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Monday December 05, 2022

The Pakistani superwoman redefining learning for kids

Director Affiliate at Destination Imagination (DI) - A US based organization for STEM methods of learning, Urooj's maternal nature helps her better understand the kids she works with.

December 27, 2018

Urooj Seemeen talks to Bismah Mughal

Behind the muddled and polluted drapes of our unsound education system are a few crusaders enlivening the appetite for learning in pupils through groundbreaking methods -something that is largely dominated by entrenched customary learning in Pakistan.

Urooj Seemeen is one such champ who has redefined and rekindled the conception of learning in children in Pakistan.

Director Affiliate at Destination Imagination (DI) - A US based organization for STEM methods of learning, Urooj takes pride in calling herself a mother before anything else, instead of achieving revered titles in her mission to impart knowledge.

Explaining the concept of DI, Urooj recounts her journey into the field of education spanning over eight years.

"I got to know about this program through my son. He is homeschooled so while searching up programs and opportunities for him online, I came across this."

She goes on to tell: "It was noncompetitive, this whole program did so much for him. He became confident, he started doing research at four years old and he unlike most kids started understanding why we are learning a certain subject instead of just blindly accepting what is being taught to him without thinking of the reason behind it."

A computer engineer by training, Urooj went on to shed light on how the globally acclaimed program was brought to Pakistan through her determinations by gathering up 12 teams that kicked off the project in October of 2017.

"In the competition we held in March this year, 12 teams participated and 11 were from underprivileged schools and it created an amazing impact on those students as they went on to do amazing things and I am so proud of it," she states.

Speaking of a feat by TCF students that she is particularly proud of, Urooj reveals: "I've had children from TCF who have encountered number of accidents coming to school due to the main road having no traffic signals and zebra crossings. So they selected the service learning project from Destination Imagination and were able to install a traffic light over there."

Introducing the far-off concept to Pakistani institutions of child-led learning, Urooj states: "I believe if we give kids the chance they can do amazing things."

"It is really hard for people here to accept this new phenomenon. When we explain the concept they fail to grasp how children can manage to handle such difficult challenges. The 'no interference' thing is very hard for them to understand," she added.

Moreover, weighing the two varying concepts of homeschooling and formal education, she goes on to explain how the latter is devoid of singular deliberation paid to learners: "I am just trying to change the system. Most schools are trying their best to provide the best but there are 20-30 students all under one teacher so they don't get individual attention."

She goes on to state: "Whereas in terms of discipline, I believe that is the responsibility of the parents not the teacher's."

"If my son is interested more in astronomy than biology then I would be doing more astronomy with him. In a school environment that cannot happen," she adds.

She stressed on parents to show patience when it comes to their children by giving her own example.

"My son wasn't able to read properly till he was seven because he was not interested in reading but I had that patience that I would give him time and wouldn't compare him to others."

When he was seven, he wanted to read a comic book and so he asked for my help but I said if you want to read you'll have to do it yourself and within one month he taught himself to read."

Concluding the profound discourse, she states: "I believe every kid is extraordinary but we don't often believe that and we aren't patient enough."