Change the world


We profile Nelson Mandela University's 2017 Excellent Teacher of the Year, Jean-Pierre Basson.

Nelson Mandela University Excellent Teacher of the Year, Mr Jean-Pierre Basson from the Faculty of Arts, is a passionate and animated Architecture lecturer.  He was registered as a Professional Architect with the South African Institute for the Architectural Profession during October 2013 after obtaining both his Bachelor’s and coursework master’s degree in Architecture in 2011 through the Department of Architecture at the Nelson Mandela University.

After a few years in the industry, he came to Nelson Mandela University as an assistant lecturer, where he fell in love with teaching. He realised then that the opportunity to teach and share his love for architecture was both powerful and extremely rewarding.

He believes that being an architect requires being both creative and evocative, while being rational and technical at the same time. He explains that this is evident within the architectural pedagogy where students are required to engage in both design exploration and technical resolution. This requires an approach that can be described as drawing on two extremes, from the left and right sides of the brain; but working together in perfect harmony as a well-oiled unit. His teaching responsibility therefore requires him to engage daily with creative stimulation and technical resolution within lectures.

There are three principles which dictate his approach: to encourage students to open their minds, engage critically and break down the barriers that they might have; to motivate students using different teaching methods; and, to inspire them to build self-confidence.

The techniques he applies are directly related to his role as an Architectural lecturer. He has opted away from traditional teaching methods, and pre-records his lectures for students instead. The recorded lectures capture the attention of the students and the lesson becomes a practical engagement in class instead. ‘Flipping’ the classroom in this manner results in students being able to watch the recordings before class, and use in-class face-to-face time to discuss, ask questions, and gain further clarity on the concepts being taught. Students can access these recordings from anywhere on any smart device, and use it in conjunction with the study notes after class. The recordings are to the point with practical solutions, and students can take responsibility for their own learning, in a way that suits them.

His teaching methodology goes beyond just achieving basic learning outcomes and is more learner-centred. Understanding that each learner has different levels of understanding and ways of learning is important. His blended learning approach includes the pre-recorded video lectures, face to face sessions, and live tracking of progress on assignments using the Autodesk platform. He has also conducted student workshops and developed study guides to assist them with each subject. Students appreciate that he encourages the use of technology, acknowledges the varying degrees of prior knowledge, and includes various tools to cater to the different learning levels and styles.

Receiving the excellent teacher award has only spurred him on to try and do better for his students, to find new ways of learning and exploring that excites and inspires them to be better. He hopes to find new ways in creating an interactive experience of architecture in his classes, and develop skilled and enthusiastic professionals. In the words of John F Kennedy, “The exemplary teacher instructs in realities and suggests dreams.”


Contact information
Mrs Nadia Mukadam
Research Assistant and Administrator
Tel: 0415043266