Rumi in the Language Classroom Vol 7: Operational Definition

Rumi in the Language Classroom Vol 7
See Vol 1 hereSee Vol 2 hereSee Vol 3 hereSee Vol 4 hereSee Vol 5 hereSee Vol 6 here

In the seventh part of Rumi in the Language Classroom, the story of “fight for the same entity” in Rumi’s “Masnavi-e-Manavi” is discussed. This is the story of 4 people from different ethnic backgrounds (i.e., Persian, Arab, Turk, and Roman) who wanted to buy grapes. The Persian said they want to buy “Angor” (Persian equivalent for grapes), the Arab argued they wanted “Aneb” (Arabic equivalent for grapes), and the other two used their own words to refer to grapes. Since they did not realize they were referring to the same entity, they started fighting.
This story delineates one of the biggest challenges of science especially human science called operational definition. Sometimes we argue about the same thing from different perspectives. In all these years of being the DoS (Director of Studies), I have observed numerous feedback sessions in which teachers and observers talked about the observed session. In most of these sessions, where there was a quarrel and misunderstanding, this concept (operational definition) was missing. I can vividly remember a feedback session I was observing in which the observer criticizes the teacher for not having enough effective ICQs (instruction checking questions) for her instructions whereas the teacher insisted on having ICQs in her class. The misunderstanding in this discussion roots in the definition of ICQ for the observer and observed. While the teacher considered ‘what should you do?’ as an ICQ, the observer believed that it is not an appropriate one. If they both had a fixed definition (operational definition) of the entity (ICQ) they would not run into a quarrel.
Therefore, in the realm of education, specifically ELT, it is necessary to provide a clear definition of the concepts in order to avoid misunderstandings.
Jaber Kamali

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