Learning Beyond…Learning Always…Learning Lifelong


Prof M Abubaker
Scholars Indian School

Formal schooling, unlike an informal one, undermines students from concrete and distinct learning and problem solving on their own. Indeed it’s the schools’ onus to try and bridge this gap by entailing informal educations in their curriculum.

How can schools bridge the gap between formal and informal learning, shares Prof M Abubaker in conversation with The Progressive School.

TPS: There is a long-standing view that only a limited quantity of learning is obtained through formal institutions of learning and informal learning plays a significant role in the empowerment of the individual. This view has been further strengthened by cognitive psychologists. How do you think schools can cope with this situation by synergizing formal and informal learning modes?

Prof Abubaker: Formal institutions impart the meaning of the concepts but applying the imparted concepts in an effectual way in ones’ real life is procured through informal learning. If a person masters a skill by engaging in solving a problem, then giving students such opportunities to tackle real world issued in their own lines and communities would certainly spur and help them gain mastery over new concepts. For eg. if we apply English and grammar lessons to eloquently converse with others in the community, students would be more inclined to effectively consummate these concepts since they would be applying them both for individual and group dealings.

We see that formal schooling, unlike an informal one, undermines students from concrete and distinct learning and problem solving on their own. Indeed it’s the schools’ onus to try and bridge this gap by entailing informal educations in their curriculum through individual and group tasks that have scenarios from real life and hypothetical situations. This sets a platform for students to use their creativity and thinking skills efficaciously. Moreover students would not only apply their theoretical lessons practically but also persuade them to think out of the box with a different perspective.

TPS: Can you suggest a few informal instruments of learning provided by schools that help in this process of empowerment of the individual and how do they play a scaffolding role in learning?

Prof Abubaker: Informal teaching methods often take the form of rigorous drilling and mentoring. Students work on a par with their teachers, who try to assist them by all means to surmount problems. These mentors perpetually work with the same students for a continual period of time thus acquainting themselves with each child’s learning style. This proves to be of great advantage when mentors moil in raising their (students) level of performance in order to procure remarkable results. In other words, informal teacher is child oriented and not teacher centered.

For instance, if a lesson is to be delivered in class, the facilitator may cite some videos o be watched on the eve of the presentation. This takes the form of pre-learning as students get acclimatized to some main concepts pertinent to the assigned topic. During the course of the presentation, students could query their peers and elicit varied responses from them to check their previous knowledge. This eventually progresses into fruitful group discussion where the focal point is student learning than teacher teaching. Thus students become sensitized to the allotted topic much prior to the teaching of the same.

TPS: With a high thrust on competitive learning, most schools appear to have neglected or marginalized such vital requirements and appear to be promoting rote learning preparing the students for a rat race. In this context what do you think are the future challenges and how do you think schools can cope with them?

Prof Abubaker: Schools promote rote learning because the Indian system of education places thrust on high percentage marks. Entry into the competitive medical field or engineering course demand for soaring scores without probing into the positive and negative effects of learning on the learner. India is single-mindedly striving to become a well equipped nation in terms of infrastructure, business and literacy, for which we need to have an adept and apt workforce. Children who learn through the rote method are doomed to flunk at the very beginning. Therefore it has to be made mandatory that students in every nook and corner of the country have an exposure to both comprehensive and constructive education, which should enable them to apply all that they learn in their daily lines and this would certainly add value and meaning to what was learnt.

TPS: Many schools believe that provision of informal supports to learning for extended and impactful learning comes with a cost which parents cannot afford and hence find it convenient to marginalize them. Is there a scope for integrating such learning experiences with curricular architecture and how do you think this can be done?

Prof Abubaker: Formal teaching often takes place solely in the classroom where students work through prepared material over the course of an academic year. Moreover, projects may be assigned that require students to interact with the real outside world and its people.

TPS: “Learning Beyond” is fundamental to “Learning Always” and “Lifelong learning.” It is development of a mindset and attitude to learning which is required for a vibrant knowledge society and a global learning environment. How can this idea be seeded in the young minds which would trigger them to be powerful ‘self-learners’?

Prof Abubaker: Self-learning can be as diverse as simply discovering new information and thinking critically about it or actively participating and contributing to a learning community, or designing one’s own learning path and selecting resources, guides and information.

TPS: In a world haunted by technology, most learners spend their time with the instruments of technology for further and extended learning. What are its advantages and shortfalls? How do you think this mindset can be changed to a positive and personalized interactive social learning culture?

Prof Abubaker: Technology is a man made creation and not vice versa. The use of technology would be purposeful and a boon to the society only if students are guided in its proper sense. Technology and its use should be rightly targeted, so that this man made creation turns out to be beneficial and nifty not only to the existing generation but also for the generations to come.

Prof. M. Abubaker, M.A.(English); M.A. (Political Science); B.Ed; P.G.D.B.M; P.G.D.H.R.M; D.C.A. joined Scholars Indian School in the year 2006. Has an experience of over 27 years as a Principal and has diligently served both in India and in the UAE. He is a profound catalyst who places a strong emphasis on education for making it unique with far reaching positive implications. A seasoned CBSE Counsellor of students on matters related to behavioural, emotional, social and academic related aspects.

He is an eloquent speaker who has proved to be very convincing and assertive with his diverse perceptions and notions on issues pertaining to education. A visionary with immense potentials in launching new ventures and putting forth openings for both students and teachers to meet the need of the hour. His 27 years of sedulous selfless service has accorded him priceless status and recognition both in India and in the UAE. He is mindful of not only catering to the academic necessities of the young minds of today, but also functions painstakingly to produce holistic individuals.

His concerted and tireless efforts has bestowed on him several prestigious accolades from Government bodies – Education Ministry, Educational Boards, Scouts and Guides etc. He also holds the credit of securing the Best amazing Teacher Award from Beary’s UAE and the Best Principal award from E MAX respectively. His integrity and wholehearted service towards the field of education has made him the Brand Ambassador of the Gulf Indian Education by Apeejay University, Delhi. He has also been graced at several ceremonious gatherings where he has partaken as a speaker. He has also been involved in counselling service of the CBSE and an official of the CBSE affiliated schools in the Gulf.