Sunday, September 30, 2012

Smothering diversity

It may seem naive and simplistic but pluralism in classroom, as represented by cultural and economic background of the pupils, may have been compromised the day a uniform dress code was introduced for school children. While uniform dress reflects decor and discipline, lost within it are distinct identities that have further been smothered by a universalised teaching curriculum. To impart a uniform system of education across wide cultural diversity, the system eroded plurality by homogenising cultures and communities in the first place. It is only during recent years that question on a system of education that converts innocent pupils into mindless clones has been raised.

While the indigenous model rejected the colonial, the colonial was uni-dimensional and had ended up eliminating the indigenous. In both instances, it was the baby that got thrown with the bathwater. Far from liberating and transforming the underprivileged, it placed unrealistic heavy burden of education on children. Rather than equipping underprivileged children with skills and sensitization them towards their marginal status, the system of education sought to marginalize them further. Poor learning achievements, low retention, high dropout rates and indifferent attitudes of the parents and communities for the school have been reflective of the net impact.

In search for the answers to such questions, the editors of the volume have sought a way out of it by placing emphasis on ‘social inclusion and pluralism as the core principles of the pedagogic conceptual framework, practices and processes’. This however may be easier said than done. The basic trouble is that it may not always be easy to achieve the core values of social inclusion and pluralism simultaneously. But the book prisms the inner world of education through a wider lens on the world of education in offering solution-based approaches drawn from both the developed and the developing world.

The book has not only been able to diagnose the problem but suggest a solution-based approach as well. Though it appreciates the complexity of the problem at hand, the book remains optimistic in its approach because by only being positive about it can some distance in addressing the problem would get covered....Link

School Education, Pluralism & Marginality
by Christine Sleeter, Shashi Bhushan Upadhyay, Arvind Mishra & Sanjay Kumar (Eds)
Orient BlackSwan, Delhi
500 pages, Rs. 850

1 comment:

  1. The Besides being a symbol of discipline, school uniform tends to make students being visualized as one group without display of one's status and wealth. Some students coming to school in designer clothes and some in ordinary ones may not be a good sight and the affected children may not be mature enough to accept the class-difference that they would eventually see later once they are out.

    Nothing wrong in seeing all children in same clothes provided they are respected for what they are in terms of color, creed, intellect and status.

    -Vijay Rai