“Modern educators working in traditional cultures often try to address the problem of cultural erosion by including more of the traditional culture in the classroom – traditional songs, dances, stories, religious instruction, visits to the school from grandparents, etc. But Marshall McLuhan’s famous remark, “the medium is the message” suggests that even more important than the content of the message is the mode by which it is communicated. We tend to forget that school itself is a cultural construct which alters traditional life in profound ways. Some of these ways include:
– The separation of children from nature.
– The separation of children from family and community.
– The enforcement of a sedentary lifestyle.
– The fragmentation of knowledge into “subjects.”
– An emphasis on text-based rather than experience-based learning.
– An emphasis on competition and ranking, which inevitably leads to some children being labeled as “failures.”
I would suggest that these are all features not of learning but of institutional schooling, and that it would be a good alternative for people to feel that specific desirable skills — literacy, practical math — could be acquired without the radical shift in the structure of community life that occurs with the institutionalization of children.”
(Helen Norberg Hodge)