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Do as iSay, not as iDo – Silicon Valley’s two faces on learning: Andrew Keen

June 30, 2015

ANDREW KEEN writes in The Sunday Times (June 15, 2015) on E-learning, which Indian universities are promoting as the latest and best. It turns out that Silicon Valley IT bigwigs, all frantically developing the perfect software that can finally eliminate human teachers, (a goal being promoted enthusiastically by the Indian system through Massive Online Open Courses MOOC), are themselves sending their children to ‘Waldorf Schools’, in which computers, tablets and smartphones are banned (yes, indeed, BANNED), because, says the Media and Technology Philosophy Statement of Waldorf School:

Waldorf educators believe it is far more important for students to interact with one another and their teachers, and work with real materials than to interface with electronic media or technology.

Oh my. Are they taking us back to the Dark Ages, as Indian teachers want us to?

Or (Heavy Irony Warning) – do children need ‘traditional’ education with human teachers and human interaction, so that they can develop the creative skills necessary to develop the software that can eliminate humans? 

And of course, it will inevitably be e-education for the masses, and increasingly expensive “traditional education” for the elites. As Keen puts it:

It is yet another irony that, over in California, the Waldorf School of the Peninsula says it provides a “Renaissance education in Silicon Valley”. While an online humanities-lite education is good enough for the masses, the children of successful venture capitalists and digital entrepreneurs are being educated in an unambiguously low-tech environment dominated by the physical relationship between teacher and student and a body of core knowledge that stretches back for hundreds of years.

Keen quotes William Deresiewicz:

Moocs, Deresiewicz argues, are “about reinforcing existing hierarchies and monetising institutional prestige. The kids at Harvard get to interact with their professors. The kids at San Jose State get to watch the kids at Harvard interact with their professors.”

Full article by Andrew Keen starts here:

Online learning is yet to take off in Britain as it has in America, where the market research firm Global Industry Analysts estimates that revenue for the online learning sector will reach more than $100bn (Pounds 64bn) this year.

But if on-line education really is the future, why are so many IT moguls choosing traditional schooling for their own children?

Among the rich and powerful families of Silicon Valley, the new-new thing is to give their children a “Waldorf” education that outlaws computers, tablets and smartphones. Read more…

Praful Bidwai Is No More

June 25, 2015

Praful Bidwai is no more. He died in Amsterdam on Tuesday evening due to a cardiac arrest, With his death we have lost the ‘best left-wing journalist’ in this part of South Asia whose articles appeared in many newspapers and magazines in the subcontinent and in the middle east and was frequently published by The Guardian, Le Monde Diplomatique as well. Praful will be missed by thousands and thousands of his readers (this pen pusher included) who were ‘groomed’ by him in a career spanning more than four decades. For them he was one such voice who remained uncompromising in his strident criticism of communal fundamentalisms of various kinds and the crony capitalism which is having a field day these days. He was a leading voice for nuclear disarmament and peace as well and had written extensively on it. It was a strange coincidence that we met last in the capital when a memorial meeting was organised by Communist Party of India to remember the legendary Comrade Govind Pansare who was assassinated few days back. He was to speak in the meeting. The meeting was yet to start and I could steal some time to talk to him. He told he is working on a book – which was near completion – on the left movement in the country and had interviewed many activists associated with the movement to listen to their understanding of challenges before the left. And in that connection he had long meeting with Com Pansare – once in Kolhapur and one possibly in Mumbai. He shared his fascination about the energies he still had at that age for ‘the cause’. Few days after the meeting, there was a call from him asking for a phone number of a dalit activist which incidentally I did not have. Yes, that was the last time I spoke to him.

Read more…

Hindu Rashtra, village by village -Understanding Atali

June 24, 2015

Atali, the site of recent attacks on Muslims by their Hindi co-villagers, is a metaphor for India. Or,a mirror India should look into, to ‘re-cognize’ itself. To know that it is gradually turning into a majoritarian society. A society in which neighbors turn into strangers and yet keep feigning /pretending affinity and love for each other. A nation with a Hindu sensibility-zone and a Muslim sensibility zone.

The rites of passage are familiar. The majority has to be persuaded and convinced that it has to graduate from its present complacent position to a more respectable position of power, which was always its due but which it could not get because of the policies of ‘appeasement of the minorities’. After a long, sustained education, a ceremony, an event is organized in which majority has to participate as one person. It has to be a violent event in which blood would be shed. Had not Bhima drunk the blood of Kauravas? Or, Draupadi untied her hair with a vow that she would tie it only after washing it with the blood of Duhshasana? Read more…

Women’s Mosque of America – Women Carving Out Spaces of Prayer: Azza Basarudin and Khanum Shaikh

June 23, 2015


In the past decade, the efforts of women in communities of Muslims to claim leadership roles within their communities of worship have animated heated debates around the role and place that Islam ascribes to women. Questions of whether women are allowed to call congregants to prayer (adhaan), deliver sermons (khutba), lead prayers, and participate in mixed-gender prayer with women and men standing side-by-side are religiously permissible acts have been thrown up into the air, gaining support from some Muslims, and intense resistance from others. Within the United States, these contemporary debates can be traced back to a mixed-gender Friday prayer service led by Dr. Amina Wadud at Synod House of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York in 2005.[1] Numerous women-led prayer sessions have since taken place in cities across the United States, and in various global locations such as Toronto and Barcelona.[2] Widespread condemnation, heresy charges, and death threats swiftly followed some of these acts of defiance by Muslim women who are tired of being excluded from and/or given marginal spaces/roles within mosques for prayer, i.e. usually behind men or in less than ideal spaces where it is difficult to see/hear the sermon (khutba). Nonetheless, voices of support and acceptance are also prevalent—not that the women trailblazing this mode of leadership in ritual practices need anyone’s approval. It is into one such space—a newly created women-only Friday prayer organized by the Women’s Mosque of America—that we made our way on May 22, 2015 in Los Angeles. Read more…

Hey Ram ! Madhav

June 22, 2015

(Picture : Courtesy ‘Youth ki Awaaz)

Ram Madhav, the first official spokesperson of RSS (later removed or discharged from this role) and these days ‘loaned’ to BJP as a ‘senior leader’ engaged in what an analyst called double delete asana on International Yoga Day. The first of this kind of ‘asana’ – unheard before – was rather necessitated by the impetuosity with which the net savvy leader twitted about ‘absence of Vice President Hamid Ansari’ from the celebrations and the ‘blackout of the programme by Rajya Sabha TV which is chaired by him’ and later twitted ‘an apology about the confusion’ and within no time deleted both the twits.

By evening it was clear that not only the Rajya Sabha TV had provided a live coverage of the programme but also provided clarifications about honourable Vice President’s absence. It was revealed that he was not invited for the programme by the concerned minister. In fact his office had to issue a press release to the effect because of the insinuations which were being spread targeting him and perhaps also tell the likes of Ram Madhav that there is something called protocol which the Vice President has to follow.

One does not know whether it would be possible for Mr Ram Madhav to comprehend such nuances of democratic procedures because for him such details are of no consequence. In fact if he was really concerned about absence of Vice President of India in the said programme, he could have easily phoned his office and made further enquiries. But as we know he just wanted to underline his absence from such a programme of ‘national glory’ when India was supposedly ‘leading the world’. It was an indirect way to further the illiberal and exclusivist agenda he has been exposed to since younger days. Read more…

‘Merit’ Kills: An Open Letter to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes from Kerala

June 22, 2015

[This was sent to me by a group of concerned people. They prefer to stay nameless only because our educational institutions, especially technical institutions, which were never really liberal at any point, are now turning notoriously illiberal. The letter points to grave injustice which needs to be investigated and ended. The death of the young female Dalit student is a repeat almost of a similar suicide in Kerala by another female dalit student of Engineering a few years ago, who met her end strangled by ‘merit’, greed, and callous indifference. Here, the greed of the private sector in technical education cannot be blamed.]

Read more…

बाक़ी चीज़ों की तरह इनका योग भी फ्रॉड है…

June 21, 2015
Dilip C Mandal's photo.
Dilip C Mandal के फेसबुक पोस्ट से साभार (तस्वीर और नीचे की टिप्पणी दोनों)

जो लोग कभी नहीं करते और फ़ोटो खिंचवाने के लिए नाटक करते हैं, वे सबसे आसान आसन- पद्मासन भी गलत करते हैं।

मोदी जी के पैरों की मुद्रा देखिए। सही पद्मासन में पीछे वाली लड़की बैठी है। देखिए, दोनों पैर ऊपर हैं। जो कभी नहीं करते हैं, वे नाटक के लिए भी नहीं कर सकते।

जब पद्मासन में बैठने को कहा गया है और सभी लोग वही कर रहे हैं, तो रेगुलर योग करने का दावा करने वाले को पद्मासन ही करना चाहिए। अर्ध नहीं पूर्ण।

56 इंच का सीना नहीं, 56 इंच का पेट है। रामसनेही को अब पूरा यकीन है कि सुनने में धोखा हुआ था।

बच्चों को इनसे शिक्षा नहीं लेनी चाहिए।


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