Monitorial System: was it really an Indian idea?

  • Sarabjeet Kaur Research Scholar Zakir Husain Centre of Educational Studies School of Social Sciences Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi-110067


The article traces the journey of the origin and development of the monitorial system.  It was also known as the Bell-Lancaster method on the name of its two popularizers.  The trajectory of the Monitorial System is quite interesting. As claimed by Andrew Bell this system was practiced in India and had its roots of origin in Madras hence its name the Madras School. But when we delve deeper we get acquainted with certain astonishing facts that it was never the case in India because there is no authenticity to this that it was being followed here and it was only later after Bell propounded this system that it became to be followed in. Though it became quite popular in the nineteenth century in England and Europe yet it proved to be an inefficient and incompetent way of providing substitutes for teachers. A fellow student helping another class mate can never be a teacher but only a help. Moreover, without being equipped with the training to teach how can a student enjoy the status of being a teacher? Furthermore it explores the causes that lead to its gradual decline inspite of it scaling the heights of glory. Its practice (if any) in India is also looked into. This article substantiates the fact that a pupil-teacher can never be a master but can only be an imperfect substitute for them.       


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