Saturday, January 31, 2015

Learning to Listen

I am currently reading T.Berry Brazelton's book on 'Learning to Listen'. It's a very interesting book, an autobiography and research findings on child development all over the world all bunched up into one hardback copy. I borrowed this one off the library. Only about 30 pages in (I started this late afternoon), already I can relate to some of his points. 

Three particular things:

1. Great lecturers aren't always appreciated by students.

I've been feeling pretty down as it appeared that my students from the course I'd just finished teaching last semester did not really felt moved by the subject. despite so many SCL acitivities, trips, workshops, etc., they just didn't find it interesting enough (they thought I was a great lecturer, so my teaching skill wasn't to blame, but it was more like they couldn't see the point of the class - Creative Design - in helping them securing a job in the future. Don't you hate exam-oriented or job-oriented minds?). I felt like I had wasted my time. I had spent hours preparing for the course (burnt the midnight oil on some) and had enthusiastically taught the course (it really was close to my heart what I am teaching), so to hear this, I was totally deflated. 

This morning I told Hubs that next semester I am going to change my strategy and just read my notes monotonously at the front of the class for the entire hour (like so many other teachers/lecturers do anyway) and not plan on anything extra. When it's exam time, I'll give just them a list of stuff to memorize, and they'll gleefully be reciting and regurgigating them back exactly as they were on my notes and everyone gets an A and they'll be happy with and the course and or course, with me, and then we all go our merry ways. Don't understand? Not my problem. Boring? Not my problem. Fail the course? Not my problem. My time and energy could be spent on research,which carries more weight anyway. 

But Hubs had talked me into being 'ikhlas', or do the best that I can without hoping for anything in return, especially not human recognition. Let Allah be the judge, he had said. So when I read Berry's book and he mentioned that for entire time he was a medical student, he remembered nothing from any of those class, except for one. At the time, he didn't even like this professor's teaching (it was different than all the crammy notes as medical students were used to), but as he grew older, he began to appreciate the lessons more. So, I guess, there's still hope. 

2. Listen and observe before making any move. On children, adult, animals, any living being.

As parents, I sometimes forget to hear out my children. Oh, I hear them crying and screaming very well, it's just that I sometimes fail to hear WHY they are screaming in the first place. But listening better, I should be able to decipher why they behave in such ways, what they are trying to say implicitly, what they need, and when to know that a meltdown is on its way to stop it before it's too late. Sorry Zayd and Aisyah. I'm human and I forget. But reading this helps me correct what my mistakes.

3. A good researcher observes, observes and observes. 

I'm inspired by Dr. Brazelton's work. Stuff that he writes are from his study. He's very passionate about his field of study. He observes a lot, and then he writes. This is something that doesn't happen often in the academics world anymore, which is a shame. It is always a race against time. Publish or Perish, that's our motto. Very few observation gets done. Especially in my field (computing), a lot of it is number crunching. You plug in some variables, you crunch some numbers, you study them briefly, and voila, you get a paper. You tweak some other parameters, get different numbers, study them briefly, and voila, another paper. Wash, rinse, repeat. Which gets very exhausting. Which is why I am so glad that in my smaller area which I am focusing on, I get to study the psychology and cognitive behind human behaviours when interacting with computers. I deal with humans. I deal with numbers. It's a great mix of sciences, and certainly utilises both left and right hemisphere of the brains. Dr. Brazelton's story has motivated me to do research which are closer to my heart, and not really get swept away with the 'in' studies, though I must admit the lure of grants on these 'in' issues is hard to resist.

So yeah. It's definitely a good read. 


isabelle frankly said...

Oyis, i feel u sgt2 kat point no.1 tu.
rasa meluat bila our passion in teaching mcm x dipandang lgsg. so why bother kan?
i cant be monotonous, tp utk put so much time on teaching lps ni..maybe not anymore.

noris said...

betul Is. now that they have implemented penilaian pengajaran where the students get to mark their lecturers, it's payback time la. syokkk je diorg mark ntah apa2, especially to lecturer2 garang or yg suka make sure diorg faham betul2. yg soalan killer pun kena marked down jg la jawabnya, walhal student sendiri yg bongok. it's just not what it used to be. the respect is gone. lebih baik fokus kat research. or clock out je by 5 pm. no point buat kerja lebih. dah la gaji x besar mana pun comapred to other profession. so...

Anonymous said...


Kak Rina ni silent reader your log since lama dah. Suka baca. Pandai tulis. Betul ckp husband Noris tu. Kita jadi murabbi, biarlah kita penat dan all out...biar Allah nilai kita. Insyallah, kita pun happy bila kita dah all out.

-kak rina-