Catriona Ellis: ‘No man is a man who does not discover something, be it anew star or an old manuscript’ – The Debate over New Education in Late Colonial India
‘No man is a man who does not discover something, be it a new star or an old manuscript’1 – The Debate over New Education in Late Colonial India Catriona Ellis, University of Edinburgh, UK The aim of the new syllabus for elementary education in the Madras Presidency in 1940 was “to connect the school curriculum with the actual environment in which the pupils live and to make education more suitable to the needs of the rural population.”2 This had been a continuing part of the rhetoric of the colonial government. For example, the government educational (Public Instruction) re- port of 1934 wanted “to make teaching and curricula progressively more scien- tific and more socially and culturally effective” (96). Using the writings of colonial, missionary, and especially Indian education- ists in pedagogic journals and in documentation of specific educational experi- ments, this chapter looks at the desired transition from pre-colonial and colonial ‘traditional’ teaching techniques towards what was viewed as a more progres- sive approach to teaching, particularly at elementary level. Elementary level teaching, which has been discussed less in the existing literature, was the only form of education received by the majority of the population in India during the colonial period. Of particular interest are the specific educational techniques these pedagogues wanted to establish as well as the inherent contradictions within this approach, particularly in a colonial setting. In addition, this essay queries the ambiguous notion of the ‘Indian child’ in these educational dis- courses. Since the objective (as...
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