Negar Davari Ardakani
Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
My Persian courses have created a dynamic meeting place where students communicate, enjoy and live through a discourse awareness not only about Persian language and culture but beyond it, about humanity and life.
I am a language and linguistics teacher and researcher who believes in the power of research in enhancing the teaching performance. In our teaching/learning journeys, we connect to each other to discover a language or a linguistic reality through a discovery of self and others. This collaborative practice is based on generosity, empathy and respect. We then get involved in the complex interactions of the world, the mind and the language through which the three are constructed, shaped and reproduced. In other words, understanding discourses and effectively using and producing them are the ultimate goals of all our involvements with phonetics, phonology, morphology and syntax; we look for how to shape our desired identity and how to do things through the new language and linguistic knowledge we are acquiring.
In the process, we deepen our understanding of the world, learn and practice reflecting, critical thinking, analysing, interpreting, self-expressing and through all these we promote each other’s creativity and flexibility towards achieving independent thinking and autonomy.
My story at ANU began in 2003 when I attended two fantastic courses of ’academic writing’ and ’language planning’ at the School of Languages and it continued when my son started his computer science studies at ANU in 2016. Upon his recommendation, I started thinking about teaching at ANU to enrich my teaching experience saw myself having come out of my comfort zone and started teaching Persian language, culture and linguistics in 2018. Persian is an Indo-European language spoken by more than 100 million people around the world, mainly in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan; a language standing on millenniums of rich literature still comprehensible to contemporary Persian speakers, an old complex culture comparable to Chinese and Indian carrying a nostalgia of ancient Persian civilisation, a sorrow of several invasions and an absorption of Islamic faith.
Teaching Persian language, literature and culture provides students the opportunity to communicate with more than a hundred million people all around the world and more importantly to communicate and understand a complex ancient culture which has affected many civilisations throughout history.
My students’ identities enrich and shape Persian courses. Their diverse needs, interests and their creativity which I commit to respect and nurture have made Persian courses inclusive, context-based and awareness awakening. My students live, learn, relate and express themselves in the open, dynamic, diverse and secure environment which we have created together.
Teaching is a way of purifying and promoting self by practicing generosity in nurturing others and ultimately a micro level attempt to shape the world. I consider my students as my intellectual children- no matter how old they are and what positions they have. Students’ academic skepticism is highly appreciated and welcomed in my classes. My Persian courses rely on a sociolinguistic and discursive awareness which I believe smooth the way towards understanding this old world cultural heritage, connecting with its speakers and discovering how language shapes and builds the world.
My greatest achievement during the two years of teaching here at ANU has been the compilation, incorporation and application of discursive lesson plans and the creation of an academically rich, friendly and secure space for my students to live in and learn Persian; somewhere they look forward to coming back. A well-known Persian idiom says: “When a lesson is a whisper of kindness, it will get the students to the class even on Sundays”.
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