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The demise of Baa, baa, black sheep

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paa.kwesi

I agree with these guys. Western rationality is finally triumphing in India. That we may also learn to be less confused. The logic for the decision is wrapped up in nationalism but it is still there.

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian state has removed nursery rhymes such as "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep" from its primary school syllabus because they are "too Western," newspapers said Wednesday.

The government in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, run by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, dropped the rhymes, immensely popular with millions of Indian children, from its Class I syllabus taught to five-year-olds.

"We want our children to have value education in local color," the Hindustan Times quoted Narottam Mishra, the state's school education minister as saying.

Children will now learn English-language rhymes written by Indian poets, papers said.

http://today.reuters.com/news/ArticleNews.aspx?type=oddlyEnoughNews&stor...

Comments

OMANBA

Match the sheep with the curry

I believe in getting the best of both worlds. I am what i am today because my parents and teachers gave me equal doses of my tradition and what to expect from the big wide world.
Instead of dropping popular Anglo-originated rhymes altogether they could have been taught alongside locally scripted ones.
India is afterall a country with English as its official language hence the little lambs will need all the stimulation they can get in order to master their grip on the English language and poetry could be a nice and simple way to do so. It could also teach them a bit about English culture and folklore.

THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.

paa.kwesi

Were you raised in England?

Were you raised in England? If so, then what you say is perfectly right just like the Indians. Indeed, it is only sensible to start with what you have, and "Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool" is not one of them if you're not raised in a place where you have opportunity to validate this rhyme with actual experience.

PS: Read my assumptions (http://ghanaconscious.ghanathink.org/node/419) about the audience so you may forgive any offense I cause you...

Swazibella

Rhymes

I got into a discussion with an African American friend about what dolls we would buy for our children (when God blesses us with children at a later time :-))..white barbies, or black dolls. Well, first off I would not buy my children dolls of any kind, the neighbours can give that to them as gifts, but books would suffice on my part. But I understood the bigger picture. Given America's identity crisis (yes, I said it), I would understand why black people wanted to buy their children only black dolls. Although, I dont necessarily agree, but that is a topic for the next harvest.
Now, on the issue of books (and nursery rhymes) I am all for teaching children within a context they can identify with. No Baa Baa Black Sheep, please. If we have the opportunity to explore rhymes written by native poets with relatable names and scenarios (not quite "Mary had a little lamb")that kids could have fun with and learn from, then we must. So Kudos to India in that regard. Same goes for our high schools...If I had things my way, we would lessen how much Shakespeare we analyze (Wasn't I sick of Macbeth by the time I was in Senior Sec, aish), and substitute some of this with African literature. And by African literature, I mean more than just Things Fall Apart and Cry the Beloved Country.

OMANBA

SOCIAL CORRECTNESS

Whiles i do see where the idea of striking out the Anglo Poetry is coming from, it is to some extent also hypocritical and not very effective from my point of view. What is Literature? It is written prose, drama and poetry. If the Indian argument is to go by, then they need to strike out Anglo prose and drama in addition to the poetry, then they will have a point. But if its only to strike out Baa Baa black sheep but expect the littlings to grow up and be able to read a newspaper or book or watch a film and understand that Sweaters are made from the wool of the defunct(syllabic)black or white sheep for instance, then they need to give them the foundation.

To me all this social correctness doesn't cut it all the time. Language is a tool for communication and the more a bearer has, the better they are able to function in this fused multi-cultural global environ. If you look at things from that perspective there will be no conflict of interest. Nationality comes first(and no one will dispute that), yet no country is an Island devoid of global interactivity. We are all somehow inter-twined with each other on one scale or the other. Problems only arise when people have not had a good impact of their culture and feel an alien one is over-powering them.

Phelele, i know where you are coming from. I Had my fair dose of 12 of Shakespeares books, plus Keats, Wordsworth, Mark Twain and Henrik Ibsen, but the ones i felt at one with were Peter Abrahams, Amma Atta Aidoo, Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Adu Boahen and co, because i could identify with them in the African or Ghanaian context but here is the catch... all the Shakespeare and the rest paid off too and it has served me well in my outlook on life, on people, on races, on history and in my career to mention but a few.
I am all for multi-lingual and multi-cultural capabilities and understanding. If one has a good dose and base of one's cultural identity, being exposed to another one doesn't replace or eradicate it. It only becomes the icing on the cake.

THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.