Gautam Khandelwal founded Masti ki Paathshala in 2017. The reasons for conceptualising Masti ki Paathshala can be found in one of his blogs. To quote him:
“After 7 years of teaching, I have finally decided to ‘drop out’. This journey has been both enjoyable and painful. Enjoyable because I got to meet with some very bright, interesting, full of life, intelligent young souls who are going to ‘Heal the world’ and as MJ said, “make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race”. It was painful because I saw suffering all along the way.
- I saw young children being bullied by adults, who muzzled their voice at the very first instance of their authority being questioned.
- I saw confusion. On questioning, the child was beaten to silence. “You are disturbing the class” would be the quip.
- I saw children being ticked away for sleeping in class — what could the child do if the teacher was so boring. What could the child do when s/he had been holed up in a room / building since daybreak and had had no opportunity for play.
- I saw this yearning to play on the ground but alas the course had to be completed.
- I saw this deep desire to learn and go beyond the prescribed curriculum. However, in most cases, the career teachers of today vis a vis the gurus of yesteryears, did not know anything besides the prescribed text. “I will let you know tomorrow” would be the usual response.
- I saw children “begging” for marks. I saw children cheating for marks. Those who scored a 100 were heroes and those who failed were a scum on this planet.
It is for these reasons that Masti ki Paathshala was founded as a democratic learning centre in rural Rajasthan. It is a place where children call the shots. There is no curriculum, no marks and no exams. The children learn what, when and how they want to, which includes the freedom of not doing anything for extended periods.
- Children learn best while ‘playing’.
- We trust our children. They know what is best for them. Restricting them by a curriculum is futile.
- Inducing even the slightest of fear can have long term negative effects.
- Any sort of structure is not good for learning.
We believe that working with the head, heart and hands (as against only doing mental work as happens in schools) is what is required for a good education. Owing to this, we like to do a lot of art and craft, which breeds creativity in children. We also organize a lot of workshops so that children are exposed to the skills that are in demand in the marketplace. In the past, we have organized many workshops, some of which have been detailed in the sub-tabs.