Portretfoto van Dries Lyna
Portretfoto van Dries Lyna

The educational passion of Dries Lyna

As a counterpart to educational burdens, we invite a Radboud lecturer each month to talk about their educational passion. This month, Dries Lyna, assistent professor at the Department of History, Art History and Classics, talks about what energises him in her teaching.

Where do you find your educational drive? 

'Socrates saw himself as a midwife for his students, and that's how I see myself too. I want to help them give birth to wisdom. I don't want to tell students how things are, but I want to work together and slowly come to insights. That makes me really happy. When I see that the penny drops for students, I think: yes, this is it!'

'It also works the other way around. It often happens that I'm talking to students and think: oh of course you can also look at it that way. It's impossible to count how many times I've found myself on a new research path thanks to teaching.'  

Which moment has always stayed with you? 

'The first time I stood in front of a lecture hall. The completion of the teacher training programme (UTQ) in Antwerp was giving a lecture. That was very exciting! It was with a professor I looked up to, there was someone from the teacher training programme who was going to assess me and I had just returned from the United States - where I was for research - with a jet lag. It had all the ingredients for becoming a huge disaster, but it became a success. I managed to get the students on board with humour. That's when I knew: I want to keep doing this!'

Where do you find the inspiration for your education? 

'I'm doing my research into the social history of Dutch colonialism. Then I look at how people lived together in cities under colonial rule. I find it interesting to reflect on my research topic in my lectures. But in general, I mainly get inspiration from the newspaper. Then I realise that what I'm reading isn't just something from 2024, but then I look if I can find historical lines or examples in it.'  

'For example, I just gave a course on religion and violence. While I was preparing that, a boy in France stabbed a teacher to death for religious reasons, and a day before the start of that course, the war in Gaza began. In that respect, history is never far away. It's a burning topic.'

What is your favourite educational approach? 

'I like to use many different teaching methods in one lecture, such as looking at examples from current events and buzz sessions in which students discuss a source. But sometimes I also choose to flip the classroom. Then I put students in charge. I think that variety is the golden rule. That keeps it exciting for me and for students as well. My goal is to trigger everyone’s interest in every lecture. There are many different types of students and there is not one educational approach that suits everyone.'

What tips do you have for other lecturers? 

'Find something in the lecture content that makes you very happy! If you're not in love with the subject matter you're teaching and can't talk enthusiastically about it, how can you expect the student to enjoy hearing it?' 

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