Dr Rijsdijk, who also earned a UCT Distinguished Teachers Award in 2013, is the son of a teaching couple: "I suppose I always feel lucky that I was the son of teachers. My father taught physics and my mother was a lecturer in education, so I think teaching came naturally to me."
He also credits his English teacher (and rugby coach) as someone who shaped his approach: "He taught me that the job of the teacher is not to teach the child what the teacher knows but to identify what is excellent in the child and to nurture it."
To achieve this he believes in combining "big lectures", which have an element of performance and where he likes to engage with students, with more personal attention in smaller groups such as tutorials and seminars.
He gets particular joy from "pushing students to new places" and stretching the minds of unlikely film students who take his winter course, a condensed version of the full-semester first-year course, particularly popular with engineering students requiring a humanities credit.
As one engineering student put it in his feedback: "Before taking this course, I had the idea that it would be complicated, and that I would be expected to learn the terminology and technical details related to filmmaking. But what I didn't expect was that it would be so engaging and so much fun. Dr Rijsdijk seems to love teaching, which is a gift to his students as his lectures are always interesting and inspired. In fact, if teaching is a talent then Dr Rijsdijk must have been born with it, as he knows well how to interest his students in the subject matter and to motivate them to their fullest potential. This makes him an exceptionally gifted teacher and an outstanding human being, for his influence to bring out the best in others."
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