The winner of the 2018 Faculty Teaching Prize
The Teaching Prize is presented every year during the opening of the Faculty Year as a means of showing our excellent, devoted lecturers the appreciation they deserve. Lecturers are nominated by students, student associations and student members of programme committees. Four were nominated this year and the winner is...
Olga van Marion
Van Marion is a lecturer in Dutch Language and Culture (BA) and Dutch Studies (MA), in the Historical Literary Studies department and was nominated by a group of her students, which is rather unique. Her boundless enthusiasm is contagious, and her lectures are never boring thanks to her innovative teaching methods.
How does it feel to receive this award after being nominated twice?
‘Of course, receiving two nominations is already very special. But I could really jump for joy right now! It represents appreciation for the hard work I have invested in recent years. To teach my classes, I have to prepare in the evening because I am really busy during the day. At home I can concentrate and fantasize about what I will do in the one or two 45-minute sessions, with all the knowledge in my head. Teaching is more than just presenting as much information in as short a time as possible: it’s about trying to ensure that students want to know more so they start looking for things themselves, and explaining how you conduct research. You do that, for instance, by stimulating students and turning things upside down.’
You were nominated by a group of students Why did they nominate you again, do you think?
‘That’s difficult to answer. But, the word ‘enthusiasm’ often recurs in the evaluations of my lectures. It’s true. That’s just me and can’t help it. When I address a topic, people can see that I think it is a wonderful topic or that I think we can delve deeper at the moment.’
When do you love teaching the most?
'When I am heading to my lecture by bicycle, I am already rehearsing. That is when whole sentences come to me and I can’t help gesturing with my arms. That must be a crazy sight, but that’s how it is. It has to do with the fact that we, as lecturers, work hard on the preparation and that we really focus on the hours of interaction we have with the students. I think the tension beforehand is what I love most.'
What is your vision or goal?
'The goal of teaching is to help students to think critically and independently in their lives. We don’t need citizens who have learned to give the ‘right’ answers at the press of a button. A student who, in science or practice, actively gets to work with what we discussed during a lecture, is just wonderful.'
What teaching methods do you use?
‘I often use different teaching methods. I also do that when I give a lecture. First, I get a clear idea of my audience’s expectations. For example, I ask what they might think about a particular topic. They put their answers in their phones and they appear next to us on a large screen. I like building on that. Then I present the part of the research I want to highlight that day. That keeps it exciting because you never really know in advance how they will answer. My lectures are always interactive, it’s not just a matter of listening.’
What tip would you want to give to new or experienced lecturers?
‘I can’t really tell them to prepare their lectures at home every evening. That’s something I can do because my daughter is a bit older and I don’t have to read to her in the evening. But what I can say is, link the research you are doing at that time with the lectures you give. That’s sure to work out well because fresh research always sheds new light on the subject. You can let students know how you used to look at an issue, and then tell them how you have come to see things differently based on what you have discovered. That’s also what we strive for in Leiden: integrating the latest research into our teaching.’
What is the Teaching Prize?
Every year, student associations and student members of programme committees can nominate lecturers for the Faculty Teaching Prize. After the nominations are in, a special jury attends lectures given by the nominated lecturers and decides who will take away the title of the best teacher in the faculty.
More about the Faculty Teaching Prize
Photo report of the festive opening of the Faculty Year
Photo's by Eelkje Colmjon.