Commenting on Students’ Answers
the teacher needs to comment on the student’s answer after he asks him a question, because the student may not be sure of the correctness of the answer. also, other students might be anxious to know whether the student’s answer is right or not. the teacher has to comment on each answer, this way the student will benefit from the teacher’s remarks or correction and other students as well will get the same value, they will gain more knowledge by listening to any additional commentary by the teacher. the teacher has to be accurate in his commentary and rectification; he should not classify the student’s answer as totally wrong, if it is relatively correct. he should praise the student for the correct part and then rectify the wrong one. when he reviews and corrects the answer, he should not choose harsh terms or mockery of the answer. this might frustrate the student and discourage him of answering any future questions for fear of mockery or insults by the teacher. the teacher’s comments should rectify the answer, yet in an encouraging way. if we look in the sunnah (prophetic teachings), we may find many examples such as:
1- narrated abu hurira (ra)1 that a man came to the prophet (peace be upon him) and said: ‘i saw a dream tonight.’ abu bakr interpreted the dream. the prophet (pbuh) said to abu bakr: ‘you are right in some of it and wrong in some.’ abu bakr said, ‘o allah's apostle! by allah, you must tell me in what i was wrong.’ the prophet said, ‘do not swear.’ this shows the prophet’s comment on abu bakr’s interpretation of the dream. he said to him that a part of it is right and a part is wrong. this is the fairest and most reasonable attitude for the teacher to adopt, to mention the parts that are right and parts that are wrong of the answer. the teacher has to correct the wrong part. in the previous example, the prophet (peace be upon him) did not mention the wrong part, and did not make it clear because of the bad consequences of doing so. this is why he did not mention them. yet, the point here is to show how he (peace be upon him) mentioned the evaluation of the interpretation, saying that some parts of it are right and some parts are wrong.
2- obai ibn ka'ab reported: the prophet (peace be upon him) taught me how to recite a surah (qur’anic chapter). while i was in the mosque, i heard a man who recites the surah in a different method of recitation than mine. i said to him, ‘who taught you this surah?’ he said: ‘the prophet (peace be upon him).’ i said: ‘don’t leave me till i meet the prophet (pbuh).’ we met the prophet and i said: ‘o messenger of allah, this man recited the surah in a different method of recitation than what you taught me.’ he said: ‘recite obai!’ i recited to him. he said: ‘you recited well.’ he said to the other man: ‘recite!’ he recited in a different method of recitation than mine. he said to him: ‘you recited well.’ then he said: ‘o obai! the qur’an was revealed to me in seven ahruf (seven methods of recitation). all of them are healing and appropriate.’ obai said: ‘i did not have any doubt about any part of the qur’an afterwards.’ if we look into the comment of the prophet’s about both methods of recitations, we would find that he (pbuh) said that they are both correct. then he directly revealed the reason why they are both right, even if they are two methods of recitations (ahruf). he also used short terms and that implies eloquence.
1) commenting on the student’s answer benefits him because it corrects his mistakes if there are any. it also gives value to other students to know whether the answer was right or wrong and the reason why.
2) the answer might be totally right, partially right or wrong. part of the teacher’s comment should be clarification of the correct or wrong answer.
3) if the answer is wrong, the teacher should rectify the student’s answer putting in mind the student’s psychological state and his morale. in other words, the teacher should not hurt him by making him feel mistaken in a harsh language. he should be careful when he corrects sensitive students.
4) the teacher should not be bound to using only two words such as (right and wrong). he may use many terms that gives the same meaning in different forms such as (correct, you did well, excellent, good, your answer needs some clarifications, incomplete, etc).
(1) ra: radya allah anhu/anha [may allah be pleased with him/her]