Profession of a teacher is for all times, says BHOS Professor Fuad Veliyev.
On the occasion of the Day of Teachers celebrated on October 5, Fuad Veliyev, Doctor of Engineering, Professor of the Petroleum Engineering Department at the Baku Higher Oil School (BHOS) and a member of American Association for Science and Technology, gave us an interview.
Dear Mr. Veliyev, in your opinion, what it means to be a teacher?
In my opinion, the very notion of being a teacher is beyond any time frames, as teacher is required all through the ages. There is no many differences between contemporary teachers and teachers living a century ago. Good teacher’s qualities are based on four pillars, namely high qualification, intellectuality, a desire for, and competence in, teaching, and respectful and kindness towards students. There is no doubt that a teacher shall be an expert in his field, but this is not enough. For example, a teacher giving lessons on science, technology, engineering and mathematics shall also have a good knowledge of arts, music, history, philosophy, and religion.
The founder of the quantum mechanics and Nobel laureate Niels Bohr not only founded a science school. He was giving lessons on theory of music at Berlin University and often participated in discussions about unity of science and religion. In the meantime, a teacher of liberal arts must understand the basics of technical science. Charles Snow used to say that if an Englishman did not know the second law of thermodynamics, it is the same as if he did not know Shakespeare. If a teacher is a well-known scientist, then his lessons reach higher levels.
Lectures given by the late famous academician Azad Mirzajanzadah provide the best example of this to me. He not only was giving lectures on mechanics, but he also was informing his students about latest scientific achievements and telling them interesting facts arts, literature and classical music. True scholar can talk about the most difficult subjects in layman’s terms using a simple language. In the end, the quality of teaching depends on the teacher’s qualities. Only good teachers can prepare good students and excellent specialists.
Let us recall who teachers at École Polytechnique (Paris Polytechnic School) were in the first part of 19 century. The teachers were scientists such as Laplace, Lagrange, Fourier, Ampère, Dulong and Berthollet. And who were their students? The students were Carnot, Cauchy, de Coriolis, Poisson, Gay-Lussac, Fresnel, Clapeyron, to name a few. A true teacher does not give lectures; he encourages students’ interest towards science and creativity.
One the greatest physicist in 20 century Enrico Fermi once said: “A student is not a bucket that shall be filled up with knowledge. A student is like a torch, and the teacher’s duty is to ignite this torch.” The teacher shall feel empathy and kindness towards his studens, he also must help them to develop their personality. As Leo Tolstoy was saying, “If a teacher likes his profession, he is a good teacher. If he likes both his profession and his students, he is a perfect teacher.” A teacher, who is kind towards his students and loves them, will certainly receive their respect and love in return. What award can be more precious for the teacher? Hazrat Ali was telling: “I shall be a servant forever for someone who taught be one letter.”
You have had hundreds, if not thousands, students. In your view, do nowadays students differ from those in the past?
I think that neither students, nor teachers have changed a bit. It is the time and the world around us that have changed. Young people in our days have access to the vast amount of information, but this does not mean they are smarter than previous generations. The test system, with all its advantages, has one disadvantage, as it does not help develop logical reasoning. The huge volume of information is available to youth today, but it is unfortunate that it restricts their development as educated and intellectual persons with good reasoning.
Unfortunately, most of the young people today are pragmatists and technocrats. They read very few books and they are not very much interested in classical literature and music. And this is happening all around the world. Leading universities in many countries prepare narrow specialists, not open-minded intellectuals. In the meantime, we can recall that university graduates in Azerbaijan in the past not only were excellent professionals, but also played an important role in political, social and cultural life of Azerbaijan. However, despite the fact that there are more people with higher education now, there are fewer true intelligent people.
What can you say about your students at BHOS?
I believe that the Baku Higher Oil School meets the highest international standards applied in education. It is an exemplary educational facility with great prospects. I am sure that BHOS will be listed among the best universities around the world in the nearest future. I was giving lessons at some universities abroad and I can confirm that you will not find the same support and attitude towards students, which is provided to the students at BHOS. The task to be implemented by our Higher School is not to prepare cosmopolitan technocrats; the task is to prepare highly-qualified professionals who love their motherland and their people, who are open-minded and who can think globally. They must be people who can think and make decisions independently and who have modern thinking. Subjects such as Azerbaijani history and culture of speech as well as various musical and cultural events including visits to theatres and other performances arranged by BHOS greatly contribute to development of these qualities.
Of course, our students appreciate the unlimited opportunities given them by BHOS. They shall honorably represent Azerbaijan both as experts in their specialty and as intellectuals. I also would like to emphasize the high level of knowledge of our students, their modern worldview and high intellectual potential. They can favorably compete with students from the best universities of the world. I am confident that many of BHOS graduates will become leading specialists in the largest international companies and organizations.