CLMN | Coaching across cultures22 June 2016
We are all coaches. Good parents coach their kids in a way that they become more friends than parents; inspiring leaders and collaborative managers coach their employees into being responsive and responsible team players. At the TU/e, versatile teachers now coach their students in their educational and personal development, and some Dutch students at TU/e also coach their international peers to help them integrate more quickly and better into our community. And let’s not forget that 17 million Dutch people often act as the coach of the national soccer team. Incidentally, it’s rather quiet in this respect at the moment…
The term coach is defined as “someone whose job is to teach people to improve at a sport, skill, or school”, so with “teacher” as a synonym. What it doesn’t explicitly say is whom you coach and this is where the cultural context comes in.
As a teacher, you probably do not coach a Dutch student in the same way as an international one. Ways of communication, perceptions of authority, respect for rules, learning styles, and the like, have an impact on the relationship between coach and coachee. Professional skills as showcased in the latest edition of Cursor (see website) are essential in this process on the side of the student/coachee. Further developing these skills in an intercultural context and hence creating cross-cultural competency (the ability to operate across different cultural settings), known as a 21st century skill, is paramount in the education of the modern (international) engineer.
But as we know, “it takes two to tango”. So, the teacher/coach also needs to develop specific competencies to coach students across cultures. Basically, they are the same skills as for the coachee, but with a special focus on cross-cultural didactics such as collaborative and culturally responsive teaching and other learning approaches. Some of these skills are taught at DPO and STU for the professionalization of our staff and the personal development of our students.
Finally, it also requires an attitude of empathy, open-mindedness and flexibility, in line with my favorite (Chinese) saying: “Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself”.
For a while now, TU/e student Guido Buntinx and his friend Christophe Westerveld (student of Zuyd University of Applied Sciences) have been attracting a lot of attention with their 'electric beer crates'. Limburg's regional TV station and the TV news program Editie NL also got wind of their creative initiative. The short internet videos showing them riding along on the public highways have been watched multiple times.
The Department of Applied Physics needs to make significant savings: one million euros on a total annual budget of nine million. This was announced last week Wednesday by Departmental Dean Gerrit Kroesen at a staff meeting. The draft reorganization plan must be ready by the end of November and, says Kroesen, compulsory redundancies cannot be ruled out. The Departmental Council is holding talks today with the Departmental Office.
The fourth day of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia has come to an end and Solar Team Eindhoven is clearly leading the Cruiser Class. Despite earlier transport problems and the limited window for testing on site, TU/e solar car Stella Vie is performing in the outback “far beyond expectations”. With some 900 kilometers to go, a third world title seems almost a dead cert for the team from Eindhoven - but this is no time for complacency.
For thirty years, Huub Meijer, former Dutch champion and national coach of the Dutch karate team, spent evening after evening in the dojo and the gym of the Student Sports Center working as an instructor. He taught students the intricacies of various martial arts and ran strength-building and circuit training sessions. All the prizes he has won over the years are now stored in plastic bags – ‘they were on show at home for long enough’ – but he looks back on a glittering career with satisfaction, and with even more pleasure on a fine working life as a trainer.
Some rooms in De Plint in Luna are not yet ready to use and so the associations are having to put the brakes on some of their activities. The building contractor has run into delays and current expectations are that everything will be ready by early November. There is evidently so much stuff in the Bunker that it can't all be stored in Luna. Bar Potential hopes to open its doors around New Year's. The cultural associations have just moved from the Bunker to Luna.