Voice of: La Diablese
The Positives of Education.The Flip Side.
Cultural differences play a major role in how education is
structured worldwide. Education has traditionally been the mastery of such disciplines
as Mathematics, English Language, Sciences and basic Humanities. Education in
Third World countries involves a more investigative and experimentative approach
to learning, while considering the constantly changing environment. The structure
of education in Trinidad and Tobago focuses not so much new age individualistic
principles, but is more of an intrinsic effort to sustain the presence of good
human life. With a curriculum that involves anything from Mathematics, to how
to milk a cow or how to irrigate a hillside, their focus is to equip students
with the right foundation in addition to teaching them an understanding and
appreciation of their place in the universe and their connection to it.
One of the misconceptions about education is that it is possible
to teach individuals how to "manage the earth" as put by David Orr,
Chair of Environmental studies at Oberlin College, in his book "Earth In
Mind". The concept that with research and technology anything can be fixed
and or created shows some disregard for the universe and Mother Nature. The
ignorance of our place in the universe, portrays a view not in keeping with
a holistic mindset. The tradition of sustaining human life, through the most
basic and instinctive means, such as planting the land, having our rivers and
seas as important sources of food, meaning they should be protected, and preserving
our air masses, have been discarded. The importance of these fundamentals has
been replaced by words such as industrialization, infinite cash flow and power.
The modern university does not school on how to procure human
life or simply life on the earth. The destruction and major decline of forests,
tripled with water pollution and atmospheric deterioration are evidence of mans
ignorance. Students educated in Third World countries, that are either underdeveloped
or developing, are given the type of education necessary to sustain life in
their country. For instance in countries where agriculture and the farming of
livestock account for large portions of their revenue, through local consumption
and through export, it makes good sense to teach techniques not only to produce,
but to combat the negatives. This kind of approach takes into consideration
the effects of intense and frequent planting and reaping on the topsoil. In
the curriculum of these countries like Trinidad, they have included areas of
study that are designed to reduce the damage to the soil. If this is not done,
in years to come the land will not yield any produce. It is important not only
to be the masters of technology but also to be cautious, project the negatives
and plan for them.
Different approaches to higher learning will yield different
results. An approach that centers itself on the structuring of human desires,
economics, politics and communities, will result in a population concerned with
self and human preservation, long-term and short-term. This approach bears co-relation
with a developing Third World country like Trinidad and Tobago. On the other
hand the leading first world country, the United States, has not grasped that
the worth of education must now be measured against standards of decency and
Funding and research in college curriculums worldwide are
channeled into areas of study that promise the highest return. In a society
so heavily driven by money, a college curriculum reflects areas of study that
will be profitable for candidates. Institutions are evaluated on their adherence
to what society wants. In other words these institutions are highly commercialized.
The discovery of what chlorofluorocarbon (CFAs) would do to the stratospheric
ozone may have been possible long before 1970. Are we becoming more ignorant
of the thing we need to know to live well and sustainably on the earth? Or is
it just that there are no systems set in place to allow for learning of this
The masterminds of curriculums in every culture must be able to have insight and to project that insight in their approach to education. David Orr said, "True intelligence is long range and aims toward wholeness". "Despite all of our advances we still have nothing like the science of land health". The immeasurable success the United States has had economically and their outstanding performance technologically, has shaped the US curriculum. The US curriculum has lost sight of the importance of a whole education, one that encompasses every aspect of life and human existence, while considering the ecological, economic and social impact of these on the earth, the positives and the flip side. The emphasis on academics coupled with the disregard for the implications of new technologies and overpopulation and their direct effect on the environment have led to the production of people educated to ruin the world.
One of the things my father never liked about
me was my defiance.
"You will obey my rules" With fierce eyes and fists clenched.
"How dare you!" a look of disgust and confusion on my face.
I felt he had no right to.
I felt I didnt have to.
"Go away," Id say.
The way youd put away an old, ugly picturedusty, forgotten.
"Stay away from her too! She is over you".
A staggering gait.
He must have thought we would wait.
My father always told me that I was too strong-minded.
The New African. A Product
of White America.
The slaves that came in the 17th century and
before, brought with them images from a culture rich in religious symbolism
and rituals. Upon reaching the Americas the Africans were made to disregard
the images because they were forbidden. This marked the beginning of involuntary
servitude of Africans, a condition that lasted for more than two hundred years.
Africans provided unlimited labor and there was thought to be a moral justification
for their importation. Slavery not only transplanted Africans from their homeland
but also abruptly cut them off from their cultural roots such as language and
The advent of slavery effected significant changes
in the way Africans and African Americans were portrayed by white artists and
later by the African Americans themselves. Because these people were never allowed
to keep their traditions and were forced to adapt to the societys idea
or white American idea of who and what they should be, the slaves who came were
given a "slave identity". The African acceptance of this new identity
was a grasp at finding a sense of belonging in a strange and frequently hostile
African slaves, who were artisans in the new
slave culture, were apprenticed to white craftsmen and were never encouraged
in theories of individualism. The African was not being taught to be African
and all that that entailed but quite the contrary. In fact the African was being
bred as a product of white society, not as a people capable of forging their
future even after the abolition of slavery. The lack of opportunity made Africans
seek to express themselves creatively. There were two approaches to African
expression at that time, one was the artists environment and experiences
as factors in their creation of art and the other, eventually more popular,
was the abandonment of African values for the substitution of European tastes.
The fact that the quality of work was measured by its adherence to simulated
European cultural traditions, African American artists generally avoided African
American themes. Africa American artists in the mid-nineteenth century found
themselves in a world inferior with their roots culturally discredited.
The black image in American art shows a history
of how African culture digressed until it became almost unknown. Without an
identity the Africans accepted this new identity, a slave identity and all that
came with it. White American leaders in the visual arts have portrayed the African
as a slave, freedman, servant or minstrel performer. After prolonged exposure
and repetition of these images of Africans a concept formed that revealed how
the majority of American society felt about their black neighbors. Artists created
a visual record that reinforced many restrictive stereotypes of black identity.
The slave identity fulfilled the European/white American idea of blacks as grotesque
buffoons, servile menials, comic entertainers or just sub-human. These images
supplied by American artists expressed an inability to comprehend a people whose
appearance and behavior were judged to be different and thus inferior.
The new slave identity for decades to come would
affect the way people thought of African Americans. The minstrel performers
who suddenly developed in the first two decades of the 19th century exploited
the status of blacks within plantation society. Performed by white men with
black facial paint, minstrelsy relegated black people to dehumanizing roles
in society. Skin the color of coals, ruby lips stretched around an exaggeration
of a toothy grin all presented with mawkish behavior. Black people were defined
as entertaining clowns, musically adept yet unskilled.
In a comparison between the images presented
by white artists of African Americans and those presented by black artists,
we see that in the latter there was similarity in terms of form, images and
conceptual depiction of their own blackness. African artists portrayed a European
stereotype of Africans and a European aesthetic in works of art. Black artists
played into a European stereotype for many reasons. One reason is because Africans
and African Americans after 1863 were still faced with discrimination and now
a cultural dilemma. African American artists were excluded from academies, associations
and teaching institutions. The condition of slavery made it impossible for the
African American craftsman to express himself in a truly personal manner. The
slave craftsman principal function was to produce works that satisfied European
needs and tastes. The African was faced with trying to find a place for himself
and his new "slave identity" in society, even after the abolition
African American artists, who developed close
ties with abolitionists and the entire movement, attracted a range of patronage
and opportunity. Joshua Johnson was the first artist of African ancestry to
gain public recognition for his work in portraiture. Johnson was listed as the
former slave of a portrait painter in the West Indies. Professionally Johnson
portrayed members of white aristocratic families. Because of the lightness of
his skins color, he enjoyed a measure of freedom uncommon to most African
Americans at that time. In a self-portrait we see that he paints himself in
the same pose and style of dress and that suggested that he enjoyed privileges
of gentry or he had a need to identify with that facet of society. This could
be an attempt to gain acceptance or to sell his work to make his living.
Romanticism in Europe was greatly inspired by
the Enlighteners of that time, who were the intellectual forefathers of both
the artistic and industrial revolution. This inspiration could be compared to
the way the abolitionist movement inspired the African artist with patronage.
The African artist who no longer could relate to his visual cultural heritage
was trained in the stylistics of classicism, and produced work that resembled
the "white masters". The problem of finding employment became a burden
to the free African American in the United States and the lack of opportunities
prevented many from becoming trained artists. Survival became a driving force
for the freed slave. Having discarded his culture and unsuccessfully trying
to fit into a white culture the freed man lived by any means necessary. That
sometimes meant selling out to the very concept of oppression.