Civilising the “Native”, Educating the Nation: Question & Answers Class 8 History SST

Civilising the “Native”, Educating the Nation: Question & Answers Class 8 Social Science History NCERT Book. This article provides help to students and teachers with answers and solutions to the textbook intext-questions and exercise questions. Click here for more other chapters of class 8 History.

Intext-Question & Answers

Activity Questions

Ans. My Reactions to Wood’s Dispatch

In the bustling streets of 1850s colonial India, where whispers of change and reform seemed to echo through every corner, news of Wood’s Despatch sent ripples of excitement and curiosity through the air. As an inhabitant of that time, my reactions were a complex blend of hope, scepticism, and anticipation for the future that this educational directive might herald.

Initial Intrigue and Hope:
At first, the very notion of a significant educational reform filled me with hope. The idea that the British authorities were acknowledging the need for a structured, well-defined educational system was indeed heartening. There was a palpable sense of optimism among my fellow citizens. We dared to believe that perhaps this directive could bridge the vast chasm between the colonial rulers and the indigenous population, offering us a chance at enlightenment and progress.

Cautious Anticipation:
Yet, this hope was laced with caution. History had taught us that colonial policies were often veiled instruments of control, and scepticism lingered. Questions arose in the minds of many: Would this educational reform truly be designed to uplift our society, or was it another means of tightening the colonial grip? The scepticism was born from the bitter memories of exploitative policies and cultural imposition. As the details of the Despatch began to surface, people debated, their voices reflecting a mix of hope and concern.

Eager Expectation for Change:
Despite the reservations, there was an undeniable eagerness for change. The Despatch’s focus on practical education, vocational training, and the development of local vernacular languages resonated deeply with the masses. For the first time, it seemed like the colonial administration was recognizing the value of our native languages and traditions. This recognition sparked a renewed sense of cultural pride and identity. Many hoped that the emphasis on vernacular languages would facilitate a more inclusive educational framework, enabling a broader section of society, including those who had been marginalized, to access knowledge.

A Vision of the Future:
As discussions ensued, a vision of a brighter future emerged. There was talk of new schools, of children learning in their mother tongue, of the possibility of education reaching the farthest corners of our land. The prospect of a generation educated in the principles of modern science, literature, and arts was tantalizing. The Despatch inspired dreams of a more enlightened society, where knowledge would be the beacon guiding us toward progress.

In the end, my reactions were a blend of hope, caution, and optimism. The Wood’s Despatch, with all its complexities and uncertainties, represented a pivotal moment in our history. It was a promise, a promise that held the potential to transform our society and pave the way for a new era of education, enlightenment, and self-determination. Only time would tell if this promise would be fulfilled, but in the hearts of many, the flicker of hope burned bright, lighting the way for a future yet to unfold.

Ans. Response to Government-Regulated Pathshalas in the 1850s

Born into a humble family in the 1850s, the arrival of government-regulated pathshalas would have stirred a mix of hope and trepidation in my heart. Here’s how I might have responded:

Initial Hope and Excitement: Upon hearing about the establishment of government-regulated pathshalas, there would have been a glimmer of hope. Education was a luxury often out of reach for families like mine. The prospect of schools being regulated by the government meant a chance for me and other children from impoverished backgrounds to access knowledge, a chance for a better future.

Curiosity and Fear: Curiosity would have driven me to attend the newly established pathshala, but fear would have accompanied it. Fear of the unknown, fear of the strict discipline that formal education often entailed, and fear of failing to meet the expectations of teachers and society. Nevertheless, the opportunity to learn and improve my circumstances might have outweighed these fears.

Struggles and Determination: The reality of studying in a government-regulated pathshala would have been harsh. Limited resources, overcrowded classrooms, and stringent rules would have posed challenges. Yet, the determination to escape the cycle of poverty would have pushed me to persevere, regardless of the obstacles.

Gratitude and Ambition: Despite the challenges, there would have been a deep sense of gratitude for the chance to learn. Education would have been seen as a precious gift, a means to break free from the chains of poverty. Ambition would have been kindled – the dream of a brighter future, a stable job, and the ability to provide for my family would have motivated me to study diligently.

Ans. Reasons for School Dropouts by Age 13-14

1. Socioeconomic Factors:

  • Poverty: Families struggling with poverty might need children to work to contribute to the household income, forcing them to quit school.
  • Lack of Resources: Insufficient funds for books, uniforms, and other school necessities can lead to dropout, especially in impoverished families.

2. Social Pressures:

  • Gender Bias: Cultural norms and gender biases might favour boys’ education over girls’, leading to girls dropping out earlier.
  • Peer Pressure: Influence from peers involved in delinquency or early labour might lure children away from school life.

3. Educational Challenges:

  • Learning Difficulties: Students with learning disabilities may face challenges in keeping up with the curriculum, leading to frustration and dropout.
  • Lack of Quality Education: Poor quality of education, inadequate teaching methods, and untrained teachers can demotivate students.

4. Family Circumstances:

  • Migration: Families migrating for work might disrupt a child’s education, forcing them to leave school.
  • Family Responsibilities: Children might need to assist with younger siblings or perform household chores, hindering their ability to attend school consistently.

5. Health Issues:

  • Health Problems: Persistent health issues, especially in areas lacking healthcare access, can lead to irregular attendance and eventual dropout.

6. Lack of Interest:

  • Disengagement: Lack of interest in academics or absence of extracurricular activities might cause students to lose motivation and eventually drop out.

Understanding and addressing these multifaceted issues is crucial for creating a more inclusive and equitable educational system, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to complete their schooling.

Textbook Exercise Question & Answers

Let’s Imagine


Mahatma Gandhi vs. Thomas Macaulay on English Education

In a dimly lit, ornate hall, history bore witness to an extraordinary debate, an intellectual duel between two stalwarts, Mahatma Gandhi and Thomas Macaulay, over the impact of English education in India. The atmosphere crackled with intellectual fervor as the audience eagerly anticipated the clash of these titanic minds.

Mahatma Gandhi: (With unwavering conviction)
“Gentlemen, I stand here today not as an opponent of knowledge, but as a proponent of holistic education that nurtures our cultural roots. English education, as propagated by Macaulay, has cast a shadow over our indigenous wisdom. It has severed us from our heritage, making us strangers in our own land. The essence of true education lies in embracing our roots, in learning from our artisans, in understanding the pulse of our villages. We must teach our children not just to read and write but also to understand, respect, and cherish our culture. English education, as it stands, shackles our minds; it’s a chain that we must break free from.”

Thomas Macaulay: (Eloquently defending his stance)
“Respected audience, I appreciate Gandhi’s commitment to tradition, but we must not confuse progress with cultural erosion. English education is not a noose around India’s neck but a bridge to the future. It imparts knowledge, fosters critical thinking, and opens doors to the world. It connects us with the global community, enabling us to share our ideas and learn from others. The ideals of democracy, science, and modernity embedded in English education are the pillars of progress. We cannot afford to confine ourselves; we must march forward with the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi: (Passionate rebuttal)
“I do not advocate stagnation; I advocate progress rooted in our soil. We must teach our children about the world, but not at the cost of forgetting who they are. English education has driven a wedge between the educated elite and the masses, creating a society divided by language and values. Our education should empower, not alienate. It should uplift our villages, not create an elitist class detached from our societal fabric.”

Thomas Macaulay: (Stern and resolute)
“Gandhi, you romanticize the past, but we cannot ignore the opportunities that English education provides. It equips our youth to compete globally, to innovate, to contribute to the world’s progress. It is a tool, a means to an end, not an end in itself. We can preserve our culture while embracing the future. English education enhances our ability to preserve our traditions while evolving with the world. It’s not about forgetting our roots but about branching out without losing our essence.”

The debate raged on, each argument met with fervent counterarguments, weaving a tapestry of contrasting perspectives. The audience was left in contemplative silence, the echoes of the debate lingering in their minds. The clash between tradition and progress, between cultural preservation and global integration, had been passionately fought, leaving each listener to ponder the path India should tread in its pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment.

Let’s recall


William Jones – respect for ancient cultures

Rabindranath Tagore – respect for ancient cultures

Thomas Macaulay – promotion of English education

Mahatma Gandhi – learning in a natural environment

Pathshalas – gurus

(a) James Mill was a severe critic of the Orientalists.

(b) The 1854 Despatch on education was in favour English being introduced as a medium of higher education in India.

(c) Mahatma Gandhi thought that promotion of literacy was the most important aim of education.

(d) Rabindranath Tagore felt that children ought to be subjected to strict discipline.


(a) True

(b) True

(c) False

(d) False

Let’s discuss

3. Why did William Jones feel the need to study Indian history, philosophy, and law?

  1. Interest in Ancient Cultures: William Jones was fascinated by ancient cultures, including Indian civilization.
  2. Academic Exploration: Jones studied Indian history, philosophy, and law to understand the depth of Indian knowledge and culture.
  3. Comparative Analysis: He believed studying Indian texts alongside Western ones would provide a holistic perspective on human knowledge.
  4. Founding the Asiatic Society: Jones’ studies led to the founding of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, promoting the study of Asian languages, history, and culture.

4. Why did James Mill and Thomas Macaulay think that European education was essential in India?

  • Promotion of British Values: James Mill and Thomas Macaulay believed European education would instill British values, making Indians more receptive to British rule.
  • Cultural Superiority: They viewed Western culture as superior, believing that European education would civilize and modernize Indian society.
  • Economic and Administrative Development: European education was seen as essential for teaching Indians modern techniques, science, and administration, aligning them with British standards.

5. Why did Mahatma Gandhi want to teach children handicrafts?

  1. Promotion of Self-Sufficiency: Gandhi advocated for teaching handicrafts to promote self-reliance and economic independence.
  2. Preservation of Indian Culture: Handicrafts were an integral part of Indian heritage, and Gandhi believed their promotion would preserve indigenous skills and traditions.
  3. Empowerment of Rural Economy: Teaching handicrafts would empower the rural population economically by providing them with skills to sustain their livelihoods.

6. Why did Mahatma Gandhi think that English education had enslaved Indians?

  1. Cultural Inferiority: Gandhi believed English education created a sense of cultural inferiority among Indians, making them idolize Western civilization.
  2. Loss of Identity: English education distanced Indians from their cultural roots, eroding their pride in their heritage and making them reject indigenous traditions.
  3. Admiration for British Rule: Those educated in English institutions often admired British rule, perpetuating a cycle of subjugation and acceptance of foreign dominance.
  4. Language Divide: Speaking English instead of regional languages created a linguistic and cultural gap between the educated elite and the masses, leading to societal disconnection.

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