With or without Trump, we must back UN’s education drive

School children sitting in the shade of an orchard in Bamozai, near Gardez, Paktya Province, Afghanistan

Well done Mr Elliot, we must indeed back a drive for better education. But we need to make very sure that the education provided is not slanted towards any narrow political agenda and is concerned only with providing what our children need to make a better world.

Larry Elliott - the Guardian's economics editor
Larry Elliott – the Guardian’s economics editor

Education is the only thing which has any chance of turning us away from narrow self interest and towards a better economic and social system for all.

We need to be very careful indeed that “education” does not become “indoctrination”.

Some writers in your newspaper have an unfortunate tendency to bash excellence in education and it is to be hoped that this would not spill over into the UN initiative.

Primary school students with their teacher, Colombia, 2014
Primary school students with their teacher, Colombia, 2014 By Marciliorezende – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Education in “English literature, English language, maths, two or three sciences, history or geography, and a foreign language” are said to be provided by British State schools and bravo for that. Language, maths, science – yes, an excellent education indeed and hopefully those subjects at least can easily be presented without political bias.

But there are other areas which need to be presented to our young, whether in the jungles, deserts and rocky outcrops of the remoter parts of the world or in the classrooms of New York, London and Berlin.

I have called my blog “Weltanschauung” and not without much thought.  My “worldview” is that so far we have got much wrong in society and need to work towards putting that right.  Education is the only way we will achieve that.

Alongside the subjects so vital for survival in the 21st Century we must teach wisdom, awareness, kindness, tolerance.

We will not get a kinder world, and the meek shall certainly not inherit it, until we put away our baser human instincts and teach and practice a new way of existence.

As a very firm atheist I still find much to admire in the ethical teachings of many of our religions. We must teach the virtues of the “Sermon on the Mount” even if we do not believe in Divinity. We must teach the wisdom, loving-kindness and compassion of Buddhism but without religious overtones.

So Mr Elliot yes I agree with you wholeheartedly.  But let us teach humanity and decency and avoid all bias political or otherwise. Let us educate for a softer, meeker world where tyrants and violence are gradually eradicated and where selfish greed is replaced by beneficence.

The OLPC laptop being introduced to children in Haiti
The OLPC laptop being introduced to children in Haiti By One Laptop per Child – Who is looking who?, CC BY 2.0

 

 

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