I am of the opinion that schools are a means of behavior modification – a social, intellectual and cultural conditioning that has since industrialization been used as a means of creating 'obedient and state-serving clones' in other words regiments of individuals who will never ever critically think or question the governments or religious cults. It is important to understand conditioning. A psychological term, it means to have a significant influence on or determine (the manner or outcome of something). Schools function as the original 'dumbing down' factories and the results are for all to see.

In the classical age, informal academies (more like conservatories) like Plato's Academy and the Neoplatonic school at Alexandria, Egypt that the Greek astronomer, mathematician and philosopher Hypatia taught at, were the birthplaces of critical thought and reasoning. In the medieval times, ironically, monasteries and makhtabs served as centres of learning and research. Some of the world's oldest universities trace their origin from that period for example, the University of Al-Karaouine located in Fes, Morocco. This university originally was a mosque founded in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri, a woman. It developed into one of the leading universities for natural sciences. It wasn’t until 1957 that the university added Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and foreign languages. It has the distinction of being the oldest and continually operational university followed by the Nizamiyya series of universities established by Khwaja Nizam al-Mulk in the eleventh century in what is now present day Iran; the most celebrated of the series being the Al-Nizamiyya of Baghdad (1015). The Nizamiyya schools served as a model for future universities in the region, and al-Mulk often is seen as responsible for a new era of brilliance which caused his schools to eclipse all other contemporary learning institutions.

The meeting of the Islamic civilization and the Western world resulted in an exchange of a lot of ideas, schools of thoughts, treatises and theories. Muslim scholars having discovered, translated and commented upon the Hellenistic philosophers paved the way for Europe's Enlightenment like the famous Universities at Bologna, Paris, Cambridge, Montpelier, Oxford, Salamanca and Padua. The Muslim mind committed suicide in the eleventh century when it chose to uphold the teachings of a fanatic Hanbal who gave primacy to texts and rejected the towering polyglot who gave primacy to reasoning – Averroes, also known as the 'Commentator' of the 'Philosopher' (Aristotle) in the West and in the East as Ibn Rushd. It’s not hard to deduce the trajectory the once great civilization then took even as Averroes' rediscovery of Aristotle paved the way for the Age of Enlightenment in the West.

Of interest is the development of the same critical schools of thought that flourished in the West after the Enlightenment and the development of democracies and modern nation states. As Industrialization took over, it was not long before states took over the curriculum of public schools and the independent inquiry and reasoning came under the ever changing 'curricula' of the state's policies. The nation-states through a variety of political processes exercised control over the curriculum and the subjects became institutionalized. Studies in this area emphasize how political factors shaped the content and definition of the curricula and how much emerging corporates started interfering and molding the curricula. The best single indicator of the degree of state control over the curriculum is the textbook adoption process.

"The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions, but to destroy the capacity to form any."  --Hannah Arendt

This quote by the German-born political theorist sums up what is actually wrong with the regimentation of the education systems all over the world since the 1800s and by extension of colonization in the developing world too. The Indian subcontinent was part of the British Empire, and as British public figures were influential in forming the educational policies of the former colony, Macaulayism took precedence over everything. Macaulayism is the conscious policy of liquidating indigenous culture through the planned substitution of the alien culture of a colonizing power via the education system. The term is derived from the name of the British politician Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), an individual who was instrumental in the introduction of English as the medium of instruction in the higher education of British India. This resulted in the tendency to marginalize inherited learning and the culture of dismissing traditional modes of thought. This self-denigration would not have been evident had not educators themselves started to question the very purpose of schools.

John Taylor Gatto has been a New York City schoolteacher for over twenty six years and was named New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991. His book 'Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling' comprises of essays, speeches and commentaries that critique the national curriculum of schooling, stating that it prevents children from learning how to think and act and ultimately dumbs them down.  “We need less school, not more”, Gatto believes that the school system is taking away from people’s ability to spend time with their families and gain a purpose for themselves. He believes that the focus has become overly geared towards “good education= good job, good money, good things.” He feels that the true meaning of education is being lost in the schooling institutions, and that, simply put, children should have more time spent within their home communities than in a place that will make them even more disconnected from others.

Schools in Kashmir do not teach the history of Kashmir. The Kashmiri language has just recently been given its due by including it in the curricula as an additional language of study along with the official language of Urdu as a second language not forgetting the compulsory English language. The state's control over the textbooks, especially History, Science and Literature ensures that the dispute of Kashmir, evolution and literary figures of Kashmir are kept away from the young 'impressionable minds'. Combined with John Taylor Gatto's increasingly acceptable views about compulsory schooling around the world and the fact that a nationalistic government controls the school textbooks which are the extended tools of 'conditioning' of a future generations, I see the age old 'subversiveness' or as I call it 'resilience' of Kashmiris coming to fore by the adaption of the technology the Internet provides. It is possible to break through the conditioning of a lifetime, conditioning of one's place of birth, conditioning by one's peers, culture, fed-history, and distorted textbooks. All one has to do is read, inquire, question, think, reflect, formulate, read more, practice dialectics and watch the bindings of mental conditioning give way.