Description of themes

1. Human Nature and Education: Contemporary concerns

Helping human beings to participate in social life constitutes the essence of educational aims and processes. Educative processes and aims, normally, tend to take a view on what constitutes the basic nature of human beings which is broadly reflected in assumptions such as ‘humans as social beings’, ‘humans are equipped to learn’, ‘to socialize’, ‘they develop their innate capabilities to reason through social interaction’, and so on. The view of human nature taken also reflects itself in assumptions about learning and institutional interactions.

In the modern democratic age, education builds upon these basic assumptions of human nature to educate for democratic ideals like Equality, respect for individual freedom, individual dignity and social harmony. However, in contemporary times, when the democratic ideals themselves are under interrogation, and people are seen as instruments, where their rational faculty is primarily negated by the power structure and political establishment, the challenge is to revisit the questions of human nature and its essential linkage with educative processes. This theme seeks to explore the assumptions and understanding of human nature and its educative links from the perspective of contemporary social and political concerns. 

2. Ethics and Education: Questions in Aims, Content and Teaching 

This theme seeks to explore the questions of Ethics in education.  Education, being a social endeavor, the questions of Ethics lie at its heart. Any educative endeavor faces the questions of what the educational aims should be, what should be taught and who should be teaching. Ethical questions in teaching is about the nature of social relations in teaching and learning. These are the questions which define education as an essentially ‘contested concept’ as they place education in a social and dialogic domain. This theme intends to explore these questions through diverse philosophical perspectives.

3. Notions of the Public and Private in Education

Is Education essentially a public good or a private good is an often asked question. This question holds promises to look at education for intrinsic worthwhileness. However, it is also often invoked to debate over the issues of educational provision largely through the binary category of public/government provision of schooling/higher education or their private provisioning through markets. The question of educational provision is an important one, and hence deserves to be further explored.  

Through this theme we propose to broaden the scope of ‘public’ and ‘private’ in education to deal with the questions of wider concerns in education, which include  the questions of public and private pursuits of educational aims, and the public and private instrumentality of educational achievements. How do we define ‘public’ and ‘private’? Are ‘government’ school systems necessarily ‘public’?