Monday, April 29, 2013

Oh My Lecturer...

Some say that my teaching is nonsense. Others call it lofty but impractical. But to those who have looked inside themselves, this nonsense makes perfect sense. And to those who put it into practice, this loftiness has roots that go deep. - Lao-Tzu

Another class ended. A new one will begin shortly. I beg to differ with some of my colleagues. A lecturer is not a teacher. We should be passionate about not teaching, but in facilitating learning. A good lecturer creates in a student a sense of self that lasts a lifetime. The lecture should go beyond what is stated in the curriculum. In other words, a lecturer should be able to create independence. To do this, passion is necessary in sustaining a certain level of energy and excitement in every lecture conducted. In the old days, I often asked myself whether I had made the right choice in switching to become a lecturer. But then, I always had outstanding mentors since the day I did my degree. I remembered how interesting the lectures I had with Jim and Ronda back when I was in Mizzou, and how they were able to engage the students simply through their deep knowledge of the subject matter and their teaching styles. They insisted I called them by their first names even though they are both professors. Their classes were always done in a very relaxed and informal environment. Jim had always shared interesting stories in class. He had also waited patiently for me to adjust calling him ‘Jim’ in the beginning of the semester. Ronda on the other hand portrayed herself as a friend instead of a lecturer. She even congratulated me when I received my Ph.D. Both of them became so intrigued of the Malaysian students that they actually did a research on the Malaysian leaders. In the course of that research, I became their informal advisor. Interesting, eh? I remembered also how I enjoyed the energetic classes of Tn Hj Yaakob and Prof Zainal here in UPM. They not only teach, but inspire as well. Of course Tn Hj never could remember my name correctly. At one time I became Nadia. Other times, Delilah. Wow…

All in all, these wonderful people have demonstrated that lecturing is not only about imparting knowledge. Instead, it is about engaging the students. A great lecturer should be a person who is approachable, and to whom students know they can go with any concerns or even to share a funny story. Part of what makes them great lecturers is that they too are willing to learn. They are not threatened by the questions their students asked because they are also lifelong learners. Well, various articles will be able to tell you the many traits of great lecturers. As for me, I just hope that for every 14 weeks I spent with my students, I would be able to touch their lives as they touch mine.

There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can't move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.
― Robert Frost

Monday, April 22, 2013

Life is Full of Promises

Life is full of promises. When people look at me, they normally reflect to who I am now and what I have become. Unless they really know me and are really close to me, only then they will be able to understand the challenges and hardships I have experienced in life. I am never someone who is destined to achieve something easily. Compared to my friends or even my husband, my journey is more challenging; physically and emotionally. When my friends need only to read once in order to get good grades, I on the other hand had to read at least three times just to stand equal. When all the future scholars from UPM were approved to further their studies to overseas by JPA, my application was the only one that got rejected due to a misunderstanding on the department that I presented. The list goes on and on and on. I cried all the time for all the frustrations I had experienced, and for my failures. Still I am proud of who I am even if others don’t. I believe that it is my failures that make me a person I am today. I believe that it is my ability to stay resilient towards all obstacles that contributes to my personality. To all my children and my students, please do not be afraid to open your mind to every possibility in life. Cherish the happy moments and learn from your mistakes. All these are what make us human.