By Melissa Deeder
When University of Ottawa professor Dr. Awad Ibrahim notices students beginning to nod off in his class, the power of music jolts them awake.
Ibrahim, who helped kick of Humber’s Culture Days on Friday, presented ideas on how to alter teaching methods to further engage students, one example being the inclusion of music in class.
“[The songs] are usually linked to the subject and material we are learning,” he said.
When teaching a class of 400 students, Ibrahim said he notices student’s dozing off, so to get them engaged again he stops the lecture and plays a song that gets them going.
“Find a strategy to bring them back in,” Ibrahim said. “Teaching is an invitation, learning is a labour of flow.”
Ibrahim asserted that students don’t remember information, but rather remember the emotions associated with the subject matter. That’s how they stay focused and learn. The ideas of how to learn better, and how to craft the art of learning, were repeatedly summed up with the term “pedagogy.”
The Big Three
There are three things that sum up the purpose of Ibrahim’s speeches and what he hopes people will get out of them.
“To complicate the notion of schooling and education by introducing the notion of pedagogy, not specifically about what we teach, but how we teach it as well,” said Ibrahim when he first addressed the crowd.
Secondly, Ibrahim focuses on the idea of rethinking about hip hop as a tool. Ibrahim said the question isn’t about whether or not to use it, but rather how do we make use of it?
Ibrahim gives the advice that teachers should think about and creative ways to do that. He suggests things like the transcription of interviews, the deconstruction of the image, or the interrogation of the image like what Ibrahim does with female pop star and actress Jennifer Lopez.
The Lopez example is an exercise he does that involves watching a music video in 35 second intervals. First, students watch without sound and jot down what they see. Next, they listen without visuals and jot down what they hear. Then, in a three to four page essay, they write about what they think.
“You will be surprised at how much is happening in terms of those 35 seconds,” he said. “This makes them mindful and conscious about what they are listening to.”
With the exercise he makes a radical distinction between morality and ethics.
“Dr. Ibrahim’s offering was robust,” said Nancy Simms, Director Centre for Human Rights Equity & Diversity. “Most importantly, he stressed that as faculty, administrators and support staff our main goal and purpose must be the success of all of our students.”