In today’s dynamic business environment, marketing professionals are expected to be proficient in all three types of questioning, or forms of thinking. They need to be able to produce innovative ideas (creative thinking), evaluate them in terms of organizational objectives (critical thinking), and then evaluate the outcomes of their efforts to become more effective in future (reflective thinking). Therefore, as a marketing teacher, it is my duty to create a classroom environment (stimulating yet non-competitive and non-intimidating) that is conducive to spark off a culture of inquisitiveness among students. This is important because as a teacher I cannot force or trick my students into learning, as it is an active participatory process. Thus, my teaching strategy is to shift the educational focus from being only marketing content-driven to augmenting students’ thinking ability so that they can adapt their marketing knowledge to the unpredictable and dynamic world of business.
When I reflect upon my past as a student in a business course, I can relate very well to what a business student is looking for in a teacher teaching a marketing course. I had the opportunity of studying business not only in India but also in the US. There is a major difference in the teaching styles and methods of teachers in these two countries. In India, pedagogy is mainly theoretical and content-driven while in the US, I experienced active learning, critical thinking, and practical application of theories learned in class. When the class is just textbook-based, students get bored of listening to lectures and writing exams. So, I attempt to make learning a fun activity for my students.
I studied business in India without any relevant work experience. Later, I worked in the marketing function of retail and real estate companies in India for four years before studying business in the USA. This changed my perspective towards business studies. After my work experience, I could understand and relate better to the concepts and frameworks that were being taught. Therefore, I believe that only classroom theory is not as useful as when it is combined with practical application or real-world examples. Especially in the field of marketing education, it is not possible for students to identify with the definitions of terms, concepts, frameworks, or theories unless they have had some work-experience in the marketing function or some relevant real-world examples or case studies are discussed in class with them. I use real world stories and cases to not only enhance my students’ learning experience but also to ignite the spark of curiosity and give them a platform to present their creative thinking, critical thinking and understanding of the material taught. I also make an effort to generate a process of reflective thinking among students which involves evaluative thinking of what has already occurred. This is important because it enables them to ponder over what is done, analyze it, and learn out of the successful and unsuccessful actions they undertook. Some classroom assignments that I use to generate creative, critical and reflective thinking are 1.) in-class active learning activities and 2.) case discussions or role playing, where students first critically analyze the situation, reflect upon what could have been done, and finally provide creative solutions to solve the problem.
I believe that asking questions and finding answers to those questions advances our knowledge base. Applying that knowledge base makes us wise. Enthusiasm and motivation can work wonders if fueled by inspiration and creativity. Thus, the hallmark of a great teacher is to inspire her students and to ignite the spark of creative thinking in the minds of her students. For example, in the context of marketing education, my goals are to: a.) Cultivate the curiosity in marketing thinking and b.) Develop (cultivate, promote and nurture) a “habit of curiosity” about marketing in everyday practice. (Hill & McGinnis, 2007, p.55). I encourage my students to ask questions in order to trigger discussions in class and enhance learning.
Teaching is a life-long learning process. When we teach, we learn at the same time. I think that a good teacher not only keeps the ‘fire of learning more’ burning inside her but also inspires her students to adopt that view towards learning. If one aspires to teach, one should never discontinue learning and therefore I consider myself a perpetual learner. Furthermore, one can teach students a few lessons everyday; but if one can teach them to learn by creating curiosity, they will continue learning all their lives by being motivated self-learners. This is a very important quality in this competitive world. All through their professional life, students will be successful only if they keep themselves updated to the new information churned out in their respective fields every day.
I have a positive confidence that all students, when given the right tools and guidance, can improve their learning and application of knowledge. Moreover, I have my principles that guide me toward being a good teacher – organization, thorough knowledge about the area of instruction, openness, sincerity, adaptability to diversity, student-friendliness, empathy, respect, infotainment (information through entertainment), and flexibility. I imbibe all these in my teaching style and endeavor to arouse a love for learning in my students. ‘Thinking and learning’ should become a life-long fun activity for them after attending my class.
“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” – Malcolm S. Forbes