Awarded teacher: We should not let our modesty hinder good ideas

My parents thought electrical engineering was not for girls, says award-winning IT teacher Zuzana Tkáčová.

Zuzana Tkáčová received an award Teacher of Slovakia.Zuzana Tkáčová received an award Teacher of Slovakia. (Source: Jakub Kotian, TASR)

Zuzana Tkáčová is an IT teacher at the bilingual Gymnasium of Edita Steinová in Košice. She is also the first to be awarded with the Teacher of Slovakia prize, part of the Global Teacher Prize. She will represent Slovakia in Dubai at the Global Teacher Prize in March 2019, where she can win one million dollars.

The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Your grammar school has the highest number of students taking their school-leaving exam in IT among all grammar schools in the country. On average, one quarter of all students take the IT exam and one third of them are girls. Do you have any special method that attracts them?

Zuzana Tkáčová (ZT): I use the research and project method, which means that students actively research, experiment and create in groups to learn. As a teacher, I am mainly in the role of an advisor and consultant. It is amazing what students are able to achieve.

TSS: You also cooperate with the Aj Ty v IT (You in IT Too) project, which aims to increase the number of women IT professionals. How do you perceive the involvement of girls and women in this field?

ZT: It is definitely not sufficient, and it is not only the case of Slovakia but bigger countries like the US. That’s the reason why intensive campaigns to support girls and women in IT and technical fields are ongoing. The Aj Ty v IT initiative started these activities in Slovakia and I joined a few years ago. I am glad that there is someone who systematically works in this field; it is a great help for me as a teacher. A large community of active and enthusiastic girls arose in the last four years at the Gymnasium where I teach, and they reoriented to IT. They found inspiration and decided to study new, attractive IT fields like bioinformatics, data analysis and digital art.

TSS: Why did you choose IT?

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