This post comes as a reflection of a Facebook posting I made yesterday (25/9/2012). I would like to thank all my FB friends who registered their LIKES and comments, especially Mr Amran Noordin, Ustaz Ahzari Yaacop, Brother Norizan Aziz and my dear Sahabah, Mr Sarifudin Sapari, for their insightful inputs, which also contributed to inspire this post.
It has emerge to a be a common practice in our educational institutions today, especially in results-driven-schools, including Islamic institutions, to conduct some sort of survey that allow students to evaluate their teachers and give comments (positive or negative), in a way that managements of such schools claim are helpful in helping teachers and lecturers to perform better.
Now, the question is: Since when do students have to evaluate their teachers? Aren’t teachers the ones, who are supposed to evaluate their students, guide them, coach them, and channel them to the appropriate channels of studies and certify them as productive human beings to the respective communities?
Students will definitely have perceptions about their teachers, no matter how. And that will be their best testimonial for their teachers after they are set apart. But is it encouraged for a student to ‘say loud’ the negative part of their teachers, even if the teacher is not good?
How can a student evaluate the teacher, whom neither he nor his parent/guardian chose, but was rather imposed on him by his institution?
Customers evaluate their service providers and their services. They also provide feedback accordingly. That is good, and should be encouraged. But we should not equal the services provided to customers in the corporate world to the services (education) which teachers impart to students in the education sector.
The relationship between teachers and students is, and should remain similar to that between parents and children , but not similar to that between customers and service providers.
In other words, the relationship between teachers and students, once established is an everlasting one, even after the teacher no longer teaches the student. Unlike in the business world, customers and service providers only get in touch when they are in need of each other. This is why, mostly, when we (Muslims) sit down to pray for our parents, we also include our teachers, even if they are non-Muslims.
Also, when it comes to education, we, Muslims, are supposed to look at it from a unique perspective. When we talk about education, we are talking about holistic education that incorporates divinely revealed sciences and discovered sciences, as well as physical, spiritual and emotional needs.
We don’t, anymore, expect parents to send their children to teachers and give the teachers the “green light” to cane the children should they show any kind of stubbornness. That is a fact of the past! However, parents can expect their children to be subjected to rational discipline accordingly, should they deserve it.
It’s wise that we learn to understand and differentiate between education and business. Even when we pay for the education our children receive.
Right is not the same as left, although both lead to directions. In fact, up is not the same as down, although both can give either positive or negative impressions. Education is something nobler than politics and business, and it should always be operated independently from them both.
What is the solution?
We have to be realistic and admit to the fact, that things have changed, as time goes on, but values are not supposed to be compromised, regardless. Values are better developed at home and at elementary levels of education (in school).
In the past, when it comes to education, although it was scarce, learners had the opportunity to choose whom to learn from. And once they make the choice, they have to adjust themselves to adapt with the teachers they have chosen. No “U-Turn” until “mission is accomplished”.
Today, education is more organized, and hence, teachers are recruited as students are enrolled in a systemic manner. As a result, students (learners) don’t have the chance to choose their teachers anymore. Teachers are rather imposed on students by school managements. Whatever the teacher turns out to be, that is considered as a matter of fate.
Since the responsibility of choosing the right teacher is ‘snatched’ from the learner and owned by school managements, then it’s now the full responsibility of school managements to ensure their recruited teachers are at the minimum level of expectations. Therefore, when it comes to evaluating the teachers (the educators) students should not be involved in it.
Children tend to disrespect their parents if the parents frequently criticize one another in their presence. How then, can they respect their teachers when they are asked (allowed) to criticize them?
I know of parents, who do not allow their children to say anything bad about their teachers, no matter what has happened. This is because they believe that no one is perfect, and teachers are not an exception. They do not involve their children in their communication with the respective schools of the children. In fact, they express their concerns directly to the school. If some parents can reach this level of responsibility, so, to morally educate their children, beyond result orientation, schools are supposed to do better.
Teachers who are interviewed, assessed and trained before they are handed classrooms can’t disappoint anyone. But if teachers are continuously appointed based on favouritism, we can continue to get poor academic performance in addition to failure to attain basic morals and values produced by such teachers.
And if this kind of products (graduates) happen to be teachers (and it’s happening), that’s the beginning of the end. And if this happens, not only we are going to lose quality educators, we will also have to embrace the absence of politicians who serve their nations rather than serving their personal interests. We will also have no successful businessmen (rich) who care for the welfare of the needy in their societies. Our lawyers will defend the criminal instead of the victim, and there goes the list.
I would like to end with translation of poem said by Imam Shafiee, which is as follows:
“O my Brother you will never gain knowledge without possessing six qualities. I will inform you of these in detail and with clarity:
Sharpness of the mind;
Eagerness to learn;
Sacrifice in terms of time, etc;
Means, i.e wealth;
The company of a teacher; and
Length of time!”
It is mentioned in the Qur’an, 2:282 what its meaning can be translated as:
Be mindful of God; and God will grant you knowledge.
- Our mindfulness of God will surely reflect on our integrity (Amanah).
These are my thoughts. You are invited to comment. Agree or disagree. It doesn’t matter. Most importantly, speak your mind.
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