ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN - Ferdos Hajian Pashakolace
Ferdos Hajian Pashakolace received an Honourable Mention at the Comenius Medal award ceremony in recognition of his achievement in creating a method of language teaching using poems, songs, drama and puppets. This method, entitled ‘The Township of Alphabet’, is aimed at children and adult illiterates and pays special attention to the learners’ socioeconomic environment.
The youngest laureate at the Comenius ceremony in 1998, Ferdos Hajian Pashakolace was born in 1963 in the Mazandaran Province of Iran. He holds a primary school teaching diploma and a Master’s degree in directing and acting from the College of Art of Tehran University. This dual background has certainly been put to good use in developing his method.
His ‘Township of Alphabet’ is an imaginary town where letters of the Farsi (Persian) alphabet are introduced one by one through the use of poetry, songs and charades. Mr Pashakolace first tried his method on children in remote villages where only 5% of the population were literate and on pupils of the Shahed schools, establishments specially created for children whose fathers had died in war.
His original method was oriented principally towards primary schoolchildren. One can imagine the joy and excitement of a young child who comes into a classroom and discovers that the educational materials include-apart from a textbook, an alphabet chart and a blackboard-a pet duck who will assist him/her in mastering the difficulties of the Farsi language. This creates a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere in the class, stimulates the curiosity of the children and helps them to concentrate on the subject of the lesson. They hear the sounds of the Farsi letters in poems and songs or in the noises made by animals, and learn to associate these sounds with the written characters.
Mr Pashakolace quickly became famous-the news of his exciting teaching method spread from village to village until it reached the Mazandaran province’s studios of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). He was invited to demonstrate his method for teaching first graders through a TV programme, so that not only the children but also illiterate adults could benefit from it. Very soon it became compulsive viewing to watch the broadcast of ‘Uncle Fardos’s’ weekly class on Friday morning.
Finally, he was invited to Tehran to give a series of courses for primary school-teachers on the use of his method. More than 20,000 teachers have now attended his courses over the years.
His illustrated book The township of alphabet was published in Tehran in 1990 and has been reprinted nineteen times since then. One could say without exaggeration that all primary school language teachers in Iran are familiar with his method.
Mr Pashakolace has also served as a primary education expert at the Tehran Department of Education and Training. He is the author of over thirty books, most of which relate to teaching children under the age of 6, while others deal with the teaching of particular difficulties of Farsi.
In parallel with his numerous teaching activities, Fardos Pashakolace has continued his own education and obtained a Master’s degree in education. He hopes that now, enriched by experience, he will be able to devote himself to creating new methods of teaching at the primary school level, which remains for him ‘the cornerstone of all educational courses at all phases of human education’.
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