KUWAIT: It is not a secret that teaching is one of the most physically and mentally demanding careers that helps to shape how countries grow and develop. Bearing that in mind, a new ‘class’ of creative Kuwaiti teachers took it upon themselves to utilize whatever was offered in terms of modern technology and innovative ways to help cultivate students’ talents and skills as part of an effort to usher in a new age of enlightenment and progress in the country. Unconditional trust in the capabilities and skills of teachers will do wonders to education in the country, Bader bin Ghaith, a high school history teacher, said in an interview.
Bin Ghaith made a name from himself on the national educational scene due to his unconventional teaching tools, which included the use of social media applications and persuasive methods that won students’ hearts and minds. “Students have a hunger for knowledge and a nation like Kuwait has a lot to offer in terms of education, so give teachers a chance to innovate and they will deliver,” said the teacher. Since beginning his career in 2005, bin Ghaith made it his mission to bring to the table a different brand of teaching that in some extent did stick to the curriculum, but was not limited by it.
When teaching students important values, it will not be a waste of time to do extracurricular activities to obtain pieces of information, said bin Ghaith, who affirmed that a mere school trip, a simple internet search, or other unconventional means will offer students’ knowledge beyond the confound of classrooms. “We live in a different age that requires a different kind of education,” said bin Ghaith, pointing out that he always puts himself in the shoes of his students, asking himself what they were in need of and how he could deliver in terms of content. Disregarding what modern technology could offer would hinder teachers’ abilities to perform especially nowadays, bin Ghaith indicated, adding that he began to explore what social media and other technological tools could offer. Bin Ghaith opened accounts on Instagram, YouTube, Telegram messenger, and other applications to lure the current generation of tech-savvy students. “It was a hit that garnered the attention of students and the public alike,” he affirmed, adding that he started to give his students assignments that did not necessary had anything to do with the textbook.
On the other hand, encouraging students to find their own strengths is not necessary a bad thing because each person has a unique set of skills that could be applied in countless and multiple ways to serve the final goal of obtaining knowledge or overcoming obstacles, he noted.
If students have artistic tendencies, let them use these skills to write a screenplay about certain historical events for example, or encourage them to illustrate important figures as part of the educational process, said bin Ghaith, adding that suppressing talents will lead to disastrous consequences.
Bin Ghaith affirmed that he always supported his students to follow their dreams and passions, saying that his role as an educator was not meant to downplay the next generations’ ambitions, but nurture the belief in a better future. In this spirit, the Kuwaiti educator started the hashtag “those are my students” on Instagram and other applications to document and prove that Kuwait was “in good hands.”
Bin Ghaith is not alone in his quest; elementary English schoolteacher Ali Al-Mahdi also joins the cause through teaching young children valuable life lessons. Entering Mahdi’s classroom might be a bit of a confusing experience for an outsider, especially if the teacher was directing students to shoot a video. “I do not just teach students the English language, I like to give them life lessons,” Mahdi commented about his peculiar hobby that he shares with his students. Through this mutual activity, the videos are edited into comedic skits, with a life-lesson undertone, that then will be uploaded on the Instagram account, the enthusiastic teacher elaborated on the creative process.
Mahdi said that this activity was meant as a reward to his students who seem to enjoy taking videos and are keen on being featured in this activity, with their parents’ consent. “Respect stemming out of love is far different from the one originating from fearing teachers,” said Mahdi, adding that he likes to treat students as men worthy of admiration and esteem.
The result of this treatment made several students seek his guidance on matters not only pertaining to their studies, but personal issues and problems. “When a student wants to be an educator because a certain individual inspired him or her to be one… that is the ultimate goal for any teacher,” said Mahdi, who pointed out that he was inspired to choose this career by his own intermediate school’s English teacher.
Being inspired by your own teacher in school is one matter, but choosing a career based on the good reputation and word-of-mouth regarding a teacher that one has never met is just simply phenomenal. Prior to his career as a history teacher, Radhan Al-Radhan was one of many students who have heard about Bader bin Ghaith. His passion for teaching was ignited as a result. “One day I happened to be at my friend’s high school in which bin Ghaith was teaching,” said Radhan, affirming bin Ghaith’s innovative ways inspired him to choose history as his major in college.
Radhan, who is entering his third year as a teacher, indicated that he followed bin Ghaith on his social media accounts, adding that the material that the educator puts online was valuable and more importantly, these lessons were available at all times at a click of a mousepad and swipe of a screen.
Teachers such as bin Ghaith, Mahdi, and more recently Radhan are now paving the way for students in Kuwait to look forward to the future and with their efforts; the country will start to develop in line with what the people and leadership desire. – KUNA