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India’s Past, Its Learnings, Its Pedagogies Teacher Mediations of History Textbooks in India

Author Name: R S Krishna | Format: Paperback | Genre : History & Politics | Other Details

The very acrimonious debates on history textbooks have mostly been dominated by scholars, historians, civil society activists and politicians. Where are the teachers in this debate, vested with the onerous responsibility of transpiring learnings in history to the students? The author R S Krishna tries to ‘recover’ the teacher’s voice through an critical observation of select teachers, their classroom practices, the ideas that inform their understanding of our past and the way  history textbooks are mediated by teachers. In this Krishna also brings in his own teaching experience and his evolution as a history teacher. Combining observations, experience and readings from educational sociology, Krishna establishes how history as we know it emerges largely through narratives where not recapitulation of ‘facts’ but competing nationalisms, politics and knowledge prisms are more defining. Here Krishna is particularly critical of the liberal-Marxist prisms that has had a major influence on textbook writing particularly of NCERT. At the same time attempts by the adherents seeking to establish an Indic or a Hindu view of our past, particularly their ability to bring pedagogically appropriate textbooks, have so far been dismal. Framing his arguments within the context of ‘modernity’ which he sees as ‘universal', having an egalitarian premise, the author emphasizes a need for a new methodologically informed textbooks that are more holistic, comparative and dialogic which helps to ‘reimagine’ India’s past and its future quests. The author avers whatever be textbooks scholarly merit, it should be pedagogically substantive and crucially for its meaningful understanding by students, a teacher’s command of the discipline and some familiarity of debates that frame history's knowledge status is key. 

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R S Krishna

R S Krishna, is a school teacher and teacher trainer of some 18 years standing. His educational credentials includes a masters degree in modern Indian history from Hyderabad Central University and a doctorate in sociology of education from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.