This weekend, one that just ended, was one at home after a few months, and I spent it that way - at home! I stepped out only a little, for a habitual trip to the library and some shopping, but spent most of the time adjusting my body back to the UK Time Zone. I have now come to live in a permanent state of Jet-lag, dozing off at times in the middle of reading or even writing something, and this was my desperate attempt to call some place home.
But such quiet time, rare as it is, was useful for reflection too. It has been a year of constant traveling, and a year in which much has changed for me. A year ago, I was struggling to make my concept work, somewhat clueless on what is to be done and starting to doubt my own abilities. A year on, as I spent time in the markets and tested my assumptions, I know what works and also what I want to do. My ambivalence on where I should live is somewhat settled, and my interests, though it moved somewhat, are now clarified. In essence, this year on the road somewhat settled my ideas - or so I hope.
Looking ahead, as I did over the weekend, I want to have a quiet year. This is unusual in a way, because I never quite look for quietness, but possibly this is that rush of common sense that usually follows a disaster. By quiet year, I mean a year of silent plod, of collecting experience and expertise, of keeping focus, of unspectacular inching forward with practice. I always aspire to make the next year better than the last, but this time around, it is about boring steadiness hoping to lead to greater things.
There was also one realisation, which is perhaps crucial. I had this somewhat naive desire to be a global wanderer, the kind which pops up in different places from time to time. But, instead, I am too often treated as an India expert, as if my all other knowledge and experience, other than those gained from birth, is useless. I have somewhat loathed the label of an India expert, which I never wanted to be. The penny-dropping moment, however, tells me that this is what I am - someone who knows India and can not cut the ties - and the easy route to earn a living is to just accept the label. Indeed, I disagree with most of the things that go with this India expertise business, particularly the idea that a few business leaders could lift India out of its poverty and self-imposed immaturity. The idea that India will follow the path of Britain, or other developed nations, and affect a new industrial revolution to join the ranks of developed countries, seems worse than wishful thinking for me. The promotion of India business is informed by imperialist thinking in a different package, under the assumption that the salvation of India would come from the investors from abroad. I have no desire, given what I believe and how I think, to play any part in this game.
But, this is exactly what I wish to do in my quiet year, and become (or pretend) to be an India expert! This is far from the ideal of being true to myself, and one could possibly even call this deceitful. I have, however, come to accept the many compromises of an immigrant life, and this one perhaps is least hurtful. Playing this part - and I take it more as a game than anything else - should allow me enough time to achieve my goal of mastery. And, indeed, I have an unique opportunity right now to work in Indian Education, but remain outside it and engage with some of the new ideas of the field, and develop my skills and ideas.
My long term aim is to achieve mastery in Experiential Learning. This is a combination of my studies and my work, that I have come to realise that changing the mode of learning, and aligning it with day to day life experience, is the most liberating thing in education. Mastering the hard-to-reach texts is a way of keeping learning away from most people, and the idea of learning from everyday life, which everyone has equal access to, is the most democratic thing one could do. If social justice through education is the goal, one can not achieve this through the educational paradigm we have, one built around institutional custody of knowledge, which will always remain unequal. However, the idea that knowledge is anchored in everyday life is the essential liberating idea, and the basis of social justice.
So, the work I am doing now, setting up experiential learning programmes with various employers, prepares the ground for my eventual work, which will be to use experiential learning in its broadest possible context, that of life itself. I am not ready yet, as this has to be a full commitment, requiring me to move back to India and setting up an institution of my own (which will require adequate financial and social capital) - but this one quiet year can set me on its path.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
A week into lockdown and things are beginning to change. Mornings are late, afternoons are lazier and evenings never end; meditations are filling out the time for Yoga routines and Netflix profiles are strewn with half-finished movies. This state-mandated, state-funded period of idleness is being likened to being called up to serve, but is nothing like that: Such a comparison is really an affront to the idea of service. Instead, this is just one long streak of panic; of the centre not holding and life not going on as usual. With the usual patterns and rules in suspended animation and business talk - and business - being rendered meaningless, space is opening up for unusual questions: Is Capitalism about to end? Is this the death of globalisation? Does it get uglier from here? My grandfather's generation would have scoffed at us. They saw through wars and pandemics. But, in fairness, we haven't had a life-ending crisis of our own. Notwithstanding the experiences of th
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
Meritocracy is a convenient lie, as Socrates foretold, and it is the ballast of the social system we have built. The story goes like this. Once upon a time, we had kings and queens and their families and nobles, who got the best meat and the best mate, and everyone lived happily. But then the things fell apart as luxury corrupted the nobles and feebled the spirits of their offsprings - and the peasants and the artisans came claiming their fair share. So we had the age of revolutions in Europe and North America, when we created a new, fairer social system, under a 'natural aristocracy of men', where destiny was no longer shaped by birth but by intelligence and hard work, and anyone could make it in life. And, everyone again lived happily ever after. Of course, this did not really happen. Slavery persisted, at least for a long time. The 'fair' system mostly excluded the real peasants and workers and once they have done their duty dying for various revolutions, they were s
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.