The following is largely a paraphrase of the last part of the Keynote Address provided at the IMPROVING TEACHING QUALITY 1 SYMPOSIUM held at ROTANA RESORT, SALALAH, Oman on 10 April 2017. (The English Language Center at Salalah College of Technology, under the guidance of Mr. Saeed Al-Mashikhi, Head of the ELC and the Chairman of the Steering Committee, organized a workshop at Salalah Rotana Resort, entitled “Improving Teaching Quality 1”. Victoria Tuzlukova was the keynote speaker.) Paraphrasing is an important skill in our times, i.e. as we are often called on to process great amounts of material and report on it to others.
by Kevin Stoda
Victoria Tuzlukova, Head of Professional Development and Research Unit at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, Oman continued as follows:
Along with our desires (1) to promote healthy lifestyles in Oman, (2) to promote good social interactions across classes and peoples, and (3) to promote creative solutions and models for change in problem solving, Oman wants safe and courteous drivers, good and fair football players, supportive families and peers, etc. In addition, educators, for example, are even asked to promote the development of individuals who can be good and reliable friends.
Multicultural lands, like Oman, need individuals who can deal with peoples from different cultures, different tribes, different classes, and different ways of thinking. As well, Oman society wants peoples who are good with technologies, especially the new media and technologies which have been empowering new businesses so much in recent years–i.e. technology, like laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and down-loadable softwares or applications. Finally, Oman and its Arab neighbors need peoples who can think–that is people who can think, analyze and solve problems while keeping the big picture on things.
Alas, from the teachers’ perspectives here in Oman, the following problems with students are already quite noticeable.
These student behaviors include:
(1) bad study habits,
(2) bad usage of time, too late to class, or even in getting caught up in wasting too much in/on social media,
(3) often too lazy to complete tasks thoroughly,
(4) avoiding problems rather than facing them,
(5) not accepting even positive criticism,
(6) lacking in confidence or having low self-esteem,
(7) manifesting a variety of fears or anxieties in present and future,
(8) failure to pursue or acquire positive leadership skills, and
(9) lacking self-initiative.
HOW CAN TEACHERS OR EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS RESPOND?
Tuzlukova indicated that schools, educational institutions and trainers can provide meaningful contexts for learning.
They can also promote and provide interdisciplinary learning contexts. Practice-based education and experiential education must become the norm in the country. Moreover, active- and fully-participatory learning communities must become a mainstay of educational experience (and in both work place & in school training for all).
Concerning Oman particularly, Tuzlukova stressed, we have one of the most ancient civilizations in the world. On the other hand, Oman is also one of the more multicultural communities in the world today. Therefore, education must embrace both the promotion of the past and the promotion of our present and future within the educational experiences of our multicultural community of students.
Reflectivity and community-based approaches also must both become a great part of the way of classroom and training experiences for the 21st Century. That is, both learning from communities and within communities must be promoted.
In turn, concerning 21st Century English language education in Oman, technology-integrated classrooms must become ubiquitous while technology-based options must become more relevant–even in the most remote corners of the land. (In Oman, English is now an official language alongside Arabic in the society. )
Meanwhile, the appropriate matching of materials and motivational elements targeted for all different types of students must become part-and-parcel of the tasks and experiences in any educational environment Personalized and individualized educational situations or opportunities to learn must become more and more common.
In Oman, we also need to match our approaches with both the local and global needs enveloping us and our living spaces. That is, we must consider for adaptation everything-and-anything that arises in the market. (We must, therefore, practice skills or skills developments in a great variety or environments.) In addition, we must develop activities that emulate the technologies and learning practices required or promoted by them in society and in the workplace.
In sum, students deserve to be equipped with knowledge, skills, work habits, and character traits required to succeed in the ever-changing world we face in this century. Failure to do so can only have negative consequences for our society.