Geography with A+ “Prof” Vedran Zubić

Photo: private archive

Although every award he has received is meaningful to him, one is especially significant. “My favorite award is the one I got from the kids in 2016, but I prefer the smile or the hug of a child even more – that’s a real reward. It’s nice to receive any kind of recognition, but I would also like these awards to encourage a conversation about reforms in the education system.” 

In May 2016, Zubić was awarded the title Professor za pet [A+ Professor] by the Student Council of the Canton of Sarajevo, and a year later, the Network of Student Councils of BiH also selected him as the best high school teacher. He also received the prestigious Global Teacher Award in India in 2022, which is awarded to distinguished teachers from all over the world, and during the Covid-19 pandemic, was named a “Hero of 2022” by Večernjakov pečat, as well as chosen as the best teacher in the former Yugoslav territory. He is also the recipient of the Safet Hadžić Award for his special contribution to the education system. These are just some of the awards earned by this high school geography in the Sarajevo neighbourhood of Dobrinja. 

He also received the prestigious Global Teacher Award in India in 2022, which is awarded to distinguished teachers from all over the world. (Photo: private archive)

Growing up with globes and atlases, he inherited his love for nature from his parents, who are also geography teachers.

“I didn’t imagine myself as a geography teacher, as someone who would teach others. I started doing it more for myself, to understand nature, to learn something and to travel,” said Zubić. He added that he started working as a teacher quite by accident because one school had a shortage of teachers.

He believes that as the community develops, so should education, which for him is a continuous process. “The education system is in crisis, and it’s clear that some changes are needed if we want it to survive. Investing in people and their education is the best investment,” Zubić remarked. 

Aware of the importance of innovation in teaching, he believes that textbooks are inadequate for modern education. 

“You can’t expect today’s kids to have a 45 minute attention span. If you observe, for example, how long videos on YouTube last, you will see that they are very short,” explains Zubić. He pointed out that modern technology in teaching must be used with caution so as not to “turn homo-digitalis into homo-asapiens.” 

The Sarajevo geography professor is also known for various activities that he carries out with the help of his students which enable him to educate a wider audience about geography basics and interesting phenomena in an interesting way. 

In addition to the Facebook page “Učimo s profom” [Learn with the prof], the quiz Sveznalica” [Smarties], four years ago, he started a YouTube channel called “Vedra geografija” [Bright Geography]. Together with his students, he records teaching units, as well as current events related to geography and similar disciplines. In addition to partially following the curriculum, on his channel you can also find episodes that talk about current interesting events as well as interesting things from his travels.

In addition to the Facebook page “Učimo s profom” [Learn with the prof], the quiz Sveznalica” [Smarties], four years ago, he started a YouTube channel called “Vedra geografija” [Bright Geography]. (Photo: private archive)
“I extracted only the most interesting information from the teaching lessons, and these videos last a maximum of five minutes. But the whole idea of “Vedra Geografija” is [the students’]. I’m just an actor,” said Zubić. 

During the pandemic, while classes were held exclusively online, Zubić became very popular with students who were learning geography through screens.

He has been working at the Dobrinja high school almost since its establishment, sending off generations with good memories from geography classes. Students also remember him for the heartfelt notes of congratulations he writes for graduates, which he gives them during their last class, along with a bouquet of flowers.

“Working with children is not just lectures. A machine can do that. Nor is it about paperwork – that too, with typing, can be done by a machine. Being a teacher does not mean merely imparting knowledge. It is much more. Don’t forget that children don’t remember plans, programs, lessons, educational reforms, textbooks, scientific lectures, etc. They only remember your smile when you look at them,” Professor Zubić pointed out.

Amina is a trained Balkan Diskurs youth correspondent from Sarajevo. Her great passions are the English language and peace activism. She holds a degree in English language and literature, and recently a master's degree from the Department of Security and Peace Studies at the University of Sarajevo.

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