This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

(click to enlarge)

Education For Social Transformation: Recognising the ‘Agency’ of the Teacher

Professor Poonam Batra
Maulana Azad Centre for Elementary and Social Education
Central Institute of Education, University of Delhi


The last decade and a half have witnessed several efforts towards school reform in India, in particular through large-scale government-led programmes of primary schooling such as the DPEP. Reforms have ranged from providing physical access to schooling, involvement of the community, to specific pedagogic interventions through in-service training of teachers and textbook development. Given the diverse socio-political contexts, field interventions across various states have followed different trajectories. More specifically these have included developing training modules, training of teachers in service and establishing systemic academic support structures such as Block Resource Centres and Cluster Resource Centres. In an endeavour to improve the quality of primary schooling, a curriculum and textbook renewal process was also initiated under the programme of pedagogical interventions1. One of the key ideas that led the process of pedagogical renewal in the DPEP was the idea of ‘child-centered education’.

The term ‘child-centered’ education was first referred to in policy in the National Policy of Education (NPE 1986) Perspective Plan. The NPE (1992 : 4) refers to a ‘child-centered approach’ as “a warm, welcoming and encouraging approach, in which all concerned share a solicitude for the needs of the child.” It further states, “A child-centered and activity-based process of learning should be adopted at the primary stage.” How this approach would unfold in the classroom was left to the ‘practice’ of ‘child-centered education’ initiated by various programmes of school reform post-NPE, including the DPEP. This was the key principle that appeared to have shaped every single component of school intervention, may it be building ‘child-friendly’ classrooms, developing ‘child-centered’ textbooks and designing ‘child-centered’ methods of teaching. Yet, the discourse on child-centered education has not moved beyond the rhetoric of generalised notions such as ‘developing positive attitudes towards children’, ‘learning through play-way’, ‘learning with joy’, ‘building on what children know’ and the like.

The centrality of a ‘given’ conception of child-centered education in the DPEP has been observed by Dhankar (2003 : 8), “DPEP workshops on pedagogy, textbooks and visioning all start with discussions about the child…The effort appears to be one of seeking to reflect on existing notions of the child and to replace it with a ‘newer’ perspective.” The belief that a few “spontaneously produced ideas about the child, her learning processes…” without adequately embedding them in contexts – “are enough to construct a notion of quality and can constitute an adequate basis for all pedagogical decisions” has been severely critiqued. Batra and Nambissan (2003 : 135) argue that “such discourse is bereft of theoretical grounding and perspective. It also romanticises the nature of the child and trivialises the pedagogical significance of the fundamental principles of progressive education”.

Reform: a process of dis-empowering the teacher?

A close look at each of the key components related to pedagogical reform help us to gain insight into the processes of such reform. The training modules developed under the DPEP, for example, have promoted a discourse on several related ideas such as the need to take children seriously, to address their needs and to create non-threatening and nurturing learning environments. Activity-based teaching and learning, the use of supplementary materials, project work and issues of integrating teaching and comprehensive and continuous evaluation systems have been running themes of teacher training workshops.2 Training materials and workshops have made possible the wide use of terms such as ‘activity-based’ learning, ‘discovery learning’, ‘learning how to learn’ without however arriving at a shared construct of meaning or practice. Neither teacher-educators nor the training materials they use, engage with what child-centered education is and how it could be worked through in terms of actual classroom practice.  As a result, Batra and Nambissan (2003: 135) note, “Piece meal training renders teachers ill equipped and often incapacitated to translate the discourse into meaningful pedagogy.” Moreover, teacher-training methods fail to address some of the basic assumptions and beliefs with which teachers operate, such as ‘linking income, education and caste with learning achievements of children and perceiving children as ‘blank slates who know nothing, when they come to school.’3

Thus we see teachers continuing to carry the belief that the most dominant criteria that make an effective primary school teacher is her ability to be ‘soft spoken, tolerant, kind-hearted, hardworking, honest and punctual, devoid of bad habits and well-dressed.’4 The need to engage with children’s developmental characteristics and their understanding of natural and physical phenomena, subject-knowledge and pedagogical knowledge remains conspicuously absent. Unable to relate to the imposed ‘new vocabulary’ and conception of ‘child-centered’ education, teachers find themselves in a state of confusion and self-doubt. Therefore, it is not surprising to find teachers who continue to teach separate subjects, even though textbooks follow an integrated approach, focus on algorithmic procedures in mathematics and teach language through a focus on grammatical structures.

More importantly, the teaching-learning process reflects distortions in the interpretation of learning itself. Learning is once again seen as acquiring knowledge and skill from the outside and regulated practice by children is seen as the key to the mastery of given tasks. Pedagogy in the classroom contains and perpetuates a construction of classroom learning where learners are once again denied a constructive role in the learning process while teachers impose a regime of silence in the classroom and continues to view their role as one of ‘reforming’ children. In this flux of ‘new pedagogies and old beliefs’ the learning environment is left to chance.

To counter the element of chance, in-service packages provide teacher guides. This, as Hansen (2002: 274) has observed, is a case of going “to the opposite extreme of trying to blueprint each and every aspect of classroom interaction in the form of teacher guides.” This undue emphasis on spelling out the transaction process to the last detail, alienate teachers from their work and in the absence of ownership of the teaching-learning process, negates the role of experience in education. The teachers’ role in mediating the text is undermined and in actual fact trivialised.

Dhankar (2003: 30) observes “…the [DPEP] teacher is unable to practice in a reflective manner and depends on the activities supplied to him/her…Education is understood and approached in a narrow perspective …bound by three subject areas. The idea of education for democracy and the development of critical thinking are far from teachers’ ideal as well as practices.”

It must however be acknowledged that contemporary Indian school reform has carved a legitimate space for the ‘agency’ of the child. The need to respect the nature of the child and her pace of learning has been a running thread in all school reform. It is equally clear that in the absence of a deep engagement of its theory and practice, the ‘claimed practice’ of ‘child-centered’ conceptions of education remains hollow. The reform process too demonstrates the minimalist faith that the education system reposes in its teachers by denying her, her rightful place in the education process, thus missing the opportunity to establish the 'agency' of the teacher.

Recognizing the Agency of the teacher: the individual-social interface

Recognising the ‘agency’ of the teacher is significant from another point of view - the need to renew the unique faith in education as a social institution. As espoused in the writings of Dewey, Gandhi, Tagore and Sri Aurobindo we need to foster the belief that education is the key to achieve an ever-progressive society and that deep reform can happen only ‘when there is a corresponding change and newness in the ideal and aim of life and society itself.’ We need to turn our attention back to the aims of education, for example, as Dewey (1938) saw them – encompassing the growth of both the individual and society. In his words, “While on the one hand education meant the reorganization of experience leading to the growth of the individual child, it was also the most important agency for reconstruction and maintenance of society’s democratic principles.”

That the aim of education is both the individual and the collective is not really a matter of debate. The problem lies in viewing the individual and society as two opposing entities. Dewey5 asserts that an understanding of the child must begin with psychological insight into its nature that must continually be interpreted in terms of the ‘social’. Recognising that development does not follow an ‘isolated trajectory’, Vygotsky6 too believed that children are both natural and cultural entities, learning is grounded in the social medium in which they grow and the classroom is a collaborative community. Inherent in this perspective of a link between education and society is the acknowledgement of the ‘agency’ of the teacher. Both Dewey and Vygotsky lay great emphasis on the crucial role of the educator. Looking back on his educational work of the 1960s and 1970s, Bruner (cited 2004: 93) commented: “it was taken for granted [at that time] that students lived in some sort of educational vacuum…” Reviewing his own thinking on education, he later called attention to a belief in the active agency of the human being in the education process. Moving away from the pessimistic accounts of Bourdieu7 and that of education as a process of cultural reproduction, Habermas8 argued for the need to speak the ‘language of possibility’. Apple9 too has called for the need to redefine the role of education and to bring back the role of schools as agents of transformation. Each of these thinkers carries an underlying conception of education as a process of reconstruction and transformation.

The process of reconstruction and transformation implies a breaking away from the hegemonic control of the dominating and powerful and moving towards an egalitarian social order for the common good. Education is perceived to be an agent in this process. In this perspective, the substantive agenda of educational theory and practice is one of examining and interrogating the relationship between school and society – how schools perpetuate or reduce inequality; how knowledge and curriculum are socially constructed; whose interests are served by education and how power is produced and reproduced through education. Working on the lived experiences of students, the teacher is perceived to be critical in transforming the experience of domination to become ‘emancipated’ participants in a full democracy.

Underlying this object of education is a conception of knowledge, which is characterised by a dialectic between external (social constructions) and internal (reflective and soul searching) forces. However, the assumption is that an intellectual engagement with issues of knowledge, power, domination and control is sufficient to bring about social transformation. Theoretical frames of this nature rarely prompt educators to move beyond the intellect towards a wider and deeper engagement with the inner aspects of the teacher such as her sense of identity that also rests on the physical, the psychic and the spiritual plane.

The idea of engaging with domains other than the mental is inherent in early Indian philosophical orientations to education. Deeply critical of the colonial pattern of education, Tagore’s (1921 : 126) Shantiniketan was founded on his basic idea “that education should never be disassociated from life.” “The object of education” in the words of Tagore, “is to give man the unity of truth…[With] the separation of the intellect from the spiritual and the physical, school education puts the entire emphasis on the intellect…we devote our sole attention to giving children information, not knowing that by this emphasis we are accentuating a break between the intellectual, physical and spiritual life. …We must make the purpose of our education nothing short of the highest purpose of man, the fullest growth and freedom of soul.”

Sri Aurobindo (cited, 1991:52) while articulating his conception of ‘integral education’ stated that “Education to be complete, must have five principal aspects relating to the five principal activities of the human being: the physical, the vital, the mental, the psychic and the spiritual.” Sri Aurobindo believed that a conception of education must necessarily be based on a clear conception of the true aim of human life, both individual and collective. In his words “[the] individual exists not in himself alone but in the collectivity…the free use of our liberty includes also the liberation of others and of mankind.”

More recently, the dominance of traditional subject knowledge in schools has been critiqued by environmentalists who view it “as a legacy of the eighteenth century conception of knowledge…grounded in the idea of the universal applicability of reason and in the instrumental nature of rationality.” Laying the foundations for a mechanist intellectual framework such knowledge is critiqued to be “objectified, abstract, absolute and unchanging.” Attention is called to the need to reconstruct educational knowledge. The argument is that our relationship with nature is fundamental to this reconstruction. “Such a relationship can emerge from a set of dispositions or a frame of mind that is the task of the educator, parent and society to help develop.” It is also argued that “direct engagement with the environment…is fundamental to learning, and schools need to be embedded in the local community so that learning tasks can emerge out of real life contexts and both teacher and learner can work together.”10

Having established the case for recognising the ‘agency’ of the teacher in the process of education and learning, it would now be desirable to engage with how we can empower the teacher to act as 'transformative agent’ and how such an empowered teacher can foster and sustain a process of deep reform. A process of empowering the teacher necessarily includes engaging with a host of fundamental questions related to the nature of knowledge, the aim of education and the conception of learners and learning. The capacity to reflect upon oneself, to develop an understanding of the social world and to recognise the potential role of an educator in cultivating a change of consciousness and creating inspiration for learning are significant elements in this process.

Using the case example of the Bachelor of Elementary Education (BElEd) Programme,11 it is argued how teacher education can by design provide ‘learning spaces’ which challenge popular assumptions and belief systems while paving the way for expression of multitude, modes of awareness and varied ways of constructing meaning. The principles which govern the structure of the four-year programme can be broadly categorised as follows: inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary enquiry, dialogical interplay between theory and practice, deconstruction and reconstruction of school knowledge, engagement with constructs of human relations, the self and the practice of communication and hands-on experience with creative and professional skills. Each of these has been discussed to demonstrate how fundamental questions about the nature of knowledge, nature of learner and learning and the aim of education are addressed through the various components of the programme in the overall aim to prepare teachers differently.

Preparing Teachers differently

One of the key features of the BElEd programme is a structural provision wherein student teachers engage with relevant theoretical constructs within inter-disciplinary frameworks. For example, while engaging with the psychology of the child, students begin with developmental theories and constructs and move on to understanding children within socio-cultural and socio-political contexts. This engagement across domains enables them to deconstruct abstract notions of childhood as in classical psychological theory, simultaneously paving the way for a wider and deeper appreciation of the nature of learners and the social context of learning. It also opens up possibilities of a theoretical engagement with multiple perspectives. The hands-on engagement with children in ‘naturalistic situations’ through practicum enables student teachers to verify theory as well as develop new theoretical insights grounded in practice. Appreciation of multiple perspectives enables them to respect diversity and to caution themselves against a meaningless dualism that is often posited between the child and the curriculum, traditional and progressive education.

"Inter-disciplinary courses of study help to forge relationships with and between subject-matter and the milieu. Student teachers learn to view knowledge problematically, not as ‘given’ by experts but as being constructed within the personal and social settings of learning. This pedagogic approach values students’ viewpoints and involves teachers in negotiating the curriculum, gently nudging students to take ownership of the learning experience.” (2001 : 10) In Krishna Kumar’s (2001 : 3) words, existing programmes of teacher education treat the concept of knowledge embedded in the prescribed school curriculum as a ‘given’… (and) knowledge of pedagogical methods and child psychology dominate the ethos of teacher training institutes. This kind of knowledge is imparted without reference to the dynamic social realities in which children grow up. An awareness of current concerns in different disciplines is also usually absent.” The BElEd curriculum addresses this problem by “…amalgamating undergraduate studies in different subjects with educational theory and pedagogical experience in a phased manner.”(2001: 4) Interdisciplinary course design, along with field-based project work included in every course also "compels the teacher educator to shift her role from one of giving answers and providing a technical-rationalist view of knowledge to elevating ambiguity and helping students develop from a position of dependence to autonomy. Students become actively involved, motivated to learn, initiate their own inquiry, develop ‘habits’ of thinking and become prepared for handling the complexity and ambiguity of classroom teaching". (2001 : 10)

Reviewing Knowledge

Another significant feature of the BElEd Programme is to enable students to reconstruct the view of knowledge, they have 'acquired' in school in the core disciplines of language, mathematics, natural science and social science. Ordinarily, learning in school consists of assimilating a ‘given’ objective reality in the form of subject matter. Students learn through repeated practice of linearly sequenced text materials and rote memorise it for reproducing during examinations. Student learning is measured in terms of achievement levels in school subjects. In a given ‘instructional regime’ thinking and rote memorizing are considered synonymous and learning is viewed as a behavioural or cognitive construct independent of context. In Sadgopal’s (2001: 5) words "…a reconstruction of the view of knowledge in various disciplines along with developing a critical understanding of curriculum and pedagogy is a pre-condition to the making of a teacher who will have the potential to contribute to transformation (rather than maintenance of status quo) of school education”.

Reconstructing knowledge ‘learnt’ in school engages students in a process of constructing meaning out of personal experiences. The core concepts are revisited through a process of learning that encourages diverse student response, not textbook answers. Multiple representations, perspectives and realities are encouraged and learning becomes a search for meaning. Such learning is neither directed nor controlled by the teacher. Instead, the learner plays a central role in mediating her learning. The learner’s previous knowledge base, beliefs and attitudes are significant elements in the knowledge construction process. Educators work with and on the lived experience that students bring to the 'pedagogical encounter' rather than impose a 'given' curriculum. For the teacher-trainees who experience such a process, the way school children understand, conceptualise and make meaning of the world around is of greater significance rather than reproduction of 'accumulated facts’. Such a choice of pedagogy inevitably communicates to the teacher-trainee that the learner is an epistemological entity and hence learners’ identities and nature are crucial to the process of learning. It also conveys that knowledge is not a given reality external to the learner, but is actively constructed in the shared dynamic context of teaching and learning. The movement between theory and practice through project work and school-based practicum also allows teacher-trainees to experience knowledge as socially situated. Individual/group assignments and presentations engage them in a pedagogic process of discussion, collaboration, negotiation and shared meanings. Following a Habermasian12 perspective, these pedagogical processes establish the need for cooperative and collaborative work, the need for discussion based work, the need for autonomous, experiential and flexible learning, the need for negotiated learning, the need for problem-solving activities and the need for teachers to act as 'transformative intellectuals', promoting a critical and questioning attitude.

Dewey's understanding that education is the reorganization of experience highlights the importance of creating an environment for learning such as the above. Dewey (1948: 35) asserts that "A primary responsibility of educators is that they not only be aware of the general principle of the shaping of actual experience by environing conditions, but they also recognise in the concrete what surroundings are conducive to having experiences that lead to growth.” Elucidating this further, Hansen (2002 : 274) observes, " A striking feature of Dewey's conception of the environment is that if the teachers regulate or control the classroom environment in the manner he articulates, they will be constantly educating themselves. They, too, will be influenced directly by the very environment they strive to bring into being…

Thus, the environment that the teacher strives to shape can serve not only student's learning but also the teacher's growth as a human being.” This is best articulated in the words of a BElEd teacher educator (2001: 11), "our subjectivities as experts are destabilized as we encourage students to critically reflect. We learn to hold our experience and expertise in check. While confronting ourselves repeatedly, we negotiate with very difficult issues of class and language within the classroom; take responsibility for decisions as facilitators…rebalancing power equations. Together students and teachers are collectively generating (decolonized) knowledge…"

Developing the Self

The BElEd is an attempt to prepare teachers, who can reflect, develop a critical consciousness, which in turn would enlarge the vision and perspective of education. Practicum courses of theatre, craft and self-development in particular, provide opportunities to address conflicts and beliefs that are embedded in society and that influence structure and constrain the actions of teachers and children in a learning environment. “The basic conceptual parameter is that drama is education, meaning thereby that it is one of the natural ways available to human species for learning about the world by playfully constructing it.” (2001 : 55) Teacher practitioners who have undergone the BElEd hold that drama has helped them to explore ‘possibilities’ and in creating them where none exist. Drama provides a context as well as a medium of learning for a shift in the notion of pedagogy and the ‘democratisation of classroom space.’ “Democractisation of classroom space’ likened to Peter Brook’s ‘concept of space’ which theatre creates, encompasses a gamut of dimensions starting from the physical classroom space, to the mental, individual, social and shared space.” (2004 : 45) It creates a ‘leaning space’ that begins with the breaking down of the power equations between the teacher and the taught, adult and the child. This creation of a democratic learning space entails a shift in the notion of pedagogy and necessarily fosters the notion that knowledge is not transmitted but constructed actively within the shared context of social realities in which children grow. ‘A learning space’ enabled thus is bound to create in Dewey’s words, "occasions which are not and cannot be foreseen wherever there is intellectual freedom. They should be utilized…" but with a discerning ability "…to use them in the development of a continuing line of activity" and not trusting them “… to provide the chief material for learning.”(1948: 96)

Exploring the self is a major thrust area of the drama component of the BElEd programme. Drama helps to surface, acknowledge and deal with attitudes, beliefs and notions that impact learning. These may range from a teachers’ personal notion of pedagogy and learning to prejudices and biases in relation to the larger social-political context. Drama throws open the possibility of catharsis which when complemented with personal growth workshops carry immense therapeutic value. Apart from addressing issues deeply personal in nature, drama provides non-threatening spaces for addressing social issues of gender, identify, exclusion and injustice. These emerge within the processes of dramatic improvisations, text readings and poetry sessions and enable the student teacher to reflect on her own positions and develop deep feelings of empathy and social sensitivity.

Working in groups, during drama and personal growth workshops, presentations of seminars and field reports, students hone their skills of communication, interaction, teamwork and classroom organisation. A mix of theory and practicum, content and context provide teachers the opportunity to creatively negotiate the challenges posed by the education system steeped in tradition, habit and authority. ‘Reflective action’ begins with an awareness of the self and soon replaces ‘routine action.’ In the words of a student (2001: 139) "These [self-development] workshops provided an opportunity to explore the self. We very distinctly understood how the socio-cultural context, in which we have grown up, has shaped our perceptions and attitudes. We became conscious of our biases and other influences, and develop sensitivity to their negative influences on teaching…resolving some of our conflicts, we began to honour each other's differences rather than being content with enjoying our commonalities."


Developing deeper insight into the inner self and a higher level of consciousness is a significant aim of the BElEd. Drama and personal growth workshops help trainees to get in touch with their strengths and limitations, develop sensitivity, open mindedness and the ability to communicate and relate with children and adults. These aspects of the self continuously develop through an intense engagement with theory as well. As shared by a student-teacher, (2001) 'The BElEd is in a true sense, a radical course… it helps us in forming our opinions, think freely and become sensitive towards different issues. It not only imparts text-based knowledge, but also inculcates a sensitive understanding towards children. The course helps bridge gaps between the real world and theoretical knowledge. The common quest for exploring our own selves gets fulfilled here. We may not be able to find solutions for everything, but the course has certainly planted an attitude of questioning on different issues. It is this undying quest for knowledge, which eventually leads one to become successful." The design of the programme, the nature and content of theory and practicum courses, the pedagogic space to articulate the language of praxis and challenge 'given' assumptions, all contribute towards developing a conscious, confident and responsible practitioner.

In the words of Sri Aurobindo, (cited, 2002: 14) “Consciousness is not only power of awareness of self and things, it is or has also a dynamic and creative energy. It can determine its own reactions or abstain from reactions; it can not only answer to forces, but create or put out from itself forces.” Through a process of theoretical and personal enquiry, student-teachers learn to break away from "a mentalised perception and understanding" and move towards knowledge that is not confined "to the intellect, right belief, right opinions and right information about oneself and things" – for the BElEd graduate learns to question herself and is committed to a process of continuous self-reflection. But of course, there is every danger that consciousness, may tend to concentrate itself within the ego, thereby missing the opportunity to influence the collective. The real challenge lies in safeguarding oneself from getting locked in "a mental nature that has the spontaneous tendency to give a justification for everything one thinks, feels, says or does." (Sri Aurobindo, cited, 2002: 54) A constant engagement with diverse perspectives can help the human mind to make itself ‘more supple and profound.’ Any teacher education programme ought to help surface conflicts and dilemmas in a manner that allows participants to empathise, appreciate diversity and accept differences. It is believed that a deeper journey into the inner self has to begin with the opening of the mind, challenging hierarchies and obstacles that resist change. Student teachers gradually learn to be confident and assertive, and develop conviction. The bilingual nature of the classroom promotes a respect for the Indian languages, generating energies amongst learners of varied linguistic competencies to reach out and develop mutually supportive academic peer groups. Teachers thus educated, develop a political and inner voice and learn to stand up for the centrality of their own and their students' needs in the learning process.


1.A series of National workshops provided a forum for defining standards of textbook content, integration of disciplines, the use of simpler language and the reduction of subject content. See A Review of Educational Progress and Reform in The District Primary Education Programme (Phases I and II), Discussion Paper Series. Human Development Sector, South Asia Region, The World Bank. September, 2003. p.31

2.The direct impact of training on teachers has not been systematically evaluated and disseminated. Anita Rampal (2000) briefly refers to the success of the training in Kerala in DPEP districts, helping teachers internalize the new pedagogy through experiential learning. Earlier studies for example by the Media Research Group (1996 and 97) provide some insight into whether training was empowering teachers in their task in the classroom. These studies indicate the pre-dominance of traditional methods, such as lecture and demonstration, used by teacher’s trainers as well. Ibid. p.35-36

3.Exhaustive interviews held with individual primary school teachers under the DPEP Programme during an Evaluation of Pedagogical Interventions under the Phase I Programme of DPEP in the state of Haryana, provided insights into teachers’ perceptions about children in the schools they taught. Unpublished Report of the Evaluation of Pedagogical Interventions under the Phase I Programme of DPEP in the State of Haryana, RSPEE-MACESE, CIE, Delhi University.

4.These criteria of an effective primary school teacher were collated from the qualitative data obtained from interviews with teachers during the Evaluation of Pedagogical Interventions under the Phase I Programme of DPEP in the State of Haryana. Ibid.

5.Dewey critiqued the tendency towards dichotomous thinking and absolute principles even amongst child-centered educators. He attacked such common dualisms as theory and practice, method and subject matter and child and curriculum. His attempt was not to find a compromise but rather to reconstruct the debate so that they were no longer viewed as opposites. See John Dewey. (1938/1948) Experience and Education. New York: Macmillan.

6.In Vygotsky's view, only going outside the individual and examining the social and cultural processes from which it derives can one understand mental functioning in the individual. Psychological development depends upon outside social forces as much as upon inner resources. See L. S. Vygotsky (1978) Mind in Society. Cambridge. M.A.: MIT Press.

7.Bourdieu engages with how the educated social groups use cultural capital as a social strategy to gain status and respect in society. He holds a rather pessimistic view of 'agents' who he states 'never know completely what they are doing". See Ingolfur Asgeir Johannesson and Thomas S. Popkewitz on Pierre Bourdieu in Fifty Great Modern Thinkers on Education: From Piaget to the Present, edited by Joy A. Palmer. Routledge, 2004. pp. 229-234.

8.Habermas believes that teachers and students can together move forward in the progress towards individual autonomy within a democratic and just society. Critical pedagogy in his view regards the curriculum as a form of cultural politics in which participants in (rather then recipients of) curricula question and critique the cultural and dominatory messages contained in curricula, and replace them with a 'language of possibility.' See H. Giroux. Theory and Resistance in Education, London. Heinemann, 1983.

9.Michael Apple asserts that 'Educational work that is not connected deeply to a powerful understanding of these (denial of human rights, destruction of environment, lack of a meaningful future thousands of children) realities…is in danger of losing its soul. The lives of our children demand no less.' Cited in Carlos Antonio Torre on Micchael Apple in Fifty Great Modern Thinkers on Education: From Piaget to the Present, edited by Joy A. Palmer. Routledge, 2004. pp. 229-234.

10.Mary Tasker argues for what schools can do to develop a new theory of knowledge. It is believed among environmentalist educators that ‘the fundamental but largely unacknowledged reason for the blocking of environmental education in schools and indeed for many of educations current ills, is epistemological. It arises from a view of knowledge – the nature of knowledge, how we justify our claims to know, and the limits of such claims.’ See Listening Culture by Mary Tasker in Resurgence, No. 226, September/October 2004. p.28.

11.The Bachelor of Elementary Education (BElEd) Programme is a four year integrated professional degree programme of Elementary Teacher Education offered (after the senior secondary stage of school) currently at select undergraduate colleges of the University of Delhi.

12.Habermas’s work has been particularly inspirational in the field of critical pedagogy, influencing writers such as Giroux and Apple. In terms of classroom teaching methods, eight principles of pedagogy from a Habermasian perspective can be outlined. These are derived by Morrison, KRB (1996), Young, R. (1989) and Aronowitz and Giroux (1986). Keith Morrison, cited in Fifty Great Modern Thinkers on Education: from Piaget to the present. Edited by Joy A. Palmer. Routledge 2004. p.219


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