What, if any, are the core values and ideas of education? Is moral
education an independent variety of education or is it something that is
intrinsic to most forms of education?
Analysing education through the critical lens of philosophy, this volume
explores the challenges that the education system faces in a country like
India—a country where any form of generalization becomes dubious
owing to its inherently multicultural and multi-linguistic character.
Philosophy and Education also critically examines the higher education
system of the country and discusses issues ranging from the importance of
humanities in university education to the accountability of institutions, and
the division of academic labour as an interdisciplinary effort.
The book looks at both the concept and the system of education, and
provides a much-needed philosophical underpinning to our understanding
of several core and topical concerns of teaching, learning, and research.
Mrinal Miri is a former Professor of Philosophy at North
Eastern Hill University, Shillong, and he retired as the
Vice Chancellor of this university in 2005. He also served
as Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla,
for six years. He has authored several books including
Identity and the Moral Life (Oxford University Press,
2003). Currently he is the Chairman, Indian Council of
Philosophical Research, New Delhi, and a member of
the Upper House of Indian Parliament.
The book arose out of lectures I delivered as a visiting
professor of the National Council of Educational
Research and Training in some of its regional colleges.
A further opportunity was provided by the award
of the National Fellowship of the Indian Council of
Philosophical Research towards expanding on these
lectures and shaping them in the form of a book. My
philosophical interest in education was triggered by the
invitation I received from Professor Krishna Kumar, the
then Director of the National Council of Educational
Research and Training, to be a member of the Steering
Committee for the preparation of the National
Curriculum Framework, 2005. My main contribution as
a member of this Committee was a small piece of writing entitled ‘The Aims of Education’. But this was also
truly the beginning of my philosophical thinking about
The book begins (Chapter 1) with an exploration of
the idea of education and values associated with the practice of education. Its main aim is, however, to attempt to
answer the question whether some of these values are, in
some strong sense, internal to the practice. I have found
it useful in this discussion to consider the question of
what we take to be valuable in at least some of the arts,
particularly music. What, if anything, for example, is
valuable in music as music, as opposed to some external ends that music might serve? Two conclusions that
this discussion helped me reach are: (a) the relationship
between music and its value as music is very similar
to the relationship between education and its value as
a specific human practice; and (b) by virtue of music’s
particular internal value, its claim to be a necessary part
of at least school curricula is indeed very strong.
Autonomy of educational institutions, particularly of
higher education institutions, is a widely accepted idea;
but the employment of this concept is beset with unclarities, owing to the fact that it is framed by contingencies
of diverse kinds, which, in many cases, are themselves
quite opaque. This also impacts our understanding of
the relationship between autonomy and accountability.
Chapter 2 addresses some of the questions relating to
the issue of autonomy and accountability.
One of the contingencies that must condition our
thinking about education is the fact of our nationhood
and the kind of nation we are. Being part of a nation,
particularly a nation that is still in the process of being
‘built’, is different from being a citizen of a state. The
former has an ethical edge which is missing in the latter. My relationship with the state is contractual, while
my belonging to a nation enters into my conception of
myself in a somewhat deeper way. While culture is certainly a part of the life of a nation, our nation, like many
other nations, is not unicultural; it is multicultural or
pluricultural. The health of the nation depends on how
a common purpose and a common sympathy is forged
through a mutuality of understanding and respect among
these cultures. And this is primarily an ethical enterprise.
Nation building is a challenge for all of us, and how
education helps us meet this challenge is the concern of
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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