Dr Aniruddha Babar,
Department of Political Science, Tetso College, Nagaland
“There is no political science, but there are principles so strong you might as well call them laws of nature.” ― Jeff Greenfield, “Then Everything Changed: Great Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan”
I have been in the political science department at Tetso College for a very long time now. I have seen the transition of the institution and the department under very crucial circumstances. Being an attentive observer and a silent observer of the academic world, I often make certain notes in my journal as I capture time as a thinker, scholar, and teacher in the flow of my work. As an Academician, I believe I take on a self-assigned responsibility to be a ‘watchdog’ and a ‘mentor’, so that messy alignments, if any, can be ‘ aligned” for the best interest of my students and disciples spread across different academic institutions in the eastern and western regions of Nagaland.
Frankly, it’s not just about Nagaland. As a student of political science, I feel like the subject has been grossly misunderstood by the university fraternity and education policy makers across India. Political science has been mainly taught from the textual angle without considering the practical dynamism and challenging exercises in political modeling at the undergraduate as well as postgraduate level. The teaching of various articles in political science should be approached from a multangular perspective rather than a linear method of teaching (as practiced in India). However, the question is, are our political science professors ready to take a quantum leap by being entrenched in redundant academic approaches that lead students somewhere in the lost world of translations and interpretations of texts? Are our academics ready to transform the field of political science into an “applied science” responding to the needs of the modern world?
As I have observed, most young lecturers actually ignore the fact that teaching is not an easy task, it requires superior intellectual authority. Such authority is based on the competence acquired during the years of “Process of Intellectual Fermentation and Experimentation”, thus a good teacher must master the chosen field of expertise by devoting his years of training (First 12/14 Years minimum ) to -Duty contemplation-reflection exercises that lay the necessary solid mental foundations. My observation also taught me that many young teachers often encounter the problem of how to learn “good” teaching. This situation plunges them into confusion which is evidently reflected in their approach to the field of inquiry and the teaching methodology they adopt when dealing with political science. Additionally, colleges and universities these days lack a “professional mentoring or apprenticeship system”, hence young teachers who are fresh out of their “Alma mater” with a graduate or research degree often find themselves in an orphaned state at their place of work, having no one to take a refugee to. Such circumstances definitely affect the classroom management and the teaching nature of young scholars, which consequently has a serious impact on the students and the overall performance of the academic institution.
To sharpen my teaching capacity, I rigorously learned the “Didactics of Applied Political Sciences”. Nagaland University but also with international trends in the field. Without being rooted in didactics, one can never begin to teach “political science” – both from a theoretical and an applied point of view. Being a man in his thirties attached to the “old school of teaching”, I find myself positively engaged with the older classical ideals of the profession which I believe are the fundamental aspect of a teacher’s character without which modern and dynamic academic approaches are impossible to embrace. Also, in my case, I clearly benefited from the clear hierarchy and mutual obligations of the old-fashioned system I was part of in my early formative years. The “learning model” is not found in today’s academia, young teachers are expected to learn to teach on the job. Whether or not this “tinkering” technique works is an open question – in the context of which “the pedagogical aspects of political science” must be considered.
At the beginning of this article, I raised some questions regarding the redundant approaches to teaching political science in India. Here, the focus is more on textual understanding than on applying them to solve real-world problems. I think there should be no doubt in mind as to the appreciation that the “scientific approach” that must be followed while engaging in various aspects of political science is mostly missing – and the methodology being conveniently put on par with that of other fields of investigation. It is sad to note that many teachers in India who teach political science do not know the true nature of the subject – which really requires – ANALYSIS, OBSERVATION AND ESPECIALLY EXPERIENCE. Political science has been considered “science”, because it can be studied in a systematic way, with a large margin for experimentation, political science has absolute and universal laws, it is also possible to make predictions on the ground – although in a limited area there are certain principles and methods on which political thinkers unanimously agree and also by nature political science as a subject or field of inquiry has a scientific nature and that is perhaps the reason why Aristotle called it a “SUPREME SCIENCE” whose ultimate goal, which is not always achieved, is to use verifiable results to construct causal theories that explain why phenomena behave the way they do.
It should be mentioned that “formal models” are used in political science as abstract representations of institutions and political choices in order to draw attention to key logics and causal mechanisms in a political process. Such insightful modeling requires mastery of technical fields such as game theory, as well as the background knowledge to craft an appropriate representation of a specific application. Here, Indian academia has generally not recognized this fundamental and applied aspect of “political science”. Furthermore, political science has traditionally used empirical research and analytical resources to understand, explain and predict political phenomena. One of the long-standing criticisms of empirical modeling has been against the static perspective provided by the model’s invariant paradigm. In political science research, this question has particular relevance since political phenomena reveal sophisticated degrees of context dependence whose complexity could hardly be captured by traditional approaches, the fact of which must be recognized by our political science teachers and be introduced and taught in the classroom to our undergraduate and postgraduate students to bridge the “academic gap” in political science education.
It should be noted that after the 1970s, most political scientists around the world began to use experimental methods to focus their research on political behavior, public opinion, and mass communication. Classic topics include exploring the behavioral preferences and choices of different social groups in group actions, the influence of campaign propaganda on voting outcomes in the voting process, the influence of media propaganda on public attitudes and the influence of personality on political participation. Moreover, since the beginning of the 21st century, research in political science has clearly shown a trend from the search for correlation to the search for causation. Political scientists are increasingly dissatisfied with simply confirming the strength of the relationship between various factors and are increasingly devoted to discussing causal effects and mechanisms between variables. The world of political science is booming with exciting developments and possibilities. While so much is happening in the field, we are still trapped in the age-old pedagogical “prison” with a hollow “academic curriculum” that has no place for a “solution-oriented/applied approach”. this observation leads me to a conclusion that, in India, political science has simply been reduced to “general and specialized” articles, which is a sad reality.
It is high time now to reframe the approach we have developed vis-à-vis political science. It is important for students to learn that political science is not just a study of political institutions and their relationship to the people, but also an applied science fully capable of finding solutions to “real life” problems and crisis situations in the political world. In addition, political science teachers should prepare themselves intellectually and be able to engage students in understanding the conceptual and operational description of various political science issues that could be approached with the emerging field of political science. “computational political science”. as well.
The academic world is changing with the evolution of the human intellect. IT IS HIGH TIME TO TRANSFORM THE SYLLABUS, COURSE STRUCTURE, COURSE CONTENT AND PADAGOGIES OF THE SUBJECT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE ON A WAR PEDAL.
Like it or not, the modern Indian approach to “knowledge” must evolve and such a transition requires a pedagogical transformation but also the will, the open-mindedness and the intellectual maturity of the instructors and teachers.