Caution against aping `the worst of the West'
Caution against aping 'the worst of the West'
By Tirtho Banerjee
LUCKNOW: `It is alarming that a vast majority of Indian
students are opting for technical field and do not wish to choose the
teaching profession because it is underpaid', notes eminent professor of
educational reform, Old Dominion University, Virginia (USA), Dwight
The professor, who is on his 16th visit to India presently, loves it's
diversity and cultural richness but cautions that by preoccupying itself
with technological advancements, India may jeopardise its societal set
up. `We need social services and humanities as well for overall
development of a country', he contends and points out that India should
not copy the worst of the west.
Having been the Dean of Education in the University of Massachusetts and
having served as the chief technical advisor of UNESCO, Dr Allen feels
that an effective education should prepare well-functioning citizens who
feel empowered and are connected to the society. Quite regretfully, he
says, the present form of education has failed to achieve this.
Dr Allen is an ardent Bahai who thinks that there ought to `spiritual
solutions to economic problems'. He believes in `world peace' and sees
the `world as one family' and interestingly, has adopted twin daughters
who have an ethinic background of France, Portugal, Africa and Hawaii.
Besides, his wife is an English-German and two of his sons have married
Persian girls. As Allen puts it,`My family is universal. You know it is
very difficult for the world to function because it is gripped in
nationalism and excessive competition'. He adds that the USA wants to be
numero uno in everything, rather it should try to be one of the leading
countries in the world. Not surprisingly, Allen has named his website
`Win Win' which means that our attitude should be not to look down on
others but strive to lift them up.
Author of a dozen books, Dr Allen reveals that worldwide poverty can be
eliminated if Americans give up half of their cosmetics which they use.
He opines that extreme differences exist because the society does not
govern itself properly. `Resources are plentiful but its rampant wastage
has to be checked', Allen says and stresses on the importance of
preserving the Amazon rain forests which give oxygen to the whole planet
and which is house to numerous species of insects and animals.
However, he is visibly disappointed that environmental awareness in the
students by and large is not very high. This can be ascribed to the fact
that the students are far too occupied in examinations and teachers also
follow dull and pedantic way of teaching. Any creativity in teaching is
considered as a digression from the curriculum, he remarks.
Allen's favourite is the contemporary comedian and entertainer, Bill
Cosby, who he thinks `does not use sex or violence in his performances'.
Allen believes that most of today's role models are not moral and there
is a lack of value-based foundation in them. `There has to be a value
perspective in whatever we do, happiness is not all about possessing the
largest car or owning the biggest house', he reflects.
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