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Decolonising the curriculum

Discussion in 'Education news' started by physicsfanboy, Jun 12, 2020.

  1. onbekende

    onbekende New commenter

    A great enlightenment for me came a couple of years ago, when I read this book:

    The central contention is that there are many classical musics (plural) - i.e. music which has complicated syntax and traditions and requires huge expertise of its performers, just as there are many genres of popular/folk music around the world.

    This, in a nutshell, is what we need to teach. It would be unfortunate if all the complex music presented were western, and all the simpler genres not - we definitely need to avoid that, but just glancing at our scheme of work for year 7s which I would say is fairly mainstream... we teach ragtime (largely black, relatively sophisticated - and not a music of 'oppression'), but we also teach sea shanties (largely white, very simple music, essentially work songs).
    George_Randle likes this.
  2. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    What about a turnip?
  3. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    That's reasonable!

    Often complains focus on shaming people and institutions for doing something entirely reasonable, like a European university focusing on European music. Who else is going to focus on it? Then they bring in the racist language. It makes everyone defensive and not supportive.

    But if you reframe the argument as you did, I can't see any objection.

    You may get people wanting to focus their study on one type of music and I think that's fine, but a more varied course will produce better, more well rounded musicians. Of course then people will complain about cultural appropriation!
    ParakeetGreen likes this.
  4. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    There are people at university who are not worthy of being there.
  5. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    For those interested, I believe that the students there where inspired by this

    For those who have the time and the interest, it is a discussion which actually raises some interesting points and some are quite pertinent to the Opening post of this thread regarding science and how it could be “decolonised”
  6. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    @9:21 "reject empirical nonsense"
    10:24 "so called science"
    10:42 "the existence of the soul, you are a sceptic"
    11.10 if I want to sends a rocket to the moon I don't need normal math
    Did you even watch the videoa you posted?
    Or were you expecting someone else to do the hard work?
  7. Ellakits

    Ellakits Lead commenter

    What I found particularly interesting was the girl’s reasons why she wasn’t in the science faculty. Apparently it wasn’t so much that she didn’t understand the concepts being studied, it was more because the science department did not also uphold her belief in magic.
    George_Randle and alex_teccy like this.
  8. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    I watched the entirety of both videos, but from your misquotes you seem to have hearing problems. If you just have issues with the Indian accent, the position is summarised in the second video at around 15 minutes in by one of the South African professors. Hopefully that allows you to better comprehend what the propositions being put forward are
  9. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    Yes, well they both sounded like a load of old nonsense, so there it is.
  10. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    To you...and you’ve already evidenced your listening skills.
  11. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    I'm saying that it's a lot of old cobblers.
    Science is not race based, it's a methodology. The scientists in India who eradicated polio and smallpox would agree, do you not think?
    George_Randle likes this.
  12. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    If the above quote is intended to be linked to the quote below, then you are further demonstrating that you have not really understood or tried to understand the point professor CK Raju was making.

    Did he actually say science is race based? If he did and I somehow missed it, then I’d be grateful to have it pointed out like you attempted to do in your earlier post. This time try to listen more attentively yin order to quote accurately, e.g don’t go saying he said the direct opposite of what he actually said as you did in every time stamp you gave before.

    If not, then just let the issue go, as I said in my post where I shared the video, I only intended it for those who have both the interest and the time to engage with it, as I found it informative in understanding what promoters of the decolonisation agenda mean when referring to science.

    did he actually say science is race based? If so, I’d appreciate the time stamp.

    for what it’s worth I don’t think the scientific method is race based. I also do not think that is what is being asserted by the academics pushing for “decolonisation”. Their objections seem to be around the application, teaching, and narrative around science more widely. I have some sympathy with that position.
  13. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    So if you don't think science is race based, why post it in the first place!

    And exactly what is his point? It seemed incoherent to me, that's what I'm saying.
  14. ParakeetGreen

    ParakeetGreen New commenter

    Very true. To reduce peoples' thinking process and to agitate for peoples' emotional state on things. Conflation leads to confusion. Which is in fact the opposite of what Science does and why Science has achieved success.

    Science as Knowledge and Method (to put into containers for speed of communication here) can be considered objectively across all peoples anywhere on the planet Earth: That is any method is used that then may accord more or less with observations of Nature to which future observations may disprove. Ideologies on the other hand... they provide "certainty". Usually the one tricky thing getting in the way of achieving certainty is getting hold of power... ! So they're not talking about Science.

    These people who agitate for their subjective world view to be inserted a priori, what they are doing is not Science but "The Sociology Of Science" or even "Scientology" if it did not already mean something else!

    Should you teach what is practical: What attunes to the learners, what they can play and possibly pursue all their lifetimes and find lasting value from? What is considered the quality of each classical tradition and how and why? How does that promote the former outcome?

    For example I did not like classical music at school so I did not like music. Whereas if I'd had opportunity to try different music I might have taken a different attitude and then learnt an instrument from that tradition. That might have taught me that music essentially seems to be an effective way for people who play it, to self-express successfully...
    alex_teccy likes this.
  15. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    This is a thread about decolonising the curriculum and I posted videos about decolonising science (which forms part of the curriculum).

    Perhaps bullet pointed PowerPoint slides will be easier to follow.

  16. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    That powerpoint is crazy.

    He thinks that 2+2=4 is a Christian conspiracy to convince non Christians that they are inferior.

    He doesn't like how superior Mathematical and Philosophical ideas from the east made their way to the west, were adopted and improved, then made their way back east as Science.

    Basically he doesn't want Europeans to have their equal place in history with every other group that contributed to human development, because he's upset about the inferior British tricking the superior Indians and taking over India.
    ParakeetGreen and alex_teccy like this.
  17. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    I thought he said his issue was more with how one justifies or proves the equation. In the slides he takes issue with the exclusion of empirical evidence and the favouring of abstract (Formal) mathematics, he specifically mentions the use of Peano’s axiom to prove the given equation. So I took it as his problem not being with the fact that 2+2=4 but rather with how one is allowed to prove that it is the case.

    I essentially took it as being close to the empiricism vs rationalism split that happens in philosophy and he is sounding like someone making a case for the supremacy of the empirical process and the need to stick to that.

    Clearly you read it differently, but given your name, I take it your background is in maths, so I would be interested to hear your take on his distinction between formal maths and practical maths

    This seems like an interpretation entirely of your own making. I genuinely do not see how it is reflective of the contents of the PowerPoint.

    I think what he expressed is a dislike for was what he viewed as the injection of abstract methodologies and ideas into previously empirical/practical disciplines. His given dislike of this is that he viewed that move to be rooted in ideology rather than truth or science as he sees it.

    I’m not saying one needs to agree, but it’s helpful to first try and gain an accurate picture of others’ views rather than just caricature them in order to make sweeping statements to dismiss their entire proposition. If he was so against western contributions and their place on history, I think he would have tried to avoid making recourse to Popper.
  18. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    It makes for intresting reading, but he's being entirely selective with his truth in regards to Indian history. Because this is flawed I view his dedective reason with doubt and claim it as evidence the author is prejuduced against "western" thought. I will give youthe following examples

    The colonised believed they they were inferior.
    Imperialism was teamwork. The Europeans worked alongside local powers to achieve their aims. The initial "colonisers" into india were orientalists, and adopted local customs and wives. Most of the time they were competing with other Europeans, not just Indian kingdoms.
    I They believed that to become superior they must imitate the West in everything: clothes, speech, music, food. I E.g. wearing ties and a suit in Delhi summer.
    Only the Indians employed by the government would have worn formal ware. The vast majority 99%+ would have continued wearing indigenous dress such as the Dhoti.
    I Even mispronouncing their own names: Mumbai as Bombay, Dilli as Delhi etc.
    British founded Madras (named after a local village) Were gifted Bomabay by the portuguese (Bom bai) Dheli is just a phonetic spelling, not a mispronounciation.

    This technique of mind capture very similar to church propaganda for conversion.
    Initially the British did not want to convert Indians. They set up many schools and colleges most of which are in operation to day and highly respected. Lord Canning was warned not to extend misionary activity in India. He ignored the advice and the result was the Indian Mutiny. Afterwards the British rowed back on missionary work.

    Tell people their religion is inferior, Islam is inferior, Hinduism is inferior and the solution for them is to turn Christian because Christianity is superior.
    Many religions do the same. Islam for example. And Hindus will not permit non Indians to convert to Hinduism.

    They were crude, ignorant and technologically backward
    Yes crude, yes ignorant, and oportunistic. many rulers on the sub-continent could be described so.
    Many Europeans were extremely open minded, learning the local languages and studying Indian literature. The Archeological Survey of India was founded by the British, and they were the first to protect and study monuments in India.
    They were far from technologicaly backward. They had the most advanced naval technology in terms of operating blue-water navies. They hard advanced metalworking to the point that they could make guns and canon. ( The ruler of Vijayanagar in the 16th Century needed Portuguese armorers to build and operate cannon)

    Europeans kept dreaming of conquering India from the beginning. Attempted to conquer India by converting Akbar, in 1582
    Is this true? The Moghuls would have already been well familiar with Christians, who had been in India since the 4th Century. Fatephur Sikri, which was built by the Moghuls containeda debating chamber for all religions, so I doubt if they were going to be "conquered" by Christianity.

    But failed miserably for over 250 years (from 1498 to 1757).
    The initial concern of the Europeans was trade, and excluding other powers.

    Their first victory in 1757 was obtained by cheating and bribery, not any superior technology.
    That's how all powers of the day opperated. Not Unique to Europeans.
    Europeans had vastly superior technology and strategy, the subsequent battle of Buxor the British defeated a moghul army nearly 6 times the size.
    He goes on to make the point that the Church sponsored education, yes it did, Universities were founded as places to study scripture. They were places of learning and debate. Without which there could not have been an enlightenment. Mendel, for example was a monk. Similarly Madrasas are places of study for Muslims.

    Why are Hiedigger and Descartes are inferior? Because he says so?
    This is a deeply ignorant and prejudiced view of history.

    "Science in the service of profit and capitalism. Many people agree that science has led to the wrong kind of technological products. E.g. antibiotics, chemical fertilizer, cars."​

    Cars fertilizers and antibiotics are the wrong kind of technological products? Sorry, this guy has lost all credibility for me.
  19. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    He writes this phrase

    But you cannot have the benefit of science and technology and ignore the underlying ideology. If you want Western technology, you will also get the ideology.
    I agree. but the ideology is not colonialism, it's liberalism. Equality for homosexuals and women and minorities. Freedom of thought. Democracy.
    Colonialism is long gone. He's complaining that western thought has resulted in more advances and development than any other. That's true, it has but that's come at a price.
    ParakeetGreen likes this.
  20. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    It's a 340 page Powerpoint so I tried to summarise best I could.

    There is no difference between practical and formal maths, you can represent practical things with formal methods. His example is that 2+2=4 isn't always true because 2 small fish plus 2 large fish would get a more complex answer from a market trader who would take things like weight into account. Well you wouldn't represent it as 2+2 if you wanted to take other variables into account, it could be 2S + 2L. Also those practical examples are in the curriculum already!

    The powerpoint is full of examples of "this brilliant person from the east invented this area of Mathematics or Science, here is how a stupid westerner misunderstood it". It's true but very petty and ignores examples of people from the west contributing good ideas.

    I don't know what he is on about with the religious and ideological parts, it's like he is saying that Christianity and Colonialism are bad so anything funded by those things is also bad. I don't know what exactly it is that he wants to change though.

    I go out of my way to show examples of Islamic Art in Construction and earlier examples of Pythagoras' Theroem, but the history of Maths isn't on the curriculum so there's limited opportunities to do those things.

    Does he want us to teach which culture owns each bit of Maths?
    ParakeetGreen and alex_teccy like this.

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