Nurturing the Culture of Thinking

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Today, I removed all the marker pens, whiteboards and computer. We put aside all the tables and arranged our chairs in U shape. I sat together with them, to try a different setting. I wanted to communicate with my students at the same physical level. We might not realise that when an adult stands up in front a group of children, even teenagers like our students, we appeared to be perceived as very gigantic. This influences the way they listen and pick up our lessons.

The topic today was, “The Culture of Thinking”

We talked about the appointment of Adam as the Khalifah, the question asked by the Angels, how Allah demonstrated Adam’s ability to learn, compared to Malaikat, to come to the final conclusion, that the reason why Allah chose Adam to become the Khalifah, even with prospect to mischief and bloodshed, is that Adam can learn, understand, articulate meanings, and no Angel can do so. Adam is a thinking being.

How did Malaikat know about Adam? I shared with students about how ulama’ in the past demonstrated their curiosity. How they offered many unthinkable hypothesis. The discussion we had, led to the topic of gravitational waves that was announced by LIGO recently. We talked about Interstellar, Martian, and Stephen Hawking’s concern that the earth is doom to perish and we ought to find a new home. See, how fascinating things around us, when we start to think.

I asked the students, what do they know about the challenge our public education is dealing now? Danial said KBAT. Many students agreed. I asked them why KBAT is a problem. Many students replied, saying the questions are too tough and they cannot understand anything. So I asked again, “should we remove KBAT, or do something about the students?” Ammar said, “KBAT is essential. We cannot remove KBAT. So we need to do something with the students.”

His response fascinated me.

We then talked about one new thing they found interesting during their school holiday. Fawwaz said, he was interested with coffee. He saw a documentary on TV showing how coffee is processed from the tree to the cup. We talked about coffee in Brazil, coffee in previous Malaysians’ life, and why Luwak Coffee is delicious.

Kaisan shared his fascination on how workers in Hong Kong built bridges using robot. He went to Hong Kong for school holiday. Responding to him, I shared the story on the Ottoman’s architecture and how today’s technology is related to the theory from the past.

Our class concluded; once you start to think, everything will become interesting. You don’t have to travel abroad to find the excitement of knowing. Even if you go the bush in front of the school, you’ll find many things interesting. Without thinking, even if you travel to a place as far and unique as Disneyland, your experience will be so-so,

It seems that free flow discussion, U shaped classroom, me sitting at the same level as the students, are more engaging and fruitful, something for us as teachers to ponder upon.