Monday January 20, 2020
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Decolonizing India: Colonialism a teacher away?

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Teacher Helping Kids --- Image by © Michael Prince/Corbis

By Sumana Nandi

Couple of weeks back, I received a message on Facebook from Miss Mary Francis- my class teacher in Standard III and IV. The message read:

“Sumana, I’m very sorry for hurting you. Please forgive me if I’ve been very bad to you. May be in trying to be very sincere I was a bit harsh. Sorry a hundred times.”

For a minute, I went numb. Gradually, I pieced the emotions apart. On one hand, I was filled with empathetic remorse of how Miss Mary Francis may have felt while writing this message, and on the other, the ghosts of being the “rotten potato” about fifteen years from today came gushing to my mind like the roaring waves dashing against each other in a tumultuous ocean.

Thumbnail_Indian-teachers-yearn-to-focus-more-on-skill-and-personality-development-for-their-studentsThe feeling of using a pen after using pencils for years is an altogether different experience. Alas! My handwriting did not meet the cursive writing standards of Miss Francis. Coupled with this, the usual naughty kid I was, I loved to colour my fingers and the palm of my hand with royal blue ink which would match perfectly with my royal blue skirt, white shirt and blue tie.

So I wrote with pencil until I reached Standard V- which then meant being the junior most in the Senior Section.

In my school, it was the norm to have four rows of pairs sitting in a bright classroom with four big windows with a view of coconut trees and parrots flying in the horizon by the river Ganga.In order to discipline a child in school, our teachers would spank on the palm of the hand or on the calves with the end of a wooden ruler or make the child sit right under the nose of the teacher.

The sudden jolt I got after reading Miss Mary Francis’s message was at the second last line. I now re-read the message, not as a ten-year old but as a Scholar Activist specializing in education surrounded with many colleagues and friends who are teachers/professors/academics/educationist and those aspiring to be one. I mentally circled the word “sincere” with a red pen. Sincere to whom I ponder?

Is it sincerity to the job as a teacher in a convent school – which believes that female students should wear skirts below the knee, not sit with legs wide apart (like a man), need to learn to sew so as to put the missing button on the husband’s shirt and other Victorian values and virtues usually expected of a girl? Are sincere teachers just a tool in maintaining the status quo of patriarchy in the name of discipline? Are sincere teachers, mostly schooled in similar conditions have come to believe this is the manner in which a child needs to put straight in a line?

Miss Mary Francis’s apologies and regrets melt my heart and make me believe that most teachers probably are made to put-up-a-face. A face3c3e6b22-beda-45f8-9625-56471edc1fde

to the uphold the merciless, exploitative, oppressive and violent colonial system by colonising the minds of little robots (all in name of education and making better human beings) who would follow suit as they grow up. Teachers in many cases are compelled to do this in the fear of losing the job which sometimes is the only source of income.

Most teachers claim they promote independent critical thought but end the sentence with “Do as I say.” Towards the end of Standard IV, I had come to realise this. Definitely, not as much articulated as I am writing this piece; but the fact that, one needs to please the teacher if one doesn’t want to be penalised. This means, one says “yes” to everything one’s teacher, or the one’s superior in the power structure says. Even if one doesn’t agree to few or anything the teachers utters, one says “I agree”.

Thereby, the actual independent and creative mind of the child from the early years of his/her life is killed slowly in a subtly violent manner. The thought process is disturbed and moulded intothe way in which the system wants the child to think.

This produces homogenized people with uniform minds who then become slaves to the colonial and neocolonial system.
The worse being the neocolonial, because in this system, it is no longer the British, French, Portuguese and the Dutch masters but we have own very own Indian, Pakistani, Bangaldeshi, Srilankan and Japanese masters who actually controlled by remotes from Europe and America!

The killing of human beings psychologically doesn’t count as violence in the mainstream. It is only when terrorists bring out AK-47s, pistols and rifles it is “violence”.
The society then observes one-minute silence to mourn the death of their countrymen and countrywomen while continuing to massacre their own children every single moment. This epistemological violence which the society perpetuates is completely supported and financed by this exploitative Colonial/Neocolonial system ensures that all individuals are alienated from their own selves- their own consciousness- their own principles and only become cog in the wheel running after the salary they get for their labour, which again is meagre in comparison to the potential of the individual! admission

Probably India is an independent country politically, but our education system and the teachers who uphold such a system are not independent- they still put garland and incense sticks beneath the benevolent Lord Macaulay for showing us the light to get educated and civilized! The children are also taught to unquestioningly worship those Heroes and a couple of Sheroes (because anyway most of the Memsahabs were knitting in Shmila most of their time in India before 1947).

I can vouch that Miss Mary Francis was not only a sincere teacher within the classroom but also outside. She ensured that her students always carry the school bag weighing 15kilograms (hanging like a stone on the child’s shoulders) and not give it to their guardians or the rickshaw pullers or drivers who came to pick them up after school.

Thank you Miss Mary Francis for continuing to teach me till today by urging me to realize it is humane to apologize to someone half your age and that one is not always right! Thank you.

(All the names used in this article are fictional, there is no resemblance to any person living or dead. If any such resemblances arise, it is purely coincidental.)

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Develop These 3 Essential Soft Skills through E-learning

Here are three skills that will help you excel in your career and life

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e- learning skills
One can learn certain soft skills like analytical thinking, creativity and problem solving through e-learning. Lifetime Stock

The rise of digitalisation and automation brought several changes in the Indian job sector; Owing to this, the way we impart and consume education went through a transformation as well. To succeed in any industry, degree, practical experience, and proficiency in domain-specific skills are certainly important. However, in order to efficiently use technology and apply your hard skills, it is extremely important to brush your soft skills before entering any organisation.  

Earlier, freshers only had a degree, few college assignments, and projects to talk about during interviews; however, the concept of internships, online trainings, and skill-based learning have completely changed the scenario today. Nowadays, even freshers are expected to hold a record of some internship experience and depict excellent soft skills during interviews. This is vital as in today’s era, robots and automation can simply carry out various day to day tasks, but soft skills such as analytical thinking, communication, active learning, and creativity retain and increase the value of employees in organisations. 

To fulfil employers’ expectations, scholars need to strengthen their command on soft skills and one of the best ways to achieve the same is through e-learning. With its self-controllable pace and real-world examples, online training ensures optimal learning and soft skill development within no time. 

Here are some in-demand soft skills that you can develop through online trainings

1. Analytical thinking

Thinking skills
To strengthen your analytical skills, online trainings such as data science and advanced excel prove beneficial. Lifetime Stock

To find out measurable and accurate solutions for different problems, analytical thinking is extremely essential. Data and information analysis is one of the most essential parts of analytical thinking which can be developed through online trainings. Every day, organisations have to deal with large amounts of data. This information needs to be analysed every now and then to keep a tap on organisations’ growth or decline in different key areas and to strategise further growth. This is why people who are able to handle huge amounts of data to produce good insights and help in taking informed decisions are considered great assets in every organisation.

Having good analytical skills could increase your chances of getting selected during interviews over other applicants. To strengthen your analytical skills, online trainings such as data science and advanced excel prove beneficial. The data science training teaches you to read a CSV file, understand operators, variables, dictionaries, functions, and data structures. Moreover, it lets you learn about data distribution, probability, data statistics, and types of testing while understanding the concepts of descriptive stats and inferential stats. Similarly, in the advanced excel training, you can learn In-depth lessons on formulas, functions, lookup functions, and data validation. You eventually learn how to automate, analyze, and present Excel data in the most effective manner. 

2. Problem-solving

We all deal with multiple problems in our lives whether small or huge. Ultimately, the only thing that keeps us going is our ability to analyse and resolve these problems. During any situation of crisis, employers always consider those employees who have the ability to resolve issues from ground level. Online programming trainings such as web development, core Java, Angular, and Android app development, strengthen your problem-solving skills. 

Programming is one such field where your problem-solving skills are largely addressed. While coding, the training helps you to develop a habit of computational thinking and learn to simplify complicated issues through simple codes. An aesthetic design could surely please the users at one go, but unless it solves one of their problems like shopping, buying food, or shipping a parcel across, it is of no use. Enrolling in any of the programming trainings allows you to deeply identify, analyse, plan, practice, and resolve multiple problems not only during coding but also in your day to day tasks.

3. Creativity

Creativity skills
Scholars can enrol in online trainings such as AutoCAD which helps to polish the creative skills. Lifetime Stock

Automation has brought enough technical efficiency, but creativity is one such segment where human involvement would always be required. Every organisation has multiple competitors today so, to stand out and capture the attention of their target segment, companies need to be creative. Therefore, employers generally look for those people who can think out of the box. 

Scholars can enrol in online trainings such as AutoCAD which helps to polish the creative skills. The training teaches you to precisely work on lines, points, circles, and arcs, shapes, study the key concepts of layers and a lot more. In an industrial project, it also requires you to work on 2D drafts and 3D models and come up with unique and creative designs. Whether you are an architectural, mechanical or electrical engineer, every new plan requires you to be creative than ever before. In fact, students who choose digital marketing trainings also develop their creative skills faster. Your skills in such training are polished when you plan and execute various digital marketing campaigns. Above all, online trainings develop your thinking and allow you to creatively plan and implement everyday tasks in your work premises. 

Also Read- German Translation of a Book on Indian Ancient Wisdom

All of these skills are put to use when you start working on assignments, assessment tests, code challenges, quizzes, exercises, and industrial projects that are provided in every online training. E-learning helps you to not just learn but implement and test your soft skills through such practically advanced options. For freshers with little or no working experience, soft skills are really essential during the screening process as it is the prerequisite based on which candidates are shortlisted. 

Courtesy: Internshala Trainings, a training platform (trainings.internshala.com)