Thanks to @SirKenRobinson for posting about this little gem of a film recently (full film here). The threats of imposing one system regardless of local tradition - what harm has already been caused by such "modern" education? On a deeper level, how will we work to prevent further cultural erosion through schooling?
An impressive "cast" is featured in the film: Wade Davis (his site is worth checking out - fascinating photography), Vandana Shiva (heavy hitter in the activist world), Helena Norberg-Hodge, and Manish Jain, along with some beautiful footage from Ladakh.
The film highlights how over 90% of students in Ladakh are deemed "failures" through school, and are not able to enter the global economic system as intended. Norberg-Hodge contrasts this with the struggle they face back home, and the value of ancient cultural knowledge:
There is no doubt that traditional forms of knowledge fostered sustainability... once they have been educated in "modern" schools, they literally don't know how to survive in their own environment.
It's high time we turned the tables - what can we learn from these ancient forms and systems?
Davis provides excellent examples of how local systems of education shape important differences in people and how they relate to the earth; a warning not to keep pushing for universal, uniform education.
He gives the example of a child raised in Colorado versus one raised in southern Peru under different systems of belief and knowledge. Say the child in Colorado is raised with the belief that the mountain is inert and waiting to be mined. This child will have a very different relationship to the earth than the child in Peru who believes that the mountain has an active spirit, and sees it as a protective force. In this case, one system clearly lends itself to resource misuse, and the other can help us move towards true sustainability.
Finally, Vandana Shiva warns of the shift from valuing wisdom to valuing information that is impacting our development as people:
We have moved from wisdom to knowledge, and now we are moving from knowledge to information, and that information is so partial that we are creating incomplete human beings.
The film doesn't knock our systems of education entirely (but does come close!). It does provide a lot of food for thought and powerful critique, and re-inspires me in thinking about alternative models.
To see the whole film (64 minutes and entirely worth it!), and read some excellent posts, visit: www.schoolingtheworld.org
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!