KARACHI : The Covid-19 ridden world we now live in has brought humans at a crossroads with some patiently waiting for life to go back to ‘normal’ while others embrace the ‘new normal’ in an attempt to survive. The thought of change, however, has many on the fence in Pakistan, since dogmas and traditions are the driving force of our very lives.
From the unwavering constructs of marriage to the unhinged and ancient methods of learning, some things have failed to alter since being introduced in our society. For instance, the factory model of education practiced in our country dates back to the industrial era, inspired by the European educational system of the late 18th century. It later came to be known as a “design to create docile subjects and factory workers.”
Since Pakistan’s adherence to that model remained untouched throughout these years, the ongoing pandemic forced it to disintegrate altogether with several schools and universities being forced to conduct online classes. Still, students failed to show engagement with several putting their mics on mute and disappearing with the excuse of electrical shortages or other made-up technical failures.
Thus, the alignment of a new model feels a farfetched idea unless of course, we start following a comedian’s method of teaching on YouTube. You might think I’m joking, but this comedian isn’t – ironic as it may seem. Engineer, educationalist and ‘meme lord’ Syed Muhammad Kumail’s new Facebook page and YouTube channel allows students to learn physics in a colloquial way coupled with memes they are most familiar with.
In a conversation with The Express Tribune, Kumail said, “This lockdown has seen many teachers failing to keep their student’s engaged because of not being able to enforce discipline the way they could in a classroom.”
Kumail explained how, instead of enforcing discipline and making the new generation adapt to dated methods of learning, teachers will have to adopt new methods of teaching. Thus, in the light of ‘edutainment’, his channel ‘Bhin Physic’ features him as various characters that students can relate to while learning the most serious laws of physics.
“I have been a teacher for most of my life. I got my first paid tuition at the age of 15 and once I became an engineer, I started teaching formally in schools and colleges. But in the field of entertainment, I started off as a theatre performer who went on to making YouTube videos. I’ve been doing that since eight years now and am affiliated with Lol Waalay.”
But before all that, Kumail recalled being a project manager at a private engineering company and standing on the top of a turbine, only to wonder what he was doing with his life. “I wished I was on top of a stage,” he said.
The comedian went on to reassure that it was not engineering he had a problem with. In fact, he loved it. But performing was something he loved more. Thus, he went on to combine the two with his latest venture. “I initially even switched to teaching because it gave me the liberty to do both. That freedom increases digitally.”
Kumail’s educational videos feature several memes popping up in the middle of lessons, only to make the lessons more memorable. Currently following the A level curriculum, he plans on incorporating more characters with each chapter.
“I am planning on teaching kinematics through the lens of Dhoom, since the laws of physics don’t apply to Bollywood action films,” he joked. He also promised to incorporate Fast and the Furious references and adapt the roll of a Pakistani wedding photographer to teach the properties of waves.
“I have received an extremely positive response on my videos. I feel there is a huge generation gap that I need to fill and this might just be the way to do that. These kids are born surrounded by devices, and until you impress them with what they know best, they won’t take you seriously,” opined Kumail.
Kumail went on to conclude that his method of communication would be better suited to the socio-economic classes Band C, since the elite already had access to quality education. Thus, the kind of memes and entertainment he incorporates in his videos will be relatable to the children who are otherwise ignored in institutions for their lack of fluency in English or other class-based ‘shortcomings’.