“I might prepare a lecture a year in advance”
Tomas Ekholm, Associate Professor in Mathematics at the School of School of Engineering Sciences, is convinced that knowledge comes as much from joy as hard work. He has been awarded the KTH Pedagogical Prize 2022 for his great ability to create a good atmosphere in the lecture hall, and for his pedagogical skills.
“I’m delighted to be awarded this prize, just being nominated by others is a nice acknowledgement. It’s also great to see that my working part-time in the business world is appreciated,” says Tomas Ekholm.
For Ekholm, learning and teaching in a lecture hall is comparable to being on stage. It’s about captivating the students, provoking interest and telling a story.
“Ideally the student should feel challenged and grow with the assignment, and always make progress. I think that as a teacher, I’m in a similar role to someone in front of a large audience at the national theatre. A good story and a good context make learning something positive, something that sparks an interest to carry on learning,” says Ekholm. He continues:
“We get good at what we spend time on. Teaching shouldn’t be about how much I have time to say or how many specifics I can cover in one lecture. It’s about what the students can take in. The content has to reflect the students’ desire to learn, and the positive feeling you want a project to be associated with.”
Alongside his teaching position at KTH, Ekholm is also a business owner and software consultant, and according to the justification for the prize comments this is very much a factor in the strong links to industry and engineering in his teaching.
“I think the relationship between teaching and real working life is very important as we are shaped by everything we do, and there are all kinds of important synergies here that add credibility to the teaching. It means a lot to have this aspect highlighted in the jury’s comments.”
There are of course a great many facets to teaching and learning. But what would you say is the key component, besides the engagement, pedagogical skills and hard work mentioned in the jury’s comments?
“I’m always extremely well prepared. Other people laugh at how far in advance I plan my lectures. I might prepare a lecture a year in advance. I like to keep my eye on the big picture. That way I can see exactly where the course is headed, and make sure that all the teaching is coherent and working towards a purpose.”
Text: Annelie Englund