The classroom in primary and secondary schools in Bangladesh is compact and trodden with so many rules of discipline. Learners are busy with reading and writing and solving questions provided to them. They have the targets to memorise or to write something and most of the words they write are not their creation. The work schedule is very close-fitting. There is no flexibility to think out of the box. However, what they achieve at the end of the year or completion of the primary or secondary education cycle? There is a far difference between the competency expected in the curriculum and the achievement by the learners.
The guest teacher: A newcomer
The notion of the guest teacher is not a new-fangled concept in western countries. The senior citizens in society come to school for sharing their life experiences with young students as a guest teacher. Generally, a person is equipped with many experiences which he or she gathered throughout the whole life. These experiences are derived from facing challenges, getting new knowledge and learning form success and failure. All these experiences are meticulously valuable to the young learners, the future leaders of the nation.
The open window that allows fresh air and light
As per the wide-ranging scenario in classes of the schools in Bangladesh, the students are stressed with so many scheduled works. Sometimes they are bored, and their thinking process is outlined with a traditional frame. They have no time to take a glimpse to a novel and out of box thinking. A guest teacher can be a new window for the learners for soaking up with exciting experiences and new test.
Who will be the guest teacher, and what will he or she render to the students? Any persons in the society, who have gathered experiences form professional life, facing challenges, overcoming obstacles and so on, might be the guest teacher for sharing their experiences to the students. All these experiences are firsthand and thought-provoking for young learners. They can grasp the thoughtful clue and generate their imagination, think about previous phenomena and history and relationship with the present situation, and all these things are innovation for the students.
So, the various professionals and personnel like freedom fighters, educators, physicians, engineers, businessman, farmer, boatman, technician etc. can be the examples of the intended guest teacher. When these professionals describe their experiences, learners will get so many new learning that is interesting and thought-provoking. Eventually, the students will be free from stress, fresh and energised. They can build their dream through some innovative thinking, grasping from these experiences. These experiences may also add value for social, emotional learning to the students to be patriot, humble and empathic.
Who will be the guest teacher, and what will he or she render to the students? Any persons in the society, who have gathered experiences form professional life, facing challenges, overcoming obstacles and so on, might be the guest teacher for sharing their experiences to the students.
The senior citizens in Canada and other western advanced countries come to school to tell their life experiences. They describe the interesting experiences to the children in the story telling approach. They dialogue with the students in informal settings and the mode of action is soft, different from classroom teaching-learning method. They may not be considered as a teacher, maybe as a storyteller.
In Bangladesh, any significant individual from society may come to school for a 30-40 minutes duration and can share their experiences. In primary school, there is a 40 minutes slot in a week (Thursday) for supplementary book reading. This slot can be used for the occasion of the guest teacher. If we think of a Freedom Fighter, s/he may come to school and share his or her experiences to students as how s/he became interested in joining in the freedom fight; how s/he falls in danger and overcome the challenges. All these experiences can add value to the thinking process of the students and they will be curious to know the glorious history.
How it can be done
Teachers may make a list of the probable professionals and other people from the school catchment area, who can be the guest teacher to articulate their story to the students. Having two or three months interval, one person from the list can be requested to come to school for this occasion. Half an hour or forty minutes can be allocated for the guest teacher. After delivering the experiences, there may have a short question and answer slot; where the students can exchange their views. This way, the whole sharing session will be engaging, participatory and meaning-worthy.
Ratan Kumar Sarkar: Program Specialist, BRAC Institute of Educational Development, BRAC University