Meet the teacher: Victoria Daskalova

| Michaela Nesvarova

What makes a good teacher? Where does the passion for passing on knowledge come from? In the series ‘Meet the teacher’ we focus on people who are truly dedicated to education. In this episode we introduce Victoria Daskalova, Assistant Professor in Law, Governance & Technology.

Photo by: RIKKERT HARINK

A good teacher helps students to achieve their long-term goals, says Victoria Daskalova, one of the few legal scholars at the UT. Sadly, students are often not aware of those. That is why a good teacher doesn’t necessarily focus on what students think is fun, but mostly on what they need in the long run. A good teacher isn’t someone who just entertains the students; it’s someone who provides them with valuable knowledge that contributes to their future as citizens and as professionals.

What surely contributes to their future is the ability to think for themselves. Daskalova aims to educate people to be independent and critical thinkers. She always engages her students in conversations. Sometimes she simply stops her lecture and asks ‘Do you agree with me?’ Simple nods are not a satisfactory answer. This teacher wants her students to really think, explain their opinions, to question everything and not rely on what others tell them.

To provoke critical thinking, the Assistant Professor organizes classroom debates, during which one half of the class needs to defend a certain perspective against the opposing other half. Sometimes students are not happy because they are forced to defend a point of view they disagree with, but that is precisely the goal. Daskalova wants them to open their minds and explore various perspectives. For her, the interaction in the classroom – between students and teacher but also among the students - is an important part of education. You can often reach a proper ‘aha moment’ only if you are pushed to think on the spot. Moreover, it creates a nice energy in the classroom and allows the lecturer to hear the students’ ideas.

What the teacher sees as her biggest challenge, is to encourage students to be more ambitious. She wants them to open their eyes and see all the possibilities. Perhaps because she herself had more limited opportunities growing up in Bulgaria. She admits it can be a bit difficult to push the students to want more than just the diploma. She would like them to genuinely aspire to achieve their full potential. She wants to see the spirit of discovery in her students.

To help the students to embark on their journey towards success, Victoria Daskalova likes to push them to think about their future careers. It’s easy for young students to feel lost because there are so many options. She always asks them what they want to do after graduation or why they picked the course. Even if they don’t know the answer yet, she thinks that asking will help them find it. Daskalova tries to link what she teaches to possible professions, by explaining how specific subjects could relate to their career. She believes that encouraging students to think about their future is something all teachers should do more of.