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* Ramaiah Bheenaveni
This section firstly examines curriculum as a mediator of dominance and hegemony, exploring ideological issues in the selection and structuring of knowledge and in pedagogic practice. Secondly we focus on the issue of representation of subaltern groups, culture and ideologies. The concept of curriculum is used here to designate the experiences pupils have under the guidance of the school. Most issues in this area are predicated upon the assumption that appropriate school experiences can indeed make a significant difference to learning and lives of SC/ST children. Content of curriculum and internal operations are thus key issues that need to be addressed. Also very important are related areas of pedagogic methods, assessment and evaluation.
In India, curriculum and the content of education have been central to the processes of reproduction of caste, class, cultural and patriarchal domination-subordination. In post independence educational policy, modification of content supposedly aimed at indigenization resulted in Brahmanisation as a key defining feature of the curriculum. Brahmanisation has been evident in the emphasis on (1) ‘pure’ language, (2) literature and other “knowledge” of society, history, polity, religion and culture that is produced by higher castes which reflects Brahmanical world view and experiences and Brahmanical perspectives on Indian society, history and culture, and (3) high caste, cultural and religious symbols, linguistic and social competencies, modes of life and behaviour. Furthermore, the overarching stress has been on eulogizing mental as against manual labour. The heavily gendered nature of school curricular content was evident in that women’s specialised knowledge and skills systems found no place in it or in the general curricular discourse. Rather they were used for devaluation and stereotyping of the female sex in curriculum. Curriculum is thus urban elite male-centric and bereft of the country’s rich cultural diversity. There has been a corresponding devaluation of “lesser” dialects, cultures, traditions, and folklore of dalits and adivasis as also of peasantry.
The second defining feature of the curriculum on the other hand, was its ‘colonial’ character which privileged western modernization. The ideology however was adopted in truncated, superficial ways – the emphasis being on the incorporation of knowledge of Western science and technology, viz. that of the “hard Western sciences”, the English language and Western styles of life. The pursuance of liberal, democratic socialist values even though enshrined in the Indian constitution was largely notional in the curriculum.
Curricular structure and culture of the colonial model has remained unchanged. The defining features of the structure are: full time attendance of age specific groups in teacher supervised classrooms for the study of graded curricula. Full day schools, compulsory attendance, unconducively long time–span of classes and vacations, served as deterrents, being ill suited to educating SC/ST children, especially in the initial years when access was just being opened up and availed. Poor and SC/ST households depended on children for domestic work or other productive work whether or not to supplement household earnings. Today, things...