Mathetics and the relationship between peace and learning
Author: Suman Shukla
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on: 01/05/2009
is the study of teaching methods. A pedagogue, it follows, is a
teacher; someone who likes to teach other people things, especially
because they think they know more than other people (Oxford
pedagogy is the discipline in which attention is focused on the
School Master’s behavior while teaching, and less attention is paid
on the learner’s learning. It is observed and felt that as if
teachers are only the possessors of knowledge, who dominate, dictate
and oppress, and put the learners in a dispossessed position who are
oppressed and exploited. And this continuity is maintained in the
society. Thus teaching prepares a few minority-the possessors of
knowledge, and majority in number dispossessed of it, which kills the
in broader sense, is not confined only within four walls. But it is
extended to beyond the campuses also as it has agencies like family,
religious institutions, state and educational institutions. Elders of
these means of education narrate, dictate, and dominate the
youngsters of their respective institutions thinking that they who
are parents, preachers, rulers and servants of people, and teachers
are only in possession of things and property, religious
enlightenment, power and authority respectively, while sons and
daughters in family, devotees in religious institutions, masses or
citizens in the state, and students in educational institutions are
dispossessed in their respective houses. Hence the guardians of
different institutions, including institutions of peace education, of
the society dominate, oppress and exploit them with their
possessions. And they do so-the act of violence-because they are
product of teaching. In this sense, teaching is violence, and this
continuity is maintained in every society. Therefore pedagogy must be
denied to be used in peace education to protect the teachers and
students both, and the masses, to be men of violence of exploitation,
oppression and war, because they are the nations and the world.
for Acceptance of Mathetics
word ‘mathetics’ is derived from Greek mathesis (from
mathein, to learn), and mathet means pupil- he who
learns. Thus mathetics is the science of the pupil’s behaviour
while learning. The mathetic processes and their study are assuming
increasing importance. The term ‘mathetic’ describes the
transition from teaching to learning. Certain researchers in the
United States (Gilbert) and the Soviet Union-now Russia- (Lev Landa)
are now using it and so is the European Education Centre in Frascati,
Italy, where a first, small-scale ‘mathetic laboratory’ has been
set up (Learning To Be, UNESCO, 1972). The new development in
the field of learning has primarily been contributed by Carl Rogers
(1980) by emphasizing the importance of nurturing self-direction and
fulfillment, Bruner (1980) by stressing the importance of autonomy
and self-reward and discovery as the main way of learning and Paulo
Freire (972) by his emphasis on conscientization as the main goal of
education. The shift in emphasis can be seen from coping behavior to
expressive behavior (using the terminology of Bruner) or from
prescriptive behavior to liberating behavior (using the terminology
of Paulo Freire) or from direct influence to indirect influence using
the concept developed by Flanders (1970).
learning needs no interference in its process. Because no teacher can
enter into the process of learning of any learner just as no doctor
can enter into the process of healing of the wound of a patient.
Learning or healing takes its own course. A teacher or a doctor only
arranges the things so that learning or healing may take place or
occur. But importance of a teacher or a doctor does not diminish,
because a teacher must be skilled and trained in varieties of
methods, techniques and audio-visual aids through which he or she can
be able to create the situation so that learning in the learner
occurs, just as a doctor must be skilled in operation, trained in
bandages and knowledgeable in proper medicines through which he can
facilitate the situation so that healing in the wound of the patient
occurs. Kahlil Gibran (1976) makes this view of learning very clear
in his popular book: The Prophet when he was asked by a
teacher to speak of teaching. And he said:
man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep
in the dawning of your knowledge.
teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers,
gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.
If he is indeed
wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather
leads you to the threshold of your own mind
may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give
you his understanding.
The musician may
sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give
you the ear which arrests the rhythm, nor the voice that echoes it.
And he who is
versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight
and measures, but he cannot conduct you thither.
the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.
even as each one of you stands alone in God’s knowledge, so must
each one of you be alone in his knowledge of God and in his
understanding of the earth.
teaching, if it is considered as learning, makes both the learners
and teachers aware, more humane, cooperative and sharing.
also makes the learners feel all are capable of learning and prepares
them to help each other, and serve their fellow-men who are also
capable of being but have no chance for learning. However, students
and teachers both, and the masses, are incomplete in the process of
becoming (in the mission of completion) while learning and teaching
(as it is life-long process); and in this process, they become more
creative, humane and peaceful. Therefore learning is peace itself
(Prasad, 1996). Report to the UNESCO of the International Commission
on Education for the Twenty-first Century (Learning: The Treasure
Within, 1986) also considers education as learning throughout
life which is based on four pillars, viz. Learning to know, Learning
to do, Learning to live together, and Learning to be. After the
publication of this report then UNESCO Director-General Federico
Mayor added two more pillars, viz. Learning to dare and Learning to
undertake. Prasad, 2004, who has developed a new concept Peace
Education based on catholic five sheaths within every individual man
and woman to be evolved integrally, have also added two more pillars,
viz. Learning to share and Learning to be just to make the roof of
education more stable, great and strong.
teaching as learning is not merely a profession but it is a mission
also. True teaching is a true learning. A teacher is best in teaching
a life-long learner. Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore (1970) also
considered teacher as the lamp. He said about the teacher, “He is
like a lamp lighting other lamp. But a lamp cannot put light into
other lamp if it does not itself burn and shed light.”
Not Problem-Solving As Method of Teaching
problem-solving method makes learners dependants on teachers, books,
notes and other ready-made solutions. It kills creativity of the
learners. It makes the learners life-long parasites on others.
method is an important part in mathetics. Problem-posing method
encourages for self-learning, leads to creativity and enhances
self-confidence in the learners, and makes them independent.
Problematize, in the sense of Freire (1972), is to associate an
entire populace with the task of codifying total reality into symbols
which can generate critical consciousness and empower them to alter
their relations with nature and social forces.
to Paulo Freire (1972), the problem-posing method (which is based on
learning) affirms men as being in the process of becoming as
unfinished, uncompleted being in and with a like-wise unfinished
Learning To Be (1972) also observes that man is biologically
unfinished…his existence is an unending process of completion and
learning. It is essentially his incompleteness that sets him apart
from their living beings, the fact that he must draw from his
surroundings the techniques for living which nature and instinct fail
to give him. He is obliged to learn unceasingly in order to survive
and evolve. George Lapassada (1963) says that human being is born
‘prematurely’. He comes into the world with a batch of
potentialities which may miscarry, or take their form the favorable
or unfavorable circumstances in which the individual is compelled to
evolve. According to Erich Fromm (1959) man can never cease to ‘enter
life’, to be born in human form. He says that the individual’s
entire life is nothing but a process of giving birth to himself; in
truth we are only fully born when we die.
Lalji Ram Shukla (1947), in his book: Principles of Education,
writes: “Fullness of human personality lies in the child’s
creative activity; assimilation of external influences is valuable
only in so far as it incites the child to express himself. A child
who gathers knowledge but does not radiate it, recreate it, cannot be
said to have been properly educated.” Hadfield (1925) says, “Every
organism is compelled towards its own completeness. Fullness of life
is the goal of life, the urge to completeness is the most compelling
motive of life. There is no motive of life so persistent as this
hunger for fulfillment, whether for the needs of our body, or for the
deepest spiritual satisfaction of our souls, which compels us to be
ever moving onward till we find it. Hunger, material or spiritual, is
the feeling of incompleteness… so persistent strong is this law
that no organism can rest till it has satisfied its hunger by
achieving its complete self.” Paulo Freire (1972) says that human
beings are aware of their incompleteness. In this incompleteness and
this awareness lie in a very roots of education as an exclusively
human manifestation. The unfinished character of man and the
transformational character of reality necessitate that education can
be ongoing activity.
the problem-posing method considers the teacher and the taught as
learners (both learn from each other). It helps them both to realize
their true selves (the treasure within both) which are different but
unique. Therefore peace education should adopt the problem-posing
method as a method of teaching, which is fully based on learning.
Dialogue: Not Narration as Technique of Teaching in Peace Education
is a technique of teaching without thinking. It is dictatorial,
domineering and authoritative. In narration, the teacher asks the
students to learn mechanically what he says as an authority of the
knowledge about the matters. Hence narration kills the creativity of
the learners, and leads them to submission and lack of self-
confidence. It facilitates in the creation of ‘mute-culture’. In
peace education, though educators teach about variety of techniques
of teaching including dialogue as a technique of teaching. But they
teach them about these techniques including other topics in the
courses of peace education through narration. Thus peace education is
suffering from narration-obsession.
(1972) talks of narration as a mechanical device of teaching. The
contents whether values or empirical dimensions of reality, tend, in
the process of being narrated, to become lifeless and petrified. He
says that education is suffering from Narration-Sickness. Narration
(with the teacher as the narrator) leads to the students to memorize
mechanically the narrated contents. Prasad and Prasad (Shukla), 1985,
critically evaluated the very popular book: Pedagogy of the
Oppressed by Paulo Freire (1972), and found that the major thrust
of Freire’s criticism of the educational system is that it is one
of the major instruments for the maintenance of the ‘culture of
silence’. In this situation, learners, like slaves, are ‘mute’,
they are not allowed to argue or ask questions for clarification.
is a necessary component of mathetics. Therefore peace education
needs dialogue for effective better teaching and true learning.
Dialogue is essential for authentic education. Without dialogue,
there is no communication, and without communication there cannot be
true education. Hence dialogue is essential necessity in learning and
teaching. Dialogue imposes itself as the way in which teacher and
taught both achieve significance as man-human. Dialogue is the
encounter in which the united reflection and action of the dialoguers
are addressed to the teaching-learning community which is to be
transformed and humanized (Shukla, 2001). Paulo Freire (1972) feels
that through dialogue, the teacher of the students and students of
the teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges: teacher-student
with students-teachers. The teacher is no longer merely the one who
teaches, but the one who is himself taught in dialogue with students,
who in their turn, while being taught, also teach. Joyce and Weil
(1985) say that relationship between the student and the teacher is
the best described as a partnership. In Taittriya Upanishad (1970),
in reply of what is education? it is said that in education, there is
‘the teacher on one side, the pupil on the other side, knowledge
between, and discourse joining them’.
in the beginning of this Upanishad, a pupil prays, “May we both
(the teacher and taught) attain fame together.” Carl Rogers (1980),
in his Non-Directive Model of Teaching, says that in this role, the
teacher helps the students explore new ideas about their lives, their
school work, and their relations with others. This model assumes that
students are willing to be responsible for their own learning, and
its success depends on the willingness of the student and the teacher
to share ideas openly and communicate honestly with one another.
According to Paulo Freire (1972), the teacher and the students become
jointly responsible for a process in which all grow. In this process,
arrangements based on authority are no longer valid; in order to
function, the authority must be on the side of freedom, not against
observation of The National Policy on Education (1986): “…No
people can rise above the level of their teacher,” is not proper.
The fact is that the greatness of a teacher is in this that his
disciple goes ahead of him with regard to creation, contributions,
and achievements (Shukla, 2004). But it needs dialogue. For dialogue
puts more examples before learners for effective and true learning.
Einstein (1956) also says that the only rational way of educating is
to be an example- if one cannot help it, a warning example.
Therefore, peace education must remove this type of dilemma about the
level of development of people and their teacher.
mathetics is a must for peace, and it is a challenge to existing
peace education- especially to peace educators and peace thinkers to
accept it and to use its knowledge and practice in peace education.
cannot be taught. If it could be taught, the result would be
violence. Peace is a learning concept. It is the product of true
peace education, by following the methodology of a science of
is a very hard truth that no peace educator can enter the process of
a peace learner. Learning of peace will take its own course. A peace
educator, or a teacher of any subject, can create the situation
through variety of methods, techniques, devices, skills and
audio-visual aids so that learning for peace may occur in the
we all, teacher and taught both in the classrooms, and the other
people beyond the campuses, are learners till the end of our lives;
we learn from each other to be peaceful and non-violent. Therefore
there is a great need to change our mentality from teaching to
learning i.e. peace.
peace education is not everywhere in practice. And where it is used,
pedagogy is adopted there. Pedagogy is the science of teaching while
Mathetics is the science of learning. Hence there is a great
challenge to peace education to adopt mathetics for leaning
Bio: Suman Shukla, Ph.D.
Reader – Associate Professor, R.T.M.Nagpur University’s Bar. S.K.W.
College of Education, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India
Phone and Fax: 00-91-712-2232523