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Guest speakers bring in a fresh perspective

Guest lectures are becoming an integral part of the pedagogy in some colleges across the state. Gurus from the scholarly world and corporate head-honchos alike are invited to share their valuable insights with students. To find out how beneficial these lectures and workshops are, NT KURIOCITY spoke with some students and teachers

Maria Fernandes | NT Kuriocity

The modern education system has made guest lectures an important part of its teaching strategy. They have become a salient part of the education experience for students as well. These sessions serve as an ideal platform to supplement theoretical knowledge with first hand perspectives from some of the stalwarts of the industry. They expose students to real-world life experiences from the position of someone who has been there.

“Having guest lectures are extremely beneficial for students who get a glimpse into the everyday life of the speaker, which they can’t get anywhere else. They are the best ways to supplement classroom learning and allow the students to make a link between what they learn from their textbooks and what they learn from the guest speaker. Students get a clearer picture of the real world and this is very crucial in preparing them for the future,” says course coordinator of BBA department, Dempo College, Sonya Angle. Associate professor, History, Rosary College, Rita Braganza adds: “As teachers our knowledge is not as vast as that of the experts we invite to interact with our students. Recently we had an environmentalist who spoke with the students about our heritage and how the environment plays a crucial role. His talks made the students more aware of the role of maintaining the environment consciously and with due respect. Coming from an expert his words held more weight and credibility.”

A professional and experienced guest speaker can really make an impact on students. They may be able to drive home a concept that teachers are sometimes not able to explain as clearly as required. “Our last guest speaker was the assistant director of Goa Institute of Public Administration and Rural Development and she spoke to the students on the new developments of the panchayat raj and the important role of the gram sabha. She highlighted concepts we were previously unaware of,” shares associate professor, Political Science, Carmel College, Louise Ann Sequeira.

Students too are very much in favour of these lectures as they value the first hand perspective. “I believe these lectures and seminars/workshops are one of the best ways to enhance our learning as they give us valuable insight into the speaker’s field of expertise. What we learn in class is very different from what happens in the real world and these lectures help us get a glimpse of that world,” says Commerce student, Meghna Ratham. “We not only get a different point of view but these lectures help us in understanding the topic better and provide us with possible resources for future use. For example recently we had a research librarian who discussed effective literature search strategies and this helped me immensely in my research project,” says Pratik Chari a MBA student.

As teachers face the perpetual challenge of keeping each class/session fresh and interactive, guest lectures are often a break from the routine not just for the students but for teachers as well. Students of all ages are hungry for variety and seeing a new face can liven up the class. “Seeing the same teacher day in and day out can get very boring. So when there is a guest lecture, we really look forward to it and if the resource person is interesting and connects with us, it really makes it worth our while,” says Vocational student, Marushka Paes. “The day there is a guest lecture my son makes sure not to miss the class. He finds these sessions not only knowledge-enhancing but also very enjoyable. Thanks to the last guest lecturer he realised the exact field in which he would like to major. He got a clearer perspective and the one-to-one interaction with the lecturer helped him a lot. I think all colleges and teachers and principals should make guest lectures a part of the teaching methodology,” observes, parent and entrepreneur, Meena Kamat.

When students are guided by industry specialists, senior professors, scientists, business tycoons and sometimes even lay people with a story to tell, they learn a great deal. Education is not only about textbooks and syllabus; there are many other interesting things to learn apart from the course that can help students grow in their personal as well as professional life. “Guest lecturers especially young entrepreneurs are very inspiring,” says Economics student, Darren Pereira. “They not only motivate us but even give us ideas as how to go about starting a business. They explain exactly what it takes and how it is.”

“To teach us about road safety, our teacher besides inviting a senior traffic police official had also asked a parent who had lost a child due to drunk driving to speak on the occasion. Hearing what that parent had to say, made a huge impact on all of us,” adds humanities student, Atharv Shetye. Rhea Verma a BBA student says, “We had Sonia Shirsat as a speaker and she introduced us to Fado which we had never heard of. Not only was it an extremely enjoyable session but we learnt about an art form that otherwise we would have not been able to appreciate.”

The general consensus is that guest lectures are very effective but there are some who have certain grievances. “Before inviting a guest speaker I think teachers should check if they can communicate as required. We recently had a well-known lawyer who was not able to keep us interested in what she was saying. Maybe it was her voice which was very flat or her general demeanour which really put us off,” says Particia Saldanha, a mass communication student. Another student says: “Guest speakers should in my opinion have a spark and be able to teach and motivate at the same time. If they are unable to connect with us what is the use of getting them?” Manisha Hiremath an Engineering student adds: “We want a fresh perspective of that particular field so if the guest speaker cannot keep us engaged I see no reason for them being invited to speak with us. Also it needs to be interactive. What will students gain if these speakers just come present their matter and leave in a hurry?”

To conclude, inviting guest speakers to the classroom has many advantages. Whether you invite a chef, policeman, author, yoga teacher, nurse, veterinarian, musician or lawyer, students will leave with more knowledge than they came with. However teachers should, as suggested by students, exercise caution and discretion before inviting speakers. The objective here is that students learn and enhance their knowledge; and not go home feeling it was all a waste of time!

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