Remember Prometheus? He is the Olympus God that stole fire and gave it to humans. Well Education could be considered something like it, a transition from darkness to light; and if enforced, in time, it becomes one’s power. Whilst some countries have this vision, in Bolivia it is the other way around. Education is not at the end of the rainbow here, as a matter of fact, it is Kingda Ka, a roller coaster.
The beginning of classes as well as the teaching process are two great enigmas that torment parents, contributing to uneasiness instead of peace. Let me explain, first, we do not know when will school begin, second, it is not known if classes will be face-to-face, blended, or virtual. I assume that these uncertainties are due to the fact that our leaders are waiting to see the groundhog’s shadow, or may be not.
Last but not least, the Ministry of Education, has been a treasure camp for the party’s members in function of power –a journey seeking for the dead man’s chest, but without Captain Sparrow-. As a matter of fact, the goose with the golden eggs lays in all the ministries, but right now, it is this Ministry’s turn. Therefore, it is no hard to see the output: in the best case scenario, Bolivian education remains in the hands of incompetent professionals; worst case scenario: in the hands of 50 shades of socialists.
It is with a heavy heart that I say Bolivian education has been permeated with all the fashionable progressive dogmas since the arrival of our demi god Evo Morales into power. Let’s see some examples from articles of the current educational law:
It is decolonizing, liberating, revolutionary, anti-imperialist, de-patriarchalizing, and transforming economic and social structures; oriented to the cultural reaffirmation of the nations and native indigenous peoples, the intercultural and Afro-Bolivian communities in the construction of the Plurinational State and Living Well (Law No. 070. Law of Education Avelino Siñani – Elizardo Pérez, 2009, art. 3.1 ).
As we can see, the educational system is pretty much like alchemy. It seeks to merge children and young people to obtain gold´s fool at the end of the rainbow, per se. But what the common eye does not see is that this process is disguised under a term called by them, the old utopia of the new socialist man.
Louis Althusser stated: «The reproduction of labor power requires not only a reproduction of their abilities, but also, at the same time, a reproduction of their submission to the rules of the established order, that is, a reproduction of submission to the ruling ideology for the workers, and a reproduction of the ability to manipulate the dominant ideology correctly for the agents of exploitation and repression».
Paradoxically, socialism -current of thought to which Louis Althusser adhered- is the system that uses education as an instrument of reproduction of the dominant system and a mechanism of child exploitation.
But where there is darkness, there will always be light –we must thank Prometheus for this-. In past days Adrian Quelca (Minister of Education), decided to leave the organization of classes in the hands of the departmental directorates. Many, if not all, parents were frightened by such a decision. But I believe that we must seize the opportunity, because it is the first time in decades that the State returns education to our families. As said before, seize the moment, and see what happens.
However, it does not matter if it is beneficial or not, you must see the consequences to such decision. First, parents will continue with their role as teachers, this being so, it is necessary that they equip themselves with instruments that help them strengthen the education of their children. A truth to be told the material given by schools serves to pass the grade but not to learn – and hence there comes the need to study old, but certainly effective, methods of learning. I strongly recommend parents to look –not overlook- the syllabus, just like Marge did when Bart was being homeschooled by her.
But, since I am in a helpful mode, I shall proceed to give you a rough outline. The syllabus is divided into two parts: theTrivium and the Quadrivium. The composition of the Trivium, which preceded the Quadrivium and was the preliminary discipline before it, consisted of three parts: Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric.
Now, the first thing we notice is that at least two of the Trivium’s components are not what we would entirely call “subjects.” They are just methods of dealing with them. Grammar, nonetheless, is certainly a “subject”, since it definitely is part of the learning language process.
However, the definition of language itself, is simply the medium by which thought is expressed. In fact, the entire Trivium was intended to teach the student the proper use of learning tools before they could begin applying them fully to all the subjects.
First, one must learn a language, this does not mean that it is helpful only in certain occasions, such as ordering food, or express basic greetings, it must be put together and apply it in day to day routine. Second, one must learn to use it in different contexts, for example, be able to define different terms, ennunciate precise statements, build an argument, detect fallacies –among others-. Summing up, understand its Logic and Dispute. Third, learn to express oneself, say what must be said in an elegant and persuasive way (be aware that this has nothing to do with that ridiculous fashion of assertive communication). Finally, students should be asked to write a thesis on a topic selected by their parents or themselves, and then defend it against the criticism of the examining body –this may be other parents-.
The second part of the Syllabus, as mentioned before, is The Quadrivium which is made up of arts, arithmetic, geometry and life sciences.
Now, art should be understood as the supreme representation of beauty, but not as the expression of “originality”, please, putting a toilet on a table is not art, it is filthy.
Mathematics (arithmetic and geometry) contributes to the formation of values in children, determining their attitudes and behavior. They serve as patterns to guide their lives, a style of facing reality in a logical and coherent way, the search for accuracy in the results, a clear understanding and expression through the use of symbols, capacity for abstraction, reasoning and generalization. Well this is the theory, if it were applied but truly applied, Bolivia would’ve never had this present.
Finally, life sciences take care of everything given by nature (rivers, hills, plants, minerals, rocks, animals, etc.). The human being, as a physical body, is studied by biology, however, its social dimension is part of social sciences, for example, politics.
I have written this short but detailed article to make you understand dear parent, that education is an instrument of power, and it is time to unleash it and enlighten our new generation of Bolivians to write their own history. Use it wisely.
(translated by Monica Albornoz)