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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

LISTEN: ‘Make sure young people have a very good teacher’ – The Naked Scientist

The Naked Scientist also spoke about AI taking over your job, enjoying your life and inspiring people to achieve their goals.

“There’s an old saying: do a job you love, and you’ll never do a day’s work in your life.”

This is a quote from Dr Chris Smith, also known as The Naken Scientist, who has encouraged South Africans to ensure that the youth of the country have excellent teachers so that they can pursue things that are really important to them.

Dr Smith spoke to The Citizen on the sidelines of the 2023 BIO Africa Convention at the Durban International Convention Centre.

Listen to the interview with Dr Chris Smith

The three-day event, running until 6 September, attracts industry experts, researchers and Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) in the biotechnology sector.

Smith, who is attending the convention, has been engaging with the youth to inspire them as they face various challenges, including high levels of unemployment, limited access to quality education, economic inequality, crime rates, and social issues such as substance abuse and violence.

Additionally, they may encounter psychological and emotional stressors related to these challenges, such as anxiety, depression, and trauma.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, there have been reports of increased mental health concerns among teenagers and our youth, including anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.

ALSO READ: World Teachers’ Day: Educators praised for important role they play

Good teachers

Jokingly, Smith said the youth of today are bearing heavy challenges.

“I’m very glad that I’m not growing up today perfectly, to be perfectly honest with you. I’m very glad I grew up when I did. I think it’s very, very difficult for young people these days. There are all kinds of different pressures to contend with that we just didn’t have when I was little.”

Dr Smith said children and the youth must have very good teachers.

“One of the most important things that anyone anywhere can do is to make sure that young people have a very good teacher, cos everyone remembers the name of their first teacher, and that’s because they can make such a big impression on us. And with the right teacher who’s well trained, skilled and also inspirational, this has the effect of encouraging people to pursue things that are really important.

“And so with teachers that will fertilise and nurture the interest and enthusiasm for a subject in young people, you’ve got 90% of the problem solved because then natural curiosity takes over

“I think when it comes to science where it really matters is getting people into science and confident with science and aware of the value of science from a really young age. And that means having a really good teacher. So if we’re going to invest in anything, we should all in all countries everywhere, be thinking about how to make sure we’ve got the best teachers,” Smith said.

Enjoy your life

The Naked Scientist, who also spoke about the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) taking over people’s jobs and gaming, has advised people to enjoy their lives.

“Enjoy your life, but make sure you make choices that mean you have lots of choices in life. Because if you make choices that give you more choices, you will always be able to have something on the go that keeps you happy. There’s an old saying which is do a job you love and you’ll never do a day’s work in your life. I’ve got one of them. I’m very pleased as a result. Very happy. Try and get one yourself,” Smith said.

ALSO READ: Equip the youth with skills and opportunities – Corporate SA

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