Times of Youth: How would you describe yourself? Do give us a brief introduction.
Zarak Mushtaq: My name is Zarak Mushtaq. I am just an ordinary person and quite an average teacher, working hard every day to be better than I was yesterday. I admit I am flawed but we all are, and that is the beauty of life which changes the meaning of perfection for every individual. What truly defines me is my love and passion for Economics, it is a part of me and I cannot even introduce myself without mentioning it. I teach Economics to O and A Level students. Currently, I’m associated to Nixor College and several private institutes like AQS and Nadeem’s Academy.
Times of Youth: Who inspired you to take up teaching as a profession?
Zarak Mushtaq: I would not call this as a profession, rather a passion. I am crazy when it comes to Economics. I always mention to my students that my first love is “Economics” and when it comes to inspiration, the only person that comes to my mind is Sir Faheem. He was my teacher at our community center and for me he was what I called ‘The Best’. His body language and zest with which he used to come to work was simply extra ordinary.
Times of Youth: If not this, what else would you have taken up as your 2nd career of choice and why?
Zarak Mushtaq: Hmm, actually I never thought of something else. A few bunch of people including my students, do recommend to start up a business of my own by looking at my practical approach towards business and economics and that it should definitely work but my answer has always been simple (I usually call my students “Awaam”)– Awaam, my first love is teaching economics and it cannot be compromised.
Times of Youth: Do tell us how your experience has been in your current field so far.
Zarak Mushtaq: I must say it’s been extra ordinary. No, it’s not an easy journey and definitely it is not a piece of cake. It’s such a huge responsibility when you enter a class with diversified students staring at you and waiting for you to say those words which actually match their thoughts, so it is definitely not easy. The best part is every year I learn more, as more students come up to me and the responsibility increases, the pressure increases and the pressure teaches a lot each time. I have to work harder on them to prove myself. Initial years of my career had been quite rough as the teaching industry and students couldn’t easily accept me, I was just an 18 years old amateur for them but when the time came to show the skills, I did. I stayed confident and just kept on working hard, eventually the path smoothened out.
Times of Youth: What is the first word that comes to your mind when you read the following-
Times of Youth: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself as a teacher, honestly?
Zarak Mushtaq: We always have fun in the class when I explain the concept of “perfectly inelastic demand” – when all economics teachers are dead and only I am there for you, in that case 10 on 10. All jokes apart, I believe it’s a long journey waiting ahead of me and I need to improve myself both as a person and a teacher in order to be a better person than I was yesterday. When considering the rating, this question should be answered by my students because they are the audience and they must be having the correct answer.
Times of Youth: What is/are the most challenging aspect/s of your career?
Zarak Mushtaq: Life is full of challenges and it will keep on increasing. Challenge is what I mentioned above, when it comes to dealing with diversified students who think differently or approach differently towards the subject. Handling them all at once, answering them, keeping the pace of the class, enhancing the confidence, it is like wearing different hats at one time. What I usually respond to my students is “Rajnikant samjha hai kia”. My style of teaching is the “Desi way” and I always get complements from the students regarding this unique style. I’ll keep up to that and InshaAllah that challenge won’t remain a challenge but become a motivation for me to increase my potential. After stating this, my students will definitely relate to the topic I am referring to because that is the way I talk, I prefer talking in economics.
Times of Youth: What kind of a student were you in your schooling years?
Zarak Mushtaq: Hmm, I would say I was an average student and was beaten up at several occasions by my teachers, but my mother always taught me to work hard and she always motivated me saying that “You can achieve it son.” I remember my O level Geography teacher, Miss Samina, with whom I also worked at The City School, she always scolded me and sometimes used to hit as well but that is what her love is towards me and she was really happy the day I became a teacher at the same school as her.
Times of Youth: Who according to you is an ideal student & a teacher? Have you ever come across any?
Zarak Mushtaq: Ideal student and teacher, is a very vast topic I must say. In my point of view an ideal student is who is ready to work hard. Not only is working hard important, but also giving respect to the teacher. If a student respects the teacher, he/she will follow the teacher and all the pieces will gradually fall into place. There are many students who stand up to my definition of ideal student and my Awaam certainly knows who I’m talking about. Last year I came across so many students who gave a lot of respect which helped me always, even when I entered the room with a bad mood, my Awaam always accepted me and it had all been really good. I can’t skip my Nixor Awaam, they were the best. Both, the main campus and NCFP batch, it was my first year at Nixor and it had been an amazing experience.
When it comes to ideal teacher, I would say “Teachers”, there are many, who supported and helped me throughout and are still associated with me. It started with Sir Abdul Qadir Silat and Sir Farooq Parek, they gave me the opportunity at an early stage of my career. Sir Nadeem Salam and Sir Nadeem Ghani gave me the platform and made me the part of Nixor. Sir Ahmed Saya, the person who I can always look up to for suggestions, he has always been polite and generous. They will always remain in my prayers.
Times of Youth: Comment on the rational value of today’s educational syllabus system. As per your observations, what should be included/deleted and why?
Zarak Mushtaq: There is always a need of improvement in every single aspect. It is very important to note that there is a difference between getting a good grade and getting knowledge. I don’t like it when students ask “Sir, will this part come in the exam?” Well it’s not their fault because since an early age students are taught only what is bound to be tested in the exam. I will prefer if students come to us for knowledge, they will get the desired result automatically.
Times of Youth: Which current personalities do you believe are the most influential in today’s times, especially for current younger generation?
Zarak Mushtaq: I believe today’s youth is highly influenced by media. The influence of media on psychosocial development of children is profound. Media can have both, negative and positive impact on the individuals. Not all television programs are bad, but data showing negative effects of exposure to violence, inappropriate sexuality and offensive language are harmful. I believe there is a relation between watching violent television programming and increase in violent behavior by children. They tend to perform acts similar to those they watch. As young minds are more vulnerable, they learn what is taught to them. In short, they learn what they see in their daily lives.
Times of Youth: What message would you like to give to the youth of today?
Zarak Mushtaq: It is a very simple message that I learned from my life. I’ll just explain it in few lines. I believe that a person can achieve anything he/she wants in his/her life. The secret is simple, keep a balance in your life. It is not difficult, both “Deen”(religion) and “Duniya”(world) are important. I have seen many students just focusing on studies and ignoring the most important aspect of life i.e. obeying Allah. If you want to achieve something in your life, you must have the correct intention for it, work hard for it, you may fall but that helps you to learn because you can only rise after you have a fall, and never leave “Deen” behind during this race.