Lois Wiener, among many other progressive educators and scholars, has written extensively about the neoliberal reforms which are overwhelming current models for education in the US–particularly in oppressed communities. The charter school movement, the de-unionizing of school staff and the vast privatization of public institutions are the most visible examples of these reforms in the United States, but what Wiener notes is that these conservative shifts are not occurring in the US alone. The neoliberal revising of education is a global project, one led by corporate power, hedge fund managers and other ultra-wealthy benefactors. It can be characterized as a charitable missionary campaign, which touts a rhetoric of “college readiness” and “the ending of poverty,” but which is at its foundation about creating a transnational core of workers prepared to generate wealth for a new generation of global elite in an age of information. The most necessary prerequisite for creating such a global form of vocational training is the systematic standardizing of all learning communities into a model which supports labor in the fields of technology and information.
Schooling the World: The White Man’s Last Burden, a 2010 documentary which examines the modern push for western schooling models in Central and South Asia from the radical perspectives of the communities which are being subjected to these reforms, helps to illustrate all of these global shifts concretely. Through a lens of Native People power, class consciousness and holistic learning, the film explores not only the cultural erasure initiated by western educational and economic institutions, but the methods through which poor and brown people around the planet structure and educate their own communities–methods which are universally discredited and consciously destroyed through traditional models of Eurocentric learning. Whether you are a member of traditional institution of learning or not, this documentary is a must-see for anyone who wants to better understand not only how to challenge the cultural and economic hegemony inherent in western education, but what alternative models for radical learning already exist in the global community, and in our own traditions as oppressed people. Check out the amazing videos, resources, topics of discussion and thoughtful responses at the Schooling the World homepage.