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SOAS South Asia Institute

An Indian Education for Indian Children: the family-school relationship and Indian modernity

An Indian Education for Indian Children
Nita Kumar (California)

Date: 28 May 2014Time: 1:00 PM

Finishes: 28 May 2014Time: 3:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College BuildingsRoom: 4426

Type of Event: Seminar

Series: SSAI Seminar Programme


What would it mean for us to have an "Indian education" for Indian children and why don't we have it?
A historian, anthropologist, and educator, Professor Nita Kumar describes in her talk the main problem with Indian education to be the wide gap between the home and the school.  A discussion of "Indian children" takes us back to the colonial relationship between the school and the community, when the clear task of schooling was to reform the habits and ethics of the family, and equally to a blinkered understanding of modernity in the present, where certain definitions of knowledge make the family by definition backward and the school modern. Kumar discusses the layers within the discourse of the child in India. She looks at the structure of schooling in its range of schools, all of which have to different degrees lost the resources of the family--the arts of socialization, of learning and teaching, of narratives and symbols. Kumar proposes that, while the path to a resolution of Indian educational problems lies through efficient management, this efficiency can only come from correcting the historical-social anomaly of a family-school antagonism. Kumar discusses how children's lives are barren of the arts and discusses how it is these "Indian" arts that can be used for resolving our educational problems and create an imaginative "Indian " education for Indian children.

Speaker's biography

Nita Kumar is Professor and Chair of South Asian History at Claremont McKenna College, California, USA; and author of The Artisans of Banaras (Princeton, 1988); Friends, Brothers and Informants (Berkeley, 1992); Women as Subjects (Virginia, 1994); Lessons from Schools (Sage, 2000); Mai—a translation (Kali for Women, 2001); The Politics of Gender, Community and Modernity: Essays on Education (Oxford, 2007) and An Indian Education for Indian Children: Managing a School in India (forthcoming).  She has been the Honorary Director from 2003 of NIRMAN, Varanasi, an NGO that works on education and the arts, in which capacity she trains teachers, makes curricula, teaches, and writes on education.

Organiser: SOAS South Asia Institute

Contact email: ssai@soas.ac.uk

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4390