Monday, 22 August 2016

(A discussion on schooling. A necessary evil today.)

Aparna Krishnan But somewhere deep within I know that the real celebration will be on that day, and only on that day, when an Bhil or a Mala or a potter or a weaver have no need for any schooling or PhD, and are able to rest on their own infinite wisdom and skills and strengths and claim their share of this land, and an infinite respect, simply with that. Maybe these schools also are all routes towards that goal ... I hope so. To waken a 'civilized' world drugged with its sense of schooled superiority.
Aravinda Pillalamarri Aparna, what I have observed is that once lost, traditional skills and knowledge do eventually recover the value that enables someone to live well practicing them - but only the few. Handwoven baskets, cold-pressed oils and the like will be valued, but they will be expensive.
Aparna Krishnan I know. And I also know that unless that space, in common life and not in elitism, is created/ re-created, all we will do is some relief work. And every inequality extant will stay set in stone, as we make them climb the schooling ladder 1st step, when we and our progeny are on the highest step. All ladders have to become equally valid ma. Else the war is lost as we fight the small battles we have chosen. It probably is lost.
Adharshila Learning Centre I don't see it as an either or situation. People from the middle class can choose to try to make living from basket/ cloth weaving or other crafts and see how feasible is it. It is not necessary that only traditional craftsmen/keep doing it. Even farming.
Aparna Krishnan All schools ahould be shut ! Upper, middle and lower - and let the first two categories prove themselves in the real world. As regards the poor - the only answer is to make all crafts and farming as remunerative as upper class occupations, and as honourable. Then they will shine in their inherited wisdom. Otherwise they need to start at the bottom of OUR ladder, and most are defeated at start.
Aparna Krishnan Yes, you school. I also school. But I see it as a relief measure, and a total last resort, because we were unable to restore the village economy and strength. Only that restoration really counts.
Adharshila Learning Centre So till the time this ideal world is achieved what should they do?
Aparna Krishnan Exactly. We are defeated and we are all doing some relief work. They will be at the bottom rung of the ladder where our children are at the top rung. If people are honest and state schooling interventions as such its fine. Instead Schooling for All is advertized by Left Right and Centre as some great acheivement. That I object to, thats all.
Shantanu Mundhada This is a relevant conversation. We must be able to answer the question, 'Why does a tribal need to prove his worth on the parameters of the outside world if his lifestyle has sufficient ingredients to live?'
I'm sharing an experience with the tribal...See More
Shantanu Mundhada 'Defeat' must be looked at in the context. If the context is redundant, so is defeat.
Aparna Krishnan I dont understand. I am saying that till all valid skills of all communities are given equal validity it is a defeat for any social equality. To make other communities climb our ladder of reading/writing is a poor consolation.
Shantanu Mundhada In a nutshell, we worked on a plan whereby the tribals can be self reliant economically. It is possible with the skills and value system. Also it's a large enough community. But what we realised is that the willingness to put on the fight is not there. Sure one can work on it, but it's a long shot.
Aparna Krishnan I know. The poorest have been co-opted into the dreams of modernity. There is little one is able to do currently. I wish the winds change one day. I am waiting for the day petrol gets over.
Shantanu Mundhada
Reclaiming Tribal Power is an account of my experience of working with Accord - an NGO in The Nilgiris district of Kerala. As an ex-banking professional, I was to contribute in fulfilling a long standing dream of the tribal community - that of having a bank of their own.
Aparna Krishnan The need to NGOs to exist, and even the need to good hearted people to serve, often defines needs as those where we can intervene. Those may not be needs, and may even be counter productive. I refer to schooling itself, as i see in mainstream and alternative and also in my own teaching village children. We can always justify this as a makeshift necessity in a compromised world. But deep down I stay unconvinved. Maybe it would be best to not school, because in the process is the inbuilt assertion that this ladder of literacy is superior to their own ladders wherein they have all their inherited advantages. I would also question 'economic activities', though I also am party to trying for livlihoods. For instance, once diarying became an economic activity, the village children ceased to be able to afford their own milk.
Shantanu Mundhada I sense a remorse or defeat in your wish that winds change or petrol gets over. Solar and nuclear power can perhaps replace petrol and extend this phase for much longer. Transformational work is required at individual level and not at collective level now. Strong individuals, who can demonstrate happiness in near-minimalistic life can become role models. People in general must have role models or dictators, I guess.
Aparna Krishnan Of course there is a sense of defeat in that gram swaraj has not happenned. That imo is the only answer. Reducing is the need - i dont beleive in science fiction. Yes, role models are needed. But then villages are themselves role models, where there is greater happiness with far lesser needs. I beleived in the individual effort, but now I see that it needs a larger societal critical mass and effort also.
Shantanu Mundhada There are too many threads here: education, governance, economics, the desirables on each of these and the realities. The desired resultant picture has almost always seemed far away because it assumes desired inputs. But if we can accept the real inputs, we'll be able to tone down desires, hopefully do away with them. Gram Swaraj, I guess, can only follow Swaraj - स्व + राज, victory over self. In a typical village or anywhere else, people are facing the other direction. Therefore I said, work is required at individual level. And there is a lot to be hopeful on that front. Many younger people are getting disillusioned by consumerism.
Aparna Krishnan Reality is complex and layered. So we are many times like the elephant and the blind men, and fighting among each other. When I moved to the village decades ago I took the usual entry to eanting to work with children, and one day start a Nail Talim school. Within a year of working with the panchayat schools I realized that though the local potter was persuaded to come and teach the children, and they had some fun, unless the larger economics and politics was addressed, nothing would change, and schools in any shape or form would stay another weapon to beat down the local communities and their identities. I did continue to teach because the village parents wanted that, but I had by then ceased to see it as anything very fundamental.
Aparna Krishnan Yes, swaraj is a way of being, a command on oneself. And a willingness to subsume for the larger good. Modern individualisim and its limited understanding of that as MyChoice works against that. So I wait for winds to change, meaning simply doing something.
Aparna Krishnan I have lived in a village community and seen how schooling devastates. Seemingly there are success stories, but even those few come with riders.
Shantanu Mundhada How about a radical idea. Work on urban youth and get them to move to villages. Make room for the villagers to proceed in their journey towards the urban lifestyle. Hopefully they'll return some day, some generation.
Aparna Krishnan But the point is that all learnings need value and respect and validity. For any genuine equality and justice.
Aparna Krishnan Some learnings (and learners) can be made invalid. Like petrochemical engineers/engineering, which is based on a product that only causes global wars and global warming. They can start learning farming as first generation learners, Like we make farmers sons be first generation schoolers !
Aparna Krishnan Karmanyevadhikarasthe ... Ours but to do and die. The larger picture is beyond our understanding, and as you say, in a sense has to be accepted. That is Vedanta. To act and surrender the action at the feet of god. And to accept he results as flowing from the same god. It allows action, as no other philosophy can.
Shantanu Mundhada Great! Issue settled, then. Perhaps first time ever in such a discussion. Whatever gets done, gets done. We're instruments... No more. No victory no defeat!
Aparna Krishnan Dont discussions work on searching out commonalities in action plans, while accepting differences. I thought that was the purpose of any discussion.

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