It is beyond doubt that teaching is one of the world’s most revered professions. Over the years technology and culture has greatly modified the role of a teacher in the society; for better or for worse is beyond the scope of discussion at this moment, but teachers have been and will remain pivotal to evolution of human beings as individuals and as a society.
At Chalmers, I had the unique opportunity to be part of an initiative called Chalmers Pluggstod. The project was initially titled Chalmers Läxhjalp, which literary means ‘Chalmers Homework Help’ in English. As the name suggests, the main aim of the project is to extend assistance to high school and middle school students, with their home work. Each member of the project is designated a school, which he is supposed to visit once a week and where he works with the students who are seeking assistance after regular school hours. The project also caters for cultural diversity and linguistic flexibility, by ensuring that the teachers work in pairs with one being an international and the other being a Swedish student studying at Chalmers University.
While working with this budding and enthusiastic team, I discovered that the scope of work extends far beyond lending hand with monotonous school assignments. I came across many students who, despite studying in Gothenburg, were naive to the existence of Chalmers University and the range of subjects it offers. It gave me great gratitude in revealing to them the humungous opportunity that lies at their doorstep, if they want to be an engineer in the future. I saw the eyes of many aspiring engineers lit up on learning about Chalmers. Being a post graduate student, I realise now that your basic concepts in the field that you eventually pursue, should be rock solid for you to flourish, else it is a struggle. Early schooling days therefore are crucial in nurturing your aptitude and dictating which skills you can master later on in life. Therefore I felt strongly about being a good teacher myself, and tried my best to be simple, logical and effective in my method of transferring knowledge to the young minds.
Refining my spoken Swedish was another aim I had in my mind while working here. All the students spoke Swedish so it was impossible to get away with instructions in English only. I met a couple of students, who had moved to Sweden just over a year ago and were now good enough to attend school in Swedish. Talking to them was inspiring and educating; they were very tolerant with me and willingly assisted me if I was short of words or terrible with my grammar at some point while speaking Swedish. I will always be grateful for them for this generosity and reminding me that teaching is a two way exchange of ideas and thoughts, just like any other interaction between human beings. I was mostly teaching Mathematics, since Swedish history and other subjects were beyond my expertise. It was even nostalgic at times; solving those questions for students which, a decade ago, I was stuck with myself. I felt, in whatever little way, I was giving something back to the society and contributing in nurturing minds that will model the future.
The first term for 2014 is now over, and I am looking forward to continuing in the fall term. I greatly appreciate the gesture of allowing international students a peek into the schooling system in Sweden. I hope that such initiatives, are publicised at a larger scale and more university students in general and international students in particular spring up to shoulder the responsibility of taking this project forward.