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Creativity, inquiry, interaction

Elevating learning experiences

Muntaka Syeda | November 05, 2022 00:00:00

"You are what you eat" -- a notion commonly heard in almost all parts of the world when it comes to eating healthy and staying fit. I chose this particular phrase for my class, and together, with the students, we worked on unpacking the statement throughout the semester. The students began by picking their favourite food dish and identifying the macromolecules in that particular dish.

The primary goal was to connect what we eat with how that is translated into what we are made of. As students started classifying the macromolecules in the food they consumed, I asked them, "Can you identify which parts of your body are made up of that macromolecule?" While answering the question, students gradually realised that the food they were consuming had too many fats, carbohydrates, or not enough protein.

Similarly, in another science class, I introduced the concept of acid and batteries to my students. We looked at batteries that we use in our day-to-day life and noticed the crucial one is in our phones. Students then went on to research and found out that the acid from batteries is significantly damaging the environment. They wrote reflective paragraphs, made PowerPoint presentations, and presented their understanding to the class. This activity gave students a perspective on how human beings introduce concepts to make lives easier, but that has consequences as well.

A good classroom environment always has some elements of creativity and interaction which makes learning more interesting and engaging. Much like these examples, my approach to teaching always consists of thoughtfully-designed units of inquiry to provide learning experiences that demand questioning, critical thinking, creativity, and investigation. I always strive towards guiding students into becoming independent inquirers and thinkers.

The right blend of creativity along with curriculum helps students to be innovative and also encourages them to learn new things. Creative classrooms can really transform the way students acquire education and how they apply it in their real lives. Creative expression, when coupled with inquiry, truly changes the way students interact in the classroom.

Unlike conventional teaching methods, creative, interactive, and inquiry-induced classrooms allow them to express themselves more freely. Whether it is presentations, classroom discussions, group research, or field trips, students have the opportunity to come out of their shells and become a part of it. The key goal is to help students know how to learn, making sure they approach learning in an enthusiastic, inquisitive, and inventive way.

When it comes to teaching, it all begins with a purpose. Acting as guides, it is the teachers who sow the seeds to cultivate curiosity. One thing that I promote in my class is student-led inquiry. Student-led inquiry is a planned journey of discovery. It is much like a partnership between teachers' professional knowledge and students' journey to becoming independent thinkers. Teaching in the IB Curriculum for the last six years, my teaching style has always focused on transforming students' learning experiences through dynamic cycles of inquiry, action, and reflection.

IB has the ambitious aim of changing the world by educating young people. This is stated in the IB Mission Statement and circulates through every aspect of all four programmes. Additionally, the IB curriculum puts emphasis on helping students develop skills not just in their approach to education, but for the rest of their lives. That way, they can develop their social, emotional, and overall well-being while nurturing an effective approach to learning throughout their school, university, and beyond education. Students in the IB curriculum can develop and use conceptual understanding while exploring knowledge across wide-ranging disciplines. These students understand the importance of balancing different aspects of life and can approach uncertainty with forethought and determination. Tanzif Chowdhury is one such example of a student who recently received the perfect IB score, 45 out of 45, in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme 2022. I have taught Tanzif since grade 11 and witnessed the sheer amount of potential he possessed. The IB curriculum helped polish his existing skills while building new ones that are now allowing Tanzif to reach greater heights.

It goes without saying that education plays a key role in shaping the life of an individual. In a rapidly evolving world, young people need to be equipped with the skill set to thrive in a transforming education and employment sector. This calls for an educational framework that not only provides the students the proper content knowledge but also equips them with 21st-century skills and global competence. Be it IB or any other curriculum, the modern education system requires teachers to do much more than just cover the syllabus and hold exams. We need to constantly innovate teaching methods and prepare for wholesome teaching experiences to ensure that each student in the class is learning and getting engaged.

As the world merges into a global village and we adapt ourselves to a global community, the need to implant future-ready skills and competencies has become necessary. To help the children develop into future-ready global citizens, parents are today opting for IB and other comprehensive curriculums. Teaching experience and an inclusive curriculum are positively associated with students' achievements. Students are more motivated and interested in classrooms when they are taught in a supportive, healthy, and sustainable environment. Therefore, is it now time to work on our teaching experiences to give young people the opportunity to thrive, flourish and attain success in life, while becoming good human beings.

Muntaka Syeda is Teacher and Department Head, Science, International School Dhaka

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