Sunday, February 4, 2007

Getting over it

Secondary schools in England will be allowed to teach Mandarin or Arabic instead of EU languages as part of proposals to update the curriculum.

Climate change, slavery and healthy cooking also feature in a shake-up of what 11 to 14-year-olds should study.

...In history, all 11-14-year-olds would for the first time have to study the British slave trade.

They would find out about reformers such as William Wilberforce and Olaudah Equiano, and how the anti-slavery movement led to later campaigns and civil rights movements.

Other changes include a new emphasis on "essential life skills" such as practical cooking.

Full story

Once, English kids were taught scientific thinking in combination with cultural superiority. They could then go to Haileybury College to learn how to rule the "natives", and make the East their career. "Natives", meanwhile, could learn to read and write English well enough to become clerks, but were actively discouraged from studying science and technology.

It looks today as though the British were right to discourage them! Now that they have been let loose, just look what's happened -- every engineering department in the US is overrun with them. If the Raj had let them, they might have made its Colonels and Collectors and Reverends look rather silly.

The peoples and environment that are still suffering the onslaught of 19th century capitalism have long been claiming their due share of attention. And it seems that today, England can no longer avoid giving it to those mutated remnants of empire. This isn't happening anywhere near as much as it should on fronts like diplomacy, economic cooperation, and reparations. But perhaps it will, if Europe's new generation of policymakers consists of native speakers of Arabic, Mandarin, Urdu, Xhosa, etc.

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