Prompt: Write a short proposal for your annotated bibliography.
Response: My bibliography might seem to skitter laterally instead of burrowing into the fact of MOOCs themselves, but I’m interested in the genealogy of ideas, and I’m drawn to the mechanics of connectivist MOOCs and Dewey’s ideas for education that feed into them. I’d like to know more about other places where Dewey’s ideas took hold, and since my academic research looks at 20th century South Asia, and my work with Building Bridges uses the arts as a vehicle for baking social inclusion into education, I think working on this bibliography will help me articulate more clearly why my academic research and arts-based education work, while seemingly disparate, are rooted in my longstanding fascination with belonging and social inclusion. Constructive comments are welcome.
John Dewey’s name has come up peripherally on several occasions in past research, particularly his influence on the independence movement in India. I have long sought to gain a better understanding of this connection (and if these ideas have gained traction and are in circulation within India’s neighbor, and my homeland, Sri Lanka).
Dewey significantly influenced the Indian Constitution; B.R. Ambedkar, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution, was Dewey’s student at Columbia, and scholarship on the Indian constitution has pointed to Dewey’s influence on the Constitution’s creation. Scholarship suggests that Dewey’s hold on Ambedkar’s imagination was owed in part to the fact that Ambedkar was a Dalit (Untouchable); Dewey’s conceptualization of democracy allowed Ambedkar to conceive of himself outside his caste.
In turn, Dewey also may have influenced M. K. Gandhi, whose nonviolent resistance movement embodied several concepts including learning through the mastery of a craft, and to teaching principles of kindness and justice from a young age. Ambedkar and Gandhi have long been painted as irreconcilable in their philosophies (Gandhi was a proponent of the caste system), although historian Aishwary Kumar complicates this relationship through a recent book tackling their shared commitment to equality, while also complicating definitions of democracy – countries like India have radically challenged western conceptions of the term – and the risks that what he calls ‘radical democracy’ creates within modern nationalist traditions.
My larger body of academic research examines relationships between cultural institutions and economic development in post-colonial Sri Lanka, and I am finding that I wish for a greater understanding of the independence movement in South Asia more generally to continue my work. This annotated bibliography would be a start.
In keeping with this class and in line with the work I do in Sri Lanka in the realm of arts-based education for reconciliation and social inclusion, I’m also interested in the implications that these currencies of inclusion have for philosophies of learning. For this class, I’m interested in the shared histories of cMOOC-type digital learning and movements for social inclusion more generally, the ways they can continue to influence each other in digital and non-digital space, and how that shapes the way I conceptualize my own commitment to education and learning.
My annotated bibliography will include primary sources (like Dewey’s Schools of Tomorrow), texts that interrogate the relationship between Dewey and Ambedkar, between Ambedkar and Gandhi, and potentially Dewey and Gandhi (including the texts cited below, as I have not read them). It will also attempt to include texts that reference the influence of Dewey’s philosophies on education with a focus on social inclusion.
 Maitra, Keya. 2012. “Ambedkar and the Constitution of India: A Deweyan Experiment”. Contemporary Pragmatism. 9 (2): 301-320.
 Kumar, A. (2015). Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy.