Yesterday I watched a documentary called Schooling the World It hit me like a lightening bolt that the current education system in the western world is way past it's sell by date. Desperate to give their children the chance to be educated and have opportunities they hadn't had ,parents in India were sending their children to school in towns and cities with the result that the children no longer had any idea of how to live independently outside of an economic society. One villager explained that as children it had been drilled into them the need to keep the rivers clean as people living beneath them on the mountain had a need for drinking water, now the rivers in the valley were full of litter and polluted leaving the water unfit to drink. This,she explained, was because the children no longer had an attachment to the land and didn't understand the consequences of their actions.
The point of the programme was not to say that we shouldn't be educated but that a western form of education was irrelevant and indeed was often harmful to community and society where the culture and traditions were different.
The message of Westernised education was that education brought with it better jobs, money and success. In fact it was the villagers working high up in the mountains who seemed the happiest, despite their way of life. Children played contentedly in the fields whilst their parents worked and villagers sang and laughed as they worked together.
In contrast,children in the classrooms, both in America and India looked disengaged and bored. Obviously the director chose his shots well but the message was clear that if we lump everyone together and teach them all the same thing then we lose our individuality and our creativity and at its worst it effects our ability to live sustainably and community disintegrates
The system we have now is three hundred years old. A short period of history in the scheme of things. Schooling became a compulsory when people flocked to the cities for work as a result of the industrial revolution and parents needed child care and a way to help their children read and write so that they could get employment.
The intention was well meaning - to pull people out of poverty and mould them to suit the workforce. We are however in the middle of a new revolution. One where technology enables you to learn remotely and when you need to. We live in a society when people are beginning to realise that money doesn't bring happiness and that many of the things we are doing to our planet in the name of the economy are destroying our planet , our health.and our sense of community.
Our children , need life skills. They can't all be farmers but they do need to know where their food comes from, the impact of additives in our foods and chemicals on our crops.They need to understand the influence of large corporations over Government and the economy .School isn't teaching them these things neither is it teaching them the ability to think for themselves and make decisions following their own research rather than merely accepting what is 'spoon fed' to them through the media and the education system.
It's time for change, not the sort introduced by government every two or three years but a radical shake up or how and what our children learn . I wonder when it will come?