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By Dr Devika Nadarajah
Malaysia has set a target to achieve an impressive number of PhD graduates by the year 2065. The nation acknowledges the importance of building a knowledge society. The opportunity for gaining knowledge is vast yet how do we ensure that we get the best of education for ourselves? How confident are we that after furthering our education, we actually have gained knowledge and more importantly, the capability to apply the knowledge effectively? While teachers play a significant role in the learning process, so do the students themselves.
Teachers at all levels should encourage students to read and discover knowledge for themselves. The degree of self discovery can increase gradually, ultimately fostering a culture of experiential learning. This builds the students capability to conduct independent research effectively at tertiary level. In addition, teachers must allow students to ask questions. The practice of asking questions will pave way for critical thinking. Today, students who ask questions may be labeled as rude, disrespectful and challenging authority. Our innate fear that we may not have the answers for them forces us to close all doors in allowing students to ask questions. Sadly, many do not realize that a teacher is not someone who has all the answers but is someone who makes us realize there is so much to learn. She or he is someone who inspires students to seek knowledge in the classroom and outside the classroom.
From the perspective of students and young adults, we have all been conditioned since young that recognition or reward is presented when correct answers are provided. The conditioning continues as we enter the workforce, when we are acknowledged for providing answers and not questioning assumptions or seeking clarifications. Yet asking questions is the key to arriving at the right decisions. This is because through questioning one can clarify the context, link to other related areas, dive deeper into the subject matter or even take a broader perspective of the subject of interest. At the end, a thorough understanding of the subject matter emerges giving us the confidence in our ability to provide effective solutions.
Therefore, students and young adults are implored to start speaking up and asking meaningful questions in order to be better prepared in their educational pursuits and become the leaders the nation aspires them to be.
About the Author
Dr Devika is a Senior Lecturer in Putra Business School. She worked in the industry for over 10 years and after embarking on her PhD in Business Process Management, she made a career transition to the academia. She teaches Business Statistics, Business Research Methods and Operations Management. Devika is the Associate Editor for Asian Journal of Case Research.