Books, and beyond

Naturalistic principle is; burn the books and throw the child in the lap of nature.

Text Book


This time around parents are busy buying text books for their children, thinking that these books are the only means of education for their children. Through books, they believe, children are prepared for life. This misconception is common in parents, educated or uneducated. Our schools further perpetuate and reinforce this fallacy.
The present world invests a lot in children to see them become better human beings. This concern has made education as necessary as oxygen. Here we will try to bring to light the culture which is perpetuated by our schools where a textbook becomes be all and end all of education. For us, education starts with a textbook and ends with it. We fix children to them. Our curriculum is our textbook and nothing beyond. Class work revolves round it and homework is based on it. Any departure from text invites displeasure. Since we are in a place where schools are run by people for whom it is nothing more than a business, so prescribing more would mean more commission.
Learning, for the child, does not start from the book or the teacher; it starts from him only, his active engagement as a learner. Teacher is a facilitator in common educational parlance (spiritual dimension apart), and a book just an aid to a child. It is true that there are two living souls and poles in an educational process: educator and the educand (child). It is only educator (read teacher) under whose control are the means of education: curriculum, textbooks, instructional technique and discipline. He has to presses into service all these to bring forth what is best in the educand, not to go on depositing what he deems fit, or what the book delineates. Perhaps, if he does so, as in our case, he nips the seed of education in its bud, and if he chooses to excite the learner’s power he is catching education at its source. Ideally speaking, perfection is inherent and intrinsic property of man. It can’t be supplied from without; it has to spring from individual himself. So book may be just an aid. Teacher must use it as and when necessary. Pragmatically speaking, action and experimentation is higher than thought because true thought is practical. Thus, to pragmatists education is action, and we can fall back on book when action becomes impossible. Any book, pragmatism proclaims, that does not become springboard of action and practice is worthless. Naturalistic principle is: burn the books and throw the child in the lap of nature. Give no verbal lessons to your scholar is their dictum and perfection of senses is more urgent than knowledge itself. Attention to knowledge before sense perfection means putting cart before the horse. So, where is the book? Education, according to naturalistic thought, has to be based in child’s nature so much so that even discipline has to come from natural consequences. My goodness! Existentialism on the other hand makes education individualistic. There cannot be one standardized education to all children. Education must be according to the Childs’s choice. His individuality and subjectivity is important. Books are there but they become no base, only a support for subjective consciousness as and when needed. The philosophy of realism celebrates objectivity. Senses, as for naturalists, are gateways of knowledge for them. So make children to observe keenly as much as possible. Empirical attitude is the buzzword for realism. Books are secondary.
No philosophy of education puts book first. It is learner first, learner second and learner all the way. This does not mean there must be no book at all, although in lower primary we could do without. Even idealism which tends to move a bit away from child hinges it more in the teacher’s bosom than the book. So where is the book? Why are our schools obsessed with books? It is understandable why private schools overly prescribe them as they never think beyond profit. Govt. schools also prescribe books which are bulky and often beyond the capacity of children. Perhaps, no serious thought goes in their preparation and choice, and overreliance on books makes even teachers overloaded and at the end poor child has to bear the brunt.
 One more significant thing that makes us exceedingly bookish is our exam system where general understanding gives way to specific book information. Our school education department could do great service if they do away with tests and examinations based on text books. The equation we have manufactured between books and examinations is playing havoc all around. Our children are made to vibrate between these two ends only, and this is the terrible link of our education from pre-primary to university level the results of which have been catastrophic to our whole of education.
The author teaches at Govt. College of Education, Srinagar.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 22 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 22 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 23 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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