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IS IT EDUCATION AND CULTURE OR EDUCATION VERSUS CULTURE? LEARNING IN NEW TIMES. Crain Soudien University of Cape Town. Introduction Is education a framework which can deal with contradiction and disagreement?
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Crain SoudienUniversity of Cape Town
Is education a framework which can deal with contradiction and disagreement?
Can it take in and assimilate difference? How capacious has it been with respect to tradition?
Has education been able to deal, for example, with the large challenge that there exists different views of nature in the world, of the different ontological accounts that we have as who we are as humans?
Dominant forms of what we understand to be good education struggle to engage with what I call radical alterity, radical difference.
This struggle constitutes a real puzzle in many parts of the world, even in the heartland of Europe – see Sons and Lovers.
Has blind spots in relation to cultural practices and cultural beliefs that have their origins outside of a narrow European understanding of what constitutes logic and reason. Education as a project, in consequence, is almost routinely constructed in terms which do not permit of or which are, less adversarially, suspicious of logics of being and of ontology which have their origin in different algorithms of life.
2. Societies which have continuing orientations to another body of knowledge or another cosmology, such as Buddhism or ancestor worship, have tended to construct these two spheres of activity as distinctly disjunct ones. Young people are taught one thing in the school and university and another in the home.
While real processes of hybridization of cultural practice are taking place everywhere in the ways in which this disjunction is experienced but lived with, a basic asymmetry persists in which education has precedence over what is understood to be cultural induction.
A throwing off of the oppressive shackles of feudalism and a liberation of the individual.
To human beings was accorded the promise, having turned their heads away from the idea of an omnipotent God, of a kind of perfectibility: “Man (sic) (was) endowed with the faculty and capacities to enquire into, investigate and unravel the mysteries of Nature; and the Enlightenment… freed (him) from dogma and intolerance… the whole of human history was laid out for understanding and mastery”
Great task of education to build the individual. In these terms education is fundamentally about the great ideals.
Do the people of the colonial world have this capacity?
The concept of the childhood in the West is underpinned by twin images of children as either “innocent angels or evil devils.”
The fundamental purpose of education is seen as a developmental one. It is the great role of education to be a ‘civilisational’ force to protect themselves from their base and effectively evil-dispositions.
The building of the individual – not the community
Post-figurative cultures - change slow and imperceptible.
Grandparents “holding newborn grandchildren in their arms, cannot conceive of any other future for the children than own past lives. The past of the adults is the future of each new generation; their lives provide the ground plan” - Mead.
In this approach the old provide the child with a complete model of what life - every physical object and every symbolic gesture is already pre-interpreted and lain down as a pattern for how to live: “(w)ho am I? What is the nature of my life as a member of my culture; how do I speak and move, eat and sleep, make love, make a living, become a parent, meet my death?”
Modern education is prefigurative. A child is educated to be deliberate about his or choices in life. Nothing is taken for granted. He or she comes into adulthood as a fully conscious being
3. That this boundedness makes them incommensurable. They are unable to be brought into a conversation with each other.