Well, that was quite the read.
The author compares students to seeds. We know that seeds can grow into trees if they are in an environment filled with sun and water. If students are the seeds, then we can compare education to the water/sunlight. So far, so good. Until you read on and find out that only SOME seeds can “result [in] a noble manhood, whose highest exemplification, the ideal of all culture, is Christ” (p. 2). Children whose branches bend a different way are obviously “others” and uncivilized.
The author describes China’s education system in the most stereotypical and racist ways. He describes the entire group of people as “destitute of deep moral convictions,” “tyrannical,” and “cruel” (p. 10). Apparently everyone there is also patient and economical. Oh, and the “Chinese for many ages made little progress in civilization” (p. 10). WHAT!? ONE WORD: PAPERMAKING!
When describing India, the author states that their educational system is more important since they are “of the same blood as ourselves” (p. 15). We start to see that race is obviously hierarchical. White, Christian males represent the trees without bent branches, people from India represent trees with some bent branches, people from China represent trees with many bent branches, and uncivilized groups represent seeds that didn’t even break through the soil because “their education is thus too primitive” to even be considered (p. 8). Furthermore, woman are ignored and not even mentioned until page nine. People from India are all apparently gentle, polite and ungrateful (p. 17). Their educational system fosters an outdoor aspect and children start school at six or seven. The author describes this system as “defective” because the “children make but little progress; they take a month or more to learn the alphabet, a year or two to learn to read, and still longer to write” and they focus on “useless arithmetical tables” (p. 19). These students do not study physical education because “this is a blessing reserved for the hardier children of the West” (p. 20). All I can say to that is, where are you getting your information from? Obviously, this author is unable to consider more than one perspective. Commonsense views about education are definitely at play here and this shows how oppressive commonsense can be.
The author states that “education is not creative” (p. 5). Following these beliefs about education and cultures, education truly is not creative. Did the author just get something correct? If teachers practiced these ideas education would be closed-minded, exclusive and only favor one way of thinking. Did people truly believe articles like this? If so, this makes me question what we are doing/believing now and teaching our students that will make future generations cringe when they read about it.
Well, I best stop now because I think my blood pressure is getting a bit high.