Portret Boris van Meurs
Portret Boris van Meurs

The educational passion of Boris van Meurs

As a counterpart to 'educational burdens', each month we invite a Radboud lecturer to talk about their educational passion. This month, Boris van Meurs, PhD candidate and lecturer in Metaphysics and Philosophical Anthropology, talks about what energises him in his teaching.

Where do you find your educational drive?

‘My passion lies in passing on knowledge. Texts that I may have read over twenty times appear in a new light every time I pass them on to students. When my teaching succeeds, it is like the horizons of that text, the student's, and my own merge again. We all leave this meeting as a different person.’

Which moment has always stayed with you?

‘Honestly, I don't experience teaching as a series of individual moments, which makes it hard to isolate one moment as particularly valuable. I see teaching as a collaborative process in which I especially appreciate when the connection with the group becomes so strong that we keep talking about the subject matter during the break and after the lecture. Everyone then turns out to have so much to share! More often than not, I'm also amazed by which associations or ideas I come up with during such conversations with students. The line between my research and education becomes blurred and – even more importantly – the line between work and life as well. Students do not accept it when ideas remain unsubstantiated and abstract. They want to know what an idea can mean for their own existence.’

Where do you find the inspiration for your education?

‘I often think back to the great lecturers I've had myself, such as Chris Bremmers. He taught lectures for the research master's programme I was enrolled in at Radboud University. He contradicted all kinds of educational advice (during the first meeting the course went in a completely different direction than was described in the course manual), but that didn't matter. Bremmers had so much passion for his work, and he really embodied philosophy. He even managed to link the difficult philosopher Heidegger to the magazines he saw at his barber that morning. Every week it was a new adventure. If you can convey some of that enthusiasm in your teaching, then you should be very proud.’

What is your favourite educational approach?

‘I prefer to leave the learning to the students. If students can substantiate every step of an argument, I'm satisfied. That means they have access to the concepts I teach without my involvement.’

What tips do you have for other lecturers?

‘I don't feel like it is my place to advise my many adequate colleagues. But speaking for myself, it has helped me a lot to regularly gauge how students perceive the lectures. I always take their perspective on education seriously. Because if it doesn't reach them, education has no point.’

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