Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shiksha Adhoori III [Education Incomplete III)

Thought of rejuvenating the Shiksha Adhoori series... For people who have not read the earlier posts on the same, please follow the link Shiksha Adhoori I , Shiksha Adhoori II . Though this post is no way related as a follow up of my earlier posts but some thoughts which reflects on the way how education is incomplete might be analogous and interesting to a few. When I was preparing to write this entry, interestingly I got to come across a random blog by a friend who've written about MORALITY, TRADITION AND SEXUALITY OF WOMEN in Indian community [I hope she wrote with Indian community as context] and after reading that all I could see was the fault in our education system which failed to incorporate the values of feminism.

We at today's world talk about women empowerment / equality in rights to the counter sex of ours, but have we seriously thought about where the biasing began from. I'm not a history student or follower of history but as far what I've read / understood is women held an equal importance of what men did in Vedic era [I might be wrong], but this changed with time... not going detailed into history, the system [as of I know] was functioning on the following basis in which men and women shared equal responsibilities out of which men took the responsibilities of earning food and shelter for a family and women took the equal responsibilities of managing the food and shelter earned by men, thus stuck at home. I don't find anything wrong in this system as both share their responsibilities mutually by doing all the necessary things for the household and running a family unless the decision made / taken has equal say from both, but eventually this concept has been misinterpreted as the men started to socially move out of home and explore more of the world than a women who was restricted by the responsibilities of her. [O.k... no more history.. coming to the topic].

Now.... after a few more generations we are here in this world to discuss about gender biasing etc., I never knew history or geography till I opened my book.... At home I knew that my mom cooks but I also knew that my mom went to job. Luckily my father was working as a cook in a hotel and I knew that father can also cook and wash vessels. I'm not sure if that was the status of every house. I didn't get to see a gender biasing at my home but always have felt that my father had the final say even though my mom equally argued and made a point all the time that her opinion does counts and sometimes win the argument as well. I never knew that the financial strength made her talk :).

But as far as I remember, my books have always reflected that mom does household work only but father does the rest... a few examples could be "Mom cooks food" and "Father reads news paper"..."Mom buys Vegetables" and "Father buys a car / TV”. Whatever. I always wonder will the vegetable seller refuse to sell vegetables if father goes to buy that. I also remember a few history lessons [though I used to hate history] discussing about the emperors and their queens, it always [at least 97 % of the time] reflects women as entertainment material to the men.

The friend in her blog mentions "Fidelity and purity of women is so associated with her sexuality and more over ‘virginity’. A girl is termed as the izzat, laaj (honour) of the family, as if fathers and brothers of the family are shame to the family".... very true.. This is what was taught as moral education in schools. Another simple examples would be in the sports ground... boys and girls have a physical education period where boys were allowed to play outdoor sports but girls weren't., even if they get a chance to play outdoor games they were supposed to play tennikoit and ball badminton as if they'll not be able to play hockey [The boys team was continuously champion for around 21 years in our district], who knows the girls might have excelled.

I don't see the system of education provides some solution / tend to eradicate the problem of gender biasing rather it is the base where the whole thing is brought up on a child's mind.... The system is sowing weeds on the minds rather than sowing seeds and trying to cut down after it gets grown up.

Shiksha Adhoori would continue.... share your experiences and views.


Kunal Chandra said...

Very pertinent topic. We talk of changing the country but dont even have the courage to challenge the dominant logic of our families. At our level we should first of all as individuals start to give the same status to women around us and also inspire this mentality in them to step up.
Key word is respect. Respect them as you would want them to respect you. They are humans too - same dreams, same aspirations, same emotional turmoils, same self- respect, same desire to prove themselves. Everything just same as men.
And then the best test is to ask yourself the question - would you swap places with them if you had to do everything you expect them to do? Believe me the answer will be more often no than yes.
Well done sir. I admire your broadmindedness and sense of empathy.

Aparna Bhatia said...

Very nicely written and put into words.
I strongly feel the same.
Kunal very rightly said
"would you swap places with them if you had to do everything you expect them to do?" and answer is no
I admire your thoughts.

Sej said...

Very well expressed thoughts!

One more point that should be added to the text books is, the importance of any work. The work definitions according to the gender is so ingrained into our culture that it might take some long journey to make the change, but if the kids are taught the importance of cooking or swiping(or any kind of work for that matter) from the school days, perhaps they will easily adopt any type of work in future years irrespective of their gender.

Every time human beings dwindled into roles reserved for the other gender, discrimination raised its ugly head. (The same rule applies to caste discrimination too.)

And it's not that only women suffer from gender discrimination.
Many Women are getting into the things that Men are known for. Such as Sports, the Military and Physical Labor. These women, particularly in their younger ages are known as Tomboys. But if we take the opposite - Males who take on Female roles, Males who are perhaps Sensitive, dislike Sports and like things tidy? Society calls these people ‘Sissies’. Now, obviously this sounds like more of an insult than a status. Society is removing sexism, but only in one form. Women are getting accepted in all walks of life, but in many situations Men acting feminine is still shunned upon. The bounds of sexism are turning one-sided.

Having said that, by no means I am undermining the discrimination faced by women. I have only attempted to show another side of the coin :-)

arpita sarkar said...

Hii.. Selva. Firstly, I am happy that there are people like you who think on subjects like gender equality, women empowerment. I know it wont' be appropiate to say that a man is writing on women equality but the fact remains that not many men are interested in talking, writing or discussing the issue.

You have very nicely and effortlessly mentioned that fault lies in our education system, that is partiarchy. I remember Meena series on educating a girl child that hit the chord very rightly. You have very correctly mentioned the activities girls are made to do in sports period. Hope our contemplation might bring some change in thinking pattern of the patriarchy society. That would be the real work half done.
Cheers .. Hope to read more

selva ganapathy said...

@ Kunal.. I completely agree with your views :)... and yes we have to keep asking that question to ourselves :).

@ Aparna.. thanks!.. its very nice to have your opinion at my blog!

@ Sejal... as I earlier said I always admire you and Pulkit for your views and thoughts.... yet again you've proved it right once again :)...

@ Arpita!.. thanks Arpita... "I remember Meena series on educating a girl child that hit the chord very rightly" I would require more details of the same :).. I've never read it.. I've read Gendering Caste which is a book with so much of insight... would recommend for you as well!!!

arpita sarkar said...
hii.. selva.. you can visit this link.. Meena series was created by UNICEF. In fact I came to know now only when you asked me on this and I searched it on internet.. You can see it.

selva ganapathy said...

Thanks Arpita!,
I shall go through this :).

In Serch of ...... said...

as everyone does you also show the mirror ..

everything is good in the article ..
but where is the solution ..?

this article is so vast which needs a greater level of discussion though !!

Sejal said...

Meena series has many good of moral comic stories which were published by Unicef. Some of them can be downloaded for free from here :

I had downloaded one Meena comic on dowry too, but somehow I am unable to find it now. If someone wants it, I can send it by e-mail.

selva ganapathy said...

A Comment from Suroopa Mam

Hey Selva,

Tried adding a comment on your blog but it refused since I do not have a blog account. So I am sending the comment below.

Selva, thanks for directing me to this blog entry. It is indeed a pertinent topic, and as someone associated with education as a teacher I know how important it is to delve into the gender bias that is inculcated in students at a very young age.
It begins in the way subjects are taught and streams are chosen, and the way preparation for higher/vocational studies is streamlined by teachers within the parameters set by the system.
The idea of exploring alternatives is never taught. It is only offered as consolation for non-performing/weak students. So whatever the text book tells you about how to compete in today's world, gets endorsed by the way you prepare to enter colleges or jobs. Your gender and class gets linked to your success/or failure story.
Its really unfortunate. In a college like Hindu where I teach we get to see those "who have made it" and "those who haven't (normally the ones who have not got into the IIT's!)." The gulf between them is enormous. I try to mediate this gulf through some of the most beautiful works of literature that I teach so as to discover amongst the "failures" some real talent.
But most people feel brow-beaten by this system which thrives on biases. They only want the kind of coaching that will help them to succeed. This kind of education begins I am afraid from the nursery level and continues right through our schooling and higher education. It is the most crucial stage when the child's mind is being shaped. But because each one of us wants to be part of the system we too internalise the biases. We continue endorsing them, without really fighting for change.

Very best,


She is not able to post her comment and requested me to do the same..

@ Darshan... yes I've just identified the problem.. probably with time I might get mature enough to think of possible solutions as well... the idea is to just understand the problem to in depth.... solutions will come by itself and I'll keep sharing if it comes :).

state of mind? said...

u have well pointed out...its about how we are conditioned...u might not have understood the differences till u moved out of the walls of ur home or ventured into the outer world through ur books..its about how the seeds are sown.....

p.s - send me the link to ur friend's post that u mentioned about...

ovais said...

absolutely great post.. you have touched upon some very relevant points on indian education system.. i believe govt should take necessary steps to make the people aware about the education
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