Each time on the eve of a new semester, it is not absolutely uncommon for any university student to feel overwhelmed for many reasons. Faces of the teachers from the bygone semesters somehow always creep in, evoking a nostalgic atmosphere altogether. For me, I feel a terrible anguish, wondering if these few familiar faces would actually fade in the maze of my neuron cells after years as we walk out of the alma mater completing our graduation. But life goes on and the very progressive mode of living itself makes it compulsory to remember some and forget many. Having said that, the amount of true efforts a teacher invests in you is something you cannot just pass by, neither may they know how important figures they actually are to their students. They teach us manners and etiquettes, but mostly life itself, revealing things in a light never seen before. Learning about one's universe is a lifelong endeavour - and it includes surprises as well as new insights for teachers and students alike. Excellence in teaching ultimately has little to do with pedagogical mechanics or the number of students attending a class precisely because teaching itself is not an algorithmic process which can be scrutinized in a simple form of statistical documentation. Primarily, it has to do with awakening the desire to learn and then establish an environment in accordance with which the very act of learning can flourish. A good teacher should get due recognition for helping students discover the true spirit of interdisciplinary learning. Though we pay the tuition fees, we can never pay the value of their effort and time. We will always be in debt in that regard. Most of the times we, the students, cannot even thank them personally for the lifelong impact of their utmost love and care for us. But it is clear enough that the very utterance of a simple thank-you note can be a beautiful token of gratitude, and can give one the mental satisfaction required to continue their pursuit of any noble endeavour. Nothing makes a teacher happier than seeing his/her students reach their goals. I pray the providence smile on them and that years later when my hair turns all grey, should we meet again by chance on a busy road, they would recognize me as a student, as someone they used to know before. In itself, surely, that would be a dream come true!
In all these years among all the marvelous teachers I had been fortunate enough to encounter, I cannot help remembering one particular 'guardian angel,' if I may. Before I begin reliving the unforgettable memories I have of my classes with Shahriar Khandaker sir, I would like to make it clear that before attending his course I had no exact idea about how much a teacher, in fact, has to invest in detecting the pattern of thinking of his students in order to develop specific teaching strategies that are effective and suitable enough to match all possible levels of aptitude. I respect all my teachers from the core of my heart but this personality compelled me to think about the true effort of a teacher behind every successful student. From the first impression, Shahriar sir comes up as a strict disciplinarian, and he is one, if truth be told; but at the same time, he is much more than that. Here, I must confess with a brave heart that in the previous semesters of my undergraduate days, I always had the fear of taking GEN 211 course because it was taken by none other than Shahriar sir himself. The fear grew in my mind as I have always heard that it is very difficult to please this individual with our poor writing. But as it was a compulsory course, I fixed my mind to take his course in the very last semester and before the first class, I could not help panicking. The first reason was that I did not have any idea about media and journalism back then and the second reason lied in all those scary yet fascinating tales about the instructor. But now that those days are gone, I realize how lucky I was having a fresh vessel of knowledge being offered to me by a truly talented lecturer like him. In my first class, I realized that there was nothing to be afraid of or intimidated by this person; rather I found a very different and interesting personality which is very rare these days. I loved his classes to bits - they were charming, hypnotic and opened newer doors and passageways into a world I cannot claim to have known before. He is always admirably punctual, has a mesmerizing fluency in English, pays attention to his students, is very serious about manners and etiquettes, patient and passionate about what he teaches, sacrifices but never compromises, chooses the words very carefully while speaking with the loveliest of voice and a twinkling half-smile so that nobody gets hurt by his words.
If you ask me, Shahriar sir was a different personality altogether because he did not only teach us the prime concepts of media/journalism in a unique way, rather he taught us the practical aspects of our living reality that are associated with those. He taught us that “good teaching cannot be reduced to techniques; it comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher themselves.” Shahriar sir was successfully able to weave a complex web of knowledge between us and himself so that we could learn to weave a world for ourselves. He always delivered his lectures in such a way that his classes were lively and the students found the topics unquestionably interesting. I went to his office several times and bombarded him with numerous questions but he never seemed tired of answering, he even patiently replied to all the emails I sent him for different inquiries regarding the course. At the end of the semester, I managed to get an A from him, 5 'well dones' on exam scripts, home works, and assignments, which will always remain as the most precious achievements of my student life. He had once told me, “Put on your thinking cap before you ink something,” which has always given me the inspiration to work harder ever since. I believe he is one of those people who would never let you down whether you are good to him or not. I'm lucky because I know when I will need a little career advice or just talk about any research idea my mentor is just one phone call away. He is an inspirer, a torchbearer, an engager. Thank you, sir, for safeguarding us, for showering us with your care!
Roksar Islam is currently doing her Hons. in the Department of English at East West University.