FACULTY PROFILE: Dr. Jakob Patekar

"Engage with the text!” Inspiring advice for young writers

July 16, 2020

Dr. Patekar’s life started out interesting from the very first moment; he was born in New Delhi, India, an exotic place of birth that often surprises his fellow Croatians. Coincidentally, his last name, which comes from the north of Croatia, is also a popular Indian last name (you might want to google Nana Patekar, for example).

Dr. Patekar describes himself as introvert, although he does admit that getting a teaching job right after university forced him out of his shell. His first job was teaching English to children from 6 to 14 years of age in a public elementary school for 10 years, before joining RIT Croatia at the Zagreb campus in 2016. Along the way he worked on many related projects, such as translating or examining speaking at Cambridge ESOL exams. However, he considers his most important professional achievement to be his participation in the team of professionals who recently developed the new Curriculum of English that will form the basis of teaching and learning English in Croatia in the years to come.

His academic background is a master’s degree in English Language and Literature and Education Science (double major) from the University of Rijeka and a doctoral degree in Language Teaching from the University of Zagreb.

Dr. Patekar currently serves as RIT Croatia’s General Education Chair, supervising and supporting faculty in several departments. But more important than his role as an administrator, he says, is his role in the classroom, teaching Introduction to Academic English, Critical Reading & Writing, and Writing Seminar. These key courses form the foundation of students’ writing skills for their entire educational career at RIT Croatia.

Dr. Patekar has always been a fan of writing. "When I was a kid, and a typical introvert, writing was like therapy to me, a way to express myself,” he said. "So much so that a concerned teacher once called my parents to school because she found a horror story.” His written work today is less shocking, as he only writes articles for scientific journals.

For Dr. Patekar, the most important thing in teaching writing is to show students that writing is a two-way street. As writers, students need to be aware of who is on the other side. Writing, he says, is not about what the author thinks the message is, but how the reader interprets it. So, for him, reading, too, is an interaction, even though one side cannot immediately reply. If you hear students saying "Engage with the text!”, then you know they’ve just had Critical Reading & Writing with Dr. Patekar.

Dr Patekar works in Zagreb but lives in Rijeka and commutes each day to work. So, students who come late to his class can’t blame slow tramways as an excuse. That just won’t cut it because he’ll outplay them in the game of who lives farther away or needs more time to get to the campus in Zagreb.

His students would describe him as a strict professor in whose class you know when it’s time to have fun and when it’s time to work. He confirms that he likes running a tight ship, but adds that students are overall very positive about his teaching style. His mission is not to show students that everyone can be a writer, but that everyone already is a writer.

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