Lifelong learning to be a good teacher

What does a university teacher need to learn? Is it enough to train to become a researcher, know your subject and been exposed to teachers through your entire education, to develop into a good teacher yourself?

Most people would probably say no, just as you obviously will not become a good surgeon after having undergone surgery yourself. It can be a good experience, however, but not enough by a long chalk. Nor is it enough to start operating at the sharp end without any kind of previous training, maybe even without any kind of guidance, cut a bit there, saw here, and then let’s see what happens… It’s just as obvious that surgeons need training for their profession as university teachers need it.

Teachers should both teach and research, it says in our development plan and that I blogged about last time. Such is a teacher’s profession as both a teacher and researcher. The profession of researcher is reached after a long education that concludes with third cycle education and then a few years afterwards to become a docent. The close connection between research and teaching helps you become a member of the teaching profession, not purely by developing a depth and breadth of knowledge in your subject, but also by viewing teaching as a research process with continuous development opportunities.

But like a surgeon that has studied anatomy but not surgery, that does not take you all the way. Teachers also need to study university pedagogics, the first 15 mandatory university credits and then via continuous professional development, ideally participating in education conferences and perhaps by offering contributions of your own to colleagues. View this as lifelong learning within the teaching profession.

 Tip of the week: Go to Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and Academic Teaching at KTH and look at everything KTH has to offer in this area. Also check out conferences for utbildningsutveckling (if you browse down you will find plenty to read here).