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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Adhe Adhoore Kawab: Review

Adhe Adhoore Khawab
Review by Reshma Perveen
I would recommend this novel to teachers of all levels who are interested in acquiring a fresh look into their use of education as a tool to bring a social change.

The novel ‘Adhe Adhoore Khawab’ by Dr. Shahid Siddiqui is a call at the right time for the practicality of education in the society. It is a unique attempt to use the genre of Urdu novel to deal with the themes of education, politics, and justice. The protagonist, Professor Roy, is an inspirational teacher who touches the lives of students and becomes an eternal source of motivation for them. The story opens with Professor Roy’s returning to his old city of work where he had taught in a well known education college called Professional Teacher College (PTC). He by coincidence meets Imtisal Aga, a current TPC student who is an enthusiastic girl interested in bringing a radical change through education. Imtisal belongs to a small village of the mountainous region and has come to the city for a teaching course in the same college where Professor Roy had taught. She has heard a lot about Prof Roy as a radical educationist but has never met him. The chance meeting turns into a passionate relationship of mentor and mentee. Imtisal keeps learning from Prof Roy through informal discussions and observations.

In a dramatic progression from the start till the end, the novel portrays the steps and context of how education can be used for creating socio-political awareness. Each chapter starts with a simple narration of the character, the context and the activities. The simple but fascinating style of the novel engages the reader till the end. The author, a renowned educationist himself, has experienced the drawbacks of our educational system especially of teacher education and hence has shown the gaps of it in our society. Teachers and especially pedagogical leaders are focused in the characters of Professor Roy, Imtisal Aga, Tasawar, and other related characters. Here I would like to discuss the pedagogical implications of the novel.
The main character of the novel is Professor Saharan Roy, whose personality is inspiration incarnate for his own students. The context in which educational implications are shown varies from classroom teaching to a wider context of the society. Professor Roy, on his first day of teaching, uses an icebreaking activity of making flowers with three petals and students are instructed to write their names in one, their favorite food in the second and their favorite personality in the third petal. Any teacher with new students in their classes can use this very simple and low-cost activity in their classroom with ease. In his very first class, he inspires the students through many ways like: calling students by their names, even though he was new in the class but is able to read their name tags. Calling students by their names has found to be very positive impact on developing rapport with the students because people love to be called by their names.

Similarly Professor Roy is shown to build students’ self confidence by saying that the flower they drew is very special because it is their own flower. Developing self esteem of the students on whatever they do is not an easy job, but it needs a little effort to approve their work and show them that you as a teacher value it. The teachers’ ability to be aware of every happening of the class is shown when the Professor feels that students are confused during the ice breaking activity. Face reading is another very important skill presented in the novel for effective teaching. Experiencing the different facial expressions and knowing the feeling that is embedded paves a way to solve individual problems. The icebreaking activity is shown as one event encompassing many useful teaching and learning strategies and a good teacher’s characteristics. Later in the story when Tasswar, a student of Professor Roy, is about to take a new session as a teacher reads the list of the students several times so as to get familiar with them and develop rapport with the students in his first class.
While defining the characteristics of a good teacher to Imtisal Aga, Tassawar recalls the characteristics of Professor Roy during his teaching. For instance questioning in the classroom in order to involve the students in critical thinking and discussion is highlighted very clearly. After throwing a question Professor Roy used ‘wait time’, a technique to give time for the students to think about the possible answers. Professor Roy in the novel also utilizes his time as planned which is usually called time management. For example when in one class the Professor gives two minutes thinking time but one student named Fouzia responds before the time; Professor Roy stops her and reminds her that the thinking time is not over. Giving equal thinking time to all students ensures the involvement of all students. After thinking time was over, only the Professor Roy collects responses and writes them on the board and discusses. One very important message given here is patience in holding back information and not delivering all knowledge immediately.
The character of Prof Roy as a whole is shown as the one that touches people’s lives. The students inspired by his teaching try to adopt the way he teaches. Observing others and teaching the way they taught is an important way of learning how to teach. Many teachers in our Pakistani schools come to teaching without prior teacher training; hence they teach the way their teachers have taught them. A key message for teachers in the novel is that while they are teaching they are also giving an opportunity for their students to observe their teaching style. The professor is shown as an inspirational personality, the way he teaches and many of the students try to follow it. This is how he is remembered for long.
The teaching approaches used by the Professor Roy go beyond the narrow confines of textbooks as students are engaged in critical discussion by bringing in live example from society and their lives. Besides critical discussions in the classrooms home assignments for reading articles and presentations are given in order to develop the confidence of the participants. Not only this but the real application of education in the society is shown by setting the lawyers’ movement as the background and the students’ participation in the movement along with their professor is demonstrated effectively. One message that needs to be picked up is the rusted political system of our country which is not refreshed because of the ban on students union in our country.
Professor Roy during a class session discusses in an interactive manner the characteristics of good teachers by using the metaphor of a cake. As the cake consists of layers, so is the teacher, where the first layer consists of subject as well as pedagogical knowledge; the second layer as the teaching skills of the teacher; and finally the passion for the profession and the students they teach. In academic terms Bloom’s Taxonomy categorized these three layers as; the cognitive; the psychomotor; and the affective domain of teaching. In other words it is the 3 H of teaching: the Head, the Hand and the Heart.
Towards the end of the story Imtisal goes back to her village and joins a school. Meanwhile Professor Roy gets arrested and is sent to jail for taking part in the lawyers’ movement. He faces the situation bravely but finally succumbs to the torture of the state and dies of heart attack. Even after his physical death Professor Roy remains a source of inspiration for his students who carry on his message of societal change through education. One such student is Imtisal who commits to bring a change in her village school. She is shown taking part in cleaning the classroom along with the students. This encourages the students’ willing participation. This also suggests how important is teachers’ active and visible role in teaching in order to keep the students active by keeping their interest alive.

I would recommend this novel to teachers of all levels who are interested in acquiring a fresh look into their use of education as a tool to bring a social change. Student-teachers particularly need to read it in order to critically analyze their own approach to teaching and learning.

Title of the Book: Aadhay Adhooray Khwab
Author: Dr. Shahis Seddiqui
Reviewer Reshma Perveen
Publisher: Jahangir Books
Enterprise: 2009
Pages: 176
Price: Rs. 250
Referecne: Parveen, R. (2010). Book Review: Adhe Dhoore Khawab. Bulletin of Education and Research, June 2010 Vol.32, No. 1 pp 79-81