One of the projects I started, and then abandoned, is the creation of an e-School, an enterprise school. This was a concept defined in opposition to the B-School, a place where one is trained to solve problems and learn how to communicate: The e-School, as conceptualised, was about finding problems, connecting with people, discovering opportunities, creating and leading. This is not about being entrepreneurs, though: Enterprise is for everyone, though entrepreneurship may need particular financial, social and opportunity setting. Besides, entrepreneurship, as it is defined today, is quite a narrow concept related only to a way of making money. In my conception, the e-School was about seizing the initiative in one's own life, and defining the agenda, rather than leading one dependent on other people's agenda.
I started and abandoned this project at some point in 2011. This was the direction I wanted to drive the college I was then involved in to go. However, the strategy was perhaps too ambitious for one where the ground realities were somewhat different. The contraction of business due to immigration policy changes did not help, and the long engagement with private equity that I had to spend time on distracted me enough from the academic agenda. I carried on with the same conversation, after the merger of the college with another entity, this time in the form of a small start-up, wishing to build, using learning technology, a network inside other colleges in different countries. The idea was to de-link the idea of enterprise school from the question of immigration that must invariably arise in a country like Britain.
However, trying to establish a somewhat new academic model through partnership is the difficult way of doing it. The idea, when cascaded through different levels, eventually become a different beast, and soon I was hawking foreign courses and online learning, none of which I wanted to do. The thing I learnt through the experience is that the whole concept needed to be physically done, not as an online university which is usually equated with credentialling more than anything else, but in the form of a real community which demonstrates the concept and produces observable graduate attributes. The learning technologies can augment this idea, help reduce costs and extend the reach, but what it can't do is immediately change the minds - because it has other conceptual hurdles to clear first!
The second thing I learnt is such a school perhaps need to be closer to where the students are. Asia, with its millions of students and dynamic economies, seem like a better place to put a creative bet than matured economies like England. Besides, a country with a large scale public sector, as in Western Europe, will always pose some challenges to creation of a new institution, particularly when the number of students going to college is set to decline. With its politics becoming increasingly driven by fears of outsiders, the immigration policies in the UK are unlikely to change in the coming years. Given these factors, my inability to move base in the short run meant that I put the idea of the e-School on ice, at least temporarily.
However, over the last few months, as I re-calibrated my activities and priorities, the agenda is now back on the table. This is a medium term thing rather than immediate - indeed I am preoccupied with a number of projects at least till next Spring - but I feel ready to start thinking about it again. The idea is to set up a college around the creative disciplines and entrepreneurial businesses, perhaps bringing the two closely together. This is, however, not just about celebrating the millionaire entrepreneurs, which most such programmes become. Rather, this is about creating 'normal' programmes of learning, the usual college courses on certain subjects, where the principle of enterprise, diversity and globality, are weaved into it. I envisage a philosophical, rather than rhetorical, approach to enterprise here, a deep desire to change the world informed by critical appreciation, rather than rhetorical flourish, learning merely to talk the talk. And, indeed, the whole project for me is to be built around a community, a community unified by values and aspirations, and, as it must be, by hope.
This is indeed long term and I have just started weaving together the coalition of interests that could bring it together. For me, personally, it was about regaining my sense of purpose after facing the despair of dead ends. The worst thing for an educator is to lose hope, and the surest way to lose it is to spend time in classrooms where education does not really matter: I am happy that I eventually managed to escape it. It is this, rather than the limitations of a start-up, that caused a drift in my life: Working with people who really believes in what they do is helping me build my hopes and return to my dreams yet again. There are many lessons to learn, but the most important one is about the corrosive effect bureaucracies have on values and purpose of education. Here, again, my ambivalence about enterprise and entrepreneurship will show: While I am unsure about the ability of For-profits to deliver good education, I believe the government bureaucrats do worse. In many ways, my search is for a third form, where purpose and profits can somewhat coexist, though such a search is somewhat doomed when one starts looking for scale.
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
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
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.
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Reli
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,
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
India's employment data is sobering ( see here ). The pandemic has wrecked havoc and the structural problems of the economy - service sector dependence, uneven regional development and health and education challenges - are more evident than ever. Something needs to happen, and fast. To its credit, the government acknowledges the education challenge. Belatedly - it took more than 30 years - India has come up with a new National Education Policy. It is a comprehensive policy, which covers the whole spectrum of education and perhaps overcompensates the previous neglect by advocating radical change. As I commented elsewhere on this blog, it shows a curious mixture of aspirations, cultural revival and global competitiveness put under the same hood. However, despite its radical aspirations, the policy document often betrays same-old thinking. One of these is India's approach to foreign universities. The NEP makes the case for allowing foreign universities to set up operations in Ind
The story of British influence on Indian Education, to which Macaulay's Minutes of 1835 belong, has been told in six distinct phases. Syed Nurullah and J P Naik's very popular and influential History of Indian Education calls these 'six acts' of the drama: From the beginning of Eighteenth Century to 1813 The British East India Company received its charter in 1600 but its activities did not include any Educational engagement till the Charter Act of 1698, which required the Company to maintain priests and schools, for its own staff and their children. And, so it was until the renewal of its charter in 1813, when the evangelical influence led to insistence of expansion of educational activities and allowing priests back into company territory. From 1813 to Wood's Education Despatch of 1854 The renewal of Charter in 1813 re-opened the debate, which seemed to have been settled in the early years of the company administration, between the Orientalis
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.