Paulo Friere’s article titled ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ is provocative yet truthful in its observations. Contrary to comforting conventional views on mainstream education systems, Friere presents a new perspective on the subject. He views the teacher-pupil equations in these systems as rather oppressive, as it reinforces misconceptions about knowledge and expertise. More controversially, Friere demystifies the notion of the ‘omniscient’ teacher and his/her authority over the ‘ignorant’ pupil. In this ‘banking concept of education’ students are seen as “adaptable, manageable beings. The more students work at storing the deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness which would result from their intervention in the world as transformers of that world.” (Friere, 1997, p.54) Under this system not only is there a supposed knowledge asymmetry between the teacher and the pupil, but the former also holds professional authority . . . Read More
Parenting styles have always varied from one culture to another. And despite a degree of homogenization due to large-scale migrations in the 20th century, cultural roots of families continue to bear upon how children are raised. In the United States, for example, parents from minority ethnicities tend to hold their children to a different standard of discipline than their Caucasian counterparts. As researcher Lisa Fontes notes in her article that just as areas of emphasis vary between cultures so do modes and methods of punishment. There are differences in the way children are punished by African American/Southern parents compared to their Caucasian/New England counterparts. Such variations are seen in other minority groups like Hispanic Americans, Korean Americans, etc.
Chinese and Indian American parents’ methods and attitudes toward child discipline have particularly attracted comment and criticism. For example, in these communities, emphasis on . . . Read More
Both Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg have made vital contributions to the study of human psychology, especially pertaining to the development of children. One aspect of the child psychology elaborated by both theorists is their moral development. While Piaget is the modern pioneer in the subject, his predecessor Kohlberg extended and modified the former’s theories to accommodate new evidences.
Piaget’s views on moral development of children are not given under a tightly-knit theory, but are put together in his seminal work The Moral Judgment of the Child, published in 1932. According to Piaget, the moral makeup of a child is a product of his/her own conception and understanding of the world. This view is contrary to the conventional view that children are taught what is right and wrong by parents and teachers. While moral preaching inevitably goes on, children made moral judgments based on their own observations of their environment. Further, morality is a . . . Read More
Formal education is something most children in our country have the privilege of attending. To its credit, the education system in the United States has extended literacy and math skills to several generations of students. As a result, the country overall has become more educated. The percentage of young adults passing high-school has increased steadily; and so has the number of graduates, post-graduates and doctoral students. Yet, when we look at what kind of products children turn out to be at the end of this process, the results are not satisfactory. When we look at how far formal education serves to ‘enlighten’ young minds, the answer is disappointing. When we look at young adults’ ability to make informed choices about what they consume or their ability to act as responsible citizens of a democratic country, etc., we find plenty of inadequacies. These aspects of the education system make me uneasy. As opposed to imparting necessary cognitive tools for young people . . . Read More
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, written by Mark Twain toward late nineteenth century is a vital contribution to the American literary scene. Criticized from various quarters for its overtly racist tone, the book, if anything, stands against racism and slavery. The rest of the essay will argue that there is no need for censoring or modifying the contents of the book to suit modern sensibilities.
One of the target areas for modern critics of the book is its explicit and copious use of the word ‘nigger’, which is a slur reference to black slaves. There are two reasons why censorship of the book should not be allowed. First, it goes against the spirit and letter of the Freedom of Speech provisions in the constitution of the country. Second, there is nothing inherently sinister about the word ‘nigger’. In other words, the author, instead of reinforcing the negative stereotype of black people, is only showing the abusive usage of language by . . . Read More
A dominant prevailing theory about the origin of the Universe is the Big Bang model, which was accepted by the scientific community after gathering enough observational evidence and later verifying its predictions. One of the foremost paradoxes thrown open by the Big Bang theory is its idea of the original explosion of all universal matter from a single point. In other words, the theory purports that everything that comprises the universe literally came out of ‘nothing’. Such a premise goes against the basis of scientific understanding and gives credence to Judeo-Christian notion of the beginning of the Universe, whereby the birth point of the Universe is seen as an act of God. For example, “One of the fundamental rules of science is the impossibility of getting something from nothing. This rule appears to place the very moment of creation of the universe outside the realm of the scientific debate and force scientists to treat the existence of the universe as a given.” . . . Read More
Lack of motivation among teenagers is an area of concern for parents and school administrators alike. Low motivation can manifest in the form of disinterest toward studies, unwillingness to participate in extracurricular activities and disinclination toward sports, etc. Low motivation was also closely linked to a plethora of other teenage problems, including “detrimental family background,” “lack of preparation for learning,” “disrespect for teachers,” “participating in school violence,” “truancy”, “deviant behavior”. (Vanderjagt, 2001, p.39) It this context, it is likely that inspiring and motivating teenagers can bring positive transformation in other areas of their lives, creating the groundwork for a healthy adult life. Sociologists have come up with several theories for explaining low motivation among high school students. There are also more practical reasons based on the political, economic and . . . Read More
Richard Dawkins has contributed enormously to the general readership’s understanding of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Starting from his seminal first book The Selfish Gene Theory, his writings have come to represent robust scientific logic and high literary quality. His latest contribution toward this end comes in the form of a chapter written for the book Seeing Further, which is edited and compiled by Bill Bryson. In the chapter, Dawkins tries to place the theory of evolution among other great scientific discoveries of recent centuries. He suggests that the theory is the most revolutionary, in that, it overwhelmed our previous understanding of the processes of life, death and rejuvenation. Dawkins reopens the long-running debate between random change and intelligent design and offers the third possibility, namely evolution through a “smoothly cumulative gradient of improvement”.
Dawkins then discusses with his trademark lucidity and . . . Read More
David Irving is one of the most controversial modern historians. Born in Britain in 1938, Irving has written many books about the Second World War and its leaders. For example, he has written detailed accounts of Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Goebbels, etc. In his books, he focussed on the military aspects of the war. But he created many controversies by associating himself with extreme Right-wing ideology. Even in his accounts of Second World War, there is a bias toward Hitler, his antisemitism and military aggression. Since Britain suffered both in terms of human and economic costs during the war, he hurt the feelings of his own people by showing sympathy to Hitler.
Since he began to writer about the Second World War during the 1970s and 1980s, he is considered as a revisionist historian. This is because plenty of books have already been published by the time he took up these projects. Other scholars have taken objection to his work for its inaccuracy and . . . Read More
British society is one of the most stratified in terms of social class. In contrast to the United States, where politicians at least pay lip-serve to the notion of a class-less society, class divisions are woven into the fabric of the nation’s social, political and economic institutions. Barring occasional rhetoric from Labour benches, Realpolitik considerations often stifle any attempts toward diminishing class privilege. This is as true with respect to our education system as it is in other opportunities for social mobility. A survey of government education policies of the last century indicates two persistent tendencies in the system. Firstly, the divisions between the ruling and working classes are maintained through entry restrictions to quality higher education. Secondly, the content of the syllabus and curricula relegates class discourse to the margins of academic thought. (Ball, 2003, p.147) For example,
“Although education has often . . . Read More