Are our educational institutions promoting scientific temperament? Think again

The nation is supposedly trying to do away with these social ills – and yet these outdated ideas are propagated unquestioned, with textbook dignity afforded to them.

Written by Nandini Rathi | New Delhi | Updated: February 8, 2017 4:17 pm
mumbai college, bandra college, polytechnic college, bandra college gender, bandra college segregation, mumbai college segregation, gender segregation, molestation, mumbai news, unscientific thought india, maharashtra social science textbook dowry, maharashtra dowry ugly handicapped, ancient indian aviation technology, indian express education opinion, unscientific temperament indian school system (Representational image) EXPRESS PHOTO BY PRAVEEN KHANNA 07 03 2015.

Recently the principal of the government polytechnic institute in Mumbai shared her theory on what causes a common hormonal imbalance disorder in girls: “I have heard theories on why girls suffer from PCODs (Poly Cystic Ovarian Diseases) at an early age. When they dress like men, they start thinking or behaving like them. There is a gender role reversal in their head. Due to this, the natural urge to reproduce diminishes right from a young age and therefore they suffer from problems like PCODs,” she told the Times of India.

Science wise, there is baffling nonsense in this statement – and it doesn’t come from the mouth of an uneducated propagandist but from the headmistress of a higher education institute of scientific application.

Her words suggest ignominious blindness to the fact that gender roles which mandate ‘appropriate behavior for a woman’ and gender norms like form of dress are constructed by societies (usually not in a very fair manner) and are not ordained biologically. To impose either is archaic, stifling and regressive. She makes wild, unscientific connections between PCOD, a variedly manifesting hormonal problem affecting 12-18% of women of reproductive age and the kind of a personality, role and profession they choose for themselves.

A simple Google search would have served her better than relying on absurdity that she “heard” and propagated in a public statement. Yet, this is the justification provided to segregate the male and female students in the college canteen – a poorly conceived shortcut to ‘protect’ girls – and to trade the unisex uniforms of trousers with shirts for salwar kameez for the girls. This would instill them with ‘femininity’ that would ostensibly keep their thinking undistorted for future reproductive performance. This, in spite of the concern raised that the loose and flowy outfit would be more susceptible to lab accidents.

Perhaps, the lack of simple fact check and critical thinking is also how regressive notions still find their way into secondary and graduate level textbooks. Recently a Maharashtra State textbook informed students that “ugly” and “handicapped” girls may need more dowry to be married, followed by no attempt to question the posited thought. BA Sociology textbooks still unflinchingly state that the primary goal of Hindu marriage is putraprapti, or reproduction of sons. The nation is supposedly trying to do away with these social ills – and yet these outdated ideas are propagated unquestioned, with textbook dignity afforded to them. Students memorize and reproduce them in exams. These follies are compounded by the fact that questioning is still relatively discouraged in classrooms.

Unscientific, uninterrogated thought propagates social ills and a false sense of righteousness in archaic ideologies and narratives. It enfeebles real progressive development. Yet, this is a behavior that even national leaders like the Prime Minister seem reluctant to eschew completely when they claim in rhetorical passion that ancient Indians pioneered technologies like aviation. As if it will not enough to further the tradition of rigorous scientific thought displayed by ancient luminaries like Aryabhatta to late President Abdul Kalam, that we need to call upon a literally storied past.    

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App

  1. b
    Feb 8, 2017 at 2:04 pm
    Arrest the bstrds Upadyaya and another Son of Brahmin(SoB) IG immediately and lock them for ever until Yadav is brought back.
    1. B
      Feb 8, 2017 at 2:20 pm
      This situation not unique to India. In the United States, a well organized conservative group of "Evangelical Christians" (a collection of churches with lots of tax-exempt money)are spending millions of dollars on all kinds of propaa to disprove the Darwinian theory of evolution and instead support the myth that"God" created earth and all living beings. They want to teach that in biology cles in Govt-run public schools. Their efforts have met with resistance and court challenges so far. We are enjoying the fruits of a scientific revolution (whether in developed or developing countries) that accelerated in the last half of twentieth century which is based on reason and critical thinking. One hopes political and social leaders will advance these two concepts which are critical in developing democratic insutions in a developing country like India.
      1. R
        Feb 8, 2017 at 9:04 pm
        Education is the basic foundation of any civilized society, and quality of education itself squarely depends upon the teachers at various levels of the hierarchy. Unfortunately, teaching profession in India is viewed as hopeless and thankless, the main reason for which is as follows: A teacher has no “nuisance value” in that he is not in a position to grant favors to others, nor is he in a position to “punish” anybody. One of the legacies of the decades-long Nehruvian system of License-Quota-Permit Raj is that the job of a police inspector is more lucrative than that of a teacher. As a result, teaching has become the last refuge of the unemplo. To make matters worse, the caste-based reservation forestalls the selection of even those few who have a genuine apude for teaching, but who belong to the so-called upper castes. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The least that the government must do is rid the teaching profession of the quota bias. In fact, this suggestion originally came several decades ago, from a judge in Allahabad High Court. Instead of understanding the merit of the idea, however, Ramvilas Paswan threatened to impeach the judge. As Prof. P.V. Indiresan used to say, “Garbage in, garbage out.”
        1. S
          Feb 8, 2017 at 8:00 pm
          Our educational insutions do not promote "scientific temperament", nor have they ever strived to do so. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has been through one.
          1. Y
            Feb 8, 2017 at 3:22 pm
            In 21 years one generation finishes education. By scientific mathematical induction after three generations since independence reservations should have ushered in equality. Our consution intends to keep reservation inequality forever with not end. Thus Consution itself does not promote scientific temperament. How can education?
            1. Load More Comments