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15825Re: [Arkitect India]: Common School System

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  • Satish Jha
    Mar 3, 2013
    • 0 Attachment
      If we start with a wrong premise, where do we hope to land up?

      Our education system has been broken for as long as we may like to recall. It's results are there for all to see whether we may agree or not. Just to start with, has the system inhabited by the population if the entire affluent world- the US, Europe, Japan, Australia and all other OECD countries put together produced any idea that is globally acceptable, any Nobel laureate from the Indian soil, any product that has found acceptance across the planet?

      If not, is it because of some grand design or the way we learn, understand our environment, the way the world works or anything else?

      I have come to be persuaded by the argument that its the way we groom our people from early childhood that has greatly determined the way things have turned out.

      Children are born geniuses, each in their unique ways and we work very hard to make them like us. Our education system does that job reasonably and keeps us all at peace while sacrificing the potential we bring to the world.

      Unless we begin to think that we the consumers of knowledge created by other societies and therefore consistent followers rather than leaders of the learning process have to acknowledge our limitations in guiding the next generations in the way they learn, little will change.

      Yashpal or Rajni are all product of their times. To look into the future, we need to look ahead and align with those who are shaping the future, whatever way it may turn out.

      So let us pause and rethink. Not the way the ancestors drew the lines. The way the architects of future are drawing it now.

      Sent from my iPad
      Satish Jha
      Pinewood Partners LLC

      On Mar 2, 2013, at 10:56 PM, juristashok@... wrote:


      Dear friends, due to change of mobile phone, I do not have your mobile nos. Kindly write your mobile nos.
      Advocate Ashok Agarwal
      Email juristashok@...

      Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone

      From: Janaki Rajan <rajan.janaki@...>
      Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2013 02:15:58 +0530
      Subject: Re: [Arkitect India]: Common School System


      I think we should examine ideas from Learning without Burden, and the principle of contextualising education that NCF offers. To my mind, the former offers analysis of what happens in school-textbook systems and the latter provides possibilities towards the way forward, using context as tool to be heard and matter. Yash Pal's latest idea in this, that learning has to be driven by learners is fine with me in principle, and furthers the ideas of learnign without burden and contextualization. But, there is a problem in each of thse ideas. That textbooks must loosen up has happened to some extent, but to what end? It has unleashed laiisez faire when combined with little understood CCE to become a convenient tool to let withdraw from engagement with learning. Every State and CBSE too, has used these documents to create situations which Rajni Kothari once lamented about-let us give each child along with birth certificate, a degree certificate.
      As I try to mine Yash Pal's remarks, I have to say that I am beginning to agree with Irfan Habib on the NCF.
      Before I get into that, I have the following questions:
      Learner agency to choose their learning  pre supposses that all learners are equal in the platform of schooling. They are so not! Problem with both Learnign without Burden and NCF is that both shy away from the fundamental problem that all children are not rendered equal automatically by virtue of being in a classroom. both documents shy away from the 'd' word-discrimination.
      So, Yash Pal's current thing about child wanting to choose what they want to learn poses several problems for me. Firstly, the child ALWAYS learns what he or she wants to learn from the classroom whether the teacher or parents like it or not. And, his or her likes matter zilch to curriculum, pedagogy however eased by non-dense textbooks or appeals to context.
      Only way all of YP ideas can make sense is if we it is disaggregated and  factors in the current fractured and discriminatory space that is today's classroom.  Without that discourse, we cannot leapfrog into a nice little space when children are little sicentists and teachers are resepectful research assistants.
      I absolutely get what Yash Pal was trying to do-but there is no process in this, except after the fact! Elegant and persuasive as the post facto processes are, it doesnt capture the popular imagination!
      Since 1994, our educational landscape has been shaped by Yash Pal and his colleagues. Time to, in a nice, but no nonsense way, re-visit this? Is it not what criticality, scientific temper is all about?

      On Sun, Mar 3, 2013 at 1:24 AM, Janaki Rajan <rajan.janaki@...> wrote:
       Yes, teacher education has been reduced to farcical proportions. Can we visualise, as civil society, a framework for teacher education which remembers that teachers were once or are aspiring young men and women? A civil society framework fo rteacher education?

      On Sat, Mar 2, 2013 at 6:10 AM, rajagopalan ss <ssrajagopalan@...> wrote:

      Teacher Education ed thcontinues to be not only neglected but abused a lot. The NCTE established with a lot of fanfare to raise the quality of Teacher Education is responsible for mushrooming of Teacher Education Institutions without any human and physical resources. They are money-spinning institutions with gullible young men and women their easy preys. Faculty with paper qualification but without any understanding of child pedagogy are in charge. While earlier they were monitored by the Education Department and Universities, now they are left alone. The quality of Teacher Education has taken a deep slide. I am not able to understand the logic behind TET's under these circumstances. In Tamilnadu only less than 3% have cleared the TET's. Is it a verdict on those taking the tests or on the institutions that have imparted Teacher Education? As a number of a High Power Committee, I came across a Head of Teacher Education Department of a University that he had no need to know what is happening to the school curriculum in the State. He said that he was appearing before the Committee because his VC had asked him to. Teacher Education is a serious issue on which we have to concentrate much.

      To: arkitectindia@yahoogroups.com
      From: rajan.janaki@...
      Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 23:13:48 +0530

      Subject: Re: [Arkitect India]: Common School System


      Dear Yash Pal,
      I have been thinking about your comment over the last few days. I will certainly meet you to talk about whenever it is convenient to you. However, we have received several responses to your comment and it is only right to continue this conversation also in this platform.
      Education is a much burdened term historically- aspirationally, strategically, managerially, frighteningly and in rare moments for a rare few, illuminatingly. For the purspose of our conversation let us talk of children and learning.
      My readings of respectable child development readers led me to believe that over centuries, conception of childhood has undergone changes, ranging from 17c when they were little adults, to 18c when they were children with 'shaitani' which had to be beaten out of them, stemming from Calvinism, to Rousseau who rescued children from their progenitors' predilictions with societal norms, through to Montessorie who clinically established the awesome abilities of prenatal, neo natal, infancy, toddlers and very young children, which Piaget, Kohlberg among others,  followed through to adolescence in western world, while Vygotsky challenged the individualness of these conceptions and elegantly establishing that learning is socially constructed. My readings told me that the idea of childhood is a very recent phenomenon in the history of the world-paintings of 17c show children dressed as mini-adults,toys did not exist till 19c. QED. The only reading of Indian setting I engaged with was sudhir Kakar's Inner World, which provides a fascinating (disturbing, but real ) notion of chidhood in India. In the 20 years I have taught these concepts, I have taught them side by side (never the twain shall meet, etc.) 
      Last week, I was in Nalanda to around a 100 young men aged 25-30, trapped (I use the term advisedly) in a DIET as students of the D.Ed. Course for 5 hours a day-2 teacher educators, no reading materials. These young men will live and make a life in their villages, blocks and districts. Their life horizon does nto even include PAtna the state capital. These young men have set out to become primary school teachers, and are dedicating 2 years of their lives without earning, and this is very hard for them to do, in order to becoem a primary school teacher@6000 per month after two years of non-earning. Bright, tired, dispirited, yearning.
      As I launched on the description of historical conceptions of childhood, one young man said, softly, afraid to give offence: Nalanda and Mohenjadaro have toys. I was gobsmacked to use a common expression. Being the 'Chief Guest' I warred with my instinct to bluff to prevail, chargined at being found wanting (try it with 300 hundred pairs of eyes watching specultively, curiously!), and furiously scanning all I know to address the question-not happening at the moment-one young man rescued me, saying they were artifacts-I greatfully nodded (even while my mind was saying NOT).
      After 15 minutes or so, I unearthed  a nugget from my memory-that 'toys'  was an English word. That pacchisi, pallanguzhi, bambaram(lattu) , kallu (7 stones tossed up game), paandi (hopscotch) were never defined as toys-these were things young and old played together with or in cohorts. Artifacts of these are defintiely there in Nalanda and Mohenjadaro.
      My take, the young men student teachers in Nalanda are far more capable of teaching the young than 'fancy pajama' me is! I don't think they need to be told that they are co-learners, they SO know it. Allwe need to do is to acknowledge, appreciate, and recognise their own knowlhow edge. If we don't children do nto have  a chance.
      About children. We were 8 of us and we went in teams of 2 to 6 districts (some of us did two districts in case you are wondering). I have heard of intellectual acuity-these children broke the charts. Smart as a whip I believe is  how our colonisers describe them. If there was a MENSA test on the children of Bihar, 40% would qualify-they would have to re-define MENSA! There was this 9 year old girl from the SC community holding forth to 50 children in an open ground (her teachers have gone on soem training or other). She begins in Hindi with 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. then she goes, 1 and 1 gyaara, and so on till 100 (don't judge: this is how she saw it). Then she does the same in English. Then she does this one number in Hindi, next in English-just like that! Not one number out of place. Is it constructivism? You bet! It was her creation, no doubt about that. And atleast 30 of her enthusiastic followers believed her and made it THEIR knowledge (and enjoyed it too).
      I learnt that western conception is, it has to be fun first and then learners will accept it. Maybe so in their world. In Nalanda, first it has to make sense, then it has to have acceptance, then it becomes fun!
      So, what do some of my friends think about this?
      Now the systems part. dont you think it would be so wonderful for all children to be together and work out their abilities and negotiate it amongst themselves with  teachers whose minds are not filled with 'goos'? 
      I bet all I posess on the possibility that the young men (her teachers)  will reach out and find the knowledge they need to address sharp tykes like the 9 year old girl. Let us give her and her teacher a chance. The only time teachers become sullen dictators is when we trample on them. That said there will ofcourse have to be oversight-by her parents? and parents of all her classmates?
      Then let us see what becomes of who want to learn what? My guess is that all of us will be scrambling to meet what the children and teachers want to know! There is no dearth of questions, only answers!
      Nowhere in the world would such intelligence be wasted as we do in India.

      On Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 1:42 PM, yash pal <palyash.pal@...> wrote:
      Dear Janaki,

      I occasionally go through the discussion in which you are centrally involved. I feel that few of your friends are concerned with the fact that education is seldom given - in reality it is acquired. When that happens the so called educator transforms from being a courier agent to an educator cum co-learner. If this view is taken there might not be a uniform discipline based teaching. I cannot expand on it now but let us talk about it some time. In spite of being shocked we would find that discipline based division of knowledge has had a tragic consequence. for natural knowledge dissemination and creativity.

      yash pal

      On Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 8:01 PM, Janaki Rajan <rajan.janaki@...> wrote:

      Thanks George! He must lead the curriculum framework and science education for children with sight disabilities. Please share his mail address, so that we can get a group started.

      On Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 9:45 AM, George Abraham <george@...> wrote:

      Deonar School for the blind, Hyderabad  have a wonderful way of teaching science to people who cannot see. It is the handy work of a passionate science teacher who took it upon himself to break the communication barrier to transfer scientific concepts without having to use visual aids. There is a message for all educators here!


      From: arkitectindia@yahoogroups.com [mailto:arkitectindia@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Satish Jha
      Sent: 11 February 2013 11:23
      To: arkitectindia@yahoogroups.com

      Subject: Re: [Arkitect India]: Common School System



      Anil is a pioneer. His idealism is unshakable. His passion for science education is exceptional. And all that said, I believe that his ideas do not help children learn the way they need to. I am sure he has his belief that he may have addressed most of the questions. That said, I believe that none of the patchwork suggestions tried out in India in the past 65 years has managed to get to the bottom of the challenges and, as yet, none is capable of getting us out of the rot symbolised by 65 years of non-learning, rote education environment. We cannot have a million Anil Sadgopals. We need systems that can work with average teachers, little infrastructure, inadequate eco-systems and yet meet the challenge of being globally aware.

      On Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 8:49 AM, Pankaj Jain <pjain2002@...> wrote:


      Dear All,

      I guess, we need to separate good people from good-bad ideas.

      While no body should doubt the commitment and dedication of people like Anil Sadgopal, a reasonable case can be made out that all his ideas are not good for Indian children's education.

      Given that Indian state is easy to be hijacked as the instrument of bureaucratic, political and other types of vested interests, giving it monopoly of children's education and future is highly dangerous. The common school system, supported by Anil ji and many others, gives monopoly of children's education to the state, which is not a good idea.

      Anyway, till mid-1990s, whole of rural India had only common school system as envisaged by Anil ji, and it did not do much good. As regards equity, there are other equally effective ways to achieve that, without giving monopoly power to the State.

      So my appeal is to separate good people from good-bad idea, and deal with people and ideas independently of each other.



      --- On Tue, 2/5/13, Kavita Krishnan <kavitakrish73@...> wrote:

      From: Kavita Krishnan <kavitakrish73@...>
      Subject: Re: [Arkitect India]
      To: arkitectindia@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 5:01 PM


      Anil Sadgopal.... of course...

      On 3 February 2013 02:04, Janaki Rajan <rajan.janaki@...> wrote:



      Have been following the progress(?) in the states on RTE. Its a no go.
      There is no way the government is going that will beacon for children.
      And it is not going to be different with any other government. Have
      seen all the players in action and have come to the conclusion that
      there is only one whose person's vision and roadmap which can make
      our children's future bright. That person has been taken for a ride,
      been denigrated too often-whay should he care? We should care though.
      His chapter on the Bihar Common School Commission should be enough for
      those who really care for the future of our children-read it
      carefully. He is in his seventies already. His photographic memory,
      awesome intellect, passion and commitment that is on the top 0.01% of
      the intellect of this world [aks Cal Tech!] is rotting because he has
      chosen to work in and for India where one listens or lesser minds
      listen onyl to denigrate. If there is nothing any of us will ever do
      in our lives, it will be ok, if we can get this gift to India to feel
      honoured and respected and provide space for him to sketch and pen a
      road map for the future of India's children. We, individuals, interest
      groups, officers, political people may not need him, but the children
      of India need him. Can we sink our egos and self interests to do this?
      Because if we do not, the children will never forgive us. i dont think
      I need to name this person.



      Satish Jha
      OLPC India Foundation
      Wellesley, MA 02482
      T: 301 841 7422
      F:301560 4909

      Yash Pal

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