Symposium “Theorizing Nonviolence and Peace in Curriculum Studies: International Conversations on Interdependence in a Worldwide Pandemic”
Presentation: A Value-Creating Approach to Curricula in India: Gandhi and the Legacy of Nonviolence
21 April 2022
It is common practice to use theoretical frameworks developed in the West for education worldwide, but important contributions come as well from non-Western education perspectives that shed light on the emergence of ideas within given regional diasporas.
Value creation serves as a valuable lens through which to examine the ideas and relevance of the Indian peace activist Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) and the Indian heritage of the principle of nonviolence. The term “value creation” encompasses a Japanese approach to curriculum (based on the work of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, 1871–1944 and developed by Daisaku Ikeda, 1928–). It is founded on an interdependent view of life and aimed at developing learners’ capacity to enhance their own existence and contribute to the well-being of others. Using value creation as a lens can help examine the emergence of alternative curricula in the Indian diaspora that are based on such interdependent worldviews and offer an integrated approach to education.
The contributions of alternative paradigms and perspectives can allow for a discourse on the indigenous nature of ideas that are rooted in Eastern philosophies based on similar interdependent worldviews. A value-creating framework can also be useful to examine the Indian educational scene and the many attempts that have been made for the individual learner to be the focus of education. India’s colonial past, the damaging effect of Macaulay’s minute in 1835, and other endeavors to wipe out traditional Indian thought have had lasting ramifications, including the tensions that continue to exist between indigeneity and the colonialism legacy of framing curricula in a way that is often divorced from the learners’ natural environment as well as cultural and social context.
The violence committed on the Indian curricula must be combated by bold actions and by putting an emphasis on the particularities of the learner. There is a need to re-envision alternative perspectives for value-creating curricula focused on the happiness and all-around development of the learner. Further, for learning to be truly dialogic, efforts must be made for the curriculum to be non-centric, that allows learning from diverse knowledge and wisdom. Questions central to curriculum, teaching, and learning must include, for example: Can there be an inclusion of diverse knowledge systems? Are teachers and students able to encounter multiple perspectives of viewing self, society, and Nature (for example, the indigenous Eastern perspectives explored in this paper)? At a policy level, integrating a more global dimension to learning can include study of the educational philosophies of well-known Western educators, such as John Dewey (1859–1952), as well as educators from different geographical regions. For example, university and national directives can deliberate a more substantial use of the educational ideas of Gandhi, Makiguchi, and Ikeda, with relevance for a practicum-based study for teacher education. This paper will conclude on a reflective note of the author’s experiences of studying and working in higher education across countries in the East and West, and by offering suggestions for education across nation-states to bring in diverse ontological understandings and perspectives into nonviolence curriculum.