Education is the fastest route to success, and it pays to start early. With this in mind, educators from 80 Lebanese schools made their way to Irwin Hall on LAU’s Beirut campus to attend a seminar hosted by the Department of Education on “Kindergarten Classroom Teaching Tips.” Organized by All Prints Distributors and Publishers, the workshop, which was held earlier this month, was conducted by international consultant Muhammad Jeenah.
While this is not the first collaboration between All Prints and LAU, it is the first such seminar focused on education in early childhood, an often overlooked but incredibly important period in children’s brain development. “LAU is committed to actively raising the quality of education for children in particular,” Chair of the Department of Education Iman Osta told the attendees, who included Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Nashat Mansour. “Our mission is to provide step-by-step assistance to any event that contributes to this mission and vision,” she added.
Indeed, besides offering bachelor’s degrees in early-childhood and elementary education, in addition to one graduate degree, LAU has been a pioneer in the field, priding itself on having the first and only nursery school in the region affiliated with an academic institution. Established in 1950, the nursery was expanded into the contemporary Early Childhood Center in 2014.
The seminar revolved around emerging trends in early-childhood education and their impact on the classroom. “The paradigms have shifted,” Jeenah said. “We need new thinking to solve ‘Third-World’ problems. Old thinking can’t solve those problems, but new thinking can.”
“It is about building concepts, understanding them and creating a new approach of using that information,” he added.
Over the course of the seminar, a relative silence in the auditorium gave way to lively discussion as Jeenah led participants through interactive exercises. Using keywords and standard terms such as “homework,” Jeenah asked the participants to demonstrate how teachers can change the objective of a word or how they can introduce new daily routines into the learning space.
The second part of the workshop focused on Bloom’s Taxonomy, which classifies learning objectives into six levels based on complexity and the intensity of thinking required.
“Developing critical thinking is all about asking the right questions. It is about finding that thing that makes you tick – that passion,” Jeenah said, encouraging attendees to share their ideas.
Nour Saeed, an undergraduate majoring in early-childhood education, said the seminar offered new approaches in the field, as Jeenah “shed light on specific titles a teacher should keep in mind. He advises us to break the routine by introducing new activities.”
For Tala Itani, LAU alumna and Early Childhood Center teacher, what made the seminar most effective for was its focus on the implementation of concepts and problem solving in the classroom.
Notably, Jeenah involved the participants, all of whom were kindergarten teachers, in exercises based on a student-centered rather than teacher-centered approach, as the latter does not give children the opportunity to think for themselves.
“There are things that we already know, but he explained them in a new way,” said Suzan Abdel-Ghani, who teaches at Maqassed-Doha school. “You forget that there is always another approach that you can adopt.”
There is a reason All Prints chose to work with LAU on the subject. Joan Lucas, head of the International Consulting Group at All Prints, praised LAU for “providing facilities for us to support the local schools, and for dedicating itself to the profession of education and to training teachers for the country.”
Nadima Blell, division director at All Prints in Lebanon, echoed Lucas’ sentiment. “LAU is a landmark. When people hear LAU, they are encouraged to attend,” she said. “This is a big institution that influences educators all over. By helping teachers, you are helping students, and by extension society as a whole.”