I’ve two experiences that I’d like to share, as a participant/student myself with regards on how, a student can decide whether to be active learner or not.

Last month I attended a conference. Most of the sessions I attended, I questioned the speakers or gave some opinions. Other participants noticed my presence, just to show how active I was as the participant.

However, in one of the occasions, I was talking personally to one of the big speaker and asked his opinions on certain matters after his speech. I was a little bit feeling intimidated when he started to be condescending and cynical about what I’ve been doing and plan to do. When I asked him questions, he showed this kind of expression that made feel scared to approach him again in the future.

The next day, I attended a workshop and surprisingly he was actually there as the speaker. I arrived a bit late and got my seat at the back. At that time, I already felt unease and I did not participate at all in any of the discussion. I chose to be a laid back person and just followed the flow. I was scared to ask question because if I do so, I might get that kind of expression again. And yes, I didn’t learn as much as I want, because I felt scared to talk to my ‘teacher’.

The other participants only noticed my presence during the break. They said to me, “We didnt notice that you’re here. You’ve been quiet!”. I smiled to them anyway.

Two lessons that I can reflect from what I experienced last month

1. You choose who you want to be. Nobody will force you to be who you do not want to be. If you are an active learner, you can choose to be a passive learner. Even if you’re forced to be active, you can be passive among the active learners. You can stay at the back and not talking and end up you’re not learning anything because you’ve already a negative mindset or some bad experience.

So students, it is all up to you. We know that for all these years we’ve been practising active learning in the class and the students i.e. your senior, did very well because they persevere. If you keep saying that this is not for you, and it is difficult for you to adapt, it is just that you refuse to move yourself out of your comfort zone.

There are more than 1000 reputable research works had been conducted to test the effectiveness of active learning worldwide and it has been proven successful. It is a matter of embracing it and believe it.

2. During the workshop, I can actually choose to be active learner, as I used to be, but sadly I didn’t. According to the framework of How People Learn by Bransford, community centred is an important lens that the teacher must not forget. If you make the students feel intimidated to you or you make the students scared of you and you shouted angrily in the class for example (like I used to do maybe 7-8 years ago) or you scold them for their mistakes you’re just making the students felt unsafe in the class to ask questions or to participate or to make mistake as part of their learning curve.

So teachers, have more patience to deal with your students. Avoid sarcasm, avoid being cynical. Be direct to them. If you feel they are being ungrateful for now, they will learn to be one if you be patience and keep reminding them. They will be the one that you want them to be, maybe not in our class, but they’ll come back to you and say thank you for whatever you’ve been doing to nurture them.

Importantly, all this work that we’ve been doing is for the sake of Allah, not for the sake of getting praised by other human being. Gambatte students & teachers!