He who learns but does not think is lost!
He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger. — Confucius
IT is my third stab at teaching broadcast students the Advance TV Production module but the challenges are different — different groups of students, dissimilar attitudes and overall diverse ideas that the undergraduates want to explore and execute in their final project.
Nevertheless, these challenges make it more fun and eventful.
Every semester, my students travel to different states to collaborate on their final project which is a documentary of the people, life and food of the state of choice. Last semester, the students chose the east coast, focusing on Terengganu and Pahang. Twelve students headed for the former and 10 for the latter, led by Bernadette (Bernie for short) and Christina respectively.
The students coordinate pre-production within their respective groups under my supervision. Pre-production covers the number of assignments in the state and logistics, and group members are assigned tasks. When all the issues are dealt with and the green light is given, students move into the production stage — shooting on location.
If the groups plan well, which most do, production takes place during the semester break. This “break” gives me the opportunity to be on location with them — to help, advise and be responsible for them but never to interfere with the shoot, which is for them to explore, experiment and execute.
Production dates changed a few times. Team Terengganu moved as a group while Team Pahang worked in smaller groups and at different locations. I opted to be on hand where I felt I would be more useful. On the second day of the shoot, I arrived at Sultan Mahmud Airport in Terengganu where Bernie and her team members picked me up.
As a few of them had finished shooting while others were still on location, we re-grouped for dinner. Over the meal, it was clear that the assignments were taking shape nicely and the group members were still high on energy. But there were a few concerns to iron out before we left Kuala Terengganu the next morning.
After dinner, we continued with night shots of Terengganu. Bernie and Evelyn mounted the GoPro on the windshield of a car and its window to get impressive shots of Batu Bersurat and the famous Sultan Mahmud Bridge.
After the shoot, which took a few hours, a few of the students gathered in my room to go over concerns until the wee hours of the morning. We discussed what to expect in the next phase of the assignment.
Later, after a sleepless night, we headed for Tasik Kenyir. We rented a houseboat and shooting equipment, and bought food for a barbecue at night. Chugging slowly, the houseboat took two hours to travel 16km to Tasik Lasir Waterfall, one of 14 waterfalls open to public. The waterfall reaches a height of 500m and is one of the most popular camping sites in the area.
The students were quick to finish the shoot, took a lot of head shots and poses for their e-portfolios (another assignment) and then took a dip in the cool water. Although the waters were calm and inviting, it is deep, so caution is a priority. I watched the students like a hawk and when it started to rain, I knew it was time to go.
Back at the houseboat, the hungry students prepared the food and started the fire for the barbecue while I taught Nadia to cook rice without a rice cooker on board the houseboat. So, in addition to the finer points of production, I also taught living skills.
I bunked together with Bernie, Evelyn and Nadia for the night and before I caught an early morning boat ride back to the Gawi Base to catch my flight to Kuala Lumpur, I said to Bernie: “Take care of them, Bern, you’re in charge.” She looked at me and said: “But, Miss... .” “You’re in charge, Bernie. You were always in charge. I was just the guide.” I smiled at this young leader who has bloomed since her diploma days under my tutelage. “You can do this,” I said and she gave me another hug before I left.
My diploma students have matured and, as undergraduates, they hit the ground running when they attend my classes and production lessons.
The semester was long and tiring, and helming it for three consecutive semesters takes effort and commitment but, in the end, when ideas come together, there is such satisfaction.
For those who have gone through the rigour of assessments, projects and examinations, I hope that they will benefit from the essential experience. It’s always exciting when deadlines approach and students scramble to piece their production together. Some pass with flying colours, while a few have been casualties of my strict ruling “You miss my deadline, you die”.
I often tell them to reach for the stars and never sell themselves short but be as humble as pearls on the ocean bed at the same time. I hope they will integrate these traits with practical know-how in their future endeavours.
Responsible and compassionate educators stay on course and strive forward but only those who teach understand these collocations, empathise and celebrate when at least one student to turn over a new leaf. The student-teacher bond can be laden with despair, tears and disappointments but for those who persevere, the rewards truly far outweigh the sacrifices.
ROSLINA ABDUL LATIF is a broadcast and journalism senior lecturer at Taylor’s University.