Portret van Marjolein van de Pol
Portret van Marjolein van de Pol

The educational passion of Marjolein van de Pol

As a counterpart to educational burdens, we invite a Radboud lecturer each month to talk about their educational passion. This month, Marjolein van de Pol talks about what energises her in her teaching. Marjolein van de Pol is director of Medical Education and professor of 'Student Well-being and Lifelong Learning' at the Radboudumc/Radboud University.

Where do you find your educational drive?

'Teaching and developing education gives me energy. What could be better than having a dialogue with a small or large group of students and developing ourselves further together? The world around us is changing rapidly. Helping students to develop adaptive expertise, so that they can continue to develop themselves after completing their studies, is something I think is great to see and do. Every group of students is different and just as I challenge them to develop, they challenge me to remain critical and curious. Education keeps me on my toes. At the moment, in my education and educational research, I am very much involved in student well-being. The well-being of young people in general is under pressure. If you're not doing well, there is not enough room in your head and in your body to learn and develop. It gives me energy to work with students together to find an evidence-based approach to student well-being.'

Which moment has always stayed with you?

'There are many, many moments that have made a lasting impression on me. One of them dates back to my own student days. A lecturer didn't show up and as a year representative I had the task of tracking down the lecturer. After a few phone calls, the lecturer was found and he came to the lecture hall. He was not prepared, but asked me what the subject of the lecture was and then gave a great lecture without preparation, making very illustrative drawings with chalk on an old-fashioned blackboard to reinforce his argument.'

Where do you find the inspiration for your education?

'Inspiration is everywhere. In a beautiful book I'm reading, in a movie, in a chance encounter, during a meeting or in the shower, an idea can suddenly come up. But I get most inspiration from conversations with students. As a lecturer-coach, I regularly speak with individual students and small groups about their personal and professional development. During these conversations and teaching moments, I hear what is going on with students, I can ask further questions and this in turn provides me with input for education and educational organization.'

What is your favourite educational approach? 

'I don't have one favorite approach. A lecture requires a different approach than a working group or practical. The similarity in approach is that I always spend time first to make contact. In small-scale education, this can be done by asking questions and having a conversation, and in larger-scale education, by using, for example, humour or an anecdote.'

What tips do you have for other lecturers?

'Take yourself to education and show what you stand for. What are your qualities and pitfalls and how do you use them? What I have noticed so far in conversations with students is that they attach many characteristics to me because of the image they have of me. By talking about this, I hope to help students put things into perspective and increase their resilience.'

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