You come from a rich history of pioneering educationalists, from your grandparents to your mother, the institution Mrs Sonnu Rehman; in fact, you yourself are a Cambridge graduate. Was education therefore a field natural to you?
You’ve mentioned my grandfather and my mother but there is also my aunt and both my sisters, all educationists – so yes, I guess some things do run in families.
Tell me about how you started off (career-wise) in education?
Truthfully, what I really passionately wanted to do was to act on stage! Sadly since in those days it was out of the question I started teaching because of the convenience – young children at home. Within that first year I was hooked. It’s been 25 years this September and even though my role and responsibilities have increased tenfold I cannot image ever not teaching.
How has education evolved during your years in the field?
It has become more and more instrumental – students are increasingly concerned solely with getting the grade/cracking the code. At LACAS we try to show them that textbooks are only keys to unlocking the endless and fascinating world of knowledge, not the answers in themselves.
And how do you feel students have changed from generation to generation?
You know, every class I have taught feels that those coming behind are not as good as they were. The truth is people are people. It’s all in how we respond to them. I’ve had brilliant, able, interested students year after year.
It seems exams and the college process has become exponentially competitive over the years. What counseling do you give to young people who are feeling pressured during the ordeal of applications?
I tell them to think of the worst thing that can possibly happen to them and then compare that with not doing well in an exam or not getting into their university of choice. It seems to work!
In your mind, what/who is a “good” student?
The one who uses the gifts s/he has been granted. What is unforgivable is squandering your intelligence on trivia.
How do you mould/encourage your students to become the “well-rounded individuals” that the world’s top colleges seem to be looking for?
We laud and resect those that go into co-curricular activities. Our students know that only book learning is not the LACAS way. Debates, drama, poetry and yes the ‘A’ as well. No reason why you can’t have it all and more importantly, enjoy getting it.
How do you ensure your students will be well-prepared to enter the job markets of the future?
You teach students to think, critique, and reason. If you’ve been successful in this they’re prepared for any future.
Where do you see education (both school and college) heading in the near future?
In Pakistan sadly, I see it declining sharply because we have a situation where the private school system is being targeted with draconian laws and restrictions while the public sector is practically non-existent.
What advice do you have for young people looking to begin a career in education?
Be passionate about what you do. You can make all the difference in a young person’s life and that’s an enormous responsibility.