Saturday, 29 October 2016

FB Discussions - English in curricula

(from a thread discussing how English may be diluted in the curricula by BJP, and criticizing the move)

Aparna Krishnan I have little to do with BJP, but everything to do with my village, a small SC Telugu hamlet. The present day brahminical class is the english-fluent urban educated denizen. And his/her/my essential power is English.

Were English to suddenly disappear then my Sasi and my Redima and my Munendra will come into their own, because their essential strengths, intellectual and field based, are vaster to those of our progeny. And yet we will never allow that - and we will give every intellectual logic to defend that position - because our own superiority, and the inherited assests of our children, are dependent on the implicit superiority of English. 

We will tell the Sasis also 'to learn english', and enable than - knowing deep within that they will be only also-rans here - and clerks to the sahibhood our children will inherit. If this sounds bitter, yes, it is. I see whole communities of bright sparks being extinguished as we the elite pursue our hidden agendas of social dominance, cloaked in well meaning NGO phrasologies of Schooling. Only Local Language Dominance can recover space for all the Sasis. Hang our global edge, first let the village people eat to full stomachs.

Manisha Gupta Thank you Aparna Krishnan. I understand that you are a votary of Hindi and Sanskrit as the primary mode of education and business transaction?

Aparna Krishnan Not at all. Telugu in AP. Tamil in TN. Oriya is Orissa. Hindi in Bihar. So that the ground gets levelled between my daughter and your daughter who know English and Sasi and Redima who know Telugu. Sanskrit certianly for those who pursue Ayurveda, like I do. Or for others who care to for their reasons. So also Urdu and Persian for Unani and alied purposes. Or those Muslims who wish to pursue their religious texts. 

Manisha Gupta Not sure if you have read the article and it's stance. Banishing any kind of language in a multi lingual is not very democratic either, is it? 

Aparna Krishnan Banish is a strong word. But local languages are being banished ma, overly and covertly. To restore them their space English, so highly celebrated by us all, and next to that Hindi, need to be downplayed.

Aparna Krishnan The article was superficial, and obviously by someone who has no sense of that majority which is buckling under the English dominance. Read till midway though.

Manisha Gupta Lets agree to disagree

Venkataramanan Sriraman As I come out of an very unique event today, where we connected an English speaking bangalore school children over Skype with Hindi speaking Jharkhand children and Kannada speaking Dharwad children, sounds like there is an avoidance of confronting the reality ! In the event, which was caliberated to be in Hindi and Kannada, the Urban kids where humbled by the Intelligentsia demonstrated by the village kids, when it was their turf !
Manisha Gupta Venkataramanan Sriraman - have you read the article?

Manisha Gupta The article is basically saying that English needs to be expunged because it is not a language of patriots. It is also talking of the hypocrisy of BJP leaders in the education that they choose for their children etc etc.

We read different things and pick up different slants from articles, based on where we are coming from.

Venkataramanan Sriraman I normally ignore HT articles. But this time triggered to read it, after Aparna's comment. But ended up irked by the Sarcasm and unproductive tone of the article. It didn't make a difference. I would like the conversation in lines with Aparna's view points rather...

Manisha Gupta Sure. As I shared with Aparna, we need not agree on everything or anything.

Venkataramanan Sriraman On a side note the kids from Jharkhand hadn't had their lunch, as there was Mid day meal ration available for the last 1 week in the school....

Aparna Krishnan Venkataramanan Sriraman the sarcasm you saw in the last line was what i also registered immediately. It is the usually arrogance and know-all of the upper class. And the self serving suggestions they make are worst when they come clothed in a veneer of 'concern for poor'. If we are serious about levelling the field we need to be ready to question our privileges. It starts with English dominance.

Rajnish Jain There is no denying the importance of local languages and the benefits that would accrue by making it important to learn those, but this could be done while our kids learn English as well, to be able to perform better in an increasingly English speaking world. On a day, when even the French seem to be learning English to do business internationally, it is dumb to isolate ourselves by proposing to shut it down instead of making it accessible to everyone.

Aparna Krishnan Dear Rajnish, 1. my first concern is local, internal equity. My country's global poweress does not interest me till the day this is acheived.

2. If Oriya or Kannada is made the benchmark for moving ahead in life, my daughter will be so handicapped as to struggle to survive, as that is not her inherited poweress at all. Especisally if all she had access to were poor ill funded government schools, and she lived in poverty.

Similarly if Sasi, Paalaguttapalle (Dalitwada), Chittoor Dt. age 13, has to prove himself in English to move ahead, coming from his background of poverty and first generation learning, and poor government schools, he is defeated at start. It has happened, and he is at the present moment defeated in many ways. Were Telugu the token he would shine, as would every other child in my village.

If every local language and English were at par, we would start leveling the field.

Rajnish Jain Dear Aparna, Glad that you shared your thoughts in great details. I have a couple of point to make: 1. the poor standard of government schools and poverty are the culprit, not English language for Sasi's plight. If the government and society can recognize this, Sasi would not have to feel defeated. The onus is not on English but on us; 2. The languages evolve or die not depending on the state protection, but perhaps their own relevance in the contemporary world. Sanskrit, Latin, Greek are good examples. Even Prakrit and Pali, languages of the masses which were protected by popular sentiment had to become irrelevant. If English is doing greatly, it shows dynamism and adaptability more than state protection, as was Hindustani (spoken) at one point; 3. We perhaps can't bring languages at par but bring them to people who are poor and in remote areas, just as we are striving to bring digital 'literacy'.

Aparna Krishnan  Dear Rajnish, unless each language and each strength is respected equally the playing field will not be leveled. We can keep doing relief work. And anyway poor government schools becoming more dismal by the day is a reality ? The reality is all that interests me - and you would agree that in this situation Dadi can come into his own only with Telugu being at par. I have friends who are demanding reservations in each forum and employment for those anchored in local languages, and who have studies in local mediums.

Aparna Krishnan Here,

Vishnupriya came to Madras to spend a few days for her vacation. After her vernacular school she struggled thro'…|By Aparna Krishnan 

Rajnish Jain But we are in agreement over government schools, and if they are dismal, they are so in everything, including English. The limited point I am trying to make is that bring English to Vishnu when she's young instead of bringing Vishnu to English later on. I am not at all talking about relief work but enabling work, and there is a huge difference. The point I was trying to make is that governments can make Telgu at par with English, and this they should for Dadi, but when Dadi goes out of Telgu speaking areas, she would still struggle, so bring her both Telgu and English.

Aparna Krishnan Sure. If you can give Vishnu the kind of English my daughter has access to. Which means equal quality schooling, as well as affirmative action to make up for illiterate poor family background, andf not a scrap of paper at hone, english or otherwise ! I would face the impossibility of that, and bat for Linguistic Equality.

Aparna Krishnan In the here and now I have also struggled with teaching all mu children English through the years - facing that it is relief work. That real equality comes from a differnet basis of equal status for all languages and all learnings.
Aparna Krishnan

"I know to talk in English, but I don't talk"   -Supervisor ,VidhyatriBhavan, Gandhi Bazar Bengalooru #‎ Respect http://amsterdamnews....|By Aparna Krishnan

Rajnish Jain There, you have said it, not only languages but all learnings! I am at my wits end to understand how can batting for linguistic equality make up for unequal quality schooling and consequent uneual learning. To do that, we would have to confront that reality and address that impossibility itself.

Aparna Krishnan if there is unequal schooling, then the natural leanings and languages of all communities should be treated at par. Even otherwise, I would say - but thats a seperate discussion !

Rajnish Jain Sure, but the very idea of schooling is to give preference to teaching over natural learning, so in spite of stated intent, such ideas do not translate in to reality. It is up to us to treat things at par, and we can only change ourselves, not stop the world from changing. Having said that, I would still like to learn another language instead of trying to deprive other from learning it.

1 comment:

  1. I came here from a shared post on a friend's wall where you were tagged and here from your FB timeline. I got interested in this thread because my husband is working with slum children, teaching them maths. I coach them in spoken English. Coming from a Hindi medium background, he is able to teach them in their language. I have shared his observations on my blog about why these children should study in their own mother tongue or the language they are familiar with (He studied in Hindi medium during his school days in MP though he is a Tamilian). He feels that the basic concepts are easier to learn in their own tongue, as is evident from children forced into so called English medium schools, where even intelligent students become laggards because they are clueless about what is being taught. (

    I would be very happy if you could read the post. How do I subscribe to your blog? I find the topics highly educative.