Monthly Archives: June 2011

Darkness in Mind

 

A stock of adjectives used with education illustrates the variety of interests in what is perceived to be pillar-stone of any society. From the days of studying professions or pursuing vocations, adjectives have been added to this natural activity of a community. Study had been restricted to the domain of religion; renaissance brought it to secular domain. In a feudal structure, only the curious pursued it and found it strangely illuminating their minds and liberating their consciousness from immediate concerns of here and now. The enchanted mind could transcend the bounds of history and geography and soak his thirsty soul in perpetual fount of knowledge. It was with his blessed state as a model that education found its truest epithet. Liberal education existed till almost the final decades of last century, but paradoxically the political change it formulated and realized – burgeoning of democracy – could not support this ‘feudal’ ideal and it gave way to several of its avatar-s, each of which tried to replace it fully and failed. Well, failed to hold their own, but together they almost succeeded in flushing it out.

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Of mice, men and numbers

 

There will always be a part, and always a very large part of every community, that have no care but for themselves, and whose care for themselves reaches little further than impatience of immediate pain, and eagerness for the nearest good. Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) Taxation No Tyranny

This seems to be the guiding philosophy behind all agencies, technologically empowered to gather information for their own ends. Governments have been, for very valid reasons, collecting in-depth information about the citizens, their location, education, well-being  and so on. It is now groups with less benign motives who gather information for their own ends. Not public information which is available from different sources, but invasive, personal information about routine activities that create a profile as X-Ray or MRI examination do of body.

Data – in itself an abstraction (meta-data?) – has come to represent materiality. Its value has outgrown that of idea. Lust for bits of insignificant reality has led to disregard and disdain for the individual. It was the idea that created a set of conditions known as democracy. Following the eternal ethos, Mahatma Gandhi stressed on purity of means to attain the desired (pure) end. Time and again his followers were frustrated by his insistence on absolute respect for this principle. It is evident in most everyday situations, the harm caused by neglect of this. The greatest harm, one that creeps in silently, is that impurity of action corrodes the mind. TheSpeaker

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Speak, but let others too

Prof.B.K.Passi

Educators never rest. Through their looking glass they focus on this and that. At times, it pays to have narrow focus, for learning gets intense and in-depth. Generally, an inclusive point of view appears liberal, but it tends to fitter away energy. The holistic model might truly get whole, if it allows a two-way communication. From Veda-s to Greek philosophers, a dialogue between the curious and the wise has unfolded the mysteries of universe and existence. Many have tried to emulate it in parts. David Bohm, Donald Factor and Peter Garrett among others are proponents for application of Dialogue. Proposed below is one more look at this approach.

Dialogue Based Wholistic Model

This model called Dialogue Based Pedagogy of teacher education is powerful and relevant for correcting a fragmented society. Dialogue creates a wholistic pedagogy that works against the approach of reductionism.

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Agritainers: Culture catching up

 

The website, Texas Crossroads Gathering attempts to connect consumers with farmers. ‘Bottom of pyramid’, ‘grass-roots’, ‘foundation of society’, ‘food-providers’ – there are numerous titles given to farmers across societies globally. The very vocation that founded the basis of human society and evolution of civilization stands almost as remote as its historical point of beginning. It is sad fact that estrangement of farmers from non-farming members of society has been on constant increase. In third world countries, economic gain governed formulation of policies which changed the natural crop cycles, made nature-dependent agriculture lose geo-sensitive crop preferences, bringing end to farmer’s autonomy where he exists as a loser –  as entrepreneur and worker.

In many societies lack of infra-structure leads to absence of dialogue between farmer and the rest. At best, they might have access to information channels, which coax them into adopting current practices. This has led to suicides by famers in countries like India. An estimated 200,000 farmers have taken their own lives in India over the past 13 years, according to Indian government statistics. Prime factors were ceding of  seed supply control to the corporate chemical industry, which enhanced production costs and falling food prices in a global agricultural economy.

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Losing to Curation?

 

Banish? You couldn’t. Utilitarians, rationalists, fanatics and most kinds of men have railed against poetry for some reason or other. Followers have paled by its frailty; some mourned its demise. Like Hydra or Phoenix, it raises its head again and again.

Many fortunate ones are gloriously unaware of its existence; still more can conscientiously wave it off as immaterial to ‘life’. For those, who require a bit more than trivia to move them, attention is requested to following samplers:

Blast/Bless poems submitted to Tate Britain & Creative Review initiative, an ongoing exhibition.

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Game of Life

Magister Ludi, considered to be most significant work of Herman Hesse, was given another title,  Das Glasperlenspiel or The Glassbead Game. In a futuristic setting the author speaks of  a game of life (the rules are alluded to but never stated), which the students have to master. It is the story of Joseph Knecht who starts as a schoolboy and rises to become Magister Ludi of the great place considered to be Ivory Tower. The Latin stem, Lud means both play and school. The apparently modern notion of learning by fun is a rediscovery of essence of learning.

This brief post is to highlight how Gaming Pundits are discovering important truths about inter-relationship between game, motivation, learning, fulfillment and hard-core reality. The following Slideshare presentation by Sebastian Deterding, aimed at designers for better comprehending the concept of ‘gamification’ , serves equally well in understanding the prime objectives in education.

A Presentation by Sebastian Deterding

Don't Play Games With Me: Promises and Pitfalls of Gameful Design

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Where knowledge is free

 

With a gesture of great hope, India has announced NATGRID.  This is a logical consequence to unique ID (UID) started a year back. The census exercise was designed as a preparatory step to this end and with people formally registering for (UID), a sharper data-set would be available to planners. An incentive had been originally envisaged and now various state governments are offering Rs. 100 to different segments, so that each individual has a bank account. The government will directly transfer a sum equivalent to US dollar 2.23 into the bank accounts of beneficiaries of social security schemes, pensioners, physically disabled and widows, and those of rural employment guarantee scheme who are below poverty line after they produce relevant documents as proof at the time of enrolment. Apart from understandable requirement for ration card (the sole universally obtained card across all sections in the country), other documents needed for UID like IP pump set details, Passbook number in milk cooperative society, Customer card number for LPG connection etcetera imply that data being collected would be used for other purposes as well.

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