Studying to not eliminate religion in humanity

Avijit Pathak’s write-up on JNU (‘Healing a campus’, IE, February 18) challenged my assumptions, forced me to do some soul-searching and mirror on my personal positioning as a college teacher and researcher. Three causes compelled me to reply to it. One, the author has been a teacher and a scholar at the college that he talks about — Jawaharlal Nehru College — for 31 a long time. Two, Pathak should be saluted for boldly presenting his views on various difficulties across diverse spaces, with no having sides in a politically-risky atmosphere. The 3rd cause has to do with discovering the realms of choices in a entire world whole of cynicism. This is a difficult proposition since it requires taking positions on social concerns that are generally framed in mutually distinctive binaries.


In latest decades, JNU has obtained much flak. The university has been accused of nurturing the “tukde tukde gang” and endorsing anti-countrywide ideas. Pathak humanises the establishment and describes it as getting wounded. The college needs therapeutic, he states. The short article has been created in the context of the appointment of the new vice-chancellor of the college, Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, who, for the reason that of her ideological leanings, has develop into the object of ridicule and contempt. Pathak bestows religion in her management and urges her to get started the approach of healing JNU.

This attractiveness might appear to be naïve, even preposterous, to some. But it is also real that life bereft of hope, optimism and faith is rarely well worth living. This reminds me of the perform of Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire. After a female regarded as illiterate in accordance with the regular criteria of literacy responded to a query posed by the educator: “If all human beings had been to die but all other beings like animals, crops, mountains, rivers had been to continue being alive, then the earth would stop to exist since there will be no one particular to say that this is the world”. In other words and phrases, the earth does not have an unbiased existence but defines our social reality depending on the way we look at it.

I am a sociologist of schooling by teaching and look at my primary career as that of inspecting academic complications in their context somewhat than attempting to discover answers. Apparently, on the other hand, most of my students are enthusiastic practitioners who are disillusioned with the present education technique and want to contribute in direction of strengthening it. In contrast to the frame of mind of these students, a lot of of us – perhaps smug with our intellectual prowess — choose a lot satisfaction in presenting multilayered and nuanced analyses. In the procedure, we most likely dampen the spirits and thwart the hopes of our youth, and protect against them from dreaming.

By and substantial, our university schooling technique with its emphasis on rote understanding and 12 months-stop examinations also potential customers to the scuttling of hope. It potentially trains learners to be sensible, somewhat than develop into optimistic. In most schools, in the identify of discipline, the lifestyle of “pin-drop silence, finger on your lips” is cherished. An too much to handle range of this kind of learners tread the conservative path. Only a couple universities like JNU permit pupils to appreciate range without the need of dread. But the ideal of universities usually prioritise the ability of critiquing more than appreciating. It is also legitimate that the hole involving academics and practitioners appears to be growing broader. While teachers are accused of mystifying fact and getting too theoretical and summary, practitioners are accused of disregarding the principles of equity and social justice. Freire labored for most of his life with oppressed societies exactly where the dispossessed did not even have obtain to basic legal rights this kind of as land, h2o and housing. But, he was hopeful and proposed a trouble-posing pedagogy that he counterposed to the conventional principle of schooling — he described this kind of instruction as a banking product. The Brazilian educationist considered that ultimately, boundaries concerning oppressor and oppressed will be dissolved and the new pedagogy will assist each of them in turning into human, realising their genuine mother nature.

Though it’s essential to critique, take positions in daily life, simply call spade a spade, it is most likely much more crucial to not get rid of religion in humanity. Violence, whether verbal or physical, really should be shunned and efforts built to solve distinctions. Equally critical is to dialogue with men and women who have various factors of see, provide back again hope in our life, revive our desires, reinstate religion in ourselves, make Freirian praxis (reflective motion) a portion of our lives and continue on to have unwavering faith in humanity — like Pathak.

This column very first appeared in the print edition on February 28, 2022 below the title ‘Pedagogy of empathy’. The writer teaches in the Faculty of Education, TISS Mumbai and is a former college student of JNU