Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Suffer the children.

Tahitiennes in mission clothing
It had all gone quiet outside.

I sat cramped up between the toilet bowl and the wall.

I kept my head down.

I was thus invisible to anyone able to look in through the window.

I had thought it through.

This was rebellion.

I had locked myself in the toilet.

No amount of pleading or threats would change my mind.

I wouldn't go to church.

I wouldn't go to church.

I wouldn't go to church.

"You have to get them when they are young." 

The Jesuits would say.

I knew that I disbelieved young.

I had been taken to church.

I had been taught to say my prayers.

I never ever had a clue about what the point of it all was.

I had sat through hour after hour of hymn, prayer, sermon.

I successfully dropped out of Sunday School.

There were shocked silences when my brother announced to the family:

"Simon doesn't believe in God."

I must have been about eight years old.

I felt alone.

I had had enough of keeping up appearances.

I was prepared to deal with the fall-out.

I was fortunate that I had the parents that I had.

My friend feared admitting disbelief to his Jehova's Witness parents

He preferred to feign belief rather than be left alone.

Colonisation of childhood

I was thinking about the term "colonisation". 

I was thinking about the term "childhood".

According to Neil Postman literacy changed European visions of childhood.

"Literate man" was adult man and adulthood had to be earned.

"It became a symbolic, not a biological achievement. From print onward, the young would have to become adults, and they would have to do it by learning to read, by entering the world of typography, and they would do it by learning to read. And in order to accomplish that they would require education. Therefore,  European civilization reinvented schools. And by so doing made childhood a necessity."

What is the line between upbringing, education, colonisation? I wonder.

Does one beat belief into a child?

Does disbelief come from literacy?

I remembered images of Amazonian "Indians" dressed in Mission Wear.

I fell upon an article entitled:

"The Colonisation of Maori Children."

How much does school disconnect?

How much does (our) literacy deny?

I read:

"Maori beliefs about children can be located within a world view in which language, landscape, time space, relationships and technology were all interconnected. Children themselves were markers of history and repositories of knowledge...Children were also known to have participated in politics and decision making of community life."

Maori culture and their relationships with their own children were fundamentally threatened by schooling.

Within what world view would we locate our beliefs about children?

What would so called "digital literacy" disconnect?

Would the destruction of Amazonian forest, and the disappearance of Amazonian peoples have anything to do with "our" literacy, "our beliefs", "our education", "our" disconnections?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Simon. I'm sure you're familiar with the Margaret Mead quote saying, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

    I saw an article recently tracing back influence on world history, to the religious based universities that started in a few European cities in the 10th or 11th centuries. The focus of the article was to show how a few people with deep roots to wealth and power and institutions like Oxford, Harvard and Yale, have been shaping the world to serve their vision, and self-interests, for more than 800 years.

    The image you feature and your story about education, are examples of the systems they have put in place to do this.

    I went on the internet in 1998 and was totally committed to how this tool might break that monopoly of wealth and power. I'm a bit less optimistic now, but just the way you, me and others are connecting on line gives me hope.