But for the fact that I personally know Krishnesh Mehta, the National Institute of Design (NID) faculty who is in the eye of the storm presently, I too would have got swayed by the many sordid headlines going around across various media platforms. Such is the nature and such is the influence of media over the collective psyche of our present society.
Fortunately, the other side of the story, including a full-page interview with Ahmedabad Mirror (“I believe that knowledge should not be restricted”, dated June 27, 2010) and words of support by students is slowly finding its own space in the present hullabaloo. Fortunate not because one subscribes to any one perspective; but fortunate because every evolved civil society thrives in judgments based on fair discussion, wherein both sides are given equal scope for representation.
And yet, the object of our present discussion ought not to be the media, but be about the basic instinct that makes us jump up with glee at the first prospect of finding a fall guy!
It would be interesting to have a poll to find out how many of those who are adding their own bit to sensationalist headlines are outraged by Krishnesh’s teaching method, which he says revolves around “making a measurable change on neurophysiology” and how many are jumping on hot tin roof because of mention of terms like “nudity”, “undressing”, “sex” et al.
And it is that adherence to status quo that ensures that social discourse in India almost never explores the opportunity of tangential argument.
An enquiry committee has been formed to look into all the allegations and it would by the end of July come out with its finding. So, why don’t we leave it all to the committee and have a discussion about the radical teaching method that Krishnesh chose to employ?
“Making a measurable change on neurophysiology”, have any of us even heard that ever before? Yes, it might be one more of the numerous fanciful jargons floating around; but it can also be something substantial more. And even if it is the former, how does it limit the possibility of exploring the teaching methods – not just at educational institutes but also, more importantly, at home too?
Yes, can’t that be just one of the lateral applications of a teaching method like the one that entails, again, “making a measurable change on neurophysiology” – helping children at home evolve into well-informed, aware and adept young adults, without, maybe, not equating that method with school/college books at all?
The beauty of a creative studies institute like NID is that it allows far more lateral thinking – on behalf of both the faculty and the students – than what a normal Indian educational regimen would allow. But how does it sit with the society? Not too well, I’m afraid. A present student of NID yesterday remarked in conversation with this author, “Hum toh waise bhi badnaam hain” – thereby laying bare the society’s tendency to equate liberal approach to education with loose values in personal sphere!
And yet, the fact remains that many experienced and successful professionals who had taken Krishnesh’s lectures at the PGPX course of IIM-A (no less!) and scores of students and faculty speak glowingly about the teaching method of Krishnesh. Clearly, while the entire society might not yet be ready for it, certain sections surely are. Unless they too are scared into a shell by rag-tag group of assembled youth, who had successfully managed to get into newspapers by shouting slogans against the ‘press revelations’.
Krishnesh, like anyone else in this world, should be pronounced guilty if he is found to have forcibly breached any walls of public modesty or law – within the purview of NID or that of the land. But till that is proved, he, like anyone else in a similar position, should be treated as innocent and as a radical educationist.
Most importantly, irrespective of the verdict on him, he should be taken as the bouncing board for instilling new methods of teaching in our jaded education system and, may one add, our jaded parenting style.