If you wanted to change a culture, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. ‘Schooling The World,’ a film by Carol Black, takes a challenging, sometimes funny, ultimately deeply troubling look at the role played by modern education in the destruction of the world’s last sustainable land based cultures.
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?
SCHOOLING THE WORLD takes a challenging, sometimes funny, ultimately deeply troubling look at the role played by modern education in the destruction of the world’s last sustainable land-based cultures.
Beautifully shot on location in the Buddhist culture of Ladakh in the northern Indian Himalayas, the film weaves the voices of Ladakhi people through a conversation between four carefully chosen original thinkers; anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence; Helena Norberg-Hodge and Vandana Shiva, both recipients of the Right Livelihood Award for their work with traditional peoples in India; and Manish Jain, a former architect of education programs with UNESCO, USAID, and the World Bank.
It examines the hidden assumption of cultural superiority behind education aid projects, which overtly aim to help children “escape” to a “better life.”
It looks at the failure of institutional education to deliver on its promise of a way out of poverty – here in the United States as well as in the so-called “developing” world.
And it questions our very definitions of wealth and poverty – and of knowledge and ignorance – as it uncovers the role of schools in the destruction of traditional sustainable agricultural and ecological knowledge, in the breakup of extended families and communities, and in the devaluation of ancient spiritual traditions.
Finally, SCHOOLING THE WORLD calls for a “deeper dialogue” between cultures, suggesting that we have at least as much to learn as we have to teach, and that these ancient sustainable societies may harbor knowledge which is vital for our own survival in the coming millenia.
On the wildness of children
Some of our children, it turns out, are more like pigeons and squirrels, and some are more like bears. Some of them adapt to the institutional walls we put around them, some pace till their paws bleed. The bleeding of these children, if we listen, can tell us many stories about ourselves.
How modern schooling is aiding the destruction of the biosphere
Modern education serves a version of Gulag, by forcing our young to suffer unspeakable conditions in their most vulnerable years. It ultimately breaks them, in order to refashion them into a pliable workforce. This psychic predicament goes hand in hand with the destruction of life, with the catastrophic end of the biosphere.
On rewilding the imagination
The Wild Network’s mission is “to support children, parents and guardians to roam free, play wild and connect with nature”. According to their ‘Chief Wild Officer’ Mark Sears, mental well-being is proven to be clearly linked to time spent outdoors in natural environments, but this is neglected by modern schooling and parenting.
Being human, in a more-than-human world
David Abram, Humans and Nature
I am dazzled, yes, by the creativity of the human mind, but I’m also struck dumb by the ability of various aspen groves to maintain and replenish themselves, through their common root system, for eighty thousand years and more. Are we humans unique? Sure we are. But then, so is everyone else around here.