The Peoples' Institute for Re-thinking Education and Development

The Real Purpose of School is Self-Hate

I keep meeting many friends who are valiantly trying to fix or reform the education system with all kinds of super new curricula and shiny technologies. But they seem to be missing out on the understanding the real purpose of schooling. In any system, there are the official rules and goals (often lots of big words like Truth, Equality, Democracy, Progress, etc.), and there are the unwritten rules, incentives and goals (which are the real game everyone follows on an everyday basis). The latter is commonly called the hidden curriculum.

The real agenda of the hidden curriculum in modern factory schooling around the world is to:
1. Promote self-hate and a continuous sense of ‘I am not good enough’. Most graduates have no idea what their talents and gifts are and no idea of their higher purpose or dream. Many people walk around believing they are 'failures'. This is needed to fuel consumerism, colonialism and conflict (if we cannot accept our own idiosyncrasies, without constantly comparing, how can we ever accept differences in the other). Also it also links our self-worth to marks, diplomas and financial packages and over-consumptions patterns. We are trained to search for validation from institutions.
2. De-skill us from being able to produce for our local basic needs. Most graduates have no idea how to grow their own food and forests, make their own clothes, build their own houses or co-create healthy community. (Working with one's hand are in fact looked down on and seen as a waste of time rather than as a way to spiritual realization). This make us totally dependent on money, industrial-military economy, global corporations, technological utopianism and government handouts. The knowledge and skills being taught today in most 'skill-training projects' are not for strengthening localization.
3. Make us doubt our own inner voice, conscience, intuition, wisdom, learning processes and local management systems. We are taught that all meaningful knowledge and learning only happens in school. This makes us accept the authority of external authorities to make decisions for us even though they know nothing about us or our local contexts.
4. Disconnect us from the power of place: from our mountains, forests, rivers, soils, wildlife, ancestors and our wild selves. We are taught to believe that we are separate from/superior to the rest of nature. We no longer understand that what we do to nature, we do to ourselves. This makes it easier to extract from, commodify and destroy our local ecosystems in the name of Progress, Economic Growth and Development.

These four agendas are not by accident. They are by design. We need to unlearn these for ourselves and how we approach the crises facing humanity.

It is time for educators to do a reality check. We invite you to join us in the movement to Reimagine Education.