Jonas Lagerström, a University Lecturer in economics, says that setting goals high motivates students and makes them work harder. The teacher's role also includes helping students understand their own potential and get rid of unnecessary prejudices.
Jonas Lagerström says that he ended up as a teacher at the university through his research work. He started his career as a researcher at Uppsala University. The work also included teaching, and to his great surprise, he was enthusiastic about it.
– I found myself enjoying giving lectures. In addition, I thought that a teacher must have certain traits, for example, being extremely social. Then I noticed that it wasn't like that, he says.
A teacher leaves a mark
Jonas now works at Åbo Akademi University as a University Lecturer in economics. The relevance of a teacher's work is appealing.
– Things that happen in a lecture hall can be seemingly small, but they can have an impact on a person's whole life and their way of thinking. I myself remember from my school days the advice given and anecdotes used by my teachers. Even the smallest things can inspire students, which is great.
At the same time, this includes the responsibility of the work.
– A teacher has a huge responsibility as wrong choices can also easily kill the joy of learning.
A teacher helps students gain new knowledge and perspectives about the world around them, but also about themselves; how the students see themselves and overcome mental barriers to learning.
Jonas doesn't believe that someone is, for example, bad at maths.
– I see it in my work all the time: students get excited and come up with solutions and new ways of thinking. I don't believe in the ‘can't do attitude’ in anything.
Concrete problem solving inspires
Jonas describes himself as a demanding teacher. He says that aiming too low does not benefit anyone.
– I might sound old-fashioned, but I've noticed that when you raise the bar, students are immediately more diligent, motivated and take their studies more seriously.
The Universities Act defines the role of universities in a solemn manner. The mission of the universities is to promote independent academic research as well as academic and artistic education, to provide research-based higher education and to educate students to serve their country and humanity at large.
Jonas also contributes to these missions. As a teacher, he often approaches research through tangible, concrete examples. He says he has found that a good way to arouse students' interest is to give them social economics issues to consider, for example, in small groups.
– For example, I would give them a task to analyse the role of family leave in wage development and trends. Naturally, I do not have the only correct answers to such complex questions, but I can encourage reflection, present different perspectives and hint at different methods by which the problem can be tackled. It is rewarding to see that the students' reflections are also thought-provoking for me.
Jonas has been a teacher for 15 years now. As a teacher, you are never ready, but the work is strongly related to the continuous development of your own skills, which is also reminded by the Teacher’s Oath or Comenius Oath.
Jonas is grateful for the continuous development throughout his career and the years have taught him to be merciful.
– When I started as a teacher, I thought a lot about whether the students liked me and if my way of doing things was correct. Now I don't think about that anymore; the focus is more on the students and their learning. Besides, I learned to be merciful to myself. Sometimes there are so many students taking the courses, and it feels like you don't have enough time for everything. I'm doing my best, and I think that's enough.