Culture cannot be considered differently from education. Their mutual relationship is like that of space and time. We are forced to address both as education-culture continuum.
Several factors contributed to the growth of the Education-Culture continuum. Human infants are weak and fragile. Left to themselves that die. So, the mothers had to stay back from hunting to feed and look after the babies. The old and the invalid could stay with them and be taken care of.
The brain also had some unprecedented development at this point in history. The neocortex enhanced the function of the amygdala. A new way of thinking and being emotional, different from instincts, became possible.
As language developed we were able to think along and across time. This led to the development of consequence and logic. The old order of survival of the fittest gave way to survival through coexistence.
Division of labour led to specialization and further development of skills. Roles were assigned to each member of the family. As families grew into societies, the same pattern was followed.
This interdependent structure gave everyone more security. Everyone was indispensable. Each one was unique. This influenced the curriculum of the ancient days. There were a variety of disciplines to choose from, all of them being more or less equally important.
But when societies began to conquer one another and enslave one another, things began to regress. This culminated in colonialism and the industrial revolutions which in turn initiated a thorough revamping of this structure. More of the same was a necessity. The military training received by millions during the World War I and II reinforced the concept of uniformity in education and social behaviour. Theories of conditioning also helped.
But now we know that uniformity and mass production are suicidal for any society. Thus a certain levelling of education-culture continuum had already been achieved even before the advent of globalisation. It was this urge for uniformity at the cost of uniqueness that made globalisation possible.
Globalisation is not, as we are made to believe, the interpenetration and conglomeration of different cultures. It is nothing more than the pruning away of the excess. Moreover, coming as it does, from as unidirectional and unilateral a platform as the international trade motivations, it cannot claim to have an interest to effect a multifaceted interdependence of whatever is not uniform in essence and nature.
This monomaniacal accent on trade as the most purposeful human activity has taken us way back into the past, back to the time before the beginning of the education-culture continuum, the time of the survival of the fittest. When Bill Clinton declared the US as an indispensable nation, he was actually hinting that there are indispensable nations. Today we know that Iraq was on top of their list. We also had our own list in which the top was the tribal populations in Muthanga and Nandigram. For a developing nation like India, the safest way is to look into
its own soul and decide how it could be indispensable in this new world, rather that enter into an already lost race with the developed countries.
A socio-cultural know-how which is the inheritance of every Indian is what makes India indispensable for the rest of the world. As of now we are upstart crows beautifying ourselves with their feathers, especially in the field of education. If we are to be of any significance to the rest of the world, we will have to be ourselves. A reviving of the Indian education-culture continuum is essential for our survival.
In this connection we should also examine the Indian Philosophical thought. When we talk about education we knowingly or unknowingly consider the Indian Philosophical thought as its guideline. When we talk about Indian Philosophy, we have advaita as the pivotal point. Advaita accounts for the categorical difference between the Eastern and the Western view of life. But we always forget that this system of thought is more like a tradition than a culture. The difference here is that tradition is culture in stagnation and culture is the evolution that tradition undergoes.
This takes us to the next question: Is Indian thought impervious to change? How much of it is seen by sages as resistant to change? Was it treated by them as solidified tradition? It is said that Truth is one and different scholars propound it differently. Is it just a matter of dialectical conflict between them or does it give a pattern of evolution?
It is easy to see that the Indian Philosophic thought whenever it was honestly interpreted, without vested interests, was more like an evolving culture and not a stagnant tradition. The path it takes in its evolution is slowly taking it away from religiosity and rituals, from worship and indoctrination to implementation and logical positivism.
We accept evolution of ideas in various fields. Let’s take the example of science. We study the history of science only with a view to see how it evolved. We do not base our scientific principles on all the things which have ever been discovered, but on the latest ideas and theories.
Seen as an evolving sociocultural know-how rather than as the ultimate Truth, the Indian Philosophy or the Eastern thought will be the solution for problems ranging from ecological issues to psychic disorders. Such a view will explain why the greatest truth on earth is shrouded in mysticism and permeated with contradictions. Such a view of Indian thought will bridge the gap between the greatest Truth on earth and the most disturbed generation on earth, the young generation of the present world. Moreover, as things stand, it is our only hope.