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Go in Faith, Pratyush

October 29, 2015
Go in Faith, Pratyush
Pratyush Shankar is leaving the School. For a more fulfilling life in a more organised system, where there will be more respect, more recognition and more self satisfaction, apart from more work.
That is how it is. The politics that he endured, that tires the new dean and that he was also part of, will be behind him. And we have to give it to him for trying to and achieving some degree of success in changing the School for better before leaving. For being open to new and fresh ideas that people were not ready to hear about. For work with some of the same people, and bringing in and steadying some new people as well. In comparison to the other schools in CEPT, SA has been more successful in attracting good faculty despite the problems of system, resources and academic rivalry being similar as in other schools. Some of the credit for this is shared by Pratyush, even if he was quite a pain at times. Love him, hate him, but don’t you ignore him.
There may be debate about how much of the curriculum that was so painstakingly revised by him and Chhaya has found its way in the present syllabus. But there is no denying that when other colleges are struggling just to teach a 40 year old syllabus, School of Architecture CEPT, Chhaya and Pratyush were long debating the relevance of education, of architectural education, and an appropriate way of teaching architecture. This guy, along with some others, had the sense to question it, and act on it.
To students who could relate to him, who were unable to relate to more senior or more rigid mindsets, this is a loss. And for school too, even if we are now used to it. It may be easy to say now that the old system should have been changed by anyone with a little sense. But during the in-between times, a new system is difficult to glean, specially when people are nostalgic and resistant to change. It was not easy to navigate the dark space left by stalwarts with strong viewpoints & highly individual teaching styles, and an informal and questioning teaching atmosphere. Transition to an education preparing fodder for new age offices may have sounded like death itself. Demise of architectural philosophy that formed the basis of School’s teaching is a big one. Something the profession, the academia and the students are all grappling with. No one dare say that you didn’t try to resolve this.
These are the churnings: Being trapped in a cross current of changing times. Battling with the biases against ‘outsiders’. Dealing with complaints all over the market that School graduates don’t have the skills to translate their grand concepts into reality/ are too loopy/ take too long to settle down. Representing SA at public forums, and in front of other institutions. Expanding own boundaries and dealing with personal crises. You win some, you lose some.
Somehow the farewell note from CEPT sounds like obituary, but neva mind! More good things to you, Pratyush. Without doubt, CEPT is a better place because you came along.
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