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A Thought on Thinking and Beliefs

The goal of many so called progressive education is to create individuals who can think critically. This to me is a reaction to the traditional form of education which relies on conformity. This conformance or obedience  has created so many wars and is still creating. One has to be utterly blind and selfish to ignore it. The Christians, the Hindus, the Muslims, the nationalities, the collective barbarism are all the necessary consequences of this. All the so called religions and ideologies have without exception created conflict, strife , misery and confusion. In this confusion a direct  consequence has been the spurt of so many saviours. They promise us that there is a way out.  But the way and the goal is somewhere in the future and requires a great amount of effort and energy. But the energy they want is not neutral, they want it to be directed to some pre defined goal. This goal appears to be the only plausible solution. These goals themselves are contradictory and hence illusory. 

After a long and arduous path even if the believers realise the futility of it all; they still cling to it because the failure of the system seems to appear to be the failure of our own personal egos. We invest a lot in the system and then it appears that failure of the system may be a result of some error in its implementation. Some even suggest further remedial measures. This situation seems to be omnipresent and appears in every aspect of human life; relationships, politics, economic system, the religions, etc.  

This sometimes produce a totally opposite reaction to it.  That of throwing the whole system rather than mending it and adjusting it. This has happened again and again and in different places. The communist ideology in contrast to the capitalist, atheism as a reaction to theism, democracy in reaction to dictatorship. But what is mostly forgotten is that the reaction to something is still driven by the old system. It is in opposition to it but not different. 

In the recent times, though not recent in terms of years, but recent in terms of the whole process of evolution, science has come to occupy a very prominent role and strength. The discoveries and inventions of times though happened at a more individual level, the widespread cultural shift towards its acceptance was a reaction to the orthodoxy in Christianity and its factions. It became evident that the church has severed any chance of  growth of human intelligence and hence a new system which is in opposition to it came about. This was reliance on the positivist ideology and the pursuit of knowledge which can be testified against some  measurable parameters with no esoteric knowledge. This however has now resulted in a very grave situation. The environmental degradation, the constant and ever increasing psychological disorders, not only in humans but also in other plant and animal kingdoms are strongly evident. 

In the educational  discourse one such idea has been to develop critical thinking abilities. This may have been a spillover of the positivist notions and a reaction to the traditional approaches . This believes in developing a kind of framework for the learner where he/she develops skills to question everything and test it with evidence. This ideology believes in not accepting anything on its face and trying to pursue it objectively. It sounds good so far as it does not rely on the authority and pre defined concepts. 

However a closer analysis or observation rather, would show the actual implementation of it and the kind of orthodoxy it has created. This orthodoxy is a little subtle and does not apparently become visible but exists with all its contradictions and confusion. 

The first problem with such a system is the assumption that exposure to more facts and theories would make a person objective enough to look at something from various perspectives. So it still depends on these external theories and systems to develop the ability. The theories generally derive their strength from the platform they are spoken of or comes from. E.g. When Gandhi says something, it immediately becomes important to be looked at. The same exists with any popular figure, religious, spiritual, political or scientific. The beliefs derive their strength from the following( authority) it has or the amount of controversies it creates. 

Second problem with this, is the belief that the analyser or the learner with all his/ her  idiosyncrasies will act upon them neutrally (whatever the word may mean) and see things objectively. The belief rests upon the idea that the analyser has the capacity already to act upon things. But isn’t the very analyser the problem in it. First the theories are loaded already and then there is this analyser or critical thinker who is the source of all this confusion and conflicts. So do we really think that such a belief can actually take us very far. I don’t know, but what i feel is the need to question it, and very objectively try to see the analyser. 

But now the problem is who is going to do that. The analyser himself is so conditioned and the root cause of everything, so this is again futile. But wait, isn’t there some light in this realisation or seeing of the fact that there is nobody to analyse. The analyser and the analysed are the same entity or as Krishnamurti puts it, the observer is observed. The very seeing of this fact, not intellectually as a theory or emotionally as a reaction but passionately and sincerely as a fact is the freedom. 

Freedom from not somebody or something because there is nobody to be free from, but just freedom for its own sake. This freedom is not a reaction as there is nobody to react to, but a deep and alive sense of being. Without motive, without any system, without any content.

So is there any critical thinker then,  when all the thinking is of the past and hence old and conditioned. The very realisation that thinking comes from the thinker or the thinker comes from the thinking is the way. This realisation drives the fever away from our actions and there appears no doer. When there is no doer then there is no misery. Because the doer is the source of all this. This also effaces at effort. Because the effort is always from something to something. But if there is no thinker and no goal, then there is no effort. Then whatever that remains is what it is. This is eternal and true.

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Globalization and Education

[nextpage title = “Introduction”]

This piece of writing is not concerned with just the theoretical understanding on globalization as I believe that there have been far more impressive and knowledgeable things already written on that.  But the whole problem with those writings has been that they have still tried to look at the process of globalization from the external systems and institutions. They have mostly sought an explanation of the legal structures, the institutional make up, the ideological conflict and the like. The whole understanding is Marxist in nature as it believes that the systems are too powerful and the individual is incapable or way too small to affect anything.  However what I feel is that such an explanation and understanding actually makes these systems all the more powerful and takes away the responsibility from us who then are meek observers of the processes happening.

Before we get into its connections with the education it would be important to see as to what has been the background of the development of the process of globalization and what this term could imply. Thereafter we will go into its implications for the psychological, social, and economic and often ignored spiritual effects. It is from these dimensions that a connection with the education will be built. We will try to understand the process of education in light of the melting pot and the dissolving of the boundaries which is in economic parlance is called globalization.

Globalization can be said to be a process primarily of the economic integration of the world economies.  But this in practice and understanding is also an integration of the cultures, attitudes, beliefs ethics and moral codes and conduct. The advent of modern communication networks, the transportation and specially the internet has made the world appear smaller. It has become very easy to send or receive messages, travel to countries (not considering the legal aspects of immigration here) , transfer money or in the more economic terms the capital seamlessly to different countries. With the coming of computers and imbedded communication technology an investor can invest in any country sitting in his home and be associated with that country’s economy.

This inter relation has had both benefits in the form of expanded goods, variety and availability of funds, while on the other hand it has made these economies, specially  the emerging markets or the third world countries vulnerable to rapid changes and instability. This is the most common aspect of the effect which is often quoted in both its favor and opposition. Coming now to the other spill overs , are the Americanization of the local cultures, politics and morality, the American way of thinking etc. the American way of thinking is thought to be more materialist which is only concerned with the temporary consumerist attitudes and equates happiness in terms of the extra consumption that capitalism promises. So this can be seen in economist from the Harvard and Princeton rushing to teach the other economies the common denominator of happiness being more consumption and any disapproval on this is thought of treason to the general public. The interrelation of the economies is no doubt inevitable and impractical, but the domination of western economies and their hegemony over these developing economies policies is political and propaganda.

In contrast to this way of life or economic organization more precisely is the socialist or Marxist thought, that believes in a more equitable distribution of resources through central planning mechanisms to ensure justice. And some countries being the fence sitters who are apprehensive or rather confused in this whole muddle of ideologies.

What goes missing in such fragmented doctrines is the realization that the systems are a creation of us humans and any system which creates a fragmented notion of the purpose of human life will be corrupt. It is from here that my paper takes off, that is, how is it that such a notion is very implicitly and meekly accepted as a norm and human mind is so conditioned to conform to any system. Even the other sides of the table who say that they are not conforming to any system are conforming to the other ideologies which are also fragmented and a fragmented understanding cannot bring about any sustained and positive changes.

Another important thing that must be understood is that any ideology howsoever good it is inevitably brings conflict and the conflict dissipates energy and ultimately there are no winners. Why such an understanding is necessary is because to see globalization as it is without any pre conceived notion or bias is important as we are all part of the same world and every action affects all of us and we can’t remain in vacuum and function.

There are following themes around which my paper will focus

  1. Globalization and self
  2. Globalization and local policies
  3. Education and econometric analysis
  4. Consumer culture, materialism and education
  5. Education and environment

[nextpage title = “Globalization and self”]

Any understanding of education will remain incomplete without its implications or aims regarding the individual. An education must be judged under any regime by the effect it creates in the general psyche of the person and the kind of attitude it develops. In the more profound sense of the word, the individual is derived from the word, indivisible. That implies non fragmented and whole. So according to the deeper meaning of the word, an individual is that being which does not have conflict within himself, his mind and body and the not so tangible the soul and does not view himself as fragmented. This may imply seeing himself very different in different situations. His whole action and activity is holistic in the sense that his professional life, the family life, the relations and all other related things are not in conflict with each other.

But now what we are seeing is that there is huge disconnect between man’s actions everywhere. He is at times a social worker where his interests are so called to serve the people, and at other times he is a professional where he has to act indifferent and take decisions. In the business the ethics are that you have to make as much profit as you can, and at the end not worry about the consequences.

[nextpage title = “Globalization and local policies “]

Coming Soon!

 

Mathematics and Nature

NATURE! Who doesn’t love and admire the beauty of nature all around us? I even ignored the word mathematics when I see the word nature… just joking!

There is a reason why we usually feel more connected to nature than mathematics; it’s because nature is something which we can feel and see but mathematics is an abstract subject. When we even talk about numbers they are abstract, we cannot see two (2) but we can only understand it with reference to some objects or things in nature. For example, two bottles, two trees, two pens, etc. Mathematics is abstract in nature but that doesn’t make it boring, uninteresting, unenjoyable, or even difficult, it’s the way it is taught in schools that makes it so. There are many interventions which can make mathematics interesting, enjoyable and at the same time easy to understand. One of them is connecting mathematics with nature or we can say, showing the beauty of mathematics in nature.

Mathematics is visible in nature like in sunflower, pine-cones, honeycombs, trees, fishes, faces in form of different shapes or numbers, etc. If such aspects are highlighted and students could figure out such beauty, then it would not be that difficult for students to relate to mathematics and understand it better.

To be precise let’s take an example of  π(pi). While teaching circumference and area of circle, π is introduced to students as a constant having a value of 3.14 or 22/7. But why the value of π is 3.14 or 22/7 is rarely told to them. To help students understand this, students could be given freedom to explore. Like, they could be given something circular and asked to wrap a rope around the object to measure its circumference, then measure diameter of that object and divide circumference with diameter. After that, observations could be shared and students could analyze and construct their knowledge while connecting with nature.

And then they would get sense of what Galileo Galilei said,

“Nature is written in mathematical language.”