A History of Education

This blog post is based on the reading, A History of Education by Painter.  This writing prompt will attempt to answer: What does race mean in this textbook? What does it mean that teachers are being taught to think in racial terms? What are the effects of teaching teachers to think in this way? The first thing I noticed about this article was the language and tone it was written in.  Since this article was written in 1886, there are obvious differences from articles today. I found it more difficult to read and understand because it was written in a different time.  I hope I don’t misinterpret some of the content, but if I do, you will know why!  Even though we are talking about race in this article, I thought it would be important to identify gender inequality with the use of the word “manhood”.  Whenever the author would talk about humans, the word “man” or “manhood” was used, which is a good identifier of the fact that it was written in the late 1800s.

In the introduction, Painter uses the word “race” to explain the human race, which is strange because the author uses the word in completely different contexts throughout the article.  At the end of the introduction, it is mentioned that “uncivilized peoples” are not included because their lives are “too primitive”.  Who was the author talking about in this instance?  We definitely would not be talking about how a group of people are “uncivilized” in our textbooks now.

The second time the word “race” was used was to recognize the Mongolian race.  A lot of stereotypes and  assumptions are talked about in the article: “They are hypocritical and dishonest ; and, once in authority, they are apt to become tyrannical, and even cruel”.  The author even talks about how they have had little progress with civilization and that they have “evident imperfections”.  Along with this, the article explains Chinese culture as the classics.

Painter explains that education in India would be of greater interest to us because they have “the same blood as ourselves” (Indo-European).  The article also says that people from India are easy prey because of their inoffensive character.  This goes on to explain that the English are influencing social, political and religious changes.  The article mentions that their divinities are strange and peculiar.  The author refers to their ideals as selfish because, “The highest religious aspiration is to be absorbed into the great, unconscious world-spirit”.

I feel like this article just encouraged the idea of othering people from different racial backgrounds.  Some positive things were said about China and India, but a lot of it explained how they were strange or uncivilized.  Following this curriculum textbook could result in teachers being very close minded and not open to new cultures because they seem selfish or weird.  It could also result in oppression because the article refers to some people as “uncivilized” and teachers could believe that to be true from reading this in the 1900s.  I think this textbook is more focused on recognizing differences than celebrating differences.  In our classrooms today, we strive to encourage our differences and embracing the different traditions we practice.

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