Foundation Studies physics teacher Dr Paulo Mendonça shares his favourite subject from school (it's not physics) and the progression of careers he wanted to pursue as a child (none of them were a teacher).
What do you enjoy most about teaching/working at Trinity College?
I really enjoy the interaction I have with my students at Trinity. One of the high moments in the life of a teacher happens when students ask questions and demonstrate interest in what we have to share with them. Working at Trinity gives me frequent opportunities to experience just that.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
That changed a lot over time, and now I see how strongly my plans were influenced by my environment. I grew up in a religious family living in a small town that hosts the Brazilian Air Force Academy. Probably because of that, there was a time I wanted to become a priest, which followed by a burning desire to become a military pilot. Being that diverse, I’m not surprised that I ended up becoming a physics teacher.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Most people imagine that a physics teacher would have science and/or maths for school favourites. Not in my case, at least not for a long time. During my primary school years, I found maths quite challenging and I was far more interested in studying history.
Has there been a pivotal moment in your life?
Becoming a father was a pivotal moment for me. There is not much of a childless life that remains unchanged after the little ones arrive. I was lucky that (most of) the changes were for the better.
What’s your favourite movie?
2001: A Space Odyssey. I still get goosebumps when I listen to HAL 9000 singing Daisy Bell
(Bicycle Built for Two) while David Bowman turns it off.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given?
Learn to speak less and listen more. Though, I still struggle with the “speak less” part when I’m teaching.
Which activities make you lose track of time?
I have recently taken up swimming as an everyday physical activity and, as I get better at it, I just feel like staying longer and longer in the swimming pool.