“When one teaches, two learn”, said author Robert Heinlein and quite aptly so. Teaching and learning are mutual processes that go hand in hand. Teachers learn as much from their students as a student does from their teachers. It is not just a one way dissemination of text matter from a teacher to the students but rather a fruitful exchange of ideas between the two. So often the doubts of students force a teacher to look at a concept with a new perspective thereby increasing his understanding of the subject.
Our teaching philosophies are a result of our own experiences as students earlier and what I present herein is no different. These thoughts and values have been imbibed over the duration of my learning years as student and some of them have been shaped by the inspiring teachers who taught me. A healthy atmosphere in a classroom is possible when both the teacher and students recognise the dynamics of learning process. Every subject taught by a teacher has two areas of use: the application area and the research area.
The first requires the level of understanding by which the students can apply what they have learnt to real life problems. The second requires a deeper understanding and a critical reasoning of the foundations of the subject. The students studying a particular subject have different objectives and varying inclinations. For some, a given subject may be just one of the subjects needed to earn a degree and then get a job while for others it might be an area of exploration and research. I believe that the teaching methodology should therefore cater to both these diverse groups within the purview of a common classroom environment.
For this, the theoretical aspects of a subject must be augmented with hands on approach that gives a better understanding of the applicability of concepts learnt. There can be various ways to solve a problem, just as there are various ways to interpret an abstract topic. The teaching methodology must be encouraging towards tackling a problem from different angles, rather than just a rigid method as may be mentioned in the prescribed text. As a teacher, my aim would be to evoke the interest of students towards the subject.
This essentially would begin with a brief historical perspective of how the particular area came to be recognised as a distinct specialized field on its own and the leading visionaries who established the earlier formalism for the same. The basics from which the concepts developed would then be dealt with including additional inputs to it’s relation with other fields. Real life scenarios would be considered next for developing the skills of informed problem solving and decision making capabilities. I would like to inculcate a spirit of questioning in my students to dissect every concept based on critical reasoning.
Before winding up any topic and moving on to a new concept, I would ask my students to briefly review the matter so as to gauge their level of understanding as also to give more examples to make sure that they have understood the concepts. Performance evaluation of a student’s understanding in a subject is in some way reflective of a teacher’s skill. To test a student’s understanding of the subject therefore, besides the questions with definitive textbook answers, there would be some questions that test them for a deeper understanding of the concepts.
However, if learning is a two way process, then the teacher should also be subjected to an evaluation and I would encourage my students to give a feedback on their learning experience for the subject taught by me. As a teacher and researcher, I thus hope to show my students the exciting dimensions of the subject I am teaching. With the help of my colleagues and feedback from my students, I intend to make learning an enriching and enjoyable experience for my students.