US Educationist shares 21st century learning skills

By C.M. Paul

Sonada, Oct. 26, 2018: An educationist from the United States on October 26 graced the 9th annual Verzotto Memorial Lecture at Salesian College Sonada (SCS).

Prof. Loren Weybright’s hour long lecture was entitled: “Reflections on Becoming Your Very Best at College Teaching.” The session would be repeated in SCS Siliguri campus on October 29.

The annual lecture is in honor of educationist, Fr. Joseph Verzotto, an Italian Salesian missionary who taught philosophy at Salesian College Sonada from 1963-1995. Besides Teaching (Ethics, Metaphysics, Psychology, Epistemology and Indian Philosophy) he was also the librarian, a counselor, a postman, and did reprography, fund raising, and philanthropy. He was also a biographer, literary essayist, film critique, a translator, religious instructor and an available friend to the many students who had the privilege of having known him, interacted with him and lived with him. He died in Kolkata in 2009 aged 82.

In his introductory words, Principal Dr George Thadathil who lived more than two decades with Fr Verzotto at SCS both as student and faculty member reminded the audience of “the role of education in transitioning India especially in Darjeeling which benefitted from overseas educators from Ireland, Canada, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland.”

Weybright has almost a decade of involvement with the educational scenario in Nepal, working also in Singapore and Malaysia addressed some 60 colleges and higher secondary school faculties from Darjeeling and Sikkim area.

“Recent research has shown that college students become more engaged in their studies when their professors have created a learning environment that reflects students’ interests and strengths,” says Weybright whose other fortes include conflict resolution education, restorative practices and reflective thinking.

The hour long lecture, offered methods for incorporating those interests and strengths into course work in all academic fields through simple methods like ‘Think-Pair-Share’ and projects that require critical thinking.

Dr Weybright listed and described common practices of excellent college teachers including learning skills in reflective and creative thinking, literacy skills in information and media literacy, and life skills such as initiative, flexibility and building relationships.

A full day faculty development workshop by Dr. Weybright is scheduled to be held on October 27 at SCS on how to apply the above teaching strategies during the current and upcoming semesters.

Dr. Weybright taught primary school students and prepared beginning teachers at the college level for 45 years in New York City and in Illinois, and retired from college teaching in 2011. His research and practice focused on developing reflective thinking among college professors and classroom teachers, and on enabling beginning teachers to promote reflection and critical thinking in their students.

Currently Dr Weybright works closely with school communities, in collaboration with other nonprofit organizations, including the Institute of Cultural Affairs, Nepal (ICA-Nepal).

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