The definition of a student – Confessions of a novice teacher

A student, by the definition in Webster’s dictionary, is a person formally engaged in learning, especially one enrolled in a school or college. For me, it felt nothing like the dictionary definition until very recently.

When I was a kid, “student” meant the cool people I saw in the bus station, rushing towards a huge building – the University. Funny dressed, wild hair, bold and cocky, always carrying a mug of coffee (which didn’t seem to help much in waking them up). I wanted to be like them, because I honestly thought that their job was to be cool and stay cool.

College years
During my college years, it rocked to be a student. But I perceived it as a different experience: decent hair, decent clothes and study, study, study. At least, that’s the way I saw it. My mom says that it was a period with more wacky clothes and more parties than I choose to remember.

Young professional
As a young professional, my perception on students changed yet again. I saw these people as too loud and too much, as I was rushing from the bus station to work. Most of the time too laid back, too undecided on what to do with their life, not seeming to care much about anything in particular.

Becoming a teacher
But in the last 3-4 months, students have started to appear like the dictionary definition. After a series of coincidences and happenings, I am now holding a series of lectures at the University of Oslo in my spare time. I was going to teach a topic that I am very passionate about – the foundations of software testing. But I had one concern. What if these people won’t find this interesting? What if they get bored and give me a bored look in the first lecture and decide not to show up for the classes until the exams?

Bright students
Despite my concerns and despite my lack of faith, my students are the bright people I hoped they would be. They show up at my class in impressive numbers, lecture after lecture . They want to understand and learn everything from the most basic things, to the most sophisticated software concepts. They are passionate; they are energetic, reliable and fun. And they like the whole discipline of software testing that I’m teaching!

Building bridges
I believe that the class I am holding is not only about its content, but also a matter of building bridges. It’s a lot about learning from each other and getting inspired. Me and my colleagues at Visma – who I bring along as guest lecturers – feel that we hold valuable knowledge and we are glad to share it. It seems like the students feel that we are paying true attention to them and invest in their education. And this is incredibly rewarding.

Read more about my course at UiO here.