Curriculum Development – A Continuous Headache

R Jayaraman

Author: R Jayaraman

Date: Tue, 2016-11-22 14:08

The modern world revolves around education. Many learned people have pointed out that India has remained backward mainly because of our low levels of literacy. This may be one way of keeping the uneducated masses continuously under the thumb of the “learned people.”

Today’s world can be divided into three parts – the Learned World, the Trying World and the Given Up world.

The Learned World is obviously at the forefront of education. This world has mastered the art and science of educating its populations and using the benefits of organised learning, clearly established on utilisation of available resources, converting them to useful products and services and driving up the standards of living. This world has successfully created a “high consumption, living for the sake of a high standard of living” syndrome, according to which the more profits a capitalist makes (and shares some of it with the “aam aadmi”), the more development is inferred to have taken place. The more one is able to consume, the more is the sales, and more is the profit and so on, goes the “economic cycle” which benefits the common good. This world has developed a “curriculum” for education and life which revolves around gathering knowledge and using it for economic benefit, for the common benefit. In Aristotlean terms this is the “knowledge” society, corrupted by the lure for lucre. It is a unidimensional world of money running after more, like a bank willing to lend to someone who can assure that he has enough of it to return the same, after paying interest!The next world is the Trying World. This one tries hard, trying to catch up with the Learned World. In this effort it gets a lot of guidance from the former, simply because the First World believes that more the merrier and wealth can be shared and poverty can be spared. I recall two views about this dichotomy. The illustrious man manager Russi Modi used to hold that “managing wealth is more difficult than poverty.”

He said this in the context of Tata Steel earning record profits when he took over as its Managing Director. Others have opined that while wealth can be shared, poverty has to be endured. It can be no one’s argument that any human being should hold poverty dear and that he should starve because he has no wealth. Printing currency and suffering under the dual burdens of inflation and deficit financing is any day better than missing a meal every other day. However the Learned World will not allow this. And the Trying World will not dare to defy this. This is a mystery of economics. The most wealth creating country – the USA – has the highest levels of deficit financing – and lowest inflation rate for decades. It also has the distinction of others holding more shares in its industry than its indigenous investors. Japan, China, Saudi Arabia and UK hold more stakes in the USA than the 50 United States.

Coming back to our subject the Trying World tries to go through the same path that its illustrious leader has done without sparing a thought that it is not economic development, but a decent and enriching life is what humans are looking for. It is obviously struggling and does not realise that by the time the “catch up” act is over there will be nothing to catch up to! The rate at which the Learned World is consuming thoughtlessly, the world as we know it will soon be gone. Thus the Trying World needs to find other ways and a new idiom and paradigms for world in which life and parameters will be totally different. Days are not far off when the human race will have to migrate to Mars and other planets which are more hospitable to life in the human form. Thus a new curriculum has to be developed.

By this logic what of the curriculum for the Given Up World? Does it have to give up on developing any curriculum at all? Not so. In fact, this world is the one which will have to carry the torch (or whatever) after the changes take place. What will be left? Difficult to imagine but management and managers will continue, hopefully delinked from the capitalistic philosophy as the sole arbiter of good and bad, beneficial and harmful, as has happened with the current Learned World. One needs a more balanced view. One needs to use other parameters to measure “development.” The new world manager will be one who will be trained in fields such as Philosophy, Music, Politics, Public Affairs, Media, Sports which are currently out of the curriculum. Knowledge should be the primary driver. Practice can follow. It is often not appreciated that the only time a management student can legitimately pursue academics is the MBA school, because after exiting, he or she will get into the so called “real world” with its rough and tumble, leaving little time for academic knowledge gathering type of activities. Only by broadbasing the curriculum, deepening the knowledge base and emphasising hard work and work ethic can the managers from the “Given Up” world manage the world that they will inherit from the clutches of the Learned World, with the Trying World being bypassed, as this world will only try and follow and has no ability to lead. In spite of Ratan Tata constantly and consistently exhorting his group company CEOs to “lead, not follow.”

So there are exciting times ahead for curriculum development. Hold on, the flight is about to begin, under new skies.


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A very thoughtful and insightful article written on the nuances of the degree of demarcation that education has created in the world. As you mentioned, that learned people for long has labeled India as backward because of the low levels of literacy. If we need to compare with others looking at a trustable source of data, then the human development index under the educational achievements ranks India as 131 in terms of literacy rate and the quality of education. While this topic is debatable, I agree to your views on how the world is divided into 3 parts – the learned world, the trying world and the given up world. With the present scenario of the world being in a VUCA state, changes in pedagogy is the only thing certain. I am moved by the way you explained the trying world and the hardships it has to suffer to get a decent and enriching life. As a matter of fact, the trying world does not understand that the larger portion of the pie is already taken by the learned world and whatever is left is either rotten or is given away for free by the capitalist minds in the trying world also. Then again, a new method has to be developed. Reading trough your article, I am also forced to look upon another dimension of the 3 parts you mentioned. The 3 parts can also be seen as the developed, developing & underdeveloped nations. And this seems to be synchronous in nature with your derivation but in another dimension. All the parameters you mentioned on the learned world, trying world and the given up world are applicable to this dimension also. It is an irony how the level of education in the learned world is causing around 70% of the global tension. As you rightly mentioned, it’s not about how literate you are but how you use that literacy to the benefit of mankind.

Dear Sir, you have very nicely conveyed in the article that ‘High consumption and living for a sack of high living standards’ has become a measure of development in developed countries. Developing countries are following growth model of developed countries with the migration of workforce from agriculture to manufacturing and from manufacturing to the service sector. Is development only about earning an economic profit and obtaining a greater share of resources? Here, the Gandhian model of the development comes into my mind. Gandhi had proposed developing a country with small and self-sufficient villages where everyone has something to work on and villagers are dependent on each other’s work. I know it may seem odd when we talk about promoting unproductive labor based units instead of developing highly productive industrial sector but it is meaningful when you look at growth beyond economic profit. Capitalistic mindset values living standard and luxury as the highest form of pleasure. People now forgot about eternal happiness hidden in arts and other activities. Their mind has become money centric and prone to a corrupt itself for materialistic gains. People have become incompetent in identifying the context of living their life. The Recent surge of right wing populism in the USA and European countries have forced us to think about development model that countries are considering. Many have raised an issue of unequal wealth distribution resulted from such growth and its bad implications in near future. Wealth redistribution becomes a hot topic for the political campaign in elections of developed countries. Development of index like Gross National Happiness by a small country like Bhutan forces us to put thoughts on which type of society in which we want to live in. Our beliefs and ideology are the pillars of the Society. We have already seen a bad failure of socialistic economies but extreme of any of capitalism or socialism would not be the right step. The balance between meritocracy and egalitarianism would be the way forward. Developed countries like USA and UK are creating the balance between the welfare state and laisse free economy. Scandinavian countries are now considered as a utopian place to compare with. The same way learning only about how to tap the maximum market and how to gain maximum economic profit will not be sufficient to deal with the future state of the world. Understanding of prevalent political and philosophical ideology will be need of manager of a future generation. ‘Development of appropriate curriculum with keeping in mind the change that economies are going on’ is the challenge against educational institutions of the world.

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