HIS TEACHING METHODS
The most important reason behind the effectiveness of the educational activities carried out by the Prophet (pbuh) was the truth of the content. But, the appropriateness of style in presenting the content was also important. We should pay attention to “whom” and “how” the Prophet taught as well as “what” he taught. He had methods for teaching. His style was not random.
We can see the education principles and methods put forward by modern education scholars in the practices of the Prophet. For instance, the following are model principles and methods used by the Prophet:
–To identify the learners and organize the content appropriate to their level
–To be tolerant to learners
–To make them like what was being taught and to avoid their hating it or getting bored
–To arouse learners’ interest and to show that they need to learn the material
–To take the intelligence, spirit, emotions and physical state of learners into consideration and to design the teaching considering their needs
–To make learners participate actively by thinking, searching, and asking questions
–To make abstract concepts concrete by giving examples
–To have the most appropriate attitude, behavior, and talking style before learners
–To create activities to reinforce what is learnt
The Prophet was very sincere in what he was teaching and he applied what he taught in his daily life. So he was showing people how to apply those principles he taught. The people he assigned to teach others were also knowledgeable and skillful, and they had superior characteristics.
It is also a fact that the teachers assigned by the Prophet were good examples for people with their mature personalities, attitudes and behavior and that helped the educational activities of the Prophet to be successful. This is accepted by modern education scholars as well. Indeed, behavior sciences indicate that the teacher’s attitudes and behaviors influence the learners. The intellectual position, emotional reactions, habits, gestures and postures of the teacher affect the learner and play a role in shaping his personality. Most of the time the learner pays attention to the teacher’s approach to the subject rather than what he says. Therefore, teachers play a significant role in classrooms as a model for students.
The Prophet, who said that he was sent only as a teacher, was a perfect one indeed. He carried out his educational activities successfully, productively, and effectively. Muawiyya said: “I have never seen a teacher better than him.” The Prophet was a good example for people as a teacher, as well.
At this point, the following question may rise: “How can an illiterate prophet carry out perfectly such a complex educational activity?” It is because being a teacher requires expertise, special ability, knowledge and skill. As just any person cannot be a teacher, a person who has the relevant education for being a teacher may not be a successful teacher. Moreover, what we said here applies to teachers who were educated in a special branch. However, the Prophet’s teaching covered a very large area. He had to be a teacher at any possible time and place. He had learners in all age groups and all levels. Therefore, his educational activities had a much more complex structure. Such a sensitive and difficult duty could be accomplished by only very skilled people. Since the Prophet fulfilled his duty as a successful teacher, it can be claimed that the Prophet had had a special education.
Both the Prophet’s life and the Quran and hadith prove that the Prophet was born as a capable person and raised specially for “tabligh.” He was from a distinguished family in Mecca, a cultural center at that time. He was given to a nurse in the country to be raised healthily and to learn to speak in the best way. He attracted attention with his bright intelligence and superior abilities. He lived a pure life before becoming a prophet. He did not adopt any tradition which was not acceptable to common sense. Sometimes it appeared that he was protected by a secret hand. He took trips with his uncle or on his own and he worked as a merchant. He knew people and life very well. Sometimes he had retreats for contemplation.
In some verses of the Quran, Allah states that the Prophet was endowed with some special gifts. In the Surat Al-Inshirah, Allah indicates that the Prophet gained knowledge and wisdom by means of a special method. In another verse, Allah says that He taught him the things he did not know. There are many other verses indicating that the Prophet was educated by Allah. Additionally, the verses of the Quran enlighten the Prophet in what to heed in delivering the message from Allah. This shows us that being a teacher is not a simple task that can be accomplished by an ordinary person.