The number of teaching methods used in schools and other educational settings has increased in the last fifty years. A shift has also been happening in the focus of educational activities from being teacher centred to learner centred and is gathering pace with the mainstream take up of online internet services. This is particularly true, after the launch of Web 2.0 services like YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia. More and more people are finding educational opportunities online.
In the Quran, it is mentioned that ‘Allah (swt) taught Adam (as) the names of all things.’ Adam (as) was then presented in front of the angels, who were asked a question. The angels did not know the answer; God already knew that the angels would not know the answer, so why did He ask them this question? It is a teaching method. Allah (swt) taught Adam (as) in one style, known today as one to one learning or didactic learning, whereby the teacher who knows all the answers imparts the knowledge to the student like filling an empty glass from a pitcher of knowledge. The angels were taught something more sensitive. A different teaching method was used where questions were asked to induce thinking in the students. A demonstration was given to prove something that might be uncomfortable if told directly; Adam was asked to tell the angels the names of everything presented in front of him.
In this way, Allah (swt) proved to the assembly, who did not know what Adam (as) was, that Adam(as) knew more than they did and therefore was superior to them. He could have just told them directly. It would have been difficult for Iblis to accept such a statement, so Allah (swt) proved Adams (as) credentials first, and then asked the assembly to bow to Adam (as).
In ancient times, before writing was invented, knowledge was memorised, transmitted orally and structured in rhyming poems to aid memorisation and maintain accuracy as narrative stories are prone to change over time. This resulted in teaching methods of long hours, and precise verbal recitation. Songs, poems, or hymns had to be repeated many times in order to memorise them verbatim. We call this rote learning. It is the oldest and most widely used learning method until recent times. In many poor countries, where resources are scarce and poor students do not have internet access or colouring pencils etc, this is still the main method of teaching; class sizes are large and all students are taught in the same style.
In richer countries, especially in the west, students are more fortunate. Some schools provide iPad 2s to every student, with online access and learning resources and practice software available on the intranet. Thanks to educational experts like John Kolb, Colin Rose, Tony Buzan, Howard Gardener and cognitive psychologists like, Honey & Mumford, Craik & Lockhart and Dr. Erica Warren, teachers try to prepare classes with different exercises to target different learning styles of students. It is common for teachers to give homework options, where students choose to do one, two or three tasks out of several designed to match different visual, auditory, musical, physical and other learning preferences or styles of pupils in the class. When it comes to learning Islam or memorising Quran, most madrasas are still using ancient teaching methods like rote learning. This is highly effective for memorisation, but for other Islamic sciences, varying the teaching methods to make use of recent research and technological tools available online such as Learn Arabic Online and other online organisations would be very wise.
Source: Eaalim Institute
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