Foundations of education

Riaz Hussain, Aga Khan University

Symposium presented at AKU-IED’s 10th International Conference on A Renewed Focus on Teacher, Teaching Quality and Learning: Localised Models and Practices, November 19-21, 2015, Karachi, Pakistan.


There is a considerable discussion in literature about the significance of philosophical, psychological, political and social foundations of teaching and learning. The symposium focuses on the three key issues underlying the teaching and learning foundations. These are: the power politics of knowledge, teachers’ personal theories of curriculum engagement, and the ecology of gender identity development among children.

Knowledge is a source and a tool of power production. Through a system of education, power is permeated, produced, sustained and exercised. Critical theorists argue that considering ‘official knowledge’ as ‘the authentic’, imposing it as ‘the compulsory’ and assessing it as ‘the required’ are all modes of power politics. Based on research findings, we argue in our symposium that education can serve ‘emancipation’ rather than only ‘domestication’.

In a school context, teachers’ personal theories form a framework of engaging with curriculum. Discussing some key philosophical thoughts, we examine personal theories of teachers regarding engagement with curriculum through an analysis of data collected from secondary schools in Chitral. We argue that teachers’ personal theories can effectively be used as frameworks to further enhance teachers’ curricular engagements to promote students’ meaningful learning.

Contemporary discourses on gender identity development among children revolve around three major theories of child development. Problematizing the simplistic views presented by the biological theory as well as socialization theory of gender identity development, we present feminist post-structuralist theory as an alternative framework for teachers in order to create gender equitable learning environment in the schools.

We conclude our discussion by highlighting the events in the movie – Bajrangi Bhaijan, where the movie characters’ personal theories influence their agency, and at the same time they are also influenced by the power politics of the society. There are incidences where human beings display and protect their given identities but at the same time they develop a new identity through participation in social experiences.