Dedicated to teaching and learning: spotlight on English teacher Dr. Rakic

Melissa Thomas, Editor

Dr. Bogdan Rakic is known throughout South for his challenging curriculum and clever demeanor (see: “It’s scheduling time: Grading the classes at South”). While most freshmen and sophomores are fearful of entering one of Rakic’s difficult classes, they come to complete the class appreciating the effort and improvement he brought out of them. When understanding the value Rakic places in teaching his students, the reason for such success in his classroom becomes even more understandable.  

Rakic lived an incredibly notable life before coming to Indiana. Being born in Yugoslavia, living in England, and even teaching at the University of Chicago, it can be a surprise to many that he came to be an English teacher at Bloomington South. When asked about the transition from teaching college students to high school, Rakic said he likes the latter age group better as they “respond [more] to class.”

“High schoolers are a lot more fluent,” Rakic said. “They are more open to various influences.” 

Rakic’s teaching style is unique for a variety of reasons, and the accomplishments of his teaching philosophy certainly convey in the benefits of his class. 

What may come as the most surprising aspect of his teaching is his self-proclaimed loathing for the word “fun.” Rakic believes class does not always have to be fun, because life isn’t always so. He understands that some of what students must do in the classroom isn’t necessarily fun, yet still important to their learning.

“Fun is a cultural stereotype,” Rakic said. 

Originally striving to be a journalist, Rakic was moved towards teaching by his own college professor. Rakic’s intense dedication and passion in the classroom can be contributed to his own gratitude for the good teachers who mentored and influenced him throughout his education. He teaches to pass on such a positive impact to his own students, striving to answer their every question.

“Students surprise me all the time with their questions. I have to always be able to answer them,” Rakic said. 

Rakic’s individual outlook also stresses the idea that he is procuring as many benefits from teaching as are his students. He sees teaching as a two-way street: the students also teach him, an exchange that is valuable. Rakic teaches to not only impact his students, but to learn for himself as well. 

 Rakic sees each student as an individual full of potential, striving to help them achieve their best. He doesn’t particularly like giving grades, as he feels evaluating students in such a way turns them into a number or just part of the system. Rakic wants to understand students’ growth on a level higher than a single mark or percentage.

“I would much prefer to teach students who don’t receive grades,” Rakic said.

The respect Rakic holds for his craft highlights the huge responsibility it takes to be a teacher. Spencer Walsh, a senior student of Rakic’s, agrees that he is helping to cultivate “the next generation of man thinking.” Any student who steps into his classroom will be enlightened by his dedication, philosophy and communication.

What you may not also know about Dr. Rakic: he can speak three languages, believes Italy is “the best place” on earth and loves tennis.