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Regular version of the site

‘Each Student Studies on His Own, and the Teacher Is Only the Torch Which Lights His Way through a Dark Forest’

Ella Khabina
Ella Khabina
Ella Khabina, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Economics department of Higher Mathematics, was named one of the best HSE teachers conducting seminar classes in 2012, in a vote by students from the Faculty of Economics.

— How do you manage to get students interested in your subject?

— I always try to put myself in their place and organize the studying in a way which would be comfortable and interesting for me. Generally speaking, each student studies on his own, and the teacher is only the torch which lights his way through a dark forest.

Of course, the methods of information delivery depend on the specific discipline. When I read the course I created together with my colleagues – Discreet Mathematical Models – I use the method of lecturing which is traditional for Western universities – students read the lecture materials beforehand and come to the class already prepared to some extent. This method allows them to see the lecture as a discussion, or a consultation, where the lecturer clarifies certain details.

— What qualities should a teacher have in order to become the best from a students’ point of view?

The most important thing is not to be indifferent. If a teacher cares about the results of his work, he is a good teacher. Moreover, students can feel when a lecturer is indifferent to his course, and they also become ambivalent to this subject and the whole course. Of course, patience, the ability to create a certain psychological climate during classes, a willingness to make sure every student understands the subject and a desire to grow professionally are also important, but everything stems from caring about the process.

— Are mathematical specializations in demand in today’s labour market?

I used to participate in a project called ‘TUNING Educational Structures’ in Russia. This project created some frameworks for implementing the Bologna agreement. As part of this project, we studied problems related to the specifics of teaching pure and applied maths in different countries and tried to understand what a mathematician should be in order to be in demand in the labour market.

And, as part of this research, we organized surveys among employers to determine how willing they were to work with our graduates and what they felt was lacking in our graduates. It turned out that employers are very willing to employ mathematicians. There are two main reasons for this. First, experts in maths have a special level of intelligence organization. They are able to define tasks and find solutions. This vital skill is already in their nature. The other thing is related to the HSE’s style. A HSE graduate is able to work, to develop their knowledge, and ready to master various types of work. Since the labour market is an ever-changing beast, the ability to learn and be flexible is essential.

Anastasia Chumak, HSE News Service

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