My Dear Would-be Student:
I know you exist somewhere. You just completed your secondary education. You are willing to join a university. You are perhaps thinking of a university never built in your own country, but will be any time soon. This would be one to fulfill your desires for higher education at home against the dreams to fly abroad. Let me call it Your Future University (YFU).
Years ago, when I was a youngster like you are now, I imagined my type of YFU existed. I was willing to enter it with a lot of optimism and a lot of questions. But I landed somewhere. As you read this piece, you can picture me of the age and qualification capable of standing at the gate of YFU to welcome you. If not as a student, I should have entered it as a faculty and been able to invite you with pride, “Here I am. Come unworried.” You know what I mean; I also imagine teaching in YFU.
As you read me thinking about you even before you joined YFU, you may have in mind, ‘Who is this old fellow? Why is he so interested in me?
I have answered these questions many times with varying wits. My ready answer is this. I am a teacher of humanities. An important aspect of my job is to reach out to human beings and instill in or steal thoughts from them. That’s exactly what I am doing now reaching out to you. You know, a humanist thinks across times and places humans at the center of the thoughts. As one, I think about the future as much as I value the past and nurture the realities of the present.
Why is being a teacher so special to me? Asked several times by youngsters like you, this question forces me to think for a while. And my ready answer is this. ‘You know some jobs are made in heaven. Teaching is one such thing for me, fixed while making the job itself.’ This should explain my belief which is that passion is important for sustaining in a profession. With passion, I completed Silver Jubilee in teaching this year, with nearly two decades in a University alone. Look, I do not mean two decades in YFU.
You might as well inquire: ‘What would it be like joining YFU?’ YFU would primarily have ‘commitment for quality.’ It would not allow the folks like you to regret being its alumni. This means, majority of YFU faculties would want the students to graduate with confidence for a good career, in the country or abroad. If I were there as a faculty, I would be able to say we would be devoted to educating students with the power to enter and sustain in the competitive society. We would ensure students’ evolution as good, successful human beings. We would want to see the kids grow independently, responsibly in the way we wanted our own kids to grow without having to point fingers or raise fists because they have become irresponsible at an age when it is not difficult to separate white from black. Common stuffs like classes, assignments, presentations, viva voces, internal tests, final grades etc. would be the life-bloods of YFU life, both for students and faculties. But these would not be the only facets. Students would grow because faculties grew, or vice versa. They would suffer for good because faculties suffered for their good.
You may be tempted to ask another question: what would it mean to teach in YFU? You can imagine majority of teachers taking pride in their works. We would largely identify with the University’s mission, vision and evolving initiatives. We would also believe that our students would graduate with certain attributes, for which they would be distinguished from graduates of other universities. Students would place high value on the classes and projects and we would inculcate life-skills in them. They would become confident in communication and professional grooming.
Above all, the YFU fraternity would adhere to a fairly maintained academic calendar with few exceptions of disturbances unavoidable.
Teaching in YFU would mean being able to transform a youngster’s life, genuinely working for the transformation and monitoring such ability through timely upgrade and regular feedback and consultations. Students would find most faculties ready to help beyond the classrooms, physically or in virtual platforms. They would find us willing to give the time they asked for. Thus, teaching in YFU would involve ensuring maximum presence and interaction with students and colleagues. Students would ask countless good questions, consult teachers in such frequency that there would be no qualm about learning not going fine. In nutshell, teaching here would exclude everything but imparting knowledge, guidance, cooperation, collaboration and mutual growth.
That’s what students could expect from YFU faculties. Simply, they could expect maximum reciprocation to their sincere approaches in addition to the academics. We the faculties would try to give them more than we demanded from them. We would forgive them more than they forgave us, in a sense. A dozen times they would come with stories of failures, problems and obligations. Most of these times, we would give them a sense of assurance that we genuinely believed in them though most of the times we knew that most of their stories involved lies. We would give them a status of our own kids and forgive them exactly the way our kids’ teachers would forgive their crude myths.
You know, my would-be disciple, most YFU teachers would bear big hearts along with keen eyes and careful ears. Most of you folks would give us bad names and sometimes one or two would try to discredit us publicly. Some of you would describe some of us in such a language that did not suit the dignity of your own families and the nature of your upbringing. You would misinterpret our thoughtful compromises as victories of your pretensions. Yet, we would keep on giving you chances to transform, to perform better and become more sincere. You know, you are going to be just a few dozen youngsters from several thousand that we would have taught and let go. But we would make you feel that you were always here and we loved you perennially.
Each batch in YFU would be unique because they are a new batch, new minds and new sensibilities. But they would equally look commonplace because they carried the cultural baggage of the same generation. And they could expect us to exert the same level of sincere efforts to help build their lives as we did earlier and would do later with other batches.
Then, what would YFU folks expect from you? Simply, we would expect regularity and presence as much as is required. We would expect commitment demanded by the curricula and by the learning opportunities defined by the teachers’ semester plans. We would expect readiness from you to report us if some sessions were not delivered to the requirements and expectations. We would expect willpower and alertness in you not to be carried away by rumors, but be confirmed through a first-hand official communication. We would expect in you boldness to criticize the authorities but with adequate evidences. We would expect avoidance of gossips and back-biting, flattery and lies. We would expect understanding, adjustments and necessary compromises because, sometimes, things would not happen as expected because we all carry ourselves along in a society that bears countless faultlines and misgivings. Above all, YFU fraternity would expect students’ trust on our sincerity in the efforts to help them the maximum.
I believe you are willing to join an institution that prioritizes your upbringing. Having read the above account, would you be interested to set foot on YFU? Has it already been built elsewhere but your own country? It is time you began to ask your guardians – parents, politicians, professors – if building such University has ever been initiated.
The fact is I am desperately waiting to join YFU and waiting for you.
With Best Wishes,
Your Would-be Faculty
[Published in Nepal Education Times 2 June 2019, Sunday]