Alcina Nunes, Professor in Economics and Management
“Since more than 20 years ago I graduated from one of the oldest traditional universities in Portugal. The teaching methods used back then worked for me. But times are changing and so are teaching practices. This is my opportunity.”
Vicente Leite, Professor in the field of Electrical Engineering and Renewable Energy
“Having read Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner, an inner conflict arose. I saw how our traditional teaching methods have not always been the best for students. I came to TAMK hoping to find some answers to my thought-provoking questions.”
One of my thoughts was “a good professor is a good example” and that’s what I’ll try to be.”
What are the most valuable lessons you are taking back home?
Alcina: What I saw in Finland is that everyone has power. And we have to empower our students in Portugal. On a typical day at work, I speak too much and I don’t listen enough. One of the biggest lessons is to give my students more space to express their concerns and desires: what they wish to do, what works better for them and giving them the right tools to achieve their goals. To allow them to make mistakes and determine what they’ve learned from it. Students need more soft skills and guidance from us teachers.
Vicente: We believe we are good professors and teachers because we do exactly like the ones earlier. It was shocking to discover we’ve been repeating the same strategies and practices like copycats. When students fail their exams or don’t finish their degrees, we realise something is wrong. Something is wrong with the system, not only with students. Acknowledging that can lead to a new beginning.
TEXT AND PHOTOS: ANDRUTA ILIE
What needs to change in your traditional institutions?
Alcina: We have felt and experienced so much here, and that’s difficult to transfer. However, our institution is open-minded and invested in us to come here so that we could help all our colleagues who face the same problems. We all want to change and be better. I kept a diary every day, I shared my photos and impressions from TAMK and Proakatemia on social media for my colleagues. One of my thoughts was “a good professor is a good example” and that’s what I’ll try to be.
Vicente: Instituto Politécnico de Bragança is trying hard to find new ways to help the staff to change their mindset. It is not the people’s fault, but a consequence of the old education system. The main problem is to find a strategy and a context for everyone to reflect, discuss and implement.
Instituto Politécnico de Bragança, university of applied sciences in Portugal