Accessing the Past

One of the motivations is that it helps us understand “change”. Most of us work with schools and we talk about the need for school education reform. Reform is a change that necessitates a deep understanding of what is the social reality of today, what happened in the past, what are the key trends if any and what is an educationist’s response to these changes. History is a key contributor to this understanding and that makes it an important topic for us.

There are two aspects to change: a “what is out there” aspect and a “what should we rather have” aspect. It is important to understand what is out there and the most important aspect of this is to understand the social institutions that we see today: representative democracy, money, gender and caste relations, ideas of progress and development, science & technology etc…

Often it would seem that we see these ideas as if they are like gravity. There are even economists who say that “self-interest” in economics is like gravity in Physics! Is this really so? Are these institutions like “natural” laws or were they constituted by changing processes in the past and hence are themselves amenable to further change in future as human purposes change?

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