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Excellent Teacher Award 2020 – Dr Martin Venter

“In excellence there is no end. At Stellenbosch, excellence is prominent, it is clear, but it is also hard to achieve. It is about staying at it”…these were the words of Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel, outgoing Vice Rector: Learning and Teaching at the annual, Stellenbosch University’s “Teaching Excellence Awards”. These awards acknowledge excellent teaching at institutional level.

What makes this year even more special is that the Awards were held virtually indicative of the difficulties all staff had to adapt to during the Covid pandemic. In a proud moment for our department Dr Martin Venter was awarded the Teaching Excellence Award in the category “Developing Teacher”.

Dr Venter says: “I have been teaching part-time at the department since 2011 and took on a full-time post in 2015 after working as a research engineer in Cape Town.”

“I can’t think of a better description of the award than to give you my teaching philosophy from the application:”

“My place as an educator stems from my love of learning. The world around me is beautiful, intricate, and elegant in its construction. The more you learn, the more you can appreciate what is out there.

In the modern education environment, with ubiquitous access to information and communication, it is my place to be the curator of the education platform rather than the custodian of knowledge. The sum of human experience is growing at an exponential rate, most information is freely available, and our access to this information is unprecedented. It is no longer the place of an educational institution to hoard information, and our position as the generators of new knowledge is slipping away.

My place in academia is building bridges between the information available around us and the students joining our vocation. To grow in them a want to discover and understand and to instil the values of integrity and responsibility our profession demands.

I provide context and structure for those who wish to learn. I create opportunities for students to engage critically with their peers while affording each the flexibility to pursue their own goals in the way that best suits them. I encourage the development of demonstrable skills, ask meaningful questions and find the answers to those questions.”

As this unexpected year, 2020, has proven, our life is ever changing and Martin’s philosophy demonstrates that being flexible and managing Teaching and Learning in a circular manner rather than linear will bear the fruits of success come what may.

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Martin Venter