Most of the students that I meet today tell me without mincing words that their teachers have a lot to talk about and yet nothing meaningful is ever communicated. Obviously then, words are in a constantly high supply but they are not being used effectively. This lack of meaningful communication in our classrooms has led to everyone rushing towards faculty development.

Well, for our teachers there is a literal race out there in the world to complete courses, enroll for workshops, and get coaches to come and make our teachers better equipped. Everyone seems to be looking for a quick-fix or a magical formula that will transform them in minutes into a teacher in a class where no one ever yawns. I remember once defining morale as that power that keeps me as a student awake in a boring lecture.

Being a faculty with an inspiring halo isn’t difficult and I guess all that a person needs to do is to keep learning.

That’s it? Just keep learning?

Yes, that’s it. But here is where it gets complicated. Learning isn’t really reading more text-books and dictating better sounding notes in class. Learning is a rather rounded activity and the more varied it is in its composition, the better will be the chances that a teacher will adopt innovative methods to teach. If you are the sort who accepts online as well as off-line modes of wisdom you’ll know of so many web portals where the top universities of the world are offering short courses free of cost. I am enrolled in a few and one of them is teaching me the way fiction needs to be written. Let me just say that the learning modules that I am facing have text, videos, writing assignments, and reading and evaluating what other participants have done. This is a rather wholesome exercise and takes a learner across different modes of expression and interaction. Learning today isn’t one-way and a monologue… those days are over. Learning is more interactive and involves people opening up and sharing the way they interpret the assignments. It is this shared perspective that has begun mattering now and is emerging as a leader in the highly fragmented world of teaching.

Among the few other concerns that I would want to mention here are the way a few things are not readily accepted by teachers. They love opposing anyone daring to ask a valid question. They are not happy accepting a challenge and answering it with a combination of innovation and logic. They want attention but do nothing new to deserve it. All these lead to the fact that knowledge alone isn’t sufficient these days… it needs to be supplemented with examples from real life and the way it can be applied in real life. Let me mention here that when I was Gentleman Cadet in the Indian Military Academy, our lessons were not one-time affairs with some teacher droning away in a classroom. Yes, there were classroom sessions but they were preceded by the concept captured in av-mode, that is, a film. This was followed by a lecture-demo where we watched everything happen in front of our eyes… and the final bit included going out there and doing all that was taught. So teaching, observation, and practice were clubbed to form one module and this is what needs to be done by our faculty in schools and colleges. We have the added advantage of online intervention today and every concept has been discussed globally. A global perspective with audio and video meandering through it all is such a wonderful opportunity that teachers today have in front of them.

Accept technology. Accept changing patterns of learning. Accept and adopt all the different ways of communicating an idea… and you shall no longer be cast aside as someone who is all talk and yet has nothing to say!

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2016_04_25_The Education Post_Real Fiction_All talk and yet nothing to say

2016_04_25_The Education Post_Real Fiction_All talk and yet nothing to say

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Arvind Passey
26 April 2016