Dr Prasanna Neelakantan, Clinical Assistant Professor in Endodontics was awarded with the Faculty Outstanding Teaching Award 2019, which acknowledges his contributions and excellence in teaching at the Faculty.
"If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." With this philosophy in mind, Dr Prasanna has never been a believer of spoon feeding or limiting the knowledge-thirst of his students. Instead, he believes a true teacher should mould the life of students positively with a broader perspective.
Dr Prasanna is a Doctor "Why" as he persists in asking his students to constantly raise questions to understand why they do the things that they do. He stressed, "I strive to foster a critical thinking process rather than just want my students to absorb or memorise information!". But he also enjoys being questioned by students. "A student who argues with us on a plan is likely to remember the lesson learnt, for life, then one who passively said yes to anything we want him/her to do," he explained.
So what makes a good teacher? Most people would give a list. For Dr Prasanna, it's mentorship. In his second year of undergraduate course, he had one of the most fabulous teachers, Professor Kavitha Sanjeev, who inspired him to pursue a career in conservative dentistry and endodontics. Then in his postgraduate programme, he met Professor Subbarao who trusted in his students and created an immensely positive learning environment. Being a mentee in the past, Dr Prasanna learned from his mentors, and today, he is a very passionate teacher and firmly believes that teaching should be active and student-centred. In addition, he always aspired to create a highly positive and optimistic learning environment for his students. “Being firm, yet kind, has helped me mould myself into a good teacher,” he said.
He aspired that at least one of his students will become a teacher and the student would credit him for his/her passion in teaching. "It is a simple aspiration indeed - but teachers have simple aspiration - their students must be the best!" said Dr Prasanna.
We wish his students will be the best in the future, but right now, in students' eyes, Dr Prasanna is the best. Here's what some of the students said about him:
BDS 3 Helena Lee: Dr Prasanna is a seemingly harsh mentor on the outside, but someone who truly wishes for your best and does everything to support you. I not only learn dentistry from him, but also discipline and loyalty.
BDS 4 Florence Lau: He integrates his passion for Endodontics seamlessly together with his love for teaching. He is always available to his students and being immensely patient with us......
BDS 5 Jasper Leung: He is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher. He has high standard on his teaching and high hopes for his students. He has made me believe that I can do better in endodontics through persistence and practice
BDS 6 Nicolas Sung: He teaches with innovation and passion. He enjoys helping students to understand dentistry in a lively manner and often challenges students to apply critical thinking to clinical problems......
To view all the comments, please visit: http://videos.facdent.hku.hk/eCards/20200216_Dr_Prasanna.mp4
Winning an award related to teaching has always been the pinnacle for Dr Prasanna, regardless of the number of hats he wore, as a dentist, a researcher etc., "my primary role is to teach," he concluded.
Each year, the Faculty will present the Faculty Outstanding Teaching Award to one staff who have made a major contribution in advancing teaching and learning of the Faculty by maintaining an exceptional record of sustained teaching and learning activity within the last five years in undergraduate and/or postgraduate education. The winner of the Award will receive a Teaching and Learning Support Grant which may be used by the individual to further his/her teaching and learning activities and/or professional development. All current academic staff members who have had a continuing or fixed term appointment on a full time or fractional (0.5 or greater) basis at the University for at least two years are eligible to apply.
Dr Prasanna Neelakantan is one of the most beloved teachers among students