In Search of a Gramscian Critique
By Rajesh Kumar Sharma
I am making these noises a quarter century too late (I began teaching in 1985). Perhaps the ghosts have begun to refuse, finally and definitively, to yet again return to their beds.
When I say ‘our pedagogic culture’, I mean a specific, limited and yet changing collectivity. It refers to the pedagogic culture of several (which is not ‘all’) departments of English, and particularly of the department of which I am a part. As well as a ‘parcel’ (having been ‘posted’ with a doctorate here, in
From one pair of eyes to another, over a space of scarcely a few feet, I have often traversed vast spaces between passion and indifference and, maybe, unavowed refusal.
Are those at the receiving end of our pedagogic deliveries refusing to play the game? Or are they just plain stupid, too uncouth to appreciate the precious wares we are hawking? An impassioned response, an engagement –once in a while– comes like a hint of nirvana.
We do not ask ‘them’ (our students, our subjects): What do you need? What do you want? We do not even ask ourselves: What do they deserve? Indeed, we have majestically failed to devise a channel to enable the formulation of these questions or, for that matter, any basic questions.
Our liberal capitalist model of parliamentary democracy surely leaks quite liberally into our pedagogic models. And after neo-liberal re-engineering, the leakage has only become a flooding.
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If we can inscribe a strategic reading on the pedagogic scene as it obtains at this uncertain hour, we would not be paralysed by any confusion. We only have to listen to their desires, attend to their needs and help them be worthy of more and deserve better. Historical situations change: an active realization of this simple and fundamental truth (that drove Gramsci’s thought) could be enough to recall us to the battle that is gathering around us.
On the other hand, the refusal to see and actively realize this truth would be sufficient for us to flee the battlefield and seek comfort in the graveyard of our hearts. But then the pedagogic scene would be not a scene of invention and birth, of rebirth and resuscitation. It would be, as it now probably is, a scene of sacrifice. Of a holocaust, with all the tearing ambivalence of the word intact and resounding.
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