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Colonial Education

miaashley's picture

In the class presentation about the Ghanaian education system one specific fact stood out to me. The students in the class presenting said that there was an emphasis on reading, writing in math in the colonial education that was used for Ghanaian students. I immediately thought about our own US public school system and what we focus on. Standardized tests question and evaluate our capabilities in math, reading and writing and put great pressure on teachers to have their students achieve high scores. Because of this, many teachers are left with little time to teach social studies, language, culture, art, history, or anything other subjects. What differences exist in ideology towards education between colonial education and post colonial education? Have any changes been made since the end of conquest in colonized countries? I do wonder if it is possible that currenty the education system still does exist in such a manner as to stifle the embracing of culture, history and language that relates the academic to the individual. In my English Language Learners class last semester we read an article called “True American – Language, Identity and the Education of Immigrant Children” by Rosemary C. Salomone. In the article, the author wrote ‘schooling by its very nature is a prime vehicle for indoctrinating the young in a common core of value and political principles.’ The author argued that school systems are supposed to promote good citizenship, our ‘common destiny’ and are the ‘most vital civic institution for the preservation of a democratic system of government.’


By merely putting emphasis on reading and writing which are, as we have been discussing in ‘Teaching in the Postcolony’ course with Pim very western and colonial ideologies towards communication and language expression while silencing language classes that allow for development (acquiring or learning) for non-mainstream languages what message is being said about accepted and valued cultures and ideologies? The emphasis on math makes me wonder who we are learning for as students? Does the government want to breed able and capable youth to be the pawns of their growth and development in a capitalistic competitive global economy? In The Dark Child, emphasis on ‘useful’ skills was put on the colonized by the teachers as to allow the colonizers profit and labor for promoting their own agenda. Is there any similarity between the fictitious and the current reality? I think it is helpful in moving forward to use the framework in all classes and at large, that we have been using in our literature class. We need to contexualize our learning while keeping in mind to socio-historical contexts. In doing so we might have a more holistic and more complex understanding of the worlds we exist in today.


alesnick's picture

politics of schooling and valued knowledge

This takes me back to the Lemke reading in Literacies -- the idea that one standardized English is the manifest destiny of humanity serves as a stratifier and knife to other ways of knowing, doing, and being.  It's also so distorting, as of course people everywhere are making their ways with a huge variety of discursive tools, not just the codes affirmed by the dominant.  At the same time, having to negotiate dominant discourse falls to everyone, and occasions "marginalized" people to become "world"-travelers, in Lugones terms.