Lakshmi Pillai

Assistant Professor
Commerce & Management


Qualification

Pursuing PhD in English Literature
Masters in English Literature (Honors with Research), University of Mumbai, 2016

Experience

Teaching Experience: 04 Years
Industrial Experience: 0.5 Years
Research Papers Published: 03

In a fast-paced world fuelled with digital empowerment and constant influx of information, teaching and learning assumes new forms of knowledge dissemination. Learners are no longer naively compliant children and educators can no longer command ownership over or dictate the teaching-learning process. The tradition of guru-shishya and even the modern Western education arrangement can no longer function as models of teaching or learning. I firmly believe that educators do not succeed if they solely prescribe to such methods of teaching. Educators must shift from teachers to facilitators. Learners ought not to be treated as blank sheets that can be inscribed with a fixed body of knowledge. All learners come aware and equipped. Today learners need facilitators, educators who can both teach and inform them about what knowledge does and facilitate learners to operate as well-informed and wise individuals. This principle was something I observed when I was a learner myself. My college professors were not reminiscent of my school teachers, who commanded compliance. Instead, they acted as facilitators and that brought many students to become active participants in seeking, learning and developing. If educators can bring students to the operative capacities of autonomous learning, there is nothing more rewarding in the field of education. Students flourish best not when they are told what to do, but when they are informed of what can be done, that choices have consequences and that the individual is responsible for himself or herself.

My teachers instilled the principle of autonomous learning in me that empowers me. I wish to bring that to new learners too. Students must become free thinking, empowered and responsible adults. This brings to mind Tagore’s poetic dream for a free country. “where knowledge is free…where the mind is led forward … into ever widening thought and action…” My interest in teaching arose from an interest in dissemination of knowledge. While I sought options such as journalism and content writing, none of them felt as rewarding as teaching. I want learners to know that even as you develop skills to become a responsible employee or individual, it is necessary to be socially aware, broad-minded, and tolerant. Additionally, active participation in oratory and debate competitions during my college days made me realise the importance of being aware and being politically correct. As a communications teacher with a background in literature, I realise the potential my subject holds in training students to be both able individuals as well as liberal in both action and spirit.

I began as a teacher with ideals that were not as grand as educating students to be responsible citizens of India. I believed such ideals were developed autonomously in the context of self-empowering education. I was fortunate to have peers in my department who introduced me to soft skills training and that helped further my purpose of bringing students to be liberal and independent individuals. A blend of traditional classroom and training methods allowed me to take students beyond learning that Indian students are unfortunately accustomed to. Additionally, along with other Media and Communication teachers, I was able to learn and work as a trainer to improve the students’ placement opportunities. As a teacher, a trainer, and additionally as an anchor in multiple formal institutional events in VSIT, I have grown and realised I have so much more that I can learn as well as a teacher and a facilitator. I was also introduced to the role of a mentor in VSIT. To be a mentor has always been a challenge for an individual like me who often creates a very rigid distance between students and the teacher. To be a mentor and to guide students was quite different from my teaching principles but as I attempted to fit into the role of a mentor that did not quite divert from my principles, I found myself realising how the awareness of students’ issues on academics helped sharpen my teaching techniques. It complemented my purpose of facilitating and though I still continue to strive to be a mentor that is both relevant to students as well as honest to my personal principles, I am glad this has enabled me to become a better educator. I was also able to bring in my little experience in journalism to the publishing committee and I’m humbled to mention that I, along with a dedicated team of colleagues, were able to publish VSIT’s first annual cultural magazine. Teacher, Trainer, Mentor, Educator, Facilitator: we all don several hats. And more hats we shall don, to better not only ourselves, but also the education environment.