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The past few years have witnessed an alarming rise in prejudice and aggression in India. A nation like ours, pluralistic in nature and secular by Constitution, could have prevented this by educating young minds to appreciate diversity, peace and tolerance as basic elements of democracy.
In this crisply argued book, Krishna Kumar shows why education fails to create a reflective ethos and a sense of common cause. He examines the structure and content of education to locate conflicting positions in key areas of knowledge. Recent reforms in curriculum design mark a positive beginning, but they remain isolated and fragile. The tendency to overwhelm students with unnecessary minutiae of detail persists in most States. Science is taught like religion and social sciences, such as history, deny students the opportunity to learn about differences and conflict. Classroom routines teach children to live in fear and to mind their own business.
Krishna Kumar places the problems of education in the broader perspective of political and economic change. His own pedagogy of peace is constructed around the idea that acknowledging conflict is the first step towards developing awareness and other intellectual skills needed to live together peacefully.
This is a very timely book—not only for education policy-makers and curriculum designers grappling with the task of determining what should be taught in schools, but also for teachers, parents, and every individual concerned about how our vast and complex system of education could be adjusted to meet the needs of the country.
Krishna Kumar is Professor at the Central Institute of Education, Delhi University, and a former Director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
1. Children and Conflict
2. Children and History
3. Between Science and the Scientific Temper
4. Two Worlds
5. When the Teacher Hits the Learner
6. A Course in Peace Education