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Decolonising the curriculum

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

  1. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    This isn't about maths it's about a pathological resentment of the west. There's not a shred gratitude, not recognition of the benefits that Western science has bought in terms of medicine, scientific methodology, agrigculture, industry. I'm not making it up, he says so himself.

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

    Resentment (he hates the west and it's achievements), arrogance(he considers himself beyond criticism) and deciet(he's misrepresentong history and mathematics) . That's an incredibly toxic combination. When one is as bitter as he is yet basking in privilege conferred by academic and social standing, then there's something wrong with that person.

    India has eliminated famine, due to western scientific methodology and the work of Norman Borlaug. India eliminated Smallpox and Polio. In 2016 the number of people living in extreme povertry 124 Million. By 2022 that number will be 15M. That's down to increased wealth which comes with liberal trade, improved schools, medicine and education, all which rest on Western modes of thought.

    His motivations are clearly not to do with mathematics or science but to related to his politics, which is to see the West as a fundamentally repressive dominant culture, hence the obsesssion with a very one sided view of colonial history. There's no sense of dialogue, looking at the good points and the bad points, and coming to an agreement. To engage in dialogue, as far as he is concerned would be to enter into the process by which western ideas as a dominant culture (as he sees it) is maintained. In postmodernist identity politics, there is no dialogue between various identity groups because they are locked in a perpetual struggle for power.

    Yet education is a fundamentally dialogical process and this is where his Christian-phobia comes in. Logos means "reason" in a Greek and in scripture, also as Word- as in the word of God, so spreading the word of God has always been dialogical process. This is why, for example, missionaries went to extraordinary lenghts not only to learn languages, but to write them down, And hence the origins of education and schooling in the West being rooted in Christianity and the church.

    He is quite aware that in attacking Christian thought he is attacking the basis for Western civilisation. Again excluding the possibility of a including other religions in the process except as victims of the dominant culture, as he sees it.

    He's asking us to accept that there are no universal truths but at the same time insisting that we accept his Marxist interpretation of history. He's not intrested in maths, but he is very intrested in assaulting the basis of western civilisation.

    Academia, certainly the humanisities and social-sciences are arguably the most far-left and politically corrupted institutions in our society and permeated by a postmodern doctrine so the idea that he is a vicitim of bias is out of the ball-park as far as I'm concerned.
  2. costermonger

    costermonger Occasional commenter

    So suddenly christianity is a force for good, because maths?!
    You were doing so well until then.
  3. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    That’s not quite what I said. But thank you.
  4. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    “There's not a shred gratitude”? That’s an interesting thing to take issue with. So, if one is going to critique a system or thought or anything, one must overtly demonstrate gratitude for the good things that the subject of criticism has achieved? Do you consistently practice this in your own life? Do you know how much gratitude is owed to Islamic civilisation and Islam, yet I do t often here a similar reproach when it Islam or Muslims are being criticised or scrutinised.​

    The history he mentions which is most pertinent to his espoused view is that of Euclid, I don’t remember anybody in this thread taking the time to show how or where he is wrong in that. The only history you have taken issue with is his representation of colonial India, and if you had taken the time to look into his views (as I have down with the fella you brought forth) you would have come across him agreeing with aspects which you have criticised him on, e.g. the fact that Indians had to be involved and complicit with any colonialist endeavour. Obviously you both take that fact in different ways, he sees it as a negative and you seem to see it as a sign that there was nothing wrong with the colonisation.

    yes, the communist party of China has lifted so many of its people Out of poverty, it mist therefore be unthinkable that communism and all its elements be open to criticism, and anyone who dare critique any aspect of it must be reminded of all the good that it has produced; especially if they also show ingratitude by not mentioning all this good when they misguidedly give their critique.

    to me the above argument is about as sound as the one you are attempting to make.

    You realise that the very first videos I posted were of him having a dialogue. In it those who opposed him were present and gave their views and he then engaged them (quite passionately at the end and it would seem they probably continued their discussion privately afterwards).

    you really do seem to be projecting a lot onto the man and his stated position without much justification in my opinion.

    What you say about the church’s view of the spread of Christianity is quite contentious to say the least and to then point to that as a motivator for their interactions makes it even more open to critique. However at least you have found a point of agreement in placing the church at the centre of western education historically and the fact that this has an influence on the knowledge that was then produced. He thinks it had some negative aspects and you seem to be suggesting it didn’t and was all for the good?

    The basis of western knowledge is not wholly western or wholly Christian as far as I am aware. Lots of Muslims, pagans and other were involved. Therefore to attack some of the Christian elements or influences is not akin to disparaging the entire thing.

    I suggest you look him up. As you are clearly not talking about the same guy as I posted:


    what part of his biography justifies you suggesting he isn’t interested in maths and then tagging on all that stuff about humanities and social sciences. The guys entire background is in the hard sciences and maths.[/QUOTE]
  5. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    I think that you just learned how annoying a biased one sided take on a subject can be!

    Sound familiar? :)
  6. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    I’ve know that for a while, hence why I try not to engage in it...

    so are you saying I have been doing just that? or is that CL Raju was doing that? Or both?

    ACOYEAR8 Star commenter

    As teachers are we not 'duty-bound' to equip our students for a successful life in the country they habitually reside in ?
    Hence, each country's view of an educational curriculum will reflect what is felt to be useful in living in that country.
    I think our curriculum -such as it now is- in the Uk needs adjusting to account for ethnic balance and views but is as wide, if not wider than some other countries.
    There are not enough hours in the school day to accord merit to every person who is held to be the 'leader' in a specific field from their country's pov. We have to begin globally. Just thoughts really, runnin g on gas....as end of term approaches.
  8. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    I agree with almost everything that you say, but would just add that I couldn’t really say how it compares with other curricula across the world since I am not sufficiently aware of them.
  9. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    I would like to share share this video with those interested in the general discussion. although not directly linked to the topic, it does touch upon the need and reasons to expand our curriculum and the historical narratives we propagated.

  10. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    Mate, I'm just working from the video and the powerpoint you posted earlier in the thread, by CK Raju.
    That's where I've taken my quotes from.
    "decolonising the curriculum" means making sure only one perspective of history is permitted. If means in essence decoupling what is taught to young people from their history and heritage. There's a saying maybe attributed to Marx which goes something like, "a people separated from their history are easy to control". There's nothing in "decolonising the curriculum" which is about presenting a balanced view of history, evaluating the complexities, or even engaging in a dialogue. It's just presenting Western history, art culture and now science as only corrupt, predicated on theft, repression, indoctrination and genocide.
    It's a view that is forced and compelled on University Campuses. Nigel Biggar is a professor at Cambridge

    In 2017, academics launched a vociferous attack on Prof Biggar after he suggested that people should have “pride” about aspects of their imperialist past.
    He said that the history of the British Empire was "morally mixed" and that "just like that of any nation state, then pride can temper shame".
    Over 50 professors, lecturers and researchers signed an open letter expressing their “firm rejection” of his views.
    “The problem is that most academics know nothing about imperial history,” Prof Biggar said.
    “What they do know is that it’s not fashionable to stand up for the British Empire and they also get the impression that if you dare to that, like me, you get mobbed. If you are younger your career is at risk if you stand up for unfashionable causes.”
    Prof Biggar described how at a conference he organised on colonialism and one young academic said he would only attend on the condition that his name does not appear on the programme as he fearer that his career would be “damaged” by association with the event.
    By contrast, Priyamvada Gopal is free to tweet "White Lives Don't Matter" and is allowed to excuse herself on the basis that she is referring to "structure and ideology". On US campuses, many universities have "bias investigation teams". Bias, is of course a code word for an opinion that an individual does not agree with or finds unpleasant. And they do not handle just the extreme right-wing material. There is a danger in Universities throughout the anglosphere in speaking honestly about what you think about an academic proposition.

    This matters, because in order to think, you need to be free to speak. Totalitarian societies, whether they are Communist, Christian or Islamic theocracies, tinpot crony capitalist dictatorships do not produce great scientists, artists and thinkers on anywhere like the scale that free-market free-speaking orientated societies do. It's why China now and the Soviet Union then engages in large scale industrial espionage and imitation of western products. And why the middle-east is in cultural chaos, economic and intellectual stagnation.
    And if you were to add up all of the great advances, inventions and discoveries ,the majority would belong to Christian socieites. you may find that contentious, but there it is.
    CK Raju, knows it, so he writes that antibiotics, cars and whatever else a negative products of capitalism. Why else would he hold such a strange opinion?

    Consider the middle-class in China you mentioned. This happened when China engaged in free-trade and experimented with liberal policies. But let us not forget that it is the same state that sent 60-100 million people to their deaths in the cultural revolution, practices extra-judicial killings, keeps political prisoners for organ harvesting, uses technology to monitor it's citizens, puts Uighur Muslims into prison camps and demolishes places of worship, occupies foreign nations, and destabilises the region.
    George_Randle likes this.
  11. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    So your idea of a discussion is to avoid everything pointed out to you and just go off on a diatribe completely untethered to what was brought forth by the other side. Hardly productive or enlightened.

    Anyway, from the power point I posted:

    What is decolonization?
    Decolonisation is NOT the formula “reject the West”. That is a false caricature.

    so no mate you are not “just working from the video and the powerpoint posted earlier in thethread, by CK Raju.”

    just like you weren’t in your very first post responding to the videos:
    For clarity:
    @9:21 "reject anti-empirical nonsense"
    10:24 "so we revert to normal maths which admits empirical proofs, and now again another caricature, oh you have to do everything empirically, not at all, it admits empirical proofs and inference, that is zeroism and this happened to exist 2,400 years ago long before so called science"
    10:42 "the existence of the soul, he was a sceptic"
    11.10 All this metaphysical stuff is a completely redundant add on, if I want to do a practical problem, if I want to send a rocket to the moon I‘ll compute with a computer, I’ll do a numerical calculation, I don't need formal math

    You seem to have exhibited a trend of mischaracterising those you wish to argue against in this thread and imposing views which are not their own. You speak of free thinking, I would suggest being more open minded and fair in how you receive arguments.
  12. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    a further case for decolonising or rethinking the contents of the curriculum, this time history.
  13. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Star commenter

    If you believe that Raju understands decolonising the curriculum as “Becritical, choose what is best”, then you have not fully understand what the powerpoint says.
    If this was just a matter of including more sources and examples of thought from India and the Islamic world, I don't think we'd be having this argument.

    He is calling in to question any science discovered in the 500 year period or so to the present day. The basis for doing this is that it is a product of imperialism and colonialism and therfore part of a repressive structure.
    That's not making a false caricature it's what he is arguing.

    He believes that western thought, philospohy and science is taught not because of it's merit or value but as some ESP kind of legacy from colonialism.

    Colonization conquered the mind by making people feel inferior and that the West is superior. I This was achieved through false history and by globalising church education. I This education systematically inculcated the superstition that the only way to become superior is to imitate the West.
    This is an ideological position. The Wests' colonial involvement in the middle-east was comparatively short lived, only decades compared to 500 years of Ottoman rule. Why is he not talking about that if his position is objective?

    Everyone accepts decolonisation necessary in human and social sciences. (“If French sociology is different from American, why not an Iranian or Indian sociology.”) I But the belief about hard sciences (mathematics, physics, chemistry) is different.
    In other words, the interpretation of history is only acceptable from a postmodern/marxist perspective in the humanities. That's why I gave the example of Professor Nigel Biggar as an example of a culture where saying or teaching the wrong thing can lead to mob-protests or formal investigation.

    Science in the service of imperialism. Many people accept that science and technology has been put to unethical use for war and domination.

    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.​

    As you can see, he views western science as wholly negative. Either as a means of war or as products of exploitative capitalism.

    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.
    The West understands this weakness, and uses it to attack your beliefs.
    My position is that it is wrong to say that science is against Islam. The correct statement is that Western science is against Islam.
    That is, the science which developed in the West is not universal.
    It is ideologically loaded with church metaphysics which is anti-Islam.
    Western science believes there are laws of nature. (E.g. Newton’s “laws” of motion and “law” of gravitation, which you learnt in school) I However, this is a religious belief not a scientific belief.

    I'm not making science ideological, that's what he's doing. Do you agree that "antibiotics, chemical fertilizer, cars." are the wrong type of technological products? Do you agree that science is ideologically loaded with church metaphysics that is anti-Islam? Do you agree that Newton's laws of motion and gravitation are religions and not scientific belief? Do you think he's making a false comparison between the use of the word "law" that Newton uses to describe an observable and mathematically quantifiable phenomenon, and "laws of god" or is he just playing semantic games?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2020
  14. George_Randle

    George_Randle Established commenter

    There are tragic real life consequences to such beliefs. The ANC failed to tackle the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa. Thabo Mbeki spent hours on the internet looking at traditional African herbal remedies for AIDS and banned antiretroviral medicine in public hospitals. His health minister Manto Tshalababa-Msimang also preferred treatments based on garlic and lemon diets and easily avalable vegetables.

    Around 350,000 people in South Africa died because of this.
    alex_teccy likes this.
  15. MsOnline

    MsOnline Occasional commenter

    Do you think views also depend on what people see as the 'usefulness' and relevance of education?

    Eg looking forward, shouldn't we be preparing pupils to be global citizens? To see how we all connect so that there can be mutual understanding and less barriers? Or doe search country prepare pupils for one context?

    It's likely that pupils will go on to work and live abroad and have friends and do business/ study with much more diverse groups than us.

    Key to this seems to be being open to other view points, that things have changed and will continue to do so, that we encourage real enquiry and critical thinking etc.

    So... why view subjects through 1 lens? The curriculum must keep up or pupils won't engage.
    ACOYEAR8 likes this.
  16. costermonger

    costermonger Occasional commenter

    Fine for some subjects. Not for science. The only 'lens' is the scientific method. That is as it should be. If we water it down with 'everyone has a viewpoint' it becomes less useful.
    alex_teccy and ACOYEAR8 like this.
  17. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    Don’t think it should be “watered down” but certainly a more rigorous and nuanced understanding of what the reality of that method is would be a useful thing for both educators and students. To that end, I think this makes for good reading:

    On section 6.1 we find this interesting passage:
  18. MsOnline

    MsOnline Occasional commenter

    I disagree - take medicine and disease prevention. If the curriculum is to prepare future healthcare professionals, support workers and healthy members of society then it's got to keep up and incorporate/ embrace 'non-Westerm' approaches. It has already changed and should continue to do so.

    Functional medicine, alternative medicine, complementary medicine - elements of all which would have been dismissed when many of you /us were at school. Key - lots of this would have been dismissed because they were non-Western. This can be linked to how those early 'explorers' and scientists /theorists viewed non-Western thinking as less important because they didn't understand or respect it. This goes for nutrition too.

    Children learn much more about wellbeing, mindfulness, foods to heal etc etc and the NHS prescribes access to these things although inconsistently. And especially as the school populations become more diverse.

    The curriculum - must remain relevant. We need to help pupils understand our ever changing world.

    Disclaimer - I'm not a scientist and I'm certain there are many on here with lots of experience in the field. However some of this is common sense.
  19. costermonger

    costermonger Occasional commenter

    All 'functional, complementary and alternative medicine' is rubbish. It's snake oil sold to the scientifically illiterate. It will remain rubbish and should be ignored until there is evidence that it is effective. Anecdotes are not data.
    There is no such thing as 'non western' science, because there is no 'western' science. The scientific method is the same in Goa as is London. The reality it is attempting the discover is the same. To claim that there are different flavours of science for different social groups is to fail to understand what science is, what it is for and how it works.
    I am sorry if I am being a little brusque, but I have seen a huge rise in this kind of nonsense. If we allow science to be thrown away, we are regressing to the dark ages. I don't want to live in the dark ages, I like having pain free dentristy, freedom from religious diktat, the internet and sufficient food all year round.
  20. MsOnline

    MsOnline Occasional commenter

    What about the other types of medicine or prevention approaches I mentioned? Complementary or Alternative for instance?

    Are these non-Western approaches also rubbish?

    Can't you see how 'other' approaches rather than pill-popping are more widely accepted and used?

    Ps - if you live in the UK, your taxes already go towards these 'dark-ages' remedies. Many of which have NICE published reports which are widely available to the public.

    The curriculum should increasingly reflect this, part of which is acknowledgement that a lot of the 'science' or knowledge is not from the west.

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