Recently, we had the pleasure of catching up with one of our own, Dr Mario Landman…
Presiding as the custodian of the design department at The Da Vinci Institute is Dr Mario Landman – a thinker and, certainly, a person that cares deeply for people, for he always ensures that those with whom he co-creates are always treated with empathy and respect.
Dr Landman’s position as Dean of Design is multi-faceted and requires continual co-creation. He elucidates that his primary responsibility is “to manage and guide the design and development of courseware in all its many guises through the application of quality management processes at every stage of development: from the contribution to the design of the programme, the recruitment of the developers, and ultimately the publication of the completed courseware set on our Learning Management System (Moodle).”
Furthermore, there is a crucial leadership element to Dr Landman’s job, which is to lead, “a team that is responsible for the administrative management of Moodle, and the constant revision and updating of our vast institutional library of courseware sets.” His responsibilities also have a sizeable technological focus, and he is constantly on the lookout for sourcing and evaluating new bits of technology that can be incorporated into The Institute’s teaching and learning strategy. For him, a critical aspect to his job is ensuring that he and his team curate the contributions of various stakeholders to ensure the student ends up with a remarkable product and the best learning experience possible.
At his core, Dr Landman remains an education practitioner, he explains that he thrives “on interactions with students and faculty members. I am therefore glad that a large part of my role entails upskilling others in the products we develop and the tools we introduce into our delivery model … In my heart, I live for the upliftment and empowerment of people, and nothing on earth pleases me more than harnessing their remarkability and achieving something as a result of their toil.” Dr Landman believes that being a teacher is a privilege and a responsibility simultaneously; that it should be embraced as such.
Dr Landman appreciates that at The Institute, there is a genuine and constant discourse percolating on co-creating the best value for students, and this happens at every level of the institution, and is one of the aspects where his core as an educator, and the core of The Institute, align well. Dr Landman explains that for him, at The Institute, “we give so that others can give. We develop individuals so that they can develop [sustainable] companies and societies. We invest in leaders so that they can also invest in our developing country. Together we co-create realities, which promote empowerment and upliftment, adding more valuable people, companies, and industries, that [contribute to sustainable] societies as we go along. Through education, we inflate a bubble of prosperity that swallows everyone in its path”, and in this way, the Institute is truly paying it forward.
The paying it forward scenario makes Dr Landman wonder about the sort of advice he would give to a younger person starting out a career or as a student – his advice would be that,
“it is important to invest time to explore your interests and find out who you really are, before setting out a career path. Most importantly, you need to have a willingness to learn […] That is what made all the difference to me.” Dr Landman adds that one should be, “shamelessly, unapologetically, and unrepentantly inquisitive and critical of the world around. There are far too few intellectual anarchists in the world, and [this presumably is the] injustice that prevails, as the masses are swayed by a single social media posting. Truly understand that what you see and hear is only the tip of the iceberg. It is up to you [as a student to seek the relevant] truth and speak it.”
It is derived from the above advice that Dr Landman then shares his most treasured quote by J. R. R. Tolkien: “Not all who wander are lost.” Dr Landman postulates his sense that as a society we have lost our wander-lust, our will to explore, as well as the will for adventure and experiment. He proposes that we possess this sense of adventure in us. This may give us perspectives on where we currently are as humanity and perhaps spark that which may permit us to gain insight into what we really want out of life.
When he is not so earnest, Dr Landman likes “to geek out with my kids on comic books,” and the occasional movie watching, playing games, and enjoying music. When time permits, he also plays the heavy-metal guitar. Dr Landman also confesses about his weakness, the fact that he is “petrified” of frogs. “By the way, the word petrified is a step above terrified, and means to be scared to the point where you become like a stone.” This articulates, descriptively so, how he truly feels about frogs in general.
A multi-colored and multi-faceted Davincian individual, may Dr Mario Landman remain so, and ours in remarkability!