[By Adam Effendi bin Ashaari]
This article in collaboration with Taylor’s University Student Council.
In Canadian Pre-University, I had a lecturer who opened my eyes to the beauty of physics. His name is Fernando Morales and he taught me physics and calculus. Born in Toronto, Canada, and of Spanish descent, he came to Malaysia to teach at Taylor’s college CPU program.
His true gift was the way he taught physics and calculus. When I was in secondary school, I’ve always found it tough to understand the point of learning scientific concepts and principles. Where does it all fit in the world we live in? Regardless of that, I had a natural ability understanding new things.
That was what I thought until I met Fernando Morales. His true gift was to deconstruct everything I knew about mathematics and physics. He showed me that behind every underlying concept that exists within our universe, it all starts with an intuitive question of child-like curiosity.
Furthermore, the way he presented his lessons were incredibly effective for visual learners like myself. He relied heavily on graphical methods to solve calculus and physics questions. By using visual diagrams, I could imagine the numbers and patterns that governed the numbers.
He showed us the questions, doubts and thoughts that the scientific forefathers took to come up with modern physics and calculus. That way, we could learn by walking in the footsteps of Newton, Einstein and Planck to name a few examples.
He didn’t rely much on exercises and completing equations. His assignments were based on real life situations where cultural context played an equally important role as theoretical understanding. Through this, he showed that numbers have no meaning on itself. It’s the context in which we quantify our observations that governs what behaviour numbers exhibit.
Like how Isaac Newton discovering calculus wasn’t just out of pure speculation. But it was with careful understanding of how quantified observations of planetary bodies behave. To top it all off, he loved talking about theoretical physics. Is reality truly real? Is time travel possible?
He encourages us to express our curiosity about life, even if it’s beyond the scope of physics and mathematics. He showed his love for art by having our final assignment be on creating an artwork inspired by Einstein’s discoveries and quantum mechanics.
Outside of the classroom, I was involved in a club supervised by Mr Fernando as well. The club was called Everyone Has Hope and we would teach photography to Burmese refugee children in Kuala Lumpur as a way for them to earn a living and develop social skills.
I was recruited to teach photography and I had ample support from my own lecturer to teach others. We would bring the children to various parks and tourist sites in KL. It was a great opportunity to get to know Mr Fernando as an individual and what drives him to care for others.
All in all, I love how Mr Fernando presents knowledge and I am deeply grateful to have met him. I had countless joyful memories of learning from him, as well as sharing laughs with him. He has a witty sense of humour as well. It made every class worth listening to.