KARACHI: Teaching is a profession that needs knowledge, experience and the willingness to learn more, said principal of the Habib Girls School, Nargis Alavi, explaining why experience without learning anything new is useless.
Alavi was one of four panelists at a discussion held on the 'Impact of Pre-Service and In-Service Teachers' Training' at the First Principals' Conference organised by the Aga Khan University-Examination Board (AKU-EB) in partnership with the Oxford University Press (OUP) on Thursday.
Aimed at exploring innovative solutions to improve the quality of education and assessments in schools, AKU-EB director, Dr Shehzad Jeeva, shared that principal's conference brought together over 400 educators, principals and heads from 140 schools across Pakistan on a single platform to collaborate, learn and excel at the one-day conference.
"This platform is meant to challenge conventional patterns, while we debate to derive the best practices for some of the most crucial sides of our education system," Jeeva explained. He also pointed out that there is so much to be learned from others and their experiences, such as assessments, curriculum, teaching, and learning practices.
Discussing the importance of teachers learning new things, along with experience in the field, Alavi said that a tutor teaching the same way for 20 years has only one year's experience because he has not learnt anything new.
Speaking about the evaluation of teachers and in-house training, she said that there should be two reasons why teachers are observed; one is to assess where they can improve themselves as role models and the other is to evaluate them.
Seconding Alavi's view, the director of Szabist schools and colleges, Lubna Khalid, added that a formal forum is not possible in schools. She said it should be in-house and teacher to teacher observation.
"Teachers can share their experiences among themselves and help each other learn better ways to teach," she added.
The Aga Khan Higher Secondary School principal, Shahina Ali Raza, commenting on the idea of the conference, said, "Our realm is quickly changing and information needs to be modified in order to meet the diverse needs of our jobs as principals".
While talking about the true value of books, the OUP managing director, Ameena Saiyid, emphasised the need to develop reading habits in students and make it mandatory in schools. "It is a triangular relationship between learners, teachers and knowledge and this is where books come in to the equation," she added.
Answering a question on why Oxford books are not a part of public sector schools, she said that she has been trying for the past few years to introduce OUP books in public sector schools but it cannot be done until the government revises their policies and curriculum design, as each province has separate textbook boards.
Explaining the value of education in a global context, research associate at the Centre for Development Studies at the University of Cambridge, Professor Brian Heap, spoke about the importance of encouraging students to be dependent on education and be critical thinkers.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2015.
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