Stories about teaching

Rescuing the dying reading culture of Pakistan

Pakistani classrooms usually do not encourage questioning amongst students, but can we really blame the classroom for a trait we are socialised into from the beginning? Thus, when I became a teacher, I made sure to always encourage questioning by responding in a positive manner, turning whatever was being formally discussed into a casual conversation. Recently, however, I was asked a question that left me astonished. An undergraduate student in one of my classes, a rather intelligent kid, asked me why reading books was so important. In his words: “We live in a visual world, then why do you keep emphasising reading ...

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Sending your child to school doesn’t guarantee that he will actually learn

In a utopian setting, the quintessential scenario for Pakistan would be to educate every child, thus leading to countless benefits, not least in relation to important indicators such as employment, health, equality and so on. Receiving “free and compulsory” education is also a legal constitutional right for every Pakistani child aged five to 16 under Article 25A. However, let’s face the harsh reality: Pakistan is unable to educate every single child. According to budget estimates, the government will only spend around a meagre 2.03% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education in 2018. This is way below international requirements. Resources are ...

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5 reasons why good teachers quit within 5 years

Often a good teacher will decide to leave his or her job after just a few years. A federal study states that up to 20% of certified pedagogues of both public and private schools begin to change their minds about devoting their lives to teaching by the fifth year of their career. According to Richard Ingersoll, Professor of Education and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, the number is actually much higher. He claims that about 50% of young experts quit teaching during the first five years because they are sick of the profession. While the exact number remains to be ...

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“Like father, like son”: Are you hitting, scolding your kids because they are turning into you?

Recently, my friend narrated a story to me which shook me to the core and instigated me to write this blog. A week ago, she witnessed a close relative of hers scolding and hitting his 10-year-old nephew over the fact that the child had started using abusive words in his day-to-day conversations. She added that the outrageous part of the scene was that the man is a habitual user of abusive words himself and was also reiterating offensive phrases while scolding the child over doing so. This is where it hit me yet again, how messed up we are as ...

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Fry, bake or freeze: These iftar recipes will give delicious and easy a whole new meaning!

For me, fasting is like a reset button. It reminds me that I can still be whole without all the vast amount of consumerism I am involved in every day. It is also a reminder that I can do more with my time, my money, and my life if I wanted to. I can still be happy with little things in life. This Ramazan, I invested my time in a weekend guest lecture for kids from slum areas. While I love my work, sometimes one needs an escape to breathe and get a better perspective on life, and this experience did just ...

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Volunteering at KVTC helped me more than I helped them

I spend all my days and nights looking for a purpose in life and though I might be 20, I feel the burden of not giving back to life after everything I’ve been blessed with. It might sound clichéd when I say that I can’t imagine a life without purpose but I kid you not when I say I have trouble sleeping at night on the days I feel I took more from life than I gave back to it. With the recent exponential growth in negativity around the world, I found myself soaking in negativity and breathing it out, both ...

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The neglected and forgotten residents of Youhanabad, Lahore

My foot got stuck in the sewage, and closing my eyes I half prayed that it doesn’t consist of human waste. The groan from a friend watching from across the road, though, was enough to warrant a shudder from me. I had slipped and now was standing, ankle deep, in two days’ worth of rain water and human sewage. The terrifying part regarding this story is the repeated variation of this occurrence. My favourite part (yes, there was one) about these streets though, was covering our heads and making our way down the road to the rairiwala, the man who ...

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Why just stop at teachers and students? We all need guns

I am sick of dominating women. Nobody ever talks about the real victims of patriarchy and misogyny – the men. Men have set such an impossible standard of chauvinism that it is impossible to match up. There is so much pressure on men to force women to do things just so that they stay socially relevant. Think back to school, how many times did you laugh at a poor kid being bullied only because you did not want to be the one being laughed at? All men in the world are that kid! I see movies like Revolver Rani, and all I ...

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Aao Parhao – A lesson less ordinary

My experience of teaching high school students has been rewarding, frustrating and overwhelming – all in one fell swoop. I’ve come to believe it is through teaching that one truly learns. Every year the teacher is a year older, perhaps wiser. The students, however, don’t age. Yet, either through the work of evolution or technology, the classroom seems to fill itself with a batch that is smarter at outsmarting the teacher. The profession, by its very nature, forces you to keep up with the times. And with time, the ways of teaching are changing too. The classroom has become ...

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Aao Parhao – Jo Seekha Hai Wo Sekhao

As part of a remembrance to Robin Williams, I arranged a showing of Good Will Hunting and invited some school friends over. After the movie ended, one of them remarked on the critical role the protagonist’s teacher, Prof Gerald Lambeau (played by Stellan Skarsgård), a Fields Medal winner, and mentor  Sean Maguire (played by Robin Williams) had in his development. “We didn’t have anyone as dedicated as them. Not even close.” I had to disagree and thought back to an incident back in March 1991. The phone rang and my mother picked it up. “Hello, is this the home of Sibtain Naqvi?” a lady asked. My mother ...

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