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8461Re: Growing Up in a Multi-Cultural Learning Environment

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  • lotus
    Jul 4, 2011
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      --- In alt-ed-india@yahoogroups.com, "Rashmie" <rashmiejaaju@...> wrote:
      >
      > An excerpt from the article:
      > "Considering how multi-cultural interaction can enrich, I, as a parent
      > to a 5.5 year old, don't see our schools really doing much to encourage
      > a multi-cultural learning environment. At least, not much here in India.

      NCERT textbooks reflect India's diversity better than any of the other textbooks I have surveyed in India. The illustrations, children's names, drawings and activities show girls and boys from different regions, cultures, and urban / rural (and even adivasi) settings.

      In contrast, in many other books you will find glaring stereotypes of gender, colour and very little attention to rural life. Even in books published for rural schools I have seen that, for example, the kitchen looks nothing like a rural kitchen. The skin of all the people is almost white or very light pink or tan, unless, for example a story features a daku or some other suspicious character, typically drawn in darker brown. And the majority of the people given in the examples will be male. When girls and women appear they are often performing household chores, rarely playing ball or even catching a bus. Why?

      Some people will say, "well they did not mean to show one gender, or one caste, or one community more than any other. It was not conscious." Why does it then come so naturally, without making any conscious effort to show the sun-deprived urban male as the default character, and women / dark skin / rural person only when seeking to depict something about such people?

      To recognize the diversity among and within cultures, the efforts of individuals to overcome bias and stereotypes, to be simple humans by default is something that our multicultural environments give us potential to do. I can see this effort in the NCERT books such as Rhimjim, Aas-Paas, Mathmagic, Looking Around. (example - http://www.books4u.in/books/ncert-textbook-in-hindi-for-class-4-environmental-studies--aas-paas-1913)
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