Manthan, meaning churning, is a foundation course for pre-service teacher training.
Despite occasional acknowledgement by the government of the need for reforms, teacher education in India has remained virtually unchanged since colonial times. Hence it still reflects the colonial view of the teacher as simply a transmitter
of a set curriculum, where knowledge is a ‘given’ and the teacher becomes a mere transmitter of pre-selected content. Consequently, the emphasis has remained on pedagogy, on teaching methodologies, rather than on engaging the teacher
actively in shaping the content of the curriculum to make it relevant and use it as a tool to achieve larger educational objectives.
Manthan seeks to find a space within the existing structure in order to begin the process of rethinking, instead of supplanting what already exists. Its approach is to supplement rather than replace
the mainstream curriculum. Further, the course is to be conducted by ‘regular’ teacher educators (that is, those teaching in teacher education colleges)
rather than by external agencies or other ‘experts’. This strategy, we believe, will make it possible for a larger number of institutions to
introduce curricular changes; it would also make innovations more acceptable to teacher educators. In fact, the course also serves as a refresher
module for them to be in line with the changes proposed in the system by recent legislations and policies.
Above all it focuses on the teacher’s role as mediating agent between learners, school and society. The main purpose behind the course is to underline the interplay
between socio-political-environmental issues and education. Educational systems create new knowledge that drives society. It is therefore important for teachers to
understand and analyze how and why socio-political institutions function in a certain way. This preparation will help the teachers to reflect on the content of
school subjects in a critical manner. It is hoped that an emerging generation of empowered reflective teachers will help create classrooms with independent
thinkers and decision makers who will be able to address the manifold problems facing us today.
Manthan helps teacher educators and student teachers examine the way the education system functions in our country, critically assess the role of some of the
main ‘actors’ in the schooling process (teachers, learners, government and the larger society), evaluate the social and political agenda of education, and
understand the importance of analyzing both what is taught and how it is taught in school. It is intended to provide an opportunity for trainees to see
the school as part of the larger society.
Most of us would agree that formal education has a key role to play in bringing about any kind of lasting change in our society. The cutting-edge scientific,
technological and other professional expertise that our country is so rightly proud of, has for its foundation a solid school system, largely State-funded.
We know that it also plays a significant role in empowering hitherto marginalized groups to participate in social and political institutions. And today,
even the poorest Indian looks to school education as the single most important factor in transforming her life from one of poverty and inequity to one of
relative dignity. Hence it is imperative that we discuss how we can use the school curriculum as a tool for social transformation.
The course is based on certain fundamental values that we consider essential for a democratic society:
- Equality of all human beings
- Recognition of individual freedoms
- Appreciation of pluralism and diversity of all kinds
- Representation of and participation by everyone in the decision-making process
- Use of dialogue and discussion as the primary means to resolve contentious issues.
These are also the values that are enshrined in our Constitution. The hope is that these values will be internalized by the student teachers,
who in turn will strengthen these values among their students – our future citizens.
The Manthan curriculum
The course content covers two of the three curricular areas prescribed by the National Council of Teacher Education – namely, Foundations of Education and
Curriculum and Pedagogy. The course consists of fifty sessions in all, with twenty-five sessions to be conducted each year. The two kits each contain a
Teachers’ Manual and all required visual materials.
The themes covered in Year One focus on the fundamentals of education. The sessions look at the some of the players in the field of education,
their roles and the impact that they have, as well as the ways in which we learn. They go on to explore the history of education in India, and
finally discuss Curriculum, Methodology, and Assessment in greater detail.
Based on the fundamentals explored in Year One, the curriculum of Year Two focuses on issues that affect our society. Complex issues such as caste, class, gender, nationalism, and the environment are discussed and deconstructed.
The aim is to locate education in the wider context of society, and to examine the role of teachers within the social system.