Open letter to self-assumed guardians of Teacher Education


Respected Legitimate Guardians of Teacher Education,

This letter comes to you in response to worries expressed by many of you in press and publicly circulated emails; and it is from an unqualified intruder in education and teacher education. Please be patient to read.

Respected Sirs and Ma’ams, I call myself an ‘unqualified intruder’ because I hold no degree in education or teacher education; more specifically, I am not a D.El.Ed. or a B.El.Ed. or a B.Ed. or a M.Ed., and not even a MA in education, in which I happen teach. This lack of degrees makes me totally unqualified for what I have been doing throughout my working life for last 36 years. During this time I have been teaching at elementary school level and at the post graduate level in two universities. Have been reading and debating education, helping other people develop understanding of educations as per my capabilities and ideas; and doing some minimal writing on issues in education. Now I realise I have been functioning in these roles quite illegitimately and I qualify for none of them.

On 5th May 14 The Pioneer published a news item titled “NCTE council members ineligible: IATE chief” claiming that respected Professors PK Sahoo and Anita Rastogi of IATE have made a complaint pointing out that some persons in the NCTE General Council do not qualify to be members as per NCTE act 1993. The names given in the news report are “Prof Krishna Kumar of NCERT, Prof Janaki Ranjan of Jamia Millia Islamia, Prof Padma Sarangapani of Institute of Social and Economic Changes, Bangalore, Prof Virginius Xaxa of TISS, Guwahati, Prof Poonam Batra of Delhi University, Prof Venetian Kaul, AUD and Alok Mathura of Rishikesh Valley School, Andhra Pradesh.”

Before I come to the required qualifications, I will draw your attention to the two simple factual mistakes in this list: as far as I know the person you refer to as “Prof Venetia Kaul” is well known scholar “Prof. Venita Kaul”; and the one you refer to as “Alok Mathura of Rishikesh Valley School” should be “Alok Mathur of Rishi Valley School”. That is just to make the identification unambiguous.

After reading this news item, Sirs and Ma’ams, I downloaded NCTE Act 1993, the amendments made in 2011 and The Gadget of India notification of 1st May 2013 which announces the constitution of the NCTE General Council.

With due respect, Respected Guardians, all the people you have mentioned, but one, clearly qualify. Let me explain, please.

Prof. Krishna Kumar, Prof. Janaki Rajan and Prof. Padma Sarangapani are nominated as per sub-clause (i) of clause (m) of sub-section (4) of section 3 of the NCTE Act 1993. Clause (m), Discerning Guardians, states “(m) thirteen persons possessing experience and knowledge in the field of education or teaching to be appointed by the Central Government as under, from amongst the (i) Deans of Faculties of Education and Professors of Education.” Now, Sirs and Ma’ams, all three I mentioned above possess experience and knowledge in the field of education and all are professors of education in universities at the least as reputed as your own, if not more.

Three other people you have raised objection to, Respected Guardians, are Prof. Poonam Batra, Prof. Venita Kaul and Mr. Alok Mathur. They are appointed under sub-clause (iii) of clause (m) of sub-section (4) of section 3 of the NCTE Act 1993. And this, Discerning Guardians, states “(m) thirteen persons possessing experience and knowledge in the field of education or teaching to be appointed by the Central Government as under, from amongst the (iii) experts in pre-primary and primary teacher education.”

For your information, Respected Sirs and Ma’ams, Prof. Kaul is well known expert in Pre-primary and Primary Education and teacher education, same goes for Prof. Batra. Mr. Mathur is a teacher and is involved in teacher preparation for a very well reputed school of India in which many of you would have willingly sent your children to be taught by teachers prepared by him.

It seems, Knowledgably Guardians, that you are totally wrong here in case of 6 out of the 7 people you have mentioned. And I am not sure about the seventh, one has to take advice from someone better than me at legalities of this nature. Usually knowledgeable people make false claims with some hidden purpose, Sirs and Ma’ams. But an humble unqualified intruder like me cannot think such thought about you, so I will leave the issue of The Pioneer news here.

Some of you, Sirs, have been circulating very enlightening emails publicly. Respected Prof. SK Yadav has asked several ethical questions of Prof. Batra. One of them happens to be “Is it ethical to become Members and Chairpersons of one or more Committees during last so many years and prepared norms and standards on Teacher Education without having the degree of B.Ed. and M.Ed. of Teacher Education programme?”

I would request Respected Professor Yadav, to elaborate upon the issue. Why is it unethical in his mind to be chair and member of above mentioned committees without B.Ed. and M.Ed.? How many bureaucrats and other people are members of such committees without these very reputed degrees in India Prof. Yadav? How come your critical insight never notices that? I will have something more to say of B.Ed. and M.Ed. in this letter, Sir. But for now move to another point.

Another respected member of the collective of guardians, Prof. Harish S Rathore of BHU, has written an open letter appealing to the collective to defend teacher education.

Rathore Sir is very legitimately angry that Delhi University has made some appointments “of certain Professors who did not have a legitimate right to be appointed as Professors of Education, as they were not having the essential qualifications to be appointed even as a Lecturer in Education. Nor these people were having the ideology and values deep rooted in our traditions of being a Guru.” There are two issues here (i) the issue of qualifications for professors and (ii) the issue of ideology and values.

Regarding qualifications, I wonder if the Learned Professor has ever come across the “UGC Regulations, 2000 regarding Minimum Qualifications for Appointment and Career Advancement of Teachers in Universities and Colleges”. By the way it states the following regarding the appointment of professors:

“1.3.0 HUMANITIES, SOCIAL SCIENCES, SCIENCES, COMMERCE, EDUCATION, PHYSICAL EDUCATION, FOREIGN LANGUAGES AND LAW.

1.3.1 Professor

An eminent scholar with published work of high quality, actively engaged in research, with la years of experience in postgraduate teaching, and/or experience in research at the University/National Level institutions, including experience of guiding research at doctoral level.
OR

An outstanding scholar with established reputation who has made significant contribution to knowledge.”

This, Respected Professor Rathore, goes to show that a scholar of repute can become a professor without having qualifications good enough to become a lecturer. This, of course, is of no use to you; as you have all your B.Eds. and M.Eds, I presume.

A hummable intruder in the august precincts of education and teacher education like me cannot imagine that you, Sir, are unaware of the work done by the professors you are so angry with. It seems, Sir, they have worked and contributed in the field as well as have published academic work of repute.

Professor Rathore, weighed down by the responsibility of his guardianship worries that these illegitimate professors do not have “the ideology and values deep rooted in our traditions of being a Guru”. My humble request as an outsider, Sir, is to please explain what that ideology and those values deep in the roots happen to be? I hope with perplexed heart, Sir, that these are not the ideology and values of Respected Guru Dronacharya. Drona Sir, as we all know, first refused to teach a deserving shishya and when the shishya learnt despite of the Guru, rendered his vidya useless by demanding undeserved Guru dakshina.

However, if they referred to values happen to be values of Buddha, Sir, who wanted everyone to think for themselves rather than being obedient, then these illegitimate professors will not be found wanting, I am sure.

Now a few words regarding teacher education, Respected Guardians. First, Sirs and Ma’ams, education is bigger than teacher education. And unless one first understands education as human endeavour as well as a field of study one is hardly in a position to be a good guardian of teacher education. That is because, as you know very well, Respected Guardians, understanding of TE is situated within the understanding of education. Second, this thing referred to as education cannot flourish without drawing upon a very wide range of human knowledge. And all that human knowledge, Sirs and Ma’ams, cannot be encapsulated within your cherished B.Ed. and M.Ed. These very B.Ed. and M.Ed. have ossified in last 50 years under the guardianship of people very much respected and very much like yourself, Sirs. Please have a look at the research done, academic writings produced, new and powerful ideas brought in theory and practice of education; and you will find that the contribution of B.Eds. and M.Eds. is negligible. The illegitimate have produced much more educational knowledge than the proud inward looking “fraternity of Teacher Educators” to whom Porf. Rathore so hopefully appeals. Would it not be useful, Respected Guardians, to reflect why it is so? Why we are in such a sorry pass today? What is your contribution to this state of affairs, Respected Sirs and Ma’ams?

My humble observation as an intruder, Respected Guardians, is that the air in side this cherished precinct of yours is stale, there is no ventilation and the atmosphere is numbing for the mind. The future of our children, Sirs, depends on teacher education and teacher education, Respected Guardians, depends on opening up the windows of this mansion of yours which are shut for over 100 years now.

The humble request of this intruder, Respected Guardians, is to let some fresh air come in. Please don’t feel threatened, we illegitimate intruders are powerless; all we can do is think and act humanly, Sirs. And such creatures have been losers throughout the history. We pose no threat to you Respected and Powerful Guardians.

With respect and hope

A humble intruder
Rohit Dhankar

******

8 Responses to Open letter to self-assumed guardians of Teacher Education

  1. There are two main arguments I see here with respect to teacher educator (TE) qualifications. One , with the norms that gives one the legitemacy (read qualifications) to be called a TE. The other is the expceptions to the norm (read without the regular qualifications).

    First the norms. If the argument is that a B.Ed. And M.Ed. degree is a requirement to qualify as a TE, then what is being said is that one can be a TE only if one qualifies to be a school teacher. Clearly, being a school teacher is not sufficient to be a TE as one needs a much broader, different and more theoritical pererspective to be teaching teachers, and also teachers are adults not children. I don’t think anyone will disagree with me on this one. What is debatable is – is it necessary to be trained as a school teacher to be a teacher educator. Many will argue that without the real experience of classroom teaching, it will be difficult to teach teachers. I disagree. In my opinion, one can gain understanding of teachers and their work well through classroom observations and other tools of research. In fact sometimes only school teaching experience without larger theoritcal and systemic understanding can very well work against a teacher who is a TE because of a possible ‘tunnel’ vision limited to classroom process understanding.

    Now , whereever there are norms and qualifications there are bound to be people who are excpetional. Opportunities for the excceptional people really exist in private spaces, it does become difficult to justify exceptional cases in public institutions. Where do such people who are teacher educators without the appropriate qualifications derive their legitemacy from ? From their students ! If students feedback about a qualified TE is poor, one will natuarlly want to go ‘fix’ the programme that qualified the TE in the first place. But if a person is not qualified and s/he is not able to meet the students needs, then s/he looses the legitemacy to continue as a TE. ‘Feedback’ is tricky business. It requires both a robust feedback process as well as self-reflection / introspection on the part of the TE – hence the intellectual and the moral……

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    • rdhankar says:

      Dear Bindu, Largely I agree with your argument, but want to point out two issues. One, in this mail I am not arguing for people who do not qualify; but am arguing for people who actually qualify according to the UGC norms. The UGC norms do not hold B.Ed. and M.Ed. necessary to become a professor in a university. Second, when people argue that only M.Eds. should teach for B.Ed. they are not arguing only for the capability to be a school teacher as M.Ed. is not for teaching children in the schools but for teaching teachers. What they arguing is that other people who do not have M.Ed. but have MA, even if in Education, should not be allowed to be teacher educators. Therefore, the issue here is less of admitting unqualified and more of creating appropriate and intelligent norms regarding qualifications.

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  2. Aruna says:

    To my experience, even if one holds all the so called required degrees, one does not get a job of a teacher educator. There are issues of nepotism, caste biases, religious biases and never ending issue of bribery which is so pertinent in the appointment processes. Some times youngsters like me wonder whether having a clear cut qualifying degrees is more necessary? Or one should have the right kind of cultural capital? Or one should struggle through ones life against destined conditions. I see no way to fight against the issues mentioned above.

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  3. Reva Yunus says:

    Sir, thanks for the article. Absolutely enjoyed reading it and remembered once again why we used to love being in your class.

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    • rdhankar says:

      Thanks Reva, it is good for a teacher’s mental health to know that his students like his classes. 🙂 Hope you are doing very well.

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  4. Mr,Dhankarji, I feel that NCERT,NCTE have teacher Education Depts. Prof,J.S.Rajput didn’t possess BEdand MEd but he galvanised both NCTE and NCERT contribution ofTeachers for enhancing quality of “Teacher Education” is always welcomed. Nodoubt as an intruder you were very critical. But pl donot dismantle foundations.: Rangacharlu

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    • rdhankar says:

      Thanks for writing Prof. Rangacharulu. I neither want to dismantle foundations, not am capable of such a feat. I am only interested in whatever little I can contribute in building the foundations. 🙂

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      • ProfRangacharlu says:

        Thanks, Pedagogical practices adopted in so called mushroom BEd/DEd colleges are stale.
        Specific training modalities and good intership of longer duration is needed.Let this healthy debate go on pl: Ranga Charlu

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