Dhaka, Bangladesh
Language learning and education system

Language learning and education system

Fatema Zohra Haque, an internationally trained teacher, is currently working as an English Language Teacher and Head of Department (Senior Section) at Viqarunnisa Noon School & College. She also worked as an Assistant Professor, Adjunct Faculty at Daffodil International University, Northern University. Being one of the pioneer ELT experts of the country Fatema has represented Bangladesh as Fulbright Scholar of International Leaders in Education Program (ILEP) at Clemson University, South Carolina in 2010. Being a sincere educator, celebrated poet and as well as published writer she was invited by Time Television New York for an exclusive interview in 2014. Fatema's academic research work on ELT "Perceptions and Implementation of Task- Based language Teaching" was published by Lambert Academic Publishing (LAP) from Germany in December 2017. She has written, translated 26 books and edited significant number of literary works throughout her career which includes poems, fictions and literary articles. Two translated bi-lingual poetry books of Fatema have been selected by Library of Congress and procured by the libraries of the 15 top most Universities of USA. Following is an interview of Fatema Zohra Haque taken by our special correspondent: Question: You have an illustrious teaching career of more than 23 years and you have taught and inspired thousands of school level students as well as university level students across the country. How does it make you feel? Answer: Teaching is the way I best understand the world. I view the classroom as an exceptional opportunity to contribute to a community as I learn from it. This give and take characteristic of teaching is also inherent to cultural exchange, making them perfect complements. As a benefactor of this process, I have developed a strong affinity and curiosity for Pedagogy culture, which I want to continue to explore. As an English Language Teacher this will deepen my immersion and teaching is the perfect way to use my personal skills to help others and foster the light of education in the society. I always believe that a teacher plays a significant role in developing a human child from innocence to experience from the very definition of education or we can say in every aspect of life from education to human grooming. A teacher is a window opener to a student. He or she opens a new world of knowledge for them. A teacher is not only an educationist, but a firm and constructive personality in building a nation. In this profession I can always continue to grow in knowledge which I can impart to my students. I feel extremely blessed and fortunate to be able to work with different group of learners and get to know them quite closely as a friend, philosopher and guide by performing and educator's role. It's absolutely out of the world feeling to deal with young minds and thus I can foresee the bright future of our country as I know our children are extremely brilliant and outstanding in their ideas and creative minds. All they need is the right direction and guidance and I so diligently am trying to perform my role in this endeavor. Question: Tell us about your experience as a fellow of International Leaders in Education Program (ILEP). Answer: ILEP program recognizes the "transformative power of an effective teacher," The International Leaders in Education Program is designed to offer teaching fellows with enhanced teaching methodologies, lesson planning techniques, teaching strategies for their home environments, leadership abilities, and technology skills through targeted coursework, intensive training, and collaboration with colleagues from around the globe.The International Leaders in Education Program (ILEP) brings outstanding secondary school teachers of English, math, science social studies from the Near East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Western Hemisphere to the United States. Participants further develop expertise in their subject areas, enhance their teaching skills and increase their knowledge about the United States. ILEP teachers participate in a five month academic program at U.S. university graduate schools of education. It is truly an honor for me to be selected as one of the ILEP Fellows In 2009 and went to USA in January, 2010. I studied at Clemson University, South Carolina and taught at Seneca Middle School, South Carolina USA. I believe, for me this outstanding experience was great step towards my cultural awareness and understanding which might lead to making the world more tolerant. I found the program enriching and I learned a great deal both in and outside of classroom settings. In turn, it was also a beneficial experience for me as host two US teachers as my partner teacher in Bangladesh after getting two small grant awards in 2011. This Exchange Program helped me share and exchange experiences and learn from and to gain a better appreciation for our countries and cultures. Our engagement positively impacted all who we encountered: students, teachers, faculty, administrators, and all community members. We served as an excellent ambassadors for our countries and the teaching profession. Question: Your creative books, specially poetry books, have received tons of appreciation from around the globe. You have 24 creative publications by your name. You are also a recipient of ' Poet of Youth Award' in 2014. Would you please share with us what motivated you to start writing poetry in the first place? Answer: As a student of English Literature, my love for literature and creative writings is quite natural you can say. I've spent a lot of time learning and teaching. It is something I want to do for its own sake. So is writing poetry. It has to be. I always tend to ask myself when I'm working on a poem is "Am I telling the truth?" TS Eliot said that the greatest difficulty for a poet is to distinguish between "what one really feels and what one would like to feel". Knowing what one really feels is not always such a simple matter as it may sound. Whether I am writing about my own life, or my response to the world around me or public events, Eliot's dictum still holds. If the poet is, knowingly or unknowingly, being dishonest, the poem will fail. We need to search for the words and images that accurately convey the truth of the matter. I always wanted to be an honest poet to do justice to my lyrics. Poet Dylan Thomas wrote, 'Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.' I so believe and relate myself in this statement. Writing poetry is my passion and I live in poetry. Question: Tell us something about selection of your two translated Bi-lingual poetry books by Library of Congress. Answer: My very first Bi-lingual translated poetry book, ' Blinded Eyes Looted Dreams' 100 Selected Poems of Mahadev Saha, published in 2002 was selected by Library of Congress and my another Bi-lingual translated poetry book, 'Pain in the Epitaph of Art' published in 2016, has also been selected and procured by The Library of Congress for the 15 top ranked Universities of U.S.A. namely, Yale University, Stanford University, Princeton University, Harvard College Library, Columbia University, Cornwell University, Duke University, University of California (Berkeley), University of Chicago, University of Minnesota, University of Texas, University of Hawaii, University of Washington, University of Michigan, University of IOWA. I believe the international recognition of these two books of mine has certainly created some positive impact for our very own Bengali literature in the world literary platform. Question: Being an educationist throughout such an eminent career, how do you perceive our transition from a male-centric society to a more woman-friendly society? Answer: Well, there are a lot of things to be optimistic about now-a-days. Women are getting the opportunity to receive a proper education and pursue their careers. They are no longer a dominated part of the society. More precisely, the progress of rural women has particularly impressed us all. But I won't say that this was the best we could have done. We can make as many laws as we can but until we educate our kids to believe in equal rights as well as equal responsibilities for Men and Women, our development will not penetrate the surface. Question: Is it conflicting for an educationist or for that matter a translator to be a Poet as Education is more bound by rules while poetry allows you freedom? Answer: I beg to differ. We perceive our education to be bound by rules because there is little scope to implement one's creativity in the present structure of education. We are collectively trying to change this and hopefully we will be able to design an education system for our kids which will be unified, creative, aligned towards creativity and skill building as well as non-judgmental against merit. But for this, we need to convince ourselves first that education should be more like, as you said, poetry. Education and in some cases, translation require your inner conceptualization of complex matters which can be impossible if bound by hard and fast rules. Question: Is there more to do to allow more Girls to get a quality Education? Answer: There is always more to do but let's not be illogically critical about the things that are already being done. From giving stipends to free education, we are not doing bad also. Question: Is there anything which the Western Culture can take from our Education System? Answer: Certainly. I believe we have a rather emotional approached towards education while the West has developed a more mechanical one. I am neither comparing these two nor quoting a generalized statement, but I believe education requires passion. For example, in USA a single teacher handles an entire class of elementary students for all courses. Their mindset regarding this is to provide students with generalized knowledge. But in our country, we try to expose students to expertized teachers from the very start as specialized teachers remain passionate about their subject. And this passion can be transferred to students if dealt with care. Question: After passing a decade long multi-dimensional career, where do you see yourself from here on? Answer: Even though it has been a long time, I still feel like it's just the beginning. I have always had a desire to work with Early Child Development. I feel that we are not pushing our boundaries in this field. Also, this is much closely related to education. Question: What would be your comments about the literary scopes of the country? Are we empowering our writers enough? Answer: If I have to answer in one word, "No!" We need to step up and patronize our creative and literary community more. Firstly, we are not pursuing or educating our people to read. Therefore, in the absence of good reader or avid reader, our good literary works are not being appreciated. I have seen many talented poets and writers who remain unnoticed for years. And in this tough world, it is near to impossible to keep on your motivation in such an environment. Which is why we are now losing our talents. Many a talented writers are not pursuing this profession. Some are not being allowed to exercise their creative freedom. But I am still optimistic about the situation. But we need to educate our kids to read more. Question: You have got a unique combination of career as an educationist and a poet. How do you think they complement each other ? Answer: There are some people for whom poetry, the reading as also the writing of it, is the staple of living. I fall into this category. My peregrinations in the literary arena as well as in academia have been wide-ranging. Over the years, in addition to pursuing a career in academia, I have been trying to enlighten people through my poetry, academic book writing, book reviews, literary criticism, translations and interviews. My writings, which are reflective of a mind fully immersed in the aesthetics which underline studies of literature, are nothing but my sole entity. My approach to writing has been bilingual, as evident through the mass of materials I have produced in both English and Bangla. In a land rich in literary heritage, I have humbly been trying to enrich our tradition with the purity of my imagination and beauty of my academic endeavors. I have brought into my understanding of the trends which have defined poetry and teaching not just in Bangladesh but also beyond its frontiers. Question: Can you please tell us what made you who you are today? Answer: My strong will power, determination to fulfill dreams, my immense thirst for knowledge and above all my love for life have worked as a catalyst to shape me the way I am today. Throughout this expanding career, I have tried to share my well achieved knowledge and expertise regarding language to inform others and improve my understanding of language. I find my life's joy in it and I firmly believe that I have much more to give yet.

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