Voice of an Exile: Reflections on Islam

By Esther R. Nelson; Nasr Abu Zaid | Go to book overview

9 My Teaching Journey

[Teaching is not a one-way trip,] I tell my students after they've settled into the classroom on the first day of class. [In here you will need a round-trip ticket.]

Teaching involves so much more than doling out information. Teaching and learning go hand in hand. Neither one happens in a vacuum. The teaching process requires that students be engaged. To me, the classroom is like a laboratory. The atmosphere must be open and free as students bring their questions and their arguments to bear on whatever material we cover. As we experiment and wrestle with that material together, they help me develop my ideas and refine my thoughts.

When I first started teaching at Cairo University, my students thought me strange. I didn't just lecture—the teaching method most professors use exclusively. I incorporated dialogue and discussion in my classroom. I wanted to know what my students were thinking. I wanted to hear what they had to say. In Egypt's authoritarian atmosphere—an atmosphere that spills over into the universities—my teaching methods seemed odd to them. Gradually, as they became more comfortable participating in the process, they opened up. Little tender shoots tentatively poked their heads through the stuff of our discussion, and before I knew it, love bloomed. I believe love is essential to education. If you do not love your students, you cannot be a good teacher. If your students do not love you, they experience difficulty learning. Although I have no biological children, I feel as though I have

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Voice of an Exile: Reflections on Islam
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1: Exiled 1
  • 2: My Early Years 17
  • 3: Bodriyya, Karima, Ayat, and Shereen 37
  • 4: A Reluctant Scholar 49
  • 5: Here I Stand 63
  • 6: My American Adventure 85
  • 7: Going Japanese 103
  • 8: Ebtehal 119
  • 9: My Teaching Journey 135
  • 10: A Decent Return 153
  • 11: The Nexus of Theory and Practice 165
  • 12: Looking Ahead 181
  • 13: The Way Forward 199
  • Appendix 209
  • Notes 213
  • Index 217
  • About the Authors 220
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