to make sure she could prepare her students better for next year’s competition.
“It does not matter,” she told me, “if my students do not make it among the top five teams. What I want is for them to experience what it is like to compete in a major challenge like this.”
Her next words are what triggered me to write this article. She said, “An opportunity like this should not be missed!”
Makiguchi would have been proud of her.
He had through his work, encouraged both teachers and students to be risk-takers. Otherwise, they will not grab opportunities.
He said you need courage to take up an opportunity. Emotionally speaking, it was his belief that courage, or the lack of fear, is what made some people dare to try something new while others remained stuck on the beaten path.
“An opportunity,” he opined “must be taken. Only then will you have the experience. This will in turn, develop conviction. Next, comes confidence and if you take the learning positively, you will see hope growing in you and the cycle will continue.”
So, if you keep on taking opportunities, you will keep on having experiences and you will keep on learning. In tandem with this, courage, conviction and hope will flower in you.
Here is Makiguchi’s cycle for you:
As a teacher, there are two important points from Makiguchi that you should take note of and learn.
·Understand the importance of the cycle for your own professional development, and ….
·When you teach or guide your students, use the same cycle for their growth and progress.
Let me tell you another story. Recently, I met a Science teacher I once knew. I told her about the Mighty Minds Challenge and asked “Are you sending a team from your school?” Her school is an urban school and most students there have the promise, intelligence and potential.
She began giving me a litany of excuses. The minute she did that, I found myself losing all interest in her.
To me, if a teacher is not willing to take the time and the trouble to motivate, guide and encourage students to seek new experiences, he or she is not a true teacher. In any competition, students can only do their best or learn how to be their best when they are encouraged by their teachers to first take the opportunity to do so!
It is the experience that brings on the learning.
In 2007, I remember how I had to use all my powers of persuasion to convince a group of Form Two students in the rural school I was teaching in that they had what it took to participate in a research project. They baulked but I insisted.
When they finally took part in the project, they all confessed that the experience taught them much more than sitting in my class learning Science from me.
When my 14-year-old students won the national prize that year and one of them was chosen to go to Russia because she was adjudged the best researcher for the nationwide contest, I felt a sense of pride that came from knowing that I had done the right thing.
Just imagine – if she had not taken the opportunity, would she have had the experience, the learning or the wonderful trip to Russia? Can you imagine how much the whole experience rejuvenated her outlook in life and her self-esteem?
Think about it, will you? Dare to seize opportunities when they arise and you will be rewarded with a learning experience!
Makiguchi developed a theory of value that combined the idea of happiness as the goal of life with that of value as something that can be created. In value-creating pedagogy, the main point of education is to aim for a happy life and develop the ability and attitude required to create value.
TEACHER TALK By NITHYA SIDHHU
Source: The STAR Online Home Education Sunday, April 29, 2012