When I was a boy the minimum age it was possible to leave school was 16 years. I left school when I was 16 years and two weeks. It had been such a traumatic experience I didn’t set foot in a school for another 13 years.
When this subject comes up, I normally tell people I left school to get an education, which it seemed to me I was certainly not getting in school: what was on offer there was indoctrination into a system I had already rejected.
This documentary, subtitled, The White Man’s Last Burden, looks at schooling, and particularly how it is being promoted around the world as the answer to poverty and the gateway to a bright future.
Nothing of the sort happens, of course, what does happen is deculturisation and being groomed for the globalised economy. In the meantime families are broken up, and traditions and even languages are forgotten.
This is not without historical precedence, in fact it was deliberate policy in the Americas for a long time, and under the saying: Kill the Indian, save the man cultural genocide was enforced on First Nation peoples until very recently.
This film focuses of Ladakh and shows how, even with many good intentions, schools are alienating children from their traditional culture and morals and preparing them for the corporate workforce. It is a sad story indeed.
The film is interspersed with interviews with Wade Davis, a NatGeo Explorer, who has worked on Tibetan related themes for a long time; Helena Norberg-Hodge, one of the most articulate voices on counter-development; the ubiquitous Vandana Shiva; Manish Jain Shikshantar, an Indian activist in this area; and Dolma Tsering of the Woman’s Alliance of Ladakh.
Anyone interested in education and/or traditional cultures should have a look at what is happening in our schools.