Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Almost all education has a political motive." - Bertrand Russell

The fuller quote is:
Almost all education has a political motive: it aims at strengthening some group, national or religious or even social, in the competition with other groups. It is this motive, in the main, which determines the subjects taught, the knowledge offered and the knowledge withheld, and also decides what mental habits the pupils are expected to acquire. Hardly anything is done to foster the inward growth of mind and spirit; in fact, those who have had the most education are very often atrophied in their mental and spiritual life.

- Bertrand Russell
I don't think we're unaware of this concept of education having a motive--it's just that we are so conditioned to speaking about the virtues of education that we suppress the deeper understanding that mandated schooling reflects forces of power and control. What we read in history about other cultures we resist applying to our own circumstance.

A willingness to build the capacity of individuals--who then will be in a position to innovate, work together, and build things of worth and value--is a form of generational trust. It's a willingness to believe in the strength and potential of others; and the opposite, believing we know and should tell the next generation what problems they will face and how they should solve them, is a sign of narcissistic control. I'd argue this is the same pervasive narcissism which seems willing to be the source of many of the problems that our students are now inheriting.

If we really want to help our kids, we will focus on their "inward growth of mind and spirit." 

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