If the mark of an excellent teacher is one whose teaching methods have been sought out by other teachers around the world, then it is absolutely fitting that Vanier College Chemistry teacher Jailson Farias de Lima is the recipient of the 2015-2016 Teaching Excellence Award. This award recognizes his passion and enthusiasm for the teaching profession, for prioritizing the student learning experience, and for fostering excellence and innovation in teaching and learning.
Jailson was nominated by his own students, who praised his creative teaching method; his passion for chemistry, and his ability to instill in them a love for the subject and the desire to learn more. They emphasized how his extensive knowledge of chemistry and his ability to clarify and bring his subject to life engage his students and contribute to their success. They added that his guidance, support, mentoring, and compassion create a caring learning environment.
Jailson Farias de Lima knew from a very young age that he loved teaching, and although he briefly considered working as a chemist in industry, he realized at the end of his doctoral studies that his true calling was to teach chemistry. In 2000, he emigrated from his native Brazil to Montreal and started teaching at Vanier.
It was when he prepared to teach the History of Science course to Liberal Arts students that Jailson developed a new approach to teaching science that has subsequently inspired both his students and his colleagues. The result was the Art and Science Project, which Jailson uses in all his science classes and in which students are asked to create a visual artwork that portrays the core concepts covered in the courses.
One student’s comment sums up the general reaction to this unique approach: “His crusade against a linear and impractical kind of learning led him to create the Art and Science Project. Through this initiative, he encourages students to go beyond the monotonous course material to discover the potential beauty of concepts.”
Jailson’s unique approach to teaching science intrigued teachers who heard about it. As a result, he was invited to share his ideas at the International Conference on Chemistry Education in Rome, give workshops at their next meeting in Toronto, spend a month in Cologne giving workshops on creativity in science pedagogy to future high-school teachers, contribute to the blog of the Imaginative Education Research Group at Simon Fraser University, and collaborate with Concordia University here in Montreal on the Art Hives project as well as the University of the Streets Café.
Congratulations to Jailson Farias de Lima, an inspiration to both his students and colleagues. The award was presented at the 2016 Graduation Ceremonies in June.