‘What is development,” asked the educator. “Development is a linear process. There is no end to it,” responded an undergraduate student confidently.
Sitting in a classroom filled with both undergraduate and graduate students of various backgrounds, languages and religions, it was eye-opening to see how a single question was able to stimulate discussion and how the educator encouraged students to participate and refine their understanding of a particular concept.
I started my degree a few weeks ago and have been floored by the confidence of my fellow students. The lecturers and tutors are continuously pushing students to think outside the box, while providing a safe pathway without the fear of failing. As the questions are posed we are instructed there is no wrong or right answer, just food for thought and respectful dialogue. I must admit I felt out of place in the beginning and began to question my intellect. But soon, I too began to think deeply about the world around me.
Learning for me has never been as enjoyable as it is now. Although it’s only early on in my course, I can say that the difference between Western and Eastern education is in the systematic approach. It appears that creating “thinkers” is one of the main objective when it comes to Australian education. Students are pushed to think collectively rather than individually and most of my educators are passionate about sharing knowledge.
I was bewildered at first to acknowledge that my educators don’t summarise the chapters, instead, they present topics in a thought-provoking way, and in doing so, students have no choice but to be part of that process.
Many students in the Middle East lack critical-thinking skills – we are programmed to memorise the materials. Listening to students voice thoughts or helping them to broaden their horizons is uncommon.
Even though the UAE Government tirelessly works to improve the quality of education, there is still an obvious gap. That gap is in our thinking – at least, that is what I think.
Some students are too confident about their knowledge, but when they enter the workforce they find they’re clueless about their place in the world. Education has become more about earning a wage than creating thinkers. It’s not rare to hear youth continuing their graduate studies for the sole purpose of a salary increase.
The Middle East will prosper further once we shift our focus to creating more thinkers. It won’t be too long before we see a new generation of the great Arab minds – Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Al Haytham, Al Jazari and Jabir Ibn Hayyan.
Asmaa Al Hameli is a former features writer with The National who is currently studying in Australia.
If you have a good story to tell or an interesting issue to debate, contact Melinda Healy on email@example.com.
Follow us @LifeNationalUAE
Follow us on Facebook for discussions, entertainment, reviews, wellness and news.