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Cultural Void
(ilyessuti, Pixabay)

Educational Greed
(Nathan-F-Hardaker, Pixabay)

Club Rich
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Teaching in the poor world Schooling the Poor World 

On the one hand, we can see that poor world education can allow women to be empowered and freed from oppressive socio-politico-religious systems. For example, UNESCO (dated 2017, accessed 9 October 2017) says:

Education empowers women and girls. It provides them the ability and knowledge needed to direct their own lives. When girls receive education they marry later; have smaller and healthier families; gain skills needed to enter the labour market; recognize the importance of health care and seek it for themselves and their children; and know their rights and gain the confidence to insist on them. The virtuous ripple effect of education for girls is so far-reaching that former UN Secretary General and Nobel Prize winner Kofi Annan called it the single most effective tool for development.

So, we may be happy about projects like
Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy for Girls and WE Free the Children.

On the other hand, poor world education is a type of colonialism, destroying cultures and languages all over the world, promoting the monoculture of capitalism and making everyone have a white-skinned soul inside (no matter what they look like on the outside). This is the warning of the documentary Schooling the World.

Some quotes/paraphrases from 'Schooling the World' mixed with my thoughts:-
  • "To civilize the [Native American] Indians... immerse them in our civilization, and when we get them under... hold them there until they are thoroughly soaked." (General Richard Pratt, founder of the Carlisle Indian School)
  • The overt goal is to destroy their way of life: "Let all that is within you die." (Carlisle Indian School commencement speech)
  • The British were doing the same in India: "We must at present do our best to form... a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour... but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, in intellect." (Lord Macaulay's 'Minute on Indian Education')
  • In Ladakh, modern schooling has caused the decline of the old values of cooperation and compassion. Young people instead think of becoming a doctor or engineer. People no longer help each one another. Spirituality is lost, the emphasis is on material success. So, education transfers culture - and western culture is morally void.
Cultural Void
  • Unlike modern culture and its educational system, traditional cultures and their transmission of knowledge, although not perfect, were sustainable. They knew about the local ecosystem and survived for generation after generation, as independent and in charge of their own lives. Modern children essentially learn how to use corporate products (e.g. computers) in an urban, consumer culture, and on completion of their education cannot survive in their environment.
  • Education is not only transmission of information, but also enculturation. (1) This produces different kinds of human being with specific lifestyles and different attitudes to the Earth. Modern science considers Earth inert, something to be mined. Spiritual cultures may consider Earth to be alive and sacred, to be respected. (2) We need to question what becoming part of the mainstream means today? It means a Western urban consumer culture, where the local culture is perceived as backward, primitive, shameful. It means putting everything local into the service of the global economy, so 'Education for All' = train everyone to suit the greed of giant, global corporations. (3) Huge resources are lost, such as languages, richness of cultural resources and imagination. 
Educational Greed
  • The modern education system that started in the Industrial revolution of the 18th century was not created to help humans deal with life and all its problems, and be independent citizens able to live in community. Rather, it was intended: (1) to be part of the industrial production system, manufacturing human machines that could be slotted in to the system to achieve wealth for the few, at the expense of the many; (2) to support European colonial expansion. Modern education in the Poor World does the same, pulling people off the land, away from their culture and self-respect, and makes people dependent on a centralised economy.
  • "Our schools are in a sense, factories, in which the raw materials - children - are to be shaped and fashioned into products. The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of 20th-century civilization, and it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down." (Ellwood P. Cubberley, 1898)
  • "The population at large must be prepared to accept training for an economic system... which increasingly confines the individual in large, disciplined organizations allocating to him narrow specialized tasks." (Walt Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth, 1960) 
  • In the past, women enjoyed and respected their work on the land. Now, with 'development', they think that education is only reading and writing. Elders develop an inferiority. They say, "I'm not educated. I don't know anything." But they had so much more knowledge than those who went to school.
  • There is a widespread belief that modern education lifted and lifts people out of poverty. But the truth is that the arrival of colonialism, development and aid created poverty! Poverty does not exist in pre-modern cultures!!
Club Rich
  • Poor world people sell everything to allow their children to follow the success story that education offers, but only about 10% succeed. Modern education is creating worldwide inequality. Modern education is creating failure!! Can you see this? The failed 90% are in-between people, neither suited to the modern world nor their local culture. They are cast adrift, depressed and purposeless, vulnerable to drugs, alcohol, debt, exploitation, prostitution, etc. 
  • One of the great tragedies of schooling is how it has ripped people out from nature and locked them up into rooms for eight hours a day. It's crazy how reading about nature is considered a better way of life than being in nature.
  • Modern education systems are fundamentally disempowering, dehumanising, destructive - not only to humans, but to all planetary life. "Real freedom will come only when we free ourselves of the domination of Western education, Western culture and Western way of living which have been ingrained in us." (Mahatma Gandhi)
  • "Education is a compulsory, forcible action of one person upon another... Culture is the free relation of people... The difference between education and culture lies only in the compulsion, which education deems itself in the right to exert. Education is culture under restraint. Culture is free." (Leo Tolstoy)
  • Education forces non-Western cultures to lose their self-sufficiency and enslaves them to the global economy. This can be well-intentioned or not. 
  • Instead of arriving somewhere and arrogantly saying we're here to educate your children, we need to have a far more humble stance. We are here to share skills, and there are probably skills you have that can improve us. In other words, a sharing rather than an imposition. 

Also see:-

Natural Education

Natural Family Living

Poverty Delusion

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Page last updated: 19 April 2022.