In Awe of the Imperfect Being
The dynamic context of education has always been a source of wonderment for me. It is never static, never boring, and always excites me with the possibilities each unique scenario unfolds. The vision of children sitting under a tree learning from their teacher during the olden days (prevalent even now in some parts of the world) is as enthralling to me as children sitting in a fully equipped classroom in a shiny, state of the art educational facility being taught by a trained and qualified subject specialist.
A major part of my career has been spent observing learning in different contexts over the years while devoting numerous hours to preparing and poring over perfectly scripted policies and plans. I still find myself asking the basic questions, ‘What are the right ingredients of a lesson that spell magic in the classroom? Is there such a thing as a perfect lesson?’ Well, my self-determined, self-proclaimed answer is a ‘No’,
The outstanding learning that one witnesses in a classroom stems from the most important resource, the imperfect teacher. Yes, she is ‘imperfect’ because it is her imperfections that make learning such a humane process. Our expectations sometimes drive us to expect the impossible from a teacher calculating and planning her lesson to the last minute with impeccable precision and skill. However, were it not for the human touch, that precise perception and the heightened sense of awareness of the needs of her students during a lesson, that a teacher is able to do justice to the power she has in her hands of shaping young minds.
The underlying principle is simple: trusting and supportive relationships. The inherent demand of this secret ingredient never fails to impress me when I see it in action. This aspect has become more prominent now in the array of hybrid, face to face, virtual, you-name-it-and-we-have-it scenarios. I think and I wonder at the powers teachers are equipped with, when in the current situation, they manage to keep the love for learning alive through those slight in-the-moment adjustments to their strategies.
That subtle change in question, that lame joke cracked to lighten the mood, those simulations hunted down for students to marvel at and learn from, the multi-tasking done while explaining a concept to ensure students apply their learning in those 50 minutes are things to wonder at every day. And if while doing so, all the criteria that make a perfect lesson are not ticked off, it is because in this imperfect teacher you find a super-responsive, super-adaptable, super-compassionate human being who will not be remembered for the knowledge she imparted but for the way she made her students feel in her classroom. That remains a constant in the ever-evolving world of education.
Voice of Tasneem Usman
Head of Teaching & Learning/Head of Senior School
An educator, who draws her inspiration from the many lessons her colleagues and students have taught her ever since she stepped into the academic world since 2006. A believer of Ken Robinson’s philosophy of education, considers her area of leadership and management an ever expansive and humbling experience.