IITB professor to receive national award for higher education – Times of India

Mumbai: ‘Night teacher’ Raghavan Sunoj from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay will go on to accept the National Award to Teachers 2023 for Higher Education. The campus knows him as the professor who does not wait for students to approach him with their doubts. Instead, he visits hostels, walks into the mess, and spends several nights before exams to solve doubts.
Interestingly, exactly 23 years before his mother and greatest inspiration, K Vasantha Kumari, was awarded the National Award to Teachers for her exceptional commitment to primary school education in Kerala.
Sunoj who pursued his master’s from the University of Kerala realised he wanted to be a teacher when he used to help his peers during his MSc. “When I started teaching my own batchmates in the second year of my master’s programme, they gave me good feedback. That is the first time I realised there is pleasure in getting someone convinced of what you are saying. When concepts get registered, there is pleasure in seeing the facial reaction. And when they asked questions, I got more excited,” Professor Sunoj told TOI.
Being passionate about teaching and research he needed to find a balance and the system at IITB suited him best, allowing him to pursue both. “Here, I have had the pleasure of teaching some of the brightest people, JEE toppers, and Olympiad winners. I encourage debate and discussion. I respect them and treat them as co-learners. It is amazing to see their intellectual spark of unbelievable proportion. I pick questions of a much higher level than what the course demands. But they chew it, bite on it, and come back with an answer.
That’s the pleasure of intellectual satisfaction. At the same time, I have taught students who are struggling with the subject. I teach the class and understand what they need. I sense it by eye-to-eye contact and change the speed, the examples,” he said.
Zero on social media, not connected on WhatsApp, Professor Sunoj, says students, are always available on campus, by reaching out to them.
“Students approach professors with their doubts. But I go to their hostel and ask – Hey do you have any doubts. I have been doing it over the years. I am a mentor for them during their tough times too as I am a compassionate listener. I spend a lot of time outside the classroom. There should be no fear of asking questions, I tell my students. I promote free interaction.”
IITB alumni Yash Sanghvi said, “Prof Sunoj was one of the professors taking our first-year chemistry introduction course (CH105). I distinctly remember the commotion in the hostel the night before our CH105 midsem. Turned out that Professor Sunoj had dropped by to clear the anxious freshers’ doubts before the exam. That gesture is one of the many that leave no surprise that he got selected for this award.”

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