Pen First in Revelation

1. Read: In the name of thy Lord Who createth,
2. Createth man from a clot.
3. Read: And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous,
4. Who teacheth by the pen,
5. Teacheth man that which he knew not.

The Holy Qur’an as a religious text pioneered the concept of education technology by mentioning ‘Pen’ as the first non-living object in the Revelation. This demonstrates the importance of ‘Technology’ in furthering education for the benefit of humanity.

It is worth mentioning here that the Creator did not mention about stars or cars, earth or heavens among the first objects. Instead He opted for a very simple thing, i.e. the Pen. A more deeper analysis of the above verses will reveal that the use of Pen is cited as among the bounties of Almighty. It is out of His generosity that teaching is made possible via the pen.

Pen was the ancient form of technology used for imparting knowledge which was followed by compilation of book, printing presses, calculators, laboratory instruments, overhead projectors, tape recorders, television and finally (as we know today) the internet.

Pen is also the symbol of creativity- of writing poetry, discovering scientific facts, historic records, drawing etc.

The Iqra’ Revolution was a new concept in educational technology- linking knowledge with the name of Creator. It was to be used for the good of humanity.

IT: Tell or Sell Information

We all heard of the recent introduction of EDUSAT- India’s exclusive satellite for education. Kerala was the first state in the country to enjoy this facility. The project called VICTERS – (Virtual classroom technology on Edusat for Rural schools) will link 4000 schools. First in Malappuram, Palakkad, Wayanad on a receive-only system.

We are progressing from the machine-based economy to the knowledge-based economy. Everyone is after information. At this juncture we have to learn how to approach this complex situation.

The net provides vast amount of knowledge to vast number of individuals living in any part of the world. The Search engines bombard you with millions of pages for a simple query. Do you have the time to browse through the countless pages? Moreover, these engines attempt to sell, than tell, you the information you are looking for.

The paid ads placed beside your results make them all the more unreliable and unauthentic. The time lost in browsing is also highly detrimental for the student who is bound by the short deadlines set by the schools. A teacher’s task in this scenario is to make the search easier and help to identify the reliability of the document on the screen.

Learning Challenges and Oportunities

In learning process, we come across Direct and Indirect Motivation. The former is to learn something and use it which proves to be more longer term retention. Indirect motivation is to learn something to pass exam or please teachers/parents. For instance, how many of you remember your organic chemistry formula?

In some cases, students may be better informed than the teachers due to their exposure to the WWW and other media. In today’s educational scenario, it is a give and take process in contrast to the earlier concept of students always placed at the receiving end.

* IT broadens the students’ perspective and do away with their blind prejudices.

* IT shifts the burden of teaching from the teacher alone and the student shares the process.

* IT makes the student self-reliant

* IT bridges the distance by making available all kinds of knowledge from anywhere. You can learn Spanish from an online course offered from a Madrid online education course, a medical student can browse through the medical records of patients for case studies without going all the way to a particular hospital.

* IT is good for introvert students – the electronic ticker used recently in a US school where students could express their views on sensitive topics.

For example, for those who who are good in drawing or painting can have their creative works scanned and posted in an online gallery or in their own homepages.

* IT also makes the parents happy. They would love to have their children’s results sent as SMS int their cell phones and also to view their kids’ live interaction through a webcam fitted in their in their classrooms.

Identity Retention is paramount to Education

Friends. What we have to pay attention is not to lose our identity in the face of these technologies. What is most important is to retain your identity and not let your eyes glitter when you come across such ‘cool’ technologies.

I invite your attention to a speech given by the former CEO of HP-Compaq,

“And this (Islamic) civilization was driven more than anything, by invention. Its architects designed buildings that defied gravity. Its mathematicians created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of computers, and the creation of encryption. Its doctors examined the human body, and found new cures for disease. Its astronomers looked into the heavens, named the stars, and paved the way for space travel and exploration. Its writers created thousands of stories. Stories of courage, romance and magic. Its poets wrote of love, when others before them were too steeped in fear to think of such things. When other nations were afraid of ideas, this civilization thrived on them, and kept them alive. When censors threatened to wipe out knowledge from past civilizations, this civilization kept the knowledge alive, and passed it on to others.
While modern Western civilization shares many of these traits, the civilization I’m talking about was the Islamic world from the year 800 to 1600, which included the Ottoman Empire and the courts of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and enlightened rulers like Sulayman the Magnificent.
Although we are often unaware of our indebtedness to this other civilization, its gifts are very much a part of our heritage. The technology industry would not exist without the contributions of Arab mathematicians. Sufi poet-philosophers like Rumi challenged our notions of self and truth. Leaders like Sulayman contributed to our notions of tolerance and civic leadership.”

The CEO, apparently a lady, has highlighted 3 major contributions of Islamic Civilization to the present form of 3 major fields of human progress- Engineering, Computers and encryption and space exploration.

Therefore, I call upon you to be loyal to your own faith and culture. For, you are the sons of a great tradition and heritage.

Summary of Jaihoon’s speech at Avathikoodaram 2005 (Dubai)