Reclaiming Diversity in Education
What happened to the underground schools and universities of the first Intifada?
by Alessandro Petti
In 1987, in an attempt to suppress the first Intifada (the Palestinian civil protests against the military occupation), the Israeli government banned people from gathering together and closed all schools and universities. As a consequence, Palestinian civil society grew through the organisation of an underground network of schools and universities in private houses, garages, and shops. Universities were no longer confined within walls or university campuses, and teachers and students began to use different learning environments in cities and villages. These gatherings and assemblies reinforced the social and cultural life among Palestinian communities. Learning was not limited to the hours spent sitting in classrooms; mathematics, science, literature, and geography were subjects that could be imparted among friends, family members, and neighbours.
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Healing from Modern Superstitions
by Munir Fasheh
Re-viewing education means to view again, not only what is visible about it but also, more importantly what is invisible; to dig deep into foundations and the underlying logic. This is what I have been doing since 1971, which convinced me that modern education is not about learning but about winning and control (control of minds, perceptions, actions, and relationships). Official education (especially math, which I studied and taught for many years) has been crucial in this control. As Palestinians, we have been living for many decades under occupation of the land, but we seem to be totally unaware of another occupation: that of the mind. Whereas the first occupation is done via military tanks, the second takes place via think tanks. Control and occupation of the second kind happen via words whose meanings do not stem from life but from licensed institutions and professionals; they also happen by using numbers to measure the worth of people through comparing them on a vertical line (grading, which is degrading). Words that embody inequality are crucial in domination; especially inequality in intelligence. This onslaught on human dignity and intelligence is accepted today as something normal. The disease is very deep, permeating all levels. Ranking universities is a disgrace to the concept of a university. The main logic taught in schools is the two-valued logic (true-false) and is part of math curricula in most if not all countries. What is kept invisible is the fact that this logic has no application in life except in relation to control and the world of machines. It is translated, for example, in general exams at the end of the twelve-year school cycle by giving every student a certificate that labels her/him a “success” or a “failure.” I don’t know of any Ministry of Education that gives a certificate stating that a person is a poet, a storyteller, a drummer, or a gardener.
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