Education – Eliminating opportunity


Why do parents sometimes find it difficult to control children after they start school? Russell Means asks the question and answers it thus; “The white man schools his children for only a few hours a day while separating them by age group. They are isolated from their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts’ brothers, and sisters – isolated from the entire community for twelve years. That can lead to adults with a very narrow understanding of what community life is all about. Indigenous peoples around the world know a better way – immerse the child in the community, let the community be the teacher.’

If western society wished to ‘educate’ their children (Locke qu.) they would look to no better examples than aboriginal peoples. What we do in the west in our institutions is not educate. Education is too messy, expensive, and time consuming. (Ritzer) What we do in our institutions is train for docility. The school day starts, is sub divided, and ends with the bell. Lessons are ended only in order to cram in the next one immaterial of the importance, interest or stage of the proceeding one. What Ritzer terms ‘the tyranny of the lesson plan’ where children are forced to perform within the set limits of the lesson, (and the lead up to many a childhood summer can be destroyed by exam results).”

How much do you learn at school?

When you really get down to thinking about this question you realise. Not that much. (It might be worth pointing out here I know there are people who had a good experience of school. Inspiring teachers who put in the effort to develop pupils special qualities and so on. But these are exceptional cases that go to prove the general rule. School may teach you the basics to prepare you for work. But how far down the curriculum is thinking. If education establishments taught pupils as a main subject how to “think” they would be far different places than they are today. You learn mostly about life and the world through free association and questioning others about things that interest you. Your family, relations, friends, acquaintances, workmates. As Russell asks. “What can children learn about community locked up in an institution?” And how can teachers teach when their job is becoming more and more the processing of information and in testing the students ability to remember it?

Accumulative learning has given us, in the twentieth century AD, an immense advantage over our predecessors in technology and in the range of mental skills by which we can explore the universe and create a multiplicity of logical images. But we must not mistake this for increased intelligence. Intelligence is not knowledge; it is the ability to cast into logical shape such knowledge one has. Barry J Kemp