Portret van Daniel Blanco Ania
Portret van Daniel Blanco Ania

The educational passion of Daniel Blanco Ania

As a counterpart to educational burdens, we invite a Radboud lecturer each month to talk about their educational passion. This month, Daniel Blanco Ania, staff scientist of the Department of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, talks about what energises him in teaching.

Where do you find your educational drive?  

'Every year, at the end of each course, I experience a profound and rewarding moment when at least one student approaches me to express their gratitude, often saying: “Thank you. Not only I got to understand Organic Chemistry thanks to you, but I think I’m also hooked on it." These indescribable moments of appreciation and recognition provide me with an immense boost of energy and motivation, sustaining my educational drive for the coming courses. '

Which moment has always stayed with you?  

'The first lecture I ever gave. This experience was incredibly instructive, teaching me an invaluable lesson about what to avoid in teaching. At the age of 21, having just founded my own private school of Organic Chemistry, I recall the intense anxiety I felt on my way to that first lecture (I was almost trembling). The thought even crossed my mind to tell the six students present that it was all a prank, that they could go home, and we would all simply forget about the ordeal. I had meticulously memorized the content of the lecture and delivered it mechanically, like a robot or a machine gun. When I finished, I thought, please, someone get me out of here. This initial experience was both humbling and enlightening, significantly shaping my approach to teaching thereafter.'

Where do you find the inspiration for your education?  

'I derive my inspiration for education from the idea of changing the world. I consider myself a dreamer, firmly believing that the future of any society lies in the hands of its children and young people. Consequently, their knowledge, preparation, performance, and motivation are crucial factors that will shape the well-being of society in the years to come. I am deeply committed to being a driving force behind this change, contributing to the development and empowerment of future generations through education. '

What is your favourite educational approach?  

'My preferred educational approach centers on demonstrating a deep passion for both the subject I am teaching and the act of teaching itself. I firmly believe that passion is highly contagious and has the power to inspire others. By exhibiting my enthusiasm for organic chemistry, I aim to ignite a similar enthusiasm in my students. It is my goal to transfer my passion for the subject to my students, thereby fostering a dynamic and engaging learning environment.'

What tips do you have for other lecturers? 

'My advice to fellow lecturers is to prioritize motivating and inspiring students. It is often beneficial to sacrifice some course content in favor of creating memorable and impactful lectures by incorporating daily life examples, anecdotes, videos, or storytelling.'

'Establishing a strong rapport with students is also essential; take the time to learn about their hobbies and primary interests. Research clearly shows that strong, meaningful connections between lecturers and students enhance student engagement, attendance, and academic performance.' 

'Lastly, avoid relying on notes while teaching. Instead, strive to deliver your lectures spontaneously, demonstrating that the subject is easy to learn and that you genuinely enjoy teaching it.'

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