While never mindfully planned, my decision to enter the teaching domain was an easy one to make. Tempted by the flexibility to design my own course to teach at my preferred time, I embarked into an experiment that turned out to be a transformational one.
It has been over 15 years since I decided that teaching is not what I was meant to do. Whether one may call this ignorance or reason, I still believe I’m more of a practitioner than an academic. Nevertheless, the issue of education has and will always be at the heart of my passion which is ‘development’. Interacting with public and private sectors as well as with youth and community organizations proves day after day that education is where it all starts and ends. The disconnect between what we teach/learn at school and what graduates are required to know as active players in their communities is undoubtedly alarming.
The recent trends in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in various sectors especially energy, water and environment dictates a new way of educating. The Arab region and Jordan in particular face humongous development challenges that could only be overcome through bottom local solutions coupled with customized technology; things most of our youth still struggle to associate with. The “Social and Green Innovation in the Arab Word” course was a dream coming true. To be able to design and teach a course I wish I had the chance to take brought me a sense of obligation and amusement that I’ve never experienced before. Here are some of my takeaways after completing the semester with a few amazing students and professional academic staff:
- A trainer and practitioner has a lot to offer from the hands on experience that may actually be more valuable to students than ever thought.
- People to people interaction is an essential part of development studies. listening to stories and sharing lessons learned are the best educator.
- There are very few references on sustainable development and green innovation in the Arab World. Even those that exist are outdated and/or produced through foreign aid.
- The references on social and green development in the Arab world are mostly focused on problems rather than solutions. There is little documentation of success stories and/or attempts to change things on the ground.
- Written exams might not be the best measure of learning. Creative tools that trigger thinking and debate around critical issues add more value to the learning process.
- A classroom may suppress learning abilities – nature and people are the best inspiration.
- Challenge your students and unlock their potential, then, you need to catch up!
I’m so proud of my students who I believe know more than most Jordanians about green economy and environmental governance. Their final essays say a lot about how one course can make a difference. This whole semester changed my perception of education and teaching ever after.
Thank you – to all those who made this unique experience possible.