It is time to re-think the educational model that is being used in our institutions
In Bangladesh, the universities (both public and private) are still following the traditional teacher-centred method, the same old-fashioned teaching style where the teacher stands in front of a large classroom and keeps lecturing most of the time.
In this traditional lecture method, the teacher is seen as “all-knowing” in the classroom, and the students are just passive learners of the lectures taking place.
However, a learner-centred pedagogy implies that students can learn from each other and not only from the teacher.
Student-centred learning (SCL), where students are the ones taking the responsibility of their learning, seems to be an alien term in both public and private universities of Bangladesh.
Students decide the method of learning in the classroom. Students in this process are blessed with the autonomy to decide what they need to learn, and also the method of learning.
The teacher is more of a facilitator where SCL is followed, than of a teacher in the classroom.
When a student asks a question, the teacher redirects the question to the students in the class, which ensures that the learners possess a collective knowledge and also becomes intellectually active in the class.
Critical thinking is really important for students’ learning, as it gives us the opportunity to see the different sides of the coin of the elements of learning, and helps learners to make non-biased judgments about them.
No wonder Bangladeshi students fail to achieve a respectable score in foreign developed countries when they are pursuing their higher studies, as they are unfortunately not taught critical thinking in their home universities.
Unlike in SCL, critical thinking is ignored in a traditional lecture. In the meantime, rote learning (learning through memorization) is still in wide use in the traditional teacher-centred method in Bangladesh.
For example, English language is a subject which cannot be learned through memorization.
Rather, it is mastered through interaction between and amongst teachers and students. Presently, learners are not just passive listeners, but also content producers.
They should not just be sitting in the classrooms, listening to the lectures for hours. It should be a democratic process where students and teachers share the same boat of exchanging knowledge, with the understanding that knowledge can be reconstructed.
Meaningful learning comes into play when learners can use existing knowledge in a new situation and use existing knowledge in real life situations. Learning has no value if it does not aid real life learning.
What’s the point of having a higher grade if one does not understand the usability of the information into the practical world?
Unfortunately, breaks between long lectures is also an issue overlooked in the traditional lecture method classroom. Several studies have shown that a student’s brain does not process the information effectively, nor can it retain the information for long periods of time.
As the education system in the West turns towards student-centred learning involving active learning pedagogy, it is high time that Bangladeshi academics realize the need to change our methods.
Our collective mentalities and the Education Ministry and University Grants Commission’s unwillingness can no longer be allowed to act as barriers towards the implementation of student-centred classrooms in Bangladesh.
A true desire and a combined effort is necessary to change the laidback teaching scenario in Bangladeshi education.
Muhammed Rubayet has worked as a journalist in Bangladesh.