Thursday, February 21, 2013

Strictures in Education

Steve Hayes has an interesting post Zemblanity and Education where he describes some of the ways that education in South Africa has really become restricted. This is an old post, but just popped up in my feedreader now - not sure if Steve just imported it to his new blog. So we are now past OBE (that he speaks about) and are into another curriculum.
I will leave you to go and read what Zemblanity is (it's interesting) and rather quote Steve with this:

And back in the “old” South Africa a friend of mine, John Aitchison, organised a night school for the staff of the then University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg — cooks, cleaners, gardeners and so on, who had had little chance of education as children. Another volunteer effort, run on a shoestring, the teachers all being students and a few lecturers. By such means some people were able to bypass Bantu Education and have education for liberation. But it would be difficult to run such things under present regulations.

The reality is that education has become so controlled that it is very difficult for people to take the initiative to improve themselves.

We have been homeschooling my Grade 10 son this year and we do it with the knowledge that he cannot get a matric unless he does it through a registered institution all the way from Grade 10 to Grade 12. In other words, we are not free to prepare a child for university entrance without the accompanying ideological input. We used to call it brainwashing and indoctrination in the apartheid education system. Perhaps it is not so bad now. Or perhaps we just don't know.

When I was at school the history syllabus centred on the glory of the Great Trek. Now it centres on how white people messed up Africa. I wanted to forbid my son from taking history as a matric subject when I saw what he and my older son were having to internalise. He resisted this saying that he wanted to learn all the other stuff. And convinced me by going through the text book and describing the inaccuracies and biases, so that I felt he understood what he was letting himself in for.

I guess that education is always biased - we have to believe that some things are right and others wrong. But is it necessary to control education to such an extent that initiatives such as the one Steve mentioned cannot be run?  Do we know where we are heading with this control mentality?

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