Socially Involved and Culturally Rooted
Juby Thomas, a faculty member of Kristu Jayanti College‘s Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, describes herself as a “socially involved and culturally rooted academic” who believes the purpose of education is “to make our young citizens better people.” For that reason, she tries to nurture empathy among her students by introducing them to various social issues, and she encourages them to engage in field reporting, short film-making, street plays, and debates in order to connect their classroom learning to community concerns.
Dr. Juby sees technology as another tool that educators can use to enhance teaching and learning – though she recognizes it also brings new levels of complexity to delivering content and analyzing students’ uptake of information. At a United Board Faculty Training Program, held February 22 – March 1 at the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh, she found a group of like-minded academics who were eager to discuss technology’s implications for teaching. But throughout the discussions on innovative uses of technology – in stimulating classroom dynamics, enhancing content, and improving evaluation – it was the human elements of teaching and learning that left the strongest impressions on her.
For example, the program trainers emphasized the need to connect technology with the goals of whole person education, a point that Dr. Juby appreciated. “I am grateful to the United Board for encouraging me to adopt the concept of whole person education, which fosters spiritual, intellectual, social, and physical development,” she said. From that perspective, technology is not a substitute for the teacher but a tool to support knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation – the elements of Bloom’s taxonomy – and engage with her students in more meaningful ways.
The program also was a relatively rare opportunity for faculty from India and Bangladesh to exchange ideas and experiences. India and Bangladesh’s “geographical proximity, cultural affinity, and shared history should form the parameters of relations,” Dr. Juby wrote, but too often differences and conflicts take precedence. At the United Board workshop, participants focused on finding common ground as educators and devising creative solutions to classroom challenges. “The ongoing mutual academic support, encouragement, and knowledge sharing from the fellow participants will always keep the fond memories of learning, laughter, and togetherness in Bangladesh and the United Board alive in our hearts!” Dr. Juby wrote after the meeting, demonstrating that the practice of whole person education can bring benefits to teachers as well as students.
After attending the United Board program, Dr. Juby published articles in Indian newspapers Eastern Mirror and Meghalaya Times, about her experience at the training program and the perspectives of her fellow participants. Click here for the Eastern Mirror article and click here for the Meghalaya Times article.