Ponder and Learn
Inquiry Based Learning, is basically a concept where teaching is organized around questions and problems tabled to a student in a highly student-centered learning process.
Teachers’ role in the classroom has always been of a facilitator where the teacher creates an interactive and negotiation platform between the teacher and the students. The teacher should help a student to construct knowledge rather than copy-paste or reproduce. We should only be a vendor in the classroom where we supply tools for students to solve problems through inquiry based learning activities.
If we understand by what Qur’an says about inquiry based learning – [Chapter 38 – Sura Sad Verse 29]: “(This is) a Scripture that We have revealed unto thee, full of blessing, that they may ponder its revelations, and that men of understanding may reflect”.
In ancient India to inquiry based learning prevailed in every Gurukul where a student was not a passive but an active participant in the learning process. The spirit of inquiry, questioning and requestioning was an integral – dominant part of the ancient system: It was Prasnena, Pariprasnena and Pratiprasnena i.e. straight questioning (Prasnena), when the student is not satisfied or has a doubt he questions again (Pariprasnena) and then a situation may arrive when the student may say, I accept your answer but can there be another answer to the question (Pratiprasnena). This is what we see in most of the classrooms today that students come back with various answers to one question and accept only when they get there is a right logical reasoning answer to the question. We as a facilitator should make sure that when students learn through questioning or re-questioning it should not display their false ego or insolence. Hence it is said in Gita Chapter 4 Verse 34; learn by humble reverence, by inquiry and by service: tad viddhi pranipatena, pariprasnena sevaya.
Ibn Al-Mubarak, may Allah have mercy on him, said:
A man will continue to have knowledge as long as he is seeking knowledge. If he assumes that he has knowledge, then he has become ignorant. (Source: al-Mujālasah wa Jawāhir 312)
One supplication which the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself made in regards to seeking knowledge.
“O Allah, I seek refuge in you from knowledge which does not benefit, a heart which does not humble itself in fear, an insatiable desire, and supplications which are unanswered.” (Muslim)
As a teacher we make this clear and understandable to all students in learning by inquiry system should not fire the ego in them and that they should stand grounded after learning is more important.
A teacher should always make it easier for students to understand a topic in easier methodologies….. For example, if a teacher is teaching evolution it has to be clearly defined and its metaphysics has to be concerned with the questioning and understanding the aspect of existence of fundamental notions. Here, the basic concept of human creation is to be understood for existence. Is it an evolution or were we created by a Creator?
Epistemology meaning knowledge… acquiring knowledge is not something we take it as it comes or learn. Students should aim at discovering knowledge which can be a good beginning of their life ahead in the world and hereafter. By virtue of discovering knowledge their belief becomes stronger and the expression of faith or power behind the creation becomes easier.
The learning on this topic or gaining knowledge is essential for a student and he progresses towards a better human being. As progressiveness lead to the rise of literacy and the rise of literacy leads him into the society as a much confident and trustworthy human being. When the topic is clear with logic and reasoning behind understanding he will be able to decide on the good, bad and the beauty of creation and existence.
Today’s generation need to be convinced by the answers they get. They look at every concept that they are learning has been logically and scientifically proved. When they ponder on the questions and reach to a conclusion with the help of a teacher or their own research work, it helps them decide what is wrong and right. From a spiritual point of view, this is important that the generation is clear about the good and bad – the right path and the wrong path. This conclusion also helps them choose the right path. Once they are on the go – no matter what hurdles they face or they hear different views they would still not deviate from this path. As a teacher we should be glad that the students never deviate at any stage of life come what may.
Hence it is important that we allow them to ponder and explain the concept logically on the origin of man, his nature and the behaviour aspects as he lives through the world. As a teacher we need to understand and get to know the mindset of today’s generation and teach them in their own language.
For this topic a teacher should have some research done and then teach them the concept of creation with basic teachings in Qur’an and Hadith using the various verses where Allah swt talks about creation; also with a similar concept from other religion because remember we live in a secular world and students’ have the right to know every religion as it is as important as the other subjects in the classroom.
O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is the one who is the most God-fearing.” [Chapter 49 – Sûrah al-Hujûrât:13]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) identified the “male” mentioned in this verse as being Adam. He said: “Human beings are the children of Adam and Adam was created from Earth. Allah says: ‘O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is the one who is the most God-fearing’.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (3270)]
“O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women.” [Chapter 4 – Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 1]
“Allah is the Creator of all things and over all things He has authority.” [Chapter 39 – Sûrah al-Zumar: 62]
Indeed, Allah states specifically that He created all life forms: “And we made from water all living things.” [Chapter 21 – Sûrah al-Anbiyâ’: 30]
By mentioning the above quotes we will be able lead them to do study the explanation of each verse and have a brainstorming session by which the clarity of creation becomes clear, thus making their belief stronger on the existence of the Creator.
Remembering that we need to inculcate the habits in students for them to become successful in life and hereafter and we go with the law of the Creator with a clear plan, allow kids to ponder, brainstorm, keep them focused towards their learning which should result in focusing on the life on the earth and hereafter and when we assess or reflect on what they have learned will also make them understand that there is a day that we will all be assessed by virtue of good and bad.
This article is not based on any direct scientific research on this subject that I’m aware of. It’s simply my own indirect inferences from my current knowledge of inquiry based system, Gurukul and other resources which I have studied.