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What is it like to be taught by influential professors?

My day today at grad school has not yet ended, and I have already taken two classes by highly valued professors in public policy academia. My morning started at 09.00 at a session with Prof. Danny Quah. After sitting through three hours of his class, I was blown away by not just his knowledge, but his ability to engage students continuously throughout the lecture. His oration and nature of succinctly placing each participant’s point of view while discussing the rebalancing of global power dynamics. A discussion on economic centres of gravity and its shift from the middle of Atlantic Ocean in the 1950s to its movement towards the East until now, was elaborately discussed for three hours and heavily written about by students.

The second class, which is about to end, is being taught by Prof. Lam Chuan Leong, who comes with a long history of career in Singapore Government’s various ranks. A highly respected person, I am enchanted by his ease of taking such a massive number of students (60 in this one, and nearly 80 in the other) to teach. He continues with his knowledge and experience in leadership, market analysis, policy analysis and governance. To be honest, I am too daunted to talk in this class, and at the same time, want to understand the narratives of public leadership through his experience.

It is extremely lucky to have a chance to study under such massive personalities and get to learn personal and close through their insights. What is it like to know what expertise means, there is so much to read and learn that I am often drowned in thoughts of worry, whether I will ever do justice to such professors. At the same time, I think, is it really all about doing justice to the courses? Can you not be a great student and still have a fabulous experience in that class. I am no genius at international trade or economics, but I still take such courses, only to get a chance to study with esteemed professors. You learn the virtue of knowledge, you understand the diversity of mentorship, you measure your work through the eyes of different professors and learn to be average at some electives. Since, the sum of all education is not to be result oriented but knowledge oriented, right?

Mariyam Raza Haider

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A journalist by training, Mariyam Haider is a writer and performance poet in Singapore.
She is the researcher of the book The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age written by James Crabtree.
Her writing has appeared in Hindustan Times, Livemint, Feminism In India, New Asian Writing and Kitaab.

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