The Pedagogy of Silence and the Silence of Pedagogy: The Individual & Society

In: Giving Voice to Silence

The pedagogy of silence and the silence of pedagogy co-exist in both public and private Indian academia. This paradox is rooted in caste/gender/class as well as the mode of economic, social and political development of individual and societies within a nation. This can easily be recognised in several dalit autobiographies and other narratives of marginality. Most of the knowledge providers practise caste/class/gender/race beliefs in private spheres openly and in public spheres subtly, whereas the practice of untouchability in any form is criminal in India, according to the national Constitution. But the hierarchal mind-set indulged in discriminatory practice earlier publically is now subtly reflected in reforms of educational policies that repress pedagogical questions of heterogeneous distribution of education as power. The Individual & Society can be an apt example of opposing monolithic discourse in pedagogy that homogenises a plurality of questions. It is a textbook that ‘brings together essays, short stories and poems around the themes of caste, class, gender, race, war and globalization and how these affect the individual’ and society. The textbook addresses the paradox of the pedagogy of silence academically. ‘Chosen for their readability... the texts speak for themselves…’ is what makes this anthology engage teachers and students to explore and manage silence as a kind of implicit way of thinking and acting. Silence primarily lies in the socio-economic composition of students’ backgrounds and dominant attitudes to such factors. To what extent can a textbook intervene in transforming a sociopolitical and cognitively pent up silence into a meaningful rational dialogue of human development? This is the ideal purpose of pedagogy. Pedagogy also needs to address the issues of economic disparities, caste/race/gender ontology and social justice to all. The textbook’s design and teaching-learning tasks respond to the pedagogy of dialogue in a multi-culturally and socio-economically stratified community of learners and teachers, their core beliefs, distorted selves and healing by teaching/learning that can discover forms of silence and their impact on human development.