Marija Marinkovic- 13 February 2014
"That is true, but I am afraid I think completely the opposite…" said my professor as a feedback to my colleague’s opinion during the class today
Since having good professors is one of the main aspects that influence students’ academic life, I decided to focus on the general characteristics of my Swedish professors in my forth blog post. The headline sentence (spoken by my professor at Malmö University during the course "Theory of Science and Research Methodology") inspired me to share my experience on how polite and motivating Swedish professors appear to us- the students, and in what way they differ from the Serbian professors.
Firstly, Swedish professors are able to bond with their students, understand and to resonate with their feelings and emotions. For instance, the headline sentence shows us how much they appreciate the students’ opinion, and although a professor could have a completely different view, he would never say that a student’s opinion is false. Literally, there are no wrong opinions according to the professors and students can feel free to express themselves self-confidently without being afraid of making mistakes. Whereas comparing to Serbia, I have seen numerous situations where students were afraid to speak up their mind in class in order not to be embarrassed by the professor’s harsh critics if they were to be wrong. That would never happen in Sweden, not even to the shiest students. In Sweden, every student is encouraged and confident enough to talk during class, which naturally has a positive impact on the learning process itself.
Secondly, my Swedish professors have a combination of passion, personality and performance in class. Not only are they passionate about the subject, but they are passionate about the students as well. Swedish professors put all efforts to engage with their students. Classes primarily fall into two categories: lectures and seminars and each require a different approach. The distinguishing characteristic of a lecture is that a professor tells the class information, but also involves the students through asking questions, allowing questions to be asked, making surveys, games… While in seminars, professors discuss the material with the students, primarily giving students a chance to share opinions and explore by themselves. However, although the majority of learning occurs outside the scheduled class periods, professors never disappear at the end of the class- they always remain accessible. Professors can be easily contacted during office hours, they respond to emails, schedule individual meetings, and as a matter of fact, most of the time I have got immediate responses so far.
Lastly, Swedish professors have strict expectations on students, but they also understand students’ condition. In other words, they do not expect anything from the students that they don’t deliver themselves. They appreciate hard-working students because they are hard-working professors. Most importantly, they ignite the students natural thirst for knowledge and leave a lasting mark — an intellectual gift — that educates not just one narrow area of knowledge but life itself.