Tutor Profile: Interview with Falilnesa Mohamed Arfan

Thinking In Education
Interview with Falilnesa Mohamed Arfan
Interview by Azahar Ahmad Nizar (azahar_ahmad@oum.edu.my)

FALILNESA MOHAMED ARFAN is a highly experienced tutor and educationist based in our Seri Kembangan Learning Centre.

Azahar: Please tell us a little bit about your educational background.

Falilnesa: I obtained my Degree in Malay Studies from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya. I went overseas on a JPA scholarship to study for my Masters in Curriculum Development at the University of Sussex in Brighton. When you study overseas, you really do get your money’s worth … but it’s a lot of money for the worth you’re getting!

Azahar: What are your teaching experiences like?

Falilnesa: I have experience teaching language and literature in both English and Bahasa Melayu. As a teacher, I am also privileged to have taught other teachers especially during my stint with Maktab Perguruan Islam (MPI). There, I used to teach OUM modules like Learning Skills, English for Oral Communication and others.

Azahar: What do you understand by the word “think”?

Falilnesa: To think is to use the mind to produce thoughts, ideas, opinions and the like. It is the highest and noblest activity available to humanity and as such distinguishes us from mere animals. All human progress and achievement are made possible because of our capacity for thinking.

Azahar: Why is thinking so important in education?

Falilnesa: Thinking is important in education because without it we are no better than parrots. Once upon a time, rote learning was very much prevalent as an acceptable method of transmitting factual knowledge. However, this “chalk and talk” approach obviously has its limitations.

These days, especially with the advent of Bestari or smart schools, we are gradually moving away from “chalk and talk” towards more ICT-oriented methods. The recent emergence of young inventors in increasing numbers is perhaps a sign of the times.

Azahar: Are there many types of thinking?

Falilnesa: Yes, you could say that. Allow me to illustrate by distinguishing between creative thinking and critical thinking. Creative thinking suggests that one is generating something out of nothing, for example, a poet might experience a flight of fancy and produces a poem as a result of that. To be critical, on the other hand, does not necessarily require that anything be created. Critical thinking allows us to examine and evaluate pre-existing ideas, to see it from various angles in an inquiring spirit.

Azahar: Any last words about thinking?

Falilnesa: Nowadays we hear a lot of people talking about“thinking outside the box”. However, on a humorous note, I would like to say that there is one situation where this does not apply. It is when you are toilet training your cat. When your cat suddenly feels the urge to move outside its litter box, you say to your cat: “Don’t you ever think out of that box!”

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If I want my learners to succeed in their studies, I should guide them to:

Think outside the box by being more open-minded about new knowledge
Apply their knowledge and experience to solve problems in the classroom
Understand the art of learning and memorise the relevant facts
Think for themselves on what suits them best in their studies
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