Schooling the World
In one of my university courses yesterday, we watched the film Schooling the World: The White Man’s Last Burden. Admittedly, the internet does a better job of summarizing the video than I would, so here you go:
If you wanted to change a culture in a generation, how would you do it?
You would change the way it educates its children.
The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th century when it forced Native American children into government boarding schools. Today, volunteers build schools in traditional societies around the world, convinced that school is the only way to a ‘better’ life for rural and Indigenous children.
But is this true? What really happens when we replace another culture’s canon of knowledge with our own? Does life really get better for its people?
Deep, I know. But there were many good takeaway messages that I wrote down and wish to share here (I apologize if the topics and ideas jump all over the place):
- The overt goal of residential schools was to kill the Indian inside the child
- Traditional ways of showing kindness and helping others is being replaced by careers that “help people”, such as doctors or engineers
- Changing away from teaching students about the heart and spirit, to teaching them about material wealth and gain
- If you’ve lost your history, then you’ve lost everything
- Traditional education taught students about their own soil, environment, and how to survive in their own community for generations
- In modern education, students learn how to use corporate products in urban environments
- They are unable to survive independently in their own community
- “We are creating incomplete human beings” because we are teaching information that feeds into a consumer society’s beliefs
- Schools are factories in which raw materials – students – are to be shaped into functional beings
- People provide educational aid out of the goodness of their heart, but they don’t stay long enough to see the overall impact and they don’t look broadly enough
- Forget their own culture, traditions, and language
- More damaging than good