News and Events

Celebrating good education together - Education Bazaar

Students, lecturers and policy makers of Tilburg University got together during the 2017 Education Bazaar. The central topic was how education at our university can be improved. What is available in terms of innovations and best practices? And who are inspiring role models? We are looking back on a very pleasant and successful first anniversary event, full of inspiration, ideas and interaction.

By: Melinde Bussemaker

Rector Magnificus Emile Aarts opens the afternoon in a well-filled auditorium. “Breaking news: We once again came second in the Elsevier Ranking. We owe this to the students voting for us and to our lecturers with a passion for teaching. But we can do better still. How? That is what we are looking to find out from our students and lecturers today, by listening to interesting speakers, by entering into discussions, and by having a good time at this pleasant bazaar.”

Tilburg Education Profile

“We are constantly improving the education offered at our university. One of the ways we are doing this is by working on a new strategy to help budding entrepreneurs get started through social ventures. Remember”, he impresses on the students in the audience, “there is always money available for good ideas.” The Tilburg Education Profile has now been fleshed out. It specifies what students graduating from Tilburg University have to offer. Education at the university is student-centric and built on the three pillars of knowledge, skills and character. It is up to the university to help students develop these. We transfer knowledge by teaching in small groups, practice students’ skills to prepare them for the future, and build their character to enable them to employ their knowledge and skills for the good of society, and eventually become role models themselves.

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Teacher of the Year

Student Jeroen Aben is hosting the Education Bazaar and he is not afraid to put on a performance. He introduces the jury of the Teacher of the Year Award in his very own way. It consists of Rector Magnificus Emile Aarts, Hannes Datta, winner of the award in 2016 and Assistant Professor at TiSEM, Joeri Cox, consultant at Bento Presentation and alumnus of Tilburg University, Psychology student Francis Bleeker, and Tamim Karim, representative of ‘Intercity Student Consultation’ (Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg). Student party SAM is organizing the contest for the second time. Each School has one nominee competing in the contest, in which each has to give a five-minute lecture.

Depression and religion

Aben introduces each nominee with a famous quote from Shakespeare. Associate Professor Loes Keijsers of TSB kicks off the contest with a short lecture on the employment of smartphones in finding algorithms in feelings of depression. Is depression more common during bad weather, for instance? How can you draw conclusions from data like these? The next one up is Associate Professor Karim Schelkens of TST, who gives the audience food for thought with his mini-lecture on religion. How can we learn from the history of religion? Without mentioning it explicitly, he draws parallels between mid-19th-century Catholics and radicalizing Muslims today. The conclusion he draws is that “a group of religious people consists of a plurality of voices, many of which are not heard, but do make their influence felt.“

Current issues in the classroom

Associate Professor Ger van der Sangen of TLS likes to use current issues in his classes. In his mini-lecture, he briefly explains how he let students reflect on the lawsuit between the Executive Board of AkzoNobel and the company’s shareholders. AkzoNobel had rejected a takeover bid and its shareholders did not agree with this. The big legal question was: Who ultimately is the boss? In the class in question, the ruling the students came up with was spot on: it later turned out that the board did indeed have the right to do what they did. Van der Sangen’s view on education: ‘Teaching is about life now’. Associate Professor Bob van den Brand of TiSEM likes to employ new techniques in his classes. He too, takes an example from real life that appeals to the students’ imagination: How much profit does Apple make and what does the company do with the money? He also promotes holding interactive web sessions before exams where students can ask questions. That way, ‘student lying in bed’ can be activated.

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Bossy women

Assistant Professor Mariek vanden Abeele of TSH is the final nominee to present her mini-lecture. She explains why women at the top are often labelled as ‘bossy’, and why women lecturers always get poorer evaluations than their male colleagues. It is because of ‘gender expectations’. She calls her mini-lecture rector-centric, hoping it will make Emile Aarts aware of the phenomenon. Does she have any tips for women aspiring to be lecturers? “Be bossy!” It earns her well-deserved applause from the audience.

'Stroopwafels' and Socrates

After these examples of innovative and passionate teaching, it is time for those present at the Bazaar to take their pick from the wide range of options offered in the program. There are all kinds of sessions to go to, focusing on such varied things as educational renewal, character building, innovations, and the development of skills. The sweet scent of syrup fills the air at the bazaar, bustling with people interested to find out more about all kinds of things. You can get a profile picture taken for LinkedIn, get to know more about Teacher and Student Development or about Entrepreneurship, about the Scriptorium or the Language Center, and you can do so while enjoying a cup of coffee, freshly made by a barista, and nibbling a freshly baked Dutch ‘stroopwafel’. Outside there is a convertible that you can hit golf balls into. You can also simply sit and talk on the colorful covered terrace in the courtyard. If you should lose your way, Socrates, Cobbenhagen, and Marie Curie are there in person to show you the way, with wise words or witty comments. These role models played an important role in their day in laying the foundation of and developing university education.

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Innovative examples

It is hard to decide what to choose from such a wide range of options. In Track A, are you going to go for the development of the skill of critical thinking through Visual Thinking Strategies, offered by Academic Forum? Are you going to sit in on the debate between the lecturers competing for the Teacher of the Year Award? Should you perhaps join the session by Joris Hulstijn, who explains the innovative way in which he has his students take their exams? Instead of a regular exam, his students have to give a poster presentation at the end of the semester. Or would you rather hear Scientific Director of the Tilburg Center of Entrepreneurship James Small talk about ‘Experiments in Entrepreneurship Education’? Regardless of the School you are studying at, you can take a Minor in entrepreneurship consisting of three courses. The discipline is developing rapidly. Lecturer Suzanne van der Aa goes into the value attached to education: in order for education to be improved, it needs to get sufficient attention and appreciation. PhD student Robbert Coenmans talks about his collaboration with other institutions in developing the multi-disciplinary course ‘Brabant Robot Challenge’. Track A closes with a discussion organized by Academic Forum on how the university can be more ‘student-centric’.

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Are we getting any wiser?

Track B starts with a big session in the auditorium presented by Wouter Sanderse. In his PhD research he investigated the phenomenon of Character Education. In ‘Are we educating a society of ‘smart fools‘?’, he reveals that in terms of IQ we are getting smarter and smarter. But are we getting any wiser as well? What is wisdom and how can it be acquired? Basing himself on sociology and psychology, he draws a number of interesting conclusions. According to Aristotle, wisdom is smartness and goodness combined. It is all about ‘knowing how to live well’. Drawing on psychology, Sanderse talks about ‘folk wisdom’. What is considered wise? Wisdom involves a deeper way of understanding, requires one to be able to reflect and to solve problems, to feel the need to help others. So do you get old and wise automatically? No, you don’t, it takes some effort: You need to learn from your negative experiences. Sanderse concludes his session with three recommendations: ‘educate the whole person, emulate role models, and exercise wise judgement’. Or in the words of Steve Jobs: ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish’.

Prejudices and magazines

After these wise words, there are six more interesting session to choose from in Track B. Tilburg Model United Nations is organizing a discussion on what your role models tell us about you. Assistant Professor Mark Brandt explains how persistent prejudices are and that the only thing that really helps is making a true connection. By making contact with a person that you have a prejudice about, you increase your understanding and reduce your judgment. You can put this into practice straight away by taking part in a brief Human Library session. Professor Hein Fleuren goes into his (one’s?) own share in improving education. Lecturer Ico Maly talks about how the educational tool Diggit Magazine has devolved into a niche magazine. Student Career Services puts our feet firmly back on the ground with regard to 21st-century skills, and, finally, student party Fractie Front discusses how Tilburg University stimulates entrepreneurship. Still filled with impressions left by the sessions just attended, you subsequently exchange cards at the Connection tables. Here, many a network is expanded. 

Prizes galore!

The Education Bazaar is concluded with delicious little snacks, tasty drinks, and great music. While everybody is enjoying these, the winner of the Teacher of the Year Award is announced. Loes Keijsers receives the award from the hands of Hannes Datta, who on behalf of the jury praises Keijsers’ ‘student centric’ education, commends her for breaking through glass walls, daring to be vulnerable and full of confidence, and for presenting an interactive mini-lecture. Beaming with pride, she receives the award. Up next is Vice-Dean of TiSEM Philip Joos, who has the honor of announcing no fewer than six prizes. Stefan ten Eikelder (TiSEM) wins third prize in the Master’s Thesis Prize competition, second prize goes to Julia van Veen (TSH), and the winner is Shuai Yuan (TSB). The Best Teacher Innovation Prize goes to Ico Maly of Diggit Magazine. Karlijn van Blom and Philip Paiement share second place, with ‘Presenting Your Professional (Juridical) Passion’, and ‘Nomosphone: The Global Life of The Law, respectively’.

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The magic of teaching

Thoroughly enjoying her award, beaming Loes Keijsers looks at the young talent present. “I am honored, but I will not be any different tomorrow; I will be teaching the same way I always do. I might just bring even more crazy things to class. Today, for instance, I brought a black box with paper-wrapped chocolates, and in a lecture on teenagers I once invited my parents. I love teaching. I want to ignite the sparks people have within them. It is magical when you can help students discover what they can do. I once had a student come into to my room saying: ‘I don’t know what it is, but I’m in love. Amazing what you can get science to do!’ Now, how great is that! You get close to people’s hearts that way as a teacher.”

Curious about more of the pictures? Check the pictures at the Tilburg University Facebook.