Dr Randa Hariri, Assistant Professor, Dar Al-Hekma University, Saudi Arabia

Dr. Randa Hariri is an Assistant Professor in the Master’s Program of Educational Leadership and the Director of the Center of Excellence in Teaching & Learning at Dar Al-Hekma University, Saudi Arabia. A certified KPI professional and practitioner in education institutions. Dr. Hariri is a passionate and dedicated educator, excited to share her expertise and prowess in the education field and gain novel relevant experiences. She has over 20 years of experience in teaching and learning, curriculum development, teachers’ professional development, strategic planning, quality and accreditation associated work in higher education institutions.

 

There is no doubt that the attentiveness to education, its research and development, has reached the forefront as a main priority of the myriads of countries around the globe. Education is one that propels civilizations, by distinguishing the advancement and the peculiarity of a country from others. A radical revolution took place towards the traditional education systems, with their stereotypes that are loosely based on memorization and indoctrination. A reformed education system would take the façade of a new image grounded on analysis, critical thinking, creativity and teamwork.

This specific change compelled a major shift in the education system as a whole. Education, witnessed the change of the focal point of authority, which has been passed down from teachers to students. Nevertheless, the essential related practices for this change are still yet to be practiced or implemented in the most effective ways, as it should be. To be more precise, student centeredness is highly misinterpreted and misunderstood in most, if not all education institutions, whether at school or higher education levels, and it’s time to correct this perception. The concept of student centeredness is dwarfed to only express and include the understanding and utilization of student-centered teaching strategies or practices inside or outside the physical or virtual classrooms. However, student-centeredness is way a broader and deeper concept that encompasses ALL of the education. Accordingly, to correct this perception a revolution in education must take place in order to incorporate ALL of the education. This revolution should emphasize and prioritize the talents of students and capitalize on them so that one may pave the way towards a brighter future.

A wise and promising future entails having an intelligent leadership that can make intuitive decisions and provide guidance that will push the progress and improvement of the education system in the most effective and efficient path possible. Wise Leadership is considered intelligent when it can manifest itself in providing the best learning opportunities to students, within which learning starts and ceases to end. A leadership that assists higher education, alter its focus from teaching to learning, from teaching excellence to learning excellence, and from centering on the quality of teaching to concentrating on the quality of learning.

“Learning starts with an opportunity”! This philosophy for teaching should be the guide based on which education institutions are invited to design their teachers’ professional development programs, modify their academic curriculums, tailor their student development programs, enhance all related academic and non-academic support services, and even rethink the overall design of their facilities. Shedding this light, educational leaders are encouraged to diversify their learning opportunities to address students’ needs and meet their interests while considering each student’s uniqueness. Investing in their Talents, and motivation will yield them to utilize their full potential and maximize their achievements.

This drives me to courageously and confidently invite “leaders in education” to adopt the Wise Leadership and implement a new strategy in curriculum or academic program development, in teachers’ professional development, as well as in learning and teaching. This new suggested strategy is Talent-Oriented rather than subject matter or discipline oriented. This strategy would transform the higher education role from being observed as an entity which serves the labor market, to an entity that leads whole communities through its students’ body of talents and dictate the labor market. This strategy is Student -Centered. Let us rename our “Academic Programs” and call them “Talent Programs”. Let us redesign or customize our assessment tools and standardized tests around the student bodies of talents to uncover their hidden potentials. Let us retailor the teachers’ professional development to focus on learning activities and opportunities, instead of focusing on teaching strategies. Simply, let us rethink education.

There are myriads of ways to improve and thrust educational development. Some include the management and efficient organization of human resources, the selection of qualified competencies in the fields of education, the provision of ample working conditions, which includes financial returns and economic incentives, provision of mutual homage and recognition particularly to the teachers or faculty. This starts and ends with respecting and securing their rights, investing in their potentials, and appreciating their efforts which will in turn positively impact the educational system as a whole.

This Wise Leadership is essential for the benefit of the education sector in general and higher education in particular. It is necessary for education institutions to have all adequate requirements to face any significant obstacles that may threaten their essence or in more exact words, their existence. These challenges include different aspects but mainly revolve around teaching and learning, teacher- student relationship, the wellbeing of students and teachers, as well as financial related aspects.

At this point, it is highly pertinent to discuss the impact of technology as one of the dramatic factors “controlling” all sectors. This with no doubt includes education, whereby all technology professionals are invited to partner with educators and teachers to be the pillar that supports education rather than controls it. As technology continuously makes the availability and abundance of knowledge easy to access, it is also the comprised catalyst that led the drastic shift in the learning-teaching process during the past decades. This colossal dynamic continues to lead other changes in the essence of education and specifically in the aspects mentioned above in our current time.

During COVID 19, when the world halted its functions, technology once again shined as the savior of day-to-day management and operations that range from manual labor, to teaching and learning, all the way to state and international governance. Technology has for a countless amount of times sufficiently proved to be yet-again a momentous factor that constitutes the lungs through which our modern world could retrieve its breath. Here is where, when, and how Wise Leadership is highly needed to hold the deck to maintain the growth and development of higher education. The link to higher education is found in all areas of life. Henceforth, the role of education is to stimulate critical and analytical thinking to the concern of finding solutions to local and global problems in the field of sustainable development.

Yes, this era with all the overwhelming changes needs an “Xth Education Revolution”.  A revolution that emphasizes students’ talents and adopt a Wise Leadership.

“Learning Starts with an Opportunity”.

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