I started teaching in 2012, and I have taught at different levels and institutions. But being a teacher who is a Quest Forward mentor has been one of the better parts of my career so far. And here are my reasons why I love being a mentor.
1. The classroom becomes a more friendly place.
In traditional [Tanzanian] methodology, a teacher communicates with the class as one big group, but in Quest Forward Learning both learners and mentors are intended to communicate individually and constantly. This breaks the barrier between teacher and student that is typically found in traditional methodology. This is the second-year since my school stopped using corporal punishment. This is because learners and mentors strive to reach the same goal together in a class.
2. Quest Forward Learning has made me a student, too.
One day in a subtopic of Dating Historical Information, there was a small debate that started as a discussion in a group. When I met with one of the groups, I was asked by the students why February has 28 days some years but every 4th year it has 29 days? During my life as a student or teacher, I never thought about it and I learned it with them that day.
3. Quests are made by fellow teachers, and are reviewed and approved by the Tanzania Institute of Education.
One may argue that it is the same with books, but quests are tailored following guiding principles. Each quest becomes much more like a lesson plan, which allows for more flexibility in the classroom. Quests guide the learners and give mentors details on what to assess and observe while learners move through the quest.
4. Quest Forward Learning is truly learner-centered with deep exploration.
Quests ask students open-ended questions that guide them. Quest then provide a framework that helps guide students’ exploration by providing relevant, engaging resources to explore while they attempt to answer these questions. This enables learners to explore the unknown and to question their previously held assumptions.
5. Learners gain knowledge rather than just memorizing the answers!
Once in Biology class, learners were asked to go outside and bring in two living things. One student submitted a flower and herself. The student was challenged to think critically. In traditional methodology, the learners do not have this kind of opportunity to think deeply and develop wisdom because the whole learning process is constrained and limited to the teacher’s decisions.
6. Technology is a part of school learning.
I remember opening my first email account when I was 16. I was initially unsure what to do with it. This was one of the first times I engaged with technology as a student. My generation missed out on the potential of technology in secondary school education. Quest Forward Learning enables the learners to use technology responsibly inside and outside of the classroom. This enhances their education and gives them more control over their learning.
7. Peaceful and active classrooms mean smooth classroom management.
Quests encourage the learners to communicate and work together while completing quests. This provides them the time and space to become friendlier and to grow as learners, together. The cases of indiscipline like bullying have become non-existent because a learner gets to work with each peer regularly in learning throughout the week. Quest Forward Learning creates a strong sense of community and mutual appreciation.
8. Students go at their own pace, and together.
As the saying goes: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” In Quest Forward Learning, learners learn at their own pace, but also together.
9. Quest Forward Learning teaches a mindset, not just a curriculum.
In Quest Forward Learning, there are 6 Essential Habits that engage learners and guide them not only in school, but also in life outside the school. I, myself, have learned to manage my time better through one Essential Habit (Manage Yourself). At my school, we have stopped using a bell because we all manage ourselves and do not need the bell to tell us when a class starts or ends.
10. There is constant support from Opportunity Education and my fellow mentors.
In my school, there is a Lead Mentor and a Quest Coordinator who organize peer observations where I get a chance to attend the classes of my peers, and they get to attend mine. The feedback always leads to growth. Also, Opportunity Education offers frequent workshops that gather mentors from other schools. We get to discuss challenges, success stories, and tips and tricks for using Quest Forward Learning, which leads to professional growth.
I believe Quest Forward Learning is the future of education. Not just in Tanzania, but in the world. In the next 10 to 15 years, Tanzania will have the next Mo Dewji, Shabani Robert, and even Albert Einstein. And it is my belief that they are in one of the Quest Forward Learning classes right now.