ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Teaching History in Unjust Times

The Challenge of Democratization: Learning and Teaching History in the 21st Century edited by Kumkum Roy, 2020; New Delhi, pp 230, free e-book,


Universities and the academic world have always been part of a game of status mobility. We may not articulate it in that way to ourselves, but the reason why people study something is at least partially to increase their status, be it in their own eyes or in the more broadly accepted prestige system of their immediate community. There may or may not be something of deeper meaning in higher education, but there is always a cultural framework that gives higher and lower ranks to different codes embedded in it. The frameworks may vary; some may consider learning the language and cognitive styles of elite Euro–American scholars the way to rise to giddy heights, while some may consider debunking those styles to be the path to higher self-­esteem.

The moral and emotional appeal of the classroom, too, is based on status differences. Classroom life, when it is effective, draws students to admiring and wanting to become like the teachers performing next to the blackboard. Their language, style, knowledge and sense of humour, all symbolise higher social rank and students tend to learn to aspire towards that. Max Weber, M K Gandhi, Pierre Bourdieu and many others have described and commented on this status politics.

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Updated On : 3rd May, 2021
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