Interdisciplinarity-Hafiz Nauman Ahmed

One of the various legacies from colonial era is our education system, which not only maintains many characteristics of Indian education system of British rule but also contains some reforms based on international education system. It is noteworthy that international education system means the education system of Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, MIT, etc. Therefore, nothing in our education system is our own. We have never decolonized it and have not restructured and contextualized it. This blind following of, first, Britain and, now, other similar powers has further created many inefficiencies in it, for example, boundaries around the various academic disciplines are one of these shortcomings, which have critically influenced our learning process. These boundaries have now become so formidable that teachers only teach what is closely relevant to the subject matter and often follow the contents of the course outline. They consider it a waste of time to discuss anything other topic such as politics, religion, science, technology, etc. If the class is of any solid science subject, it is assumed highly irrelevant to talk about social sciences. Similarly, the students are also often found complaining against any discussion, assignment, or project which is not directly relevant to their course. Even sometimes students are more concerned about the course outline contents and keenly observe the coverage of these contents during the semester. So, it is a common trend in our educational institutions to follow a specific outline regardless of the inefficacy and irrelevance of the course outline with context and needs of the hour, and it has become hard to discuss anything which is not written in the outline. Consequently, we are producing students who know very little about their context and context related issues. They have not much idea of what is going on in the country, what are the problems of the people, what is the financial state of the country. This enigma of boundaries is more damaging in the case of social sciences. We rarely find teachers who teach courses of social sciences engaging the students in solving any social issue. The major focus is only on theoretical knowledge which is neither contextual nor timely. For example, recently, I have to take the classes of another teacher and I was surprised to see that the book being taught was published in 2004 written in any Western context. This is what is being done in most of the educational institutions. Observing the situation, one can easily estimate the products’ (students) skillfulness, capabilities, and knowledge. In every semester, I have the opportunity to contact almost 30 students in an MPhil class, and I can obverse that most of these students are efficient neither in knowledge nor in general contextual awareness.

After remaining a part of such a fragmented and bound education system, students find it difficult to familiarize themselves with contextual and innovative ideas. I can remember a student raised a question on the nature of a project assigned to them because the course consists of theories, and the project was based on a practical task. Therefore, I had to convince them to explain that theory comes out of practice. There are many other instances when I had to explain how the activity (project or assignment) was relevant to the students’ overall learning outcomes along with its relevance to the course. Why do we have so obvious boundaries among academic disciplines which become more evident in students’ minds with every new semester? The answer to this question has already been discussed that we are following what we had in the past and what presently we have in the modern world. 
Why do we have no actual boundaries among different disciplines? As in a man‘s life, we see that everything is connected in a chain, and nothing is independent of one another. For example, we use language for many purposes that relate to society; hence, there is a very strong relationship between language and society. The same is with academic disciplines. There is no boundary among various disciplines, even in pure sciences. A student studying physics can also learn computer depending on the societal needs and his interest. The next question is if we do not draw the boundaries among the disciplines, what will we study in a particular study program? The answer to this is that we need a process of contextualization of the education system — study disciplines, undergraduate and graduate programs, course contents, etc. We should focus on what we need instead of what is going around the world. Drawing on our own context and surrounding, we should restructure our education system, whose objectives should be to train our students to solve societal issues and become an efficient part of their own society. Unfortunately, presently our graduates want to go abroad for jobs or for higher education, and many go and settle there. This is because this borrowed education system does not involve them and train them to solve their local issues during their education, which does not create a sense of patriotism among the students rather they are being trained for any Western context. Therefore, there is a need for an interdisciplinary approach so that the students can adjust themselves in any field in which they find interest, and which is contextually relevant. 

Hafiz Nauman is a Lecturer in linguistics who is currently working at Riphah Institute of Language & Literature, Riphah International University, Lahore.
Facebook Comments Box
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top