Saturday, September 5, 2009

Keepin’ on keepin’ on…

Due to popular demand (about 3 people), I will be continuing to write here at “Diario de una Voluntaria” while I am in graduate school. It makes sense really, given that my work in International Education, founded experientially in my work in Honduras, is still going on, at least on an intellectual level.

Honduras, Jungle School, and HHK continue to be an enormous part of my everyday life. Keeping in touch with volunteers, sending out appeals for donations, and even the occasional call from one of the families in La Herradura. Even here is DC, so far from the jungle, I feel connected to the community in a very strong way. And it is essential, I think, to have this anchor in a locale while studying themes and topics on the macro level. When I feel like I am swimming in a mire of confusing ideas, I can return to my mental home and refresh my perspective.

People like to say that the world is getting smaller, but I challenge that. I fear the idea leaves the world too susceptible to the spread of monocultures. It makes crossing cultural boundaries sound like an easy thing to do, as if it just takes a short airplane flight or a tour of Google News. And then, poof, you are a world citizen. I have learned, much to my own chagrin, that the process is not so easy. I still fall far short of the goal. The danger in feeling that another culture is not distant is that you fail see it’s intricacies and differences, not to mention the ensuing assumption that the people of the other culture should be able to understand you just as easily. No, culturally the world isn’t small at all, nor would we want it to be. Instead, I challenge the human being to grow bigger. It is time for us to evolve and develop the ability to exist on both the local and global levels.

I work in education and I work in development. We take these words for granted but they are loaded and complex. These days, I am taking the time to look at just want they mean and for whom they mean it. Education is learning. But that isn’t enough. Each individual person does that naturally and often without outside direction. If it is the direction of learning in a systematic way then I start to wonder about the goals of the education and whose goals they are, and why they choose a particular system of instruction and organization of the ideas taught.

Development is harder to wrap my mind around. I like the idea that it is the unfolding of potential (not my own idea but that of scholars Fagerlind and Saha.) But when it is something we are actively involved in, it is the direction of potential in a systemic way. Who is directing the process? Does each person get to choose how to develop their own potential? There is no one system that would work for everyone’s potential, so do some people’s potentials get damaged or quashed in the process of developing everyone else’s potentials? What happens to those who are quashed? If they aren’t able to develop, then maybe the process of Development isn’t really taking place, is it?

Education is involved in Development then if it is the systematic direction of learning in order to unfold the potentials of people. And I am left with a great many questions…Whose potential is developed and whose is either damaged or ignored?...What constitutes developed potentials and who gets to set this goal?...What is the reward for the successful people? And what of the failures?
As always more questions than answers, more of a landscape with relationships between ideas than hard knowledge or cardinal directions on an intellectual map…so I just keep on keepin’ on…

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