Today's students are not disciples but co-creators

19 May 2022

Last week, the Spring Graduation Ceremony had a glorious return with four days of celebration of knowledge and education, honouring three years of award recipients, doctoral degree graduates, and jubilee doctors. It felt great that the week of celebrations began by recognising the fantastic educators at the University.

It is the efforts of educators that enable our students to go further and deepen their knowledge through research, to eventually become the next generation of researchers and teachers. I appreciated the pedagogical talks given by the University's pedagogical award recipients on the Wednesday prior to the Spring Graduation Ceremony. Among all the inspiring stories from the everyday life of our university teachers, I felt that three themes emerged: variability, relationships, and pleasure.

Photo from live stream of the pedagogical talks

Photo: Cecilia Nilsson

The development of education and training takes place in relation to societal changes and needs, not least sustainable development. This may sound instrumental, as if the University's task was only to deliver educated people for the labour market. Of course, this is not the case. The award recipients emphasised the importance of education and arousing curiosity to stimulate lifelong learning. On the other hand, societal changes highlight the importance of functioning and mutual collaboration with schools, health care, municipalities, industries, and various parts of our geographical area.

Another kind of change concerns the challenges of meeting an increasingly heterogeneous student population. Several award recipients spoke of these, and at the same time emphasised how valuable it is that students have different experiences, ages, and attitudes. By taking advantage of these differences and the fact that students are not cast in the same mould, they are challenged in their learning.

Heidi Hansson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of education

Photo: Mattias Pettersson

The pandemic involved changes in teaching methods. This led to rapid development but also to challenges, not least in terms of building relationships with and between students. We have learnt a lot when it comes to stimulating creativity and student activity in the digital space.

An interesting discussion concerned the aspect of teaching together, by having more teachers in the classroom or working in teaching teams. This can change the dynamics and, at best, stimulate students to take personal responsibility for their education. If teachers dare to highlight different interpretations or approaches to the material, it can create insight into the variability of knowledge and help develop critical thinking in students. There is not always one right answer. This means that we can let go of the idea of discipleship. Instead, we create a changing teacher role as well as a new student role, where we constantly learn from each other and develop knowledge together.

What unites the award recipients is professional pride and job satisfaction. I am convinced that one of the most important ways to maintain this job satisfaction is to create new knowledge in relationships with students and colleagues. It makes me think warmly of the quote that started Wednesday's programme: "what we learn with pleasure we never forget".

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