This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

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Education for social transformation: Recognising the ‘agency’ of the teacher

Poonam Batra — University of Delhi, Delhi.

The last decade and a half have witnessed several efforts towards school reform in India. One common feature amongst these efforts, however, is the failure to forge the crucial link between teacher training, curriculum and textbook renewal and access to schooling, resulting in little or no impact on children’s learning. This disconnect has often been perceived as a failure of implementation strategy. This paper begins with the premise that this is not so. The continued failure of educational reform to enhance children’s learning can be attributed to reasons more fundamental to the process of education and learning. The foremost reason is epistemological – our view of knowledge – the nature of knowledge and how we justify our claims to know. The second, philosophical and socio-political – the aim of education, the nature and goals of society and their linkage to the nature of children and learning. The paper is divided into two parts. The first part attempts to establish a case for recognising the ‘agency’ of the teacher in the process of education and learning. The second part examines some of the key elements and pedagogical features of an integrated teacher education programme that is likely to enable deep reform while engaging with some of the more fundamental questions related to knowledge and the aim of education. Using the case example of the Bachelor of Elementary Education Programme, it is argued how teacher education can by design provide ‘learning spaces’ which challenge popular assumptions and belief systems while paving the way for expression of multitude modes of awareness and varied ways of constructing meaning.

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