Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
The 21st century’s widespread use of technology has largely changed the nature of human communications. The negative effects of technology in acquiring information, however, lie in its passive nature. Children who rely more on visual material get accustomed to being receptive of knowledge rather than imaginative and analytical. The overuse of technological advancements and one-way learning methods affects a person’s personal growth, skills development, and communication capacity. Passive learning significantly affects social skills development, particularly communication skills, as information is relayed without the need to respond or react with other people or express and discuss one’s opinion.
In our highly visual world, children learn to become dependent on visual input to stimulate their attention, barely becoming able to sit and listen, for example to an educational story, without any visual stimulation or input. However, this has a detrimental effect on their listening development, which is a vital skill necessary in the classroom. Through listening, a child gains the ability to distinguish sounds from one another, determining the direction from which a sound comes, and recalling or memorizing auditory information. This further enhances their abilities to develop expressive language and cope with academic school demands. The development of good listening skills for children allows them to gain attention skills as well, which positively affects their interaction with their peers as they learn to communicate their thoughts effectively.
The focus of education methods in the Arab Levant region that rely more on memorization and instruction, rather than analyzing and interaction, leads to children lacking essential skills such as creativity, imagination, communication and empathy. Further, Jordan’s education system is still very traditional in teaching methodologies. Teachers are not generally given the creative freedom to innovate within their classroom and try new styles of teaching and learning. Thus, most classrooms lack a participatory learning environment.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Rawan is shifting the educational emphasis in a predominantly visual society to incorporate listening skills to increase interactivity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and empathy. Coming from her own experience as a blind person, Rawan realized that the ability to listen and learn by ear is quickly fading in a predominantly visual culture. In an age of increasing mass individualization and on-demand visual learning, oral histories and a culture of listening is losing its place in education. Rawan has, therefore, institutionalized the concept of listening classes to equip teachers with non-traditional curriculum linked to interactive and applicable teaching tools.
A classroom environment where listening is a core method for education delivery immensely contributes to shaping a culture of collaboration and community, influencing younger children’s personalities while equipping older students with dialogue, negotiation and presentation skills. Recognizing this, Rawan is influencing the education system by working with the Ministry of Education and involving teachers, students, mothers and community volunteers to offer access to education in a non-traditional environment. This creative teaching methodology is paving the path to other innovations in education, principally in teaching methodologies. Rawan’s work creates a space for more participatory interaction and creative learning and invites teachers to re-think traditional learning methodologies.
Already replicated in schools and refugee camps throughout the Levant region, Rawan has plans to spread her methodology to the rest of the Arab world.