Excerpts from the foreword by Professor Yash Pal to the Report of ‘The Committee to Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education.’ December 2009.
(We are gratified that the logic of the report supports the premises of The South Asian Idea.)
We were struck by the fact that over the years we have followed policies of fragmenting our educational enterprise into cubicles. We have overlooked that new knowledge and new insights have often originated at the boundaries of disciplines. We have tended to imprison disciplinary studies in opaque walls. This has restricted flights of imagination and limited our creativity. This character of our education has restrained and restricted our young right from the school age and continues that way into college and university stages.
There can be many responses to the Cairo speech each depending on how one wished to incorporate it in one’s agenda for the future.
This is most obvious in the realm of politics: some want to see it as a hopeful point of departure and do not wish to be critical; others see in it the need to support Obama in his struggle with his domestic constituency that restrains his genuine aspirations; yet others read it as a reiteration of the Bush policy couched in more sophisticated words. Depending on the agenda some wish to emphasize the positives, others the negatives.
This blog is not about politics. Our focus is pedagogy and analysis that serves the interest of pedagogy. We often choose political themes to illustrate pedagogical points simply because students engage readily with issues that are topical and of wider significance.
I am perplexed by the Us versus Them phenomenon. Try as I might, I have not been able to explain why it has such a powerful hold on so many of us.
Let me try and work through it once again using a thought experiment. I would like you to stay with me as I do and to give me your feedback at the end.
I imagine that I am invited to speak to a class of high school students in a city that I have never visited before.
I arrive at the school and walk through a corridor into the class. In front to me I find 60 students of both genders wearing the school uniform and no other marks of identification seated in random order.