Thursday, 30 September 2010

Teaching / Inspiring change ...

Dear Friends
The American sage William Arthur Ward stated that:
''The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.''
How do we inspire?  How do we access the Ruminesque 'fountain within yourself'?
Part of the solution is that educators must see their roles as a 'vocation'…A calling…I read some where that if you scratch the surface of a good teacher who will find a moral imperative to become an agent for change.
I personally find it exhilarating and terrifying that my student's future destinies are in my hands. Thus I take to my role with humility and humour for really I am the student.
Muhammed (pbuh) uttered 1,400 hundred years ago:
'From cradle to grave seek knowledge'…
Rishi Faisal

Yes! Rumi on Education!

Dear Friends

Mevlana Rumi needs no introduction…
…one of the greatest men that have ever graced this troubled planet and successfully left an 800 hundred year old legacy that continues to nurture. Rumi is one of those rare gems who managed to cut across multiple boundaries especially religious even during their lives.  
His Magnus Opus the Masnavi is a series of six books of poetry that amount to approximately 25,000 verses or 50,000 lines. The title Masnavi-I Ma'navi means "Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning." Rumi personally referred to the Masnavi as "the roots of the roots of the roots of the (Islamic) Religion."
The Masnavi is a poetic collection of anecdotes and stories derived from the Quran (the Holy Book of Islam), hadith (sayings of Muhammed (pbuh)) sources, and everyday tales. Stories are told to illustrate a point and each moral is discussed in detail. According to Chittick:
“More generally, it is aimed at anyone who has time to sit down and ponder the meaning of life and existence.''

Here is what Rumi has to say on education:
There are two kinds of intelligence.
One is like that acquired by a child at school
from books and teachers, new ideas and memorization.
Your intelligence may become superior to others,
but retaining all that knowledge is a burden.
You who are so busy searching for knowledge
must be a preserving tablet, but the preserved tablet
is the one who has gone beyond all this.
For the other kind of intelligence is the gift of God:
its fountain is deep within the soul.
When the water of God-given knowledge surges from the breast,
it never stagnates or becomes impure.
And if its way to the outside is blocked, what harm is there?
For it flows continually from the house of the heart.
The acquired intelligence is like the conduits
which run into the house from the streets:
if those pipes become blocked, the house is bereft of water.
Seek the fountain within yourself.
[Rumi, Mathnawi,  IV, 1960-1968]

Is this second intelligence not the cultivation of the in vogue 'reflective practice'?
Rishi Faisal

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Dear Friends

'Jihad'  is probably one of the most contentious and misunderstood concepts East and West, INFACT GLOBALLY!

My colleague Musa aka THE TAILOR has executed a post modern masterpiece, DIVINE PARADOX which is a shock to the system:

Jihad or struggle for 'self-understanding' and now 'teaching' and 'research / consulting' is my vocation…
Caveat Emptor…Let the buyer beware!
Rishi Faisal

The Way of HEART / QALB / DIL


The great Confucius stated that:

''Wherever you GO, GO with all your HEART''.

So how do we actualise the HEART?

According to the enigmatic John F. Kennedy:

''There are 3 things which are REAL. GOD, HUMAN FOLLY, AND LAUGHTER. The first 2 are beyond comprehension. So we must do what we can with the THIRD.''


Rishi Faisal

'Inner Weather'...


When your 'inner weather' is sunny and blooming the TV weather (wo)man becomes redundant...For even the 'eye of the storm' is calm...

The road to success is always under construction...(That is the only way to happiness!)

Rishi Faisal

Friday, 24 September 2010

What Problems?

Dear Folks

Life is a big problem...

However my spiritual training has helped me to 'see' life as  a garden full of blooming flowers and lush fruit trees but we 'choose' to forget the thorns, bugs and weeds!  And not forgetting the bad sometimes tortuous weather.

Interestingly the Arabic word for forgetfulness, nisyan, is related to the word for Man (insan), pointing to the forgetful tendency which is ingrained in human beings.

On the other hand the bugs, thorns and weeds establish direction and test our mettle if not resolve. If we stand resolute and persevere  the fruit and scent will be sweeter, intense if not intoxicating...perhaps even infinite...Inshallah / God Willing!

Challenges not problems…

Keep jamming & dreaming
Rishi Faisal

Friday, 17 September 2010

Is 'God Dead'?

Dear Friends
I was once quizzed by my high school R.E teacher about religion. I replied very intuitively that it is something that 'happens in day to day life'.
Religion especially spirituality has been and will remain a major part of my life. I am some what 'spiritually promiscuous' and my late Spiritual Mentor / Director sowed the seeds of exploration and reflection. I have travelled the globe in search of the 'truth' and been equally disappointed and enlightened whilst meditating in Zen Temples and Churches.
Thus I was aghast when I first encountered Nietzsche who claimed that 'God is dead' however his insights perhaps visions correctly foretold the World Wars and atomic age. And paradoxically in the post-modern and secular age people seem to be aching even more for meaning and contentment.
This week one of the PgCLTHE participants gave an interesting presentation about the University Multi Faith centre and its facilities. We cannot escape the fact that students have faith and no-faith which has to be respected and acknowledged. However I feel that it is not my role to formally facilitate or influence their faith or choices, and I am deeply conscious that there is a fine line between pastoral care and preaching. Furthermore University should be an opportunity to mix with people / fellow students or colleagues from different faiths or no-faith. Surely humanity and human rights are superior to any religious nomenclature or organised religion?
I am reminded of the great American poet Walt Whitman who exquisitely stated the following:
''We consider bibles and religions divine.
I do not say they are not divine;
I say they have grown out of you,
And may grow out of you still,
It is not they who give the life,
In the recent public furore regarding the book by Stephen Hawkings, 'The Grand Design' which argues of the 'obsoleteness of God'.  Tom Wright, former Bishop of Durham and Professor of New Testament at the University of St. Andrews beautifully stated,
''Knowing God is more like experiencing and playing music or falling in love or deeply knowing another human being''.

Rishi Faisal

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Pauses and Ideas...

Dear Friends
My Micro-Teach on 'stress management' went well yesterday and I really valued the constructive feedback. One of my colleagues indicated that I did not give them enough time to think. I thought that was a valid point as I tend to 'blast' through sessions since I am keen to execute all the aims and objectives and sincerely want my students to learn.
However I think I will endeavour to build in more space for pause and reflection into my teaching sessions. As I have no idea what state of mind my potential listeners or students are in? Furthermore it is unfair to assume that my audience have understood everything and 'get it'.
Today Marks session on 'ideas' was great. I never knew that there are so many teaching methodologies and loved the design inspiration whereby designers keep an object of cutting edge design close by that inspires.
Quite a few of us liked the '3 most important things' technique to get students to immediately reflect on and summarise the session. This is a challenging tool. What if the students don’t highlight the 3 most things?  On the plus side it is immediate feedback on your session and I am going to build this into my practice.
Any way folks! Have a great weekend…
''Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars'…Les Brown
Rishi Faisal

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Lets Start Blogging!

Salaam! Shalom! Namaste! And a Big Hello!

I tried blogging several years ago and  failed miserably. I am making a fresh attempt as I have been inspired by a colleague and fellow student on the Post Graduate Certificate of Learning & Teaching in Higher Education (PgCLTHE).

I was teaching for 18 months in a Further Education (F.E) college in Manchester. I have recently switched to Higher Education (H.E) and  been appointed as a Senior Lecturer / Associate Professor.

Right now I feel like a 'frog' who has left a pond and been thrown into a raging ocean! H.E is a completely different culture and comprises of another 'vintage' of student that I learning to deal with. However I am immensely enjoying the challenge especially the daily commute from Manchester! I am fortunate that I have a great bunch of colleagues, Subject Group Leader and visionary Head of Department who are open to new ideas. Also a supportive wife and a wonderful new baby daughter! : )

I will use this Blog to complement my PgCLTHE studies, reflect and discuss other interests such as personal development and travel.

The Road to Success is always under construction...


Rishi Faisal

Ps - Rishi is a sanskrit word that means 'seer' and were teachers to the kings of ancient India.