Embracing the Culture of Education 

This paper was presented on the platform of Metamorphosis on September 14, 2023.

The topic is vast and I have condensed it to cover a few points relevant from the presentation point of view.

Ancient India – A quick look

India was a land of rich heritage and culture. The Greeks, the Huns entered the country through the northwestern passes while waves of pro- Mongoloids poured in through the northeastern gates. The Dutch, Portuguese and the Brits entered via the sea. All these diverse elements got assimilated into the Indian society making way for cultural integration.

They came to an India which had universities like the Nalanda, Ships that could travel to countries like Mesapotamia, rich in art & architecture, leading in textiles and so on.

They had made giant strides in science, estimate the time by watching the shadow, predict the eclipses. Make stories to get the people to remember the movement of celestial bodies and other scientific phenomenon.

In ancient India Women like Gargi were able to have a debate with the renowned scholars like Yajnavalkya.

Sushruta, Charaka were great physicans. Sushruta Samhita is the foundation text for Ayurveda. He is also considered the father of plastic surgery.

India presented to the world the concept of Zero. The land of spices attracted the Europeans like the bees to the honey patch.

Education was intricately woven into the Indian fabric.

Yet, today we have only 9 Nobel laureates from the time of its inception [1901] from India. Whereas from a small country like Israel have produced 13 Nobel laureates since 1966.

The impetus given to learning seems to have lost its focus somewhere.

Let us take a quick look at what is culture.

Culture is a system of values that is preferred ways by the members of a given community eg. Food, greeting, dressing.

I shall not delve into the elements of culture but look at  A few Tidbits.

The mulligatawny soup is a staple menu at the British pubs.

During the British Raj, between 1858 and 1947, when the sun never set on the British Empire, the fussy British colonists and soldiers refused to alter their way of dining. The first course had to be soup. In Chennai, a soup was served. The Indian cooks first concocted it to please the taste palate of the East Indian company officials. The chefs originally made the soup with pepper and water, which the British fell in love with and asked the chef to add meat chunks.  ‘Milagu tannir ‘ became mulligatawny soup. It is made from lentils, chicken, apples and pepper. They loved it and Milagu Tannir became mulligatawny soup.

The colonists brought mulligatawny back to Britain, where it’s a staple on pub menus, though the recipe varies widely.

Murgasana which is supposed to stimulate memory and enhance brain power later became synonymous with punishment

Influence of Culture on Curriculum

The NCF has included the Indian ethos into the curriculum. This is expected to rekindle an interest in our own cultural heritage.

Ancient India relied on 6 evidences through which they gained knowledge.

  1. Pratyaksha – direct perception, sensorial experiences which can be similar to the – Concrete experience
  2. Anumana – Inferences drawn out of observation
  3. Upamana – knowing through analogy and comparison
  4. Arthapatti – knowing through circumstantial implication
  5. Anupalabdi – Perception of non-existence is also considered a valid form of knowledge. – The Dogs did not bark at night
  6. Shabda – the testimony of an expert is sometimes considered as true Knowledge – voice of the guru. The teacher or the Guru is the facilitator of the knowledge.

This can be easily compared to Kolb’s cycle of experientialism. I have uploaded the comparison on my youtube channel Hungry for Learning.

Influence of Culture on Text-Books

Besides the core elements the teachers are supposed to have stories, incidents belonging to the local area are to be included.

Aims at a 5-fold  Development approach

Panchakosha is an ancient explanation of the importance of the body-mind complex in human experience and understanding.

The Panchakosha concept in the Taittiriya Upanishad is one of the earliest articulations of the different domains of development of the human being. These descriptions remain relevant along with the more modern understanding that has emerged through Developmental Biology, Psychology and Cognitive Neurosciences.

The child is a whole being with panchakoshas or five sheaths. A holistic approach that fosters moral development, cultural understanding, and social awareness among children through –

  1. Physical layer (Annamaya kosha) – Physical development
  2. Life force energy layer (Pranamaya kosha) – In Sanskrit, the word “prana” refers to life force and is the word for breath. Awareness of this kosha allows you to move stagnant energy, so you can experience greater vitality and an energetic connection to yourself, others, and nature.
  3. Mind Layer (Manomaya kosha) – emotional and spiritual development
  4. Intellectual Layer (Vijnanamaya kosha) – development of intellect
  5. Inner Self Layer (Anandamaya kosha) – experience of transcendence, bliss inner consciousness.

Specific types of practices are designed to enable the development of each of these koshas. However, the practices are designed keeping in mind that the koshas are interconnected and so activities that focus primarily on one would also contribute to the development of the others.

To conclude let’s try to realise the vision of NEP. Let’s begin with the achievable aim. ““The aim of education will not only be cognitive development, but also building character and creating holistic and well-rounded individuals equipped with the key 21st century skills.”

Published by Dr. Pramila Kudva

I am a teacher educator currently worrking as a Principal of a reputed school in North Mumbai, have more than 30 years of experience, with several publications to my credit and have authored a book -"From chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching.

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