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
reform, 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 training 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 ‘traditional’ teacher educators. In fact, the course also serves as a refresher module for teacher
educators 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
Manthan helps trainers and trainee-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 prosperity. 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
trainees, 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
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.
The sessions in the second year are divided into three modules:
School is society - understanding how school is a reflection of society.
Education and society - understanding the link between education and society. Topics of current concern - such
as inequalities of gender, caste and class; communalism, nationalism, war and violence; influence of the media; issues
related to development and the environment - are taken up for systematic discussion and analysis. An attempt is also made
to show how, if at all, they are handled in the school syllabus and in teaching materials, such as textbooks.
Reflective thinkers and Transformative Intellectuals - motivating teachers to critically examine their role
within the system; encouraging them to see themselves as reflective thinkers and transformative intellectuals rather than
merely conduits of information.