by azly rahman
I want to share some notes I had this week on how to turn our cities into classrooms.
In between looking those lecture notes on Globalisation, Philosophy, Humanities, Urban Education and Assessment reflecting, dreaming of good things, doing intense creative visualisation, listening to John Coltrane’s album ‘A Love Supreme’, renews my hope in educating others so that they may know a bit more about the world, understand the complexities of the children of the Millennium generation they are entrusted to educate, finding ways to engage those urban and ‘ghetto-gangsta’ kids, turning the ‘city into a classroom’ instead of a matrix of dehumanisation, designing projects and good and new artifacts of learning, understanding the link between global issues and the philosophical self as reflected in the reading of major world text in Humanities, and helping teachers and educational leaders design authentic and humanistic assessment strategies so that human beings will not be forever buried under statistics and numbers but continue to flourish and evolve, like Post-Modern Romantics - because as Coltrane said, “It’s all a world of ‘A Love Supreme’.”
Exciting. I thank thee, Socrates!
Last few days I took a short break from Facebook, and came back with this message:
BACK IN THE FACEBOOK LOOP ...
How’s the world doing these last few days... Malaysia ... same old, same old...?
More suicide bombings, Je Suis this and that, more fights between the old and new Malaysian political foes, that unresolved murder case of the Mongolian model, extradition complications...
We need more good stories of people helping others, overcoming of insurmountable barriers, the everyday heroes in action, of good Samaritans, success stories in education, tales from the trenches of teaching, good teachers doing good work, less nauseating stories of politicians and hypocrisy, kids coming up with good and new inventions...
Aren’t we all sick of today’s news reports?
I decided to think of the city as a way to redesign our education system, since most of the world’s population will be living in cities in this century. I came up with the following notes on the relationship between the city, the child, and the curriculum:
1. I want to think of the ‘city as educator’ rather than a space of alienation, and to design an educational system around the child and the city. Again, the child is central and the city must be his/her resource. How do I do this?
2. When we were growing up, we were not angels... we played truant... we played ‘hookie’ as the Americans would say... We ‘tuang kelas’... We ‘panjat pagar’... We ‘ponteng kelas’ and , as Malaysians would say, and where did we go? Not to the jungle and hang out with chimpanzees... Not to the village/kampong to run around in the padi fields... We go to the ‘city’... or ‘town’...
We hated school... We love the city... Why? How do we turn the city into a ‘classroom’ so that we will run to the ‘global classroom and learn’ and use the school as ‘research centres’ and teachers become resource persons, rather than correctional officers forcing us to learn and to button up our ‘baju kurung’. How do we do this - flip the classroom and turn the city into a great classroom? Any thoughts?
What’s in the mind of the city boy or girl?
3. What goes on in the mind of the city boy or girl these days? Is the school ready to nurture his/her cognitive abilities? Are our teachers prepared to help the city child develop his/her fullest potential, using the city as resources? Do the teachers understand what the ‘Millennial generation’ (of the 21st century) wants or even what it means?
Or what schools should do to house these ‘intellects and a product of the city and its urbanisation process’? What do you educators and parents out there think?
4. The media these days seem to focus on the arguments, debates, fights, and even war amongst adults... Amongst those who, in their old age, want to settle scores and install family members as next leaders, maintaining dynasties.
We have neglected to honour and nurture our most precious national asset - our children and our youth, to provide them with the best educational context they can be in to develop their minds to the max and to become good citizens who value lifelong learning and become compassionate members of our society.
We are doing the opposite - showing our ugliness as older members of society, setting bad examples through corruption, conspicuous consumption, blowing up people with C4, glorifying jihadists, showing our hypocrisy in selective prosecutions, confusing culture with religion and killing each other in the name of god. We are a horrible generation and unfit to be leaving a legacy to our precious children and legacy.
How do we correct this? How do we renew the prosperity of our educational system?
5. Okay, seriously folks... If you don't want those girls to be hugged by K-Pop singers you better create an educational system that’s poppin’ well enough that those kids will love hugging themselves and coconut trees only. How about that as positive narcissism and cultural pride?
I know I will be writing more on ways to improve the lives of our children - our greatest asset, and how the urban environment can be used by skilled teachers and innovative educational planners and imaginative curriculum designers to make learning more exciting on our way to chart a better and less alienated future for our youth.
I hope our policymakers and politicians will stop fighting and start doing their job educating. We have seen enough nonsense done not in the interest of the child, haven’t we?