Tag Archives: teaching

What I learned from my daughter

This is my 200th post here and I’ve done my best to make it a special one. Its been almost two years since I became a father (and I am about to become father of 2 very soon). I never really knew what to expect from being a father. Don’t think any guy ever knows. I had some expectations, like that it would be tiring and difficult. I was hoping it would be fun (it was in fact the most awesome experience ever). But not in my wildest dreams have I imagined that being a parent will be so enlightening and instructive. I seriously have the feeling I’ve learned from my daughter at least as much, if not more than she has learned from me. Here’s a short and non-comprehensive list of the things I’ve learned from my daughter Noura.

If she wants something, she just says “I want”. “I want hug papa”, “I want cookie”, “I want sleep”. She is really good in not overthinking her wishes, not trying to conform with other people, not caring if it is the right time or not. “Read book with papa now”. It is not a question. It is a statement. Its up to papa to consider whether papa wants to read a book as well or has a better idea, and how he is going to “sell” his alternative. I wish I’ve been that assertive when it comes to getting what I want or at least being able to say it out loud.

They say children are easily distracted. Not true. They are just open to new opportunities. But try to distract a child that is really busy with something she or he enjoys (like my daughter and food). Not going to work, at least not without a fight. If Noura is into something, the rest of the world just ceases to exist. So, I’ve seen her potty-training her teddy bear for half an hour. She wasn’t for a second bored with it. The cycle of “bear pipi-bear on potty-bear wipe behind” was repeated endlessly and she enjoyed herself fully. Guess the secret is to be doing something you like and enjoy.

Listening to your body
The few times she was really sick it showed instantly. Normally, Noura has the appetite of… well, I can’t come up with a cute animal to compare her with, but let’s just say she enjoys eating and is really good at it. But if she does not feel well she just says “no” to food. Which is really smart, because when you’re sick you’re not in the position to do proper digesting. I, on the other hand, have on numerous occasions woken up not feeling too well, had breakfast out of habit and spent the rest of the day regretting it.

Letting go
Don’t know how about you, but I occasionally get stuck on something and can’t let go. Like an argument I had with my wife, a bad day I had in the office or some other silly frustration that keeps nagging me. Getting stuck is rather counter-productive, as it serves no real purpose and stands in the way of enjoying the things you do get right. My daughter, as probably all children, has an amazing capacity of letting go. No cookie? But hey, there’s a bird on the balcony! Who cares about the cookie?! Wish I could let go that easily.

Joy of life
The most valuable lesson I have learned and keep learning from being a father is to enjoy life. Actually, this is what all the other lessons are all about. There are so many fun, pretty, special, interesting things around us, so much we take for granted and do not even notice how wonderful the world is. Children do notice. I hope my daughter always retains that amazing capacity to enjoy what life has to offer, and that she will keep reminding me to enjoy it with her. Noura – thank you!.

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Student lego

I have survived my first appearance in front of a class full of students. More than that, my first appearance hasn’t scared them all off! Most of them were there for the second round. My conclusions from this initial experience are twofold: 1) when teaching, you learn the most yourself and 2) never wear a black shirt when using chalk on a blackboard.

Also, I can add another feature of a small European country to the list – it sees its language being replaced by English. Even though the course is officially for Bachelor programme students, there are some Masters students from abroad. Since the official language of the Masters education is English, the course (including my part) is being given in English. While this definitely improves the English of the local students, the level of knowledge of their native language suffers. It’s not that they can’t get along in a supermarket or anything. But writing a technical report in their own language instead of in English is something modern students in a SEC just don’t do. So when they get their first job after university with a local firm, they have to learn writing in their own language!

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This week as I came to my work, I was welcomed by this student version of lego.


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Teaching duties

Part of my job as a PhD student is to teach students. So far I haven’t done much about it, but its all going to change soon. Actually, today I’ve done my first official teaching task. It was rather unexciting – I had to supervise an exam – but its a start.
In the next few weeks though my teaching duties are going to be much more meaningful. At least, I hope they will be. My supervisor asked me to assist in a course he’s teaching, about subsurface hydrology. I will be giving tutorials – help students with assignments, answer question they might have, that sort of things. Since the idea is to make the students proactive, my primary duty is to be available rather than be present. So the amount of time and effort I will have to spend on the tutorials is really going to depend on the students level of interest and involvement. Which is a big unknown.
All in all its going to be a new experience, and I’m actually looking forward to it. The life of a PhD is anything but dull. At least mine isn’t.

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