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Legitimisation of Knowledge: Political Connotations in Geography

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Text books conventionally define a unique literature, in style of writing as well as in theoretical and political positions that they hold. The present article examines text books and especially looks into how geography texts deal with an all encompassing relationship of human-nature that shapes the world historically, politically, aesthetically etc.

Learning is enriched through reading; it helps us to go beyond our experiences of everyday life, adds new dimensions to our observations. Very often it takes the reader to time-space experiences that s/he might not otherwise visit. These provide historical and spatial depths to interpretations. But are these potentials lost through the particular nature of text book writing?

What are the premises in which cryptic and formula—like text writing becomes established and where elaborations and explanations are avoided? What pedagogic and socio-political implications do these enhance in interpretations of the world?

These issues are examined through experiences of some workshops and through reviews of geography school textbooks. This essay begins with a reflection on the rich enhancement of literature and how text book traditions depart from those. The following section examines some nuances of human-nature relations as portrayed in school geography text books. It is interesting that explicit influences of capitalist relations can be traced to both the style and the content of the texts.

In the final section Eklavya1 text books, that were created on the basis of pedagogic and social sciences critiques of existing practices in schools, are examined. Both content and style of Eklavya texts books are seen to do away with the alienation of conventional texts. Hence these had demonstrates possibilities of creating meaningful learning contexts.

Nevertheless, a critical appraisal of human-nature relations as seen in these texts reveal some aspects to be considered for further enrichment. These are (1)the role of social organization without which human relationships with nature are not materialized (2) the role of spatial demarcations (like regions) in analyzing human-nature relations.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2009

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