‘Turn pages of book’

Read­ing cru­cial to de­velop crit­i­cal think­ing, en­gage­ment: so­ci­ol­o­gist

The Independent on Saturday - - METRO - TANYA WATERWORTH Dr Mariam See­dat-Khan

tanya.waterworth@inl.co.za

“THIS gen­er­a­tion doesn’t read enough… they need to turn the pages of a book.”

That was the comment by Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal clin­i­cal so­ci­ol­o­gist Dr Mariam See­dat-Khan, about learn­ing skills and how to ad­dress chal­lenges fac­ing the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

See­dat-Khan has re­cently been ac­cred­ited by the As­so­ci­a­tion for Ap­plied and Clin­i­cal So­ci­ol­ogy (AACS), mak­ing her one of only 25 cer­ti­fied clin­i­cal so­ci­ol­o­gists in the world and one of three women in South Africa.

She said she felt hon­oured at this recog­ni­tion by the Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Re­view Com­mit­tee at the In­ter­na­tional So­ci­o­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion World Congress in Canada with re­gard to her re­search into de­vel­op­ing teach­ing and learn­ing in­ter­ven­tions, which have re­sulted in a man­age­ment tool which pro­vides learn­ing tools and tech­niques for in­di­vid­u­als.

Hav­ing com­pleted her un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree at York Univer­sity in Canada, See­dat-Khan re­turned to Dur­ban where she com­pleted her PhD.

Since then, she has spent 20 years in teach­ing and re­search at the uni­ver­si­ties of KZN, Jo­han­nes­burg and Wits.

‘“I had ADHD (at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der) as a child, but there was no such thing as ADHD then and it was only when I was at univer­sity in Canada I dis­cov­ered this is what I had ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing my en­tire school ca­reer.

“There was med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion for this, but I wanted to im­prove con­cen­tra­tion and learn­ing styles, so I de­vel­oped tools for the dif­fer­ently abled learner,” she said.

Hav­ing fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing learn­ing in­ter­ven­tions for those with con­di­tions such as ADHD, Asperger syn­drome and autism, See­dat-Khan said that as a sci­en­tist, it was im­por­tant to ap­ply strin­gent sci­en­tific method­ol­ogy, adding that each learner re­quires a unique so­lu­tion, with fac­tors such as in­di­vid­ual in­tel­li­gence, at­ten­tion span, in­ter­ests and learn­ing style be­ing con­sid­ered.

“Each stu­dent is dif­fer­ent, you may have a ki­naes­thetic (tac­tile) learner who can’t sit still for long or an au­di­tory learner (depends on lis­ten­ing or speak­ing).”

With re­gard to young peo­ple and chil­dren in to­day’s tech­no­log­i­cal age, she said read­ing was cru­cial to de­velop crit­i­cal think­ing and en­gage­ment.

“I think this gen­er­a­tion doesn’t read enough. If you are not a pro­lific reader, you can­not ex­pect to be a good writer.

“With the ad­vent of the in­ter­net, peo­ple have be­come lazy and it’s a chal­lenge this gen­er­a­tion faces. School teaches you how to learn and re­gur­gi­tate, but in grades 11 and 12 you have to start ap­ply­ing more crit­i­cal think­ing and it’s a skill that takes time to de­velop. If first-year stu­dents are asked to read a chap­ter and sum­marise, they are good at it. But if I give them a def­i­ni­tion and ask them for an opin­ion piece, they have great difficulty.

“There is too much screen time and some­thing is taken away from stu­dents when not turn­ing the pages of a book,” she said.

“There needs to be greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion for teach­ers, as well as al­lo­ca­tion of re­quired re­sources. Schools need to be equipped, they need ac­cess to wa­ter, toi­lets and a safe learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment. Vi­o­lence has erupted in our schools. As par­ents, be­hav­iour be­gins at home.”

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