Monday, January 31, 2011

Interview with Yaqsan

The next interview in the student series is with a naturally gifted young speaker from Oman named Yaqsan. I met Yaqsan, his classmates and their teacher, Salim Al Busaidi, in Qatar in 2009. I wrote about him and his presentation at the Flat Classroom Conference because he was, and still is, an inspiration. I was overwhelmed with how polite, organized and engaging he was during our trip. He is now 18 and studying Law in England and I am happy to have reconnected with him for this interview. (To read the previous interviews in this series, check the bottom of the post for links.)

1. How would you describe your social media use on a normal day?

Yaqsan: As you are well aware everything is now mobile. So all my updates, emails etc come to my phone. But when I'm home my laptop is always on, same thing goes to my email and facebook.

2. Are you a gamer?

Yaqsan: Well I do play playstation 3 but only to some extent. I prefer playing multiplayer shoot em up like Battlefield Bad Company 2.

3. Do you think school, as an institution, is valuable? Why?

Yaqsan: School is the start of a long process of receiving knowledge. If schools were not valuable this will lead to higher education institutions losing their value because the foundation of the learning building has been taken away.

4. What aren't students being taught in school that you feel should be taught?

Yaqsan: This from a personal experience. In Oman unfortunately lab work is very limited. Most experiments are in writing. And IF the students go to the lab then the teacher is the one who does the experiment. So, more lab work.
5. What did you do in school that you feel was a waste of your time?

Yaqsan: I had a subject which was unfortunately useless to me. The subject was life skills. In my opinion life skills are acquired not taught in school.

6. What is the most valuable academic subject for students entering the second decade of the 21st century?

Yaqsan: There are many subjects that are valuable. But in my opinion physics and chemistry on reusable energy is very important, as everyone is aware oil now is predicted to run out in 50 years. Also humanitarian subjects are important like law as we are now suing everyone. But also as crime rate has reached sky high.

7. What was the most memorable lesson you ever had in school?

Yaqsan: To be honest physics was my favorite subject especially nuclear physics. The teacher who taught us knew how to connect to students, even though this is a subject which has a very narrow error margin. He still knew how to make the lesson fun. Which led me to get the highest mark from all my other scientific subjects.

8. What are your thoughts on standardized tests?

Yaqsan: Well it depends. One argument is they will be more fair. It will be easy to judge students because everyone would've had the same exams. But on the other hand not everyone has the same quality of education and it might be unfair on some students.

9. What makes a good teacher good?

Yaqsan: This again depends on the subject. But overall a teacher who isn't too strict on the students and also not too outgoing. If the teacher made the students his/her friends then they will be looked at with admiration and respect. Also from experience.

10. Do you feel that googling facts is a suitable replacement for knowing them?

Yaqsan: If the person already knows the facts then there is no need to google them. But if the person doesn't know them then googling them is an option. But I advise the person who does google the facts to remember them for future reference. This century is all about education. Unfortunately now if the person has knowledge but doesn't know how to use the computer is looked up on them with a frown.

11. You've connected with students from around the world- what are the big differences between students around the globe?

Yaqsan: As technology takes over the differences are becoming smaller and smaller. This I think is not totally a good thing. Because those differences are what makes each nation different from the other. The only difference that are left are for example the food we eat and the way we speak.

12. In Qatar you spoke at the TEDx event- what was that experience like?

Yaqsan: For some reason I've always liked speaking in front of a crowd. The experience was wonderful. Me at the front speaking my thoughts and an audience who listened to every word I said. After that speech I made more speeches at other places. Which all went good. Before I end I would like to advice the people who are shy or afraid to speak in front of people, well not to be shy and afraid, when you get up on the stage (or the front) just forget about everyone else this is your moment and don't let anyone ruin it for you. Speaking in front of a crowd will increase your confidence.

Check out the previous interviews in the series:

Pearce Delphin (Part One) Pearce Delphin (Part Two)

17-year-old deontological libertarian from Australia

Todd Oh 17-year-old App developer from South Korea

Lane Sutton 14-year-old entrepreneur

Anna Hoffstrom (Part One) Anna Hoffstrom (Part Two)
18-year-old Autodidact and Unschooler from Finland/Maine

11 year old Texan living in Singapore

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