Wissam Abdulsamad, a distinguished Lebanese professor at St Fintan's High School in the Irish capital of Dublin, has made it to the top list of the most influential professors in Ireland. His educational influence has even crossed the borders with his award-winning project that has been impacting the literacy levels of street children in Zambia.
Son of the Lebanese village of Amatour in the Shouf mountain, this distinguished down-to-earth professor is one of the ten immigrant professors who entered the educational system in Ireland.
However, unlike his peers, he focuses on the freedom of the students "to be" in blooming their inherent genius disposition.
When asked what he teaches, he replies: "I teach science, math, and freedom." And when we asked him if he has a message to convey to The961's readers, here is what he told us:
"The message I would like to convey would be the importance of 'renovating' the Lebanese curriculum and the Lebanese teaching methodology to equip the students with the skills needed to face the world and change it."
Teaching freedom and world-facing skills are more than theoretical for Professor Abdulsamad. In fact, we found his application so interesting that we decided to highlight his constructive and influential methods that brought Ireland to recognize him as the most influential professor nationwide.
Mr. Wissam teaches Secondary School Students, aged 12 to 18, Dialogue, Communication, Interaction, Social Justice, and Critical Sense away from oppression and indoctrination.
His relationship with his students is that of a mentor, breaking the all-time known traditional barrier to reconstruct and nurture a student-teacher power connection that favors significantly the development of his pupils.
Another distinctive approach of his is to promote in these young minds constructive criticism that qualifies them to study any idea and analyze any topic. The students learn hence to think by their own instead of being taught what to think. It is a method of Critical Pedagogy.
That approach goes hand in hand with the freedom "to be" he affords his students in the classroom; freedom to express themselves, to share with their classmates during the explanation of topics, to leave the classroom without permission, and to do whatever they want, even to stand on the table!
Mr. Wissam treats his students with the same human respect he gives to all other people outside the school. He sees no use to impose his power of teacher-authority on them nor does he punish them.
They can speak with him as the mentor who deems them not inferior to him. In that, he is nurturing in them a strong sense of self-value, which is critical to one's thriving journey in life.
Interesting enough, professor Wissam does not prepare his lessons in advance nor does he give his students homework to take home!
"This is not absolute freedom, but it is a responsibility that the student takes to bear, which makes him responsible for his own actions," Abdul Samad told Lebanese website Bchoufk
Despite this unprecedented educational freedom, Abdul Samad says that his students are very disciplined and he doesn't need to give a remark to anyone. If there is any chaos, the students take charge of calming each other.
The only red line he does not accept to be crossed is insulting the professor. In those very rare occasions, he asks the student to leave the classroom to reflect on the futility of his misbehavior to then discuss it together with the teacher.
We can't but wonder if the most amazing with Mr. Wissam is that he deems every student a genius who simply needs to awaken with proper guidance. He has taken it upon himself to do it with every one of his pupils.
He does so by explaining the problem and then asking his students to come up with their own solutions by thinking and researching.
Presenting their solutions to the class the next day is as per their own choice of expression: in writing, drawing, short film, casting or acting. They also have the option of preparing and designing tests in the laboratory he named "Learning by Doing."
The method has been successful in making the students thinkers instead of recipients as they get to explain the lesson to themselves and their classmates.
The other important aspect is the explanation of topics through approaching the theoretical side and reality, which makes the students come out with a double result and understand the curriculum and life in one lesson.
These outstanding methods and rules used by this distinguished professor have led him to achieve his teaching goals in making his students accomplish many remarkable achievements.
One of the high achievements to which he led his students is their participation in the competition of Young Social Innovators, which they did by equipping the school with solar panels to generate electricity, making it the first school in Ireland to rely on renewable energy!
They raised an amount of € 8,000 while raising awareness on the importance of the project. The students took a step further with this project. They raised donations to equip other schools with solar panels and a school library in Zambia.
Congratulations to all of the winners at the Young Social Innovators of the Year Ireland Awards 2018! Click below for our Winners Gallery! #UBYSI— Young Social Innovators (@YSInow) May 9, 2018
Watch out for our highlights galleries and videos coming soon 🎉🎉🎉
📸: https://t.co/0df7ISyMfV pic.twitter.com/kIk9Y9A3uU
Through the program of the Young Social Innovators, which is followed by the school's system where the students evaluate their teachers, Mr. Wissam received the award of the "Most Inspiring Teacher" in the state as nominated by the students.
That isn't the first award Professor Wissam has earned. Last year, he won an award for a project creating a phone app that teaches Irish volunteers Bemba, the official language in Kabwe - Zambia
Our app has finally been launched to Google’s play store! Hard work has been put in by our language committee to achieve this! Download now and learn basic Bemba. As #ysiweek comes to a close it looks like our project is back! Stay tuned in- The Icitabo Team 📚🇿🇲 #ysi @ysinow pic.twitter.com/iRKDf62imc— The Icitabo Project (@icitaboproject) April 20, 2018
This most inspiring teacher has appeared in several news reports in Ireland. He was hosted in many interviews for his teaching methods and the achievement of the school in generating electricity through solar energy.
In the light of this glory, Professor Abdul Samad did not forget his country. He has received the consent of the Irish state to bring the Young Social Innovators' system to Lebanon, and he will be returning home in June with several projects.
He plans to establish an association that promotes a culture of change for students, and he is currently looking for a building to establish a school that will be devoted to his educational approach.
Despite the pressure of the curriculum in Lebanon, Wissam believes that the application of his method is possible especially with the extra time devoted to activities in schools.
The961 is very keen to see professor Wissam realizing his goals for Lebanon and our young minds in their educational journey. We will be following his endeavors for the homeland, and we wish him all the very best of success!