A future social scientist in a sociology class asked me a question: Sir, why are we studying sociology? I was stunned whether I delivered my lecture well or not!
The student was studying mathematic at the same time and had no interest in society, culture, socialization, conflict, functionalism, symbolic interactionism, discourse, ideology, hegemony, social structures and the related concepts.
I had really mind that question but I decided to withhold my answer. I shared the concern of the student with my fellow teacher who asked me to reply that student: “Why he or she is in this department?” The answer was not convincing and I as teacher cannot reply to my student like this.
Few days after that incident I happened to attend an educational convocation where the motivational speaker said: “We are not getting knowledge.” The speaker was from school of humanities. Then he presented the discourse of society like prevailing corruption, terrorism, senselessness, in-affection. He pointed out towards the peace-less-ness of mind, soul, and body and emphasized on spiritualism. I was motivated by his speech.
Knowledge is value-laden or axiological and thus is biased. The knowledge produced in Pakistani society will be different then the knowledge in any other society. The discourse determines the kind of knowledge we get.
In my judgment the student was aimless, he was studying mathematics to get a good job but not for his development as the contributing citizen of the society. When one educates one’s self with the purpose of equipping him or her for getting job then this is false consciousness and not knowledge.
Knowledge is the quest for truth. As I said before that knowledge is axiological so we are living with our judgments and not truths. The political parties have sensationalized the innocent minds. We as a nation want to argue with emphasis, aggression, vandalism and force but without reading. There is too much noise and putting the right message across has become difficult.
The semester system demands students to prepare themselves for marks, CGPAs but not reading. Internet has added fuel to fire. Facebook is becoming an addiction. Students prefer to download their material from search engines and submit their assignments without giving credit to sources. Speedy mid/final terms and multiplicity of courses…devoid student of reading habits. This is an assumption and not truth as there are other factors being involved. I don’t blame semester system but at the same time suggest some measures to be taken.
The student-centric approach in institutions will not work in Pakistani society and educationists will have to amend policies, where teacher should be given more authority without the internal and external pressures in an organization. There is a need for the cooperation between teachers and management.
The performance audit of management, teachers and students should be taken seriously besides filling forms. Charity begins at home so the media as the social institution of the society have to mobilize the public for reading habits.
I see few people reading while travelling, so the parents should also have a reading culture at home to motivate their children. Family, media and education and politics as social institution have to play a functionally significant and interlinked role.
There is a dominant discourse of increasing education budget but increasing budget alone is not the solution to our problems unless or until the social attitudes are changed. The responsibility of teacher community is to ask about the objectives of students at the start of semester and prepare them accordingly.
There is a need for the production of academic knowledge into Pakistani discourse in parallel with applied knowledge. Dependence over aid will lead us towards a proletariat society and self-reliance will liberate us.I am optimistic for the objective society and critical of the pessimism about aimless society.
(The writer is an MPhil scholar of Media and Communication Studies, University of the Punjab and Lecturer at Minhaj University. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)