While students touch their teachers’ feet as a traditional sign of respect (p.115), they also challenge their authority by making faces or nicknaming them (p.197).
In another example set in a private school in Delhi, nationalist ideals and “Hindu” identities of disciplined behavior and modest dressing are imposed, while so-called “Western” values are condemned.
Ethnographies of Schooling in Contemporary India focuses on student culture in the process of citizen shaping and is the outcome of a research project carried out under the guidance of Meenakshi Thapan at the University of Delhi’s Department of Sociology.
An important focus of this book is an emphasis on the perspectives of the students.
This demonstrates how identities of being urban or rural, frugal and consumerist, are intermingled despite the schools’ proclaimed ideals.
Correspondingly, in a Muslim girls’ school in Ahmedabad, religious and regional identities are expressed, while multiple identities such as “modern, global, Muslim, Gujarati, Urdu-speaking” are negotiated internally (p. These examples convey contrasts of publicly pronounced and hidden values and identities within schooling environment.Here, we are presented with two seemingly contradictory but coexistent experiences of schooling: on the one hand, we observe disciplinary framework in which the students construct their identity, such as, by agreeing to principles of obedience, equality, and frugality.On the other hand, we also observe that students do challenge these ideals, especially outside of the classroom.Thus, stereotyped notions of the ideal Hindu and the seductive “Westerner”, as respectively promoted and rejected by the principal of the Hindu school, mingle into hybrid student perceptions.Bhandari, Gogoi and Dore’s contributions demonstrate how gender, caste and class hierarchies experienced in schools are also internalized in peer groups.Through ethnographies of eight schools, this book reveals the ways in which citizenship education is imparted to its pupils, and by a focus on the peer culture, it examines the ways in which this education is either subverted or embraced by the students.To investigate how citizenship is translated into schooling processes, the perception of received schooling and student culture in contemporary urban India is thoroughly described and, the impact of attempts at indoctrination in Indian students is examined.For example, in Bhandari’s ethnography on the Christian school we are told that the school emphasises greatly on values of equality by making it mandatory to wear a uniform and not wear any jewelry or accessories (such as watches).Whereas an interaction with the students clearly reveals the ways in which they carry marks of their religion and class, as becomes evident in their choice of friends and consumption patterns.The studies by Deka, Gogoi, Thapan, and Dore of schools in Delhi, Ahmedabad and Andhra Pradesh particularly reveal great lacunae between the ideals of citizenship set by schools and actual student practices.Citizenship education, and the ideal of a “good citizen” - which includes being disciplined, obedient, frugal, humble, and spiritual - is partly adopted, but also subverted by students, who resist and question the ideals imposed by schools amongst their peers.