Schools need to alter eurocentric education

(Photo by Kate Richards)

All my time spent in high school and university, I’ve learned next to nothing about other parts of the world. When Asia or Africa are covered for instance, it is only through the lens of western society.

The achievements of other cultures and their advancements in science and technology and mathematics go largely ignored in favour of focusing on European innovation instead.

There is a whole other side of the world that our history textbooks largely gloss over.

This issue has been brought to the forefront by the Africentric public schools that have been recently instituted in Toronto.

While I don’t think ethnocentric schools focusing on only one particular non-European portion of the world will solve the problem, it does speak to an imbalance that must be addressed.

However, there is a flipside to this. If a less eurocentric education is historically accurate, it means that students will no longer be held captive to the myth that all non-western cultures are idealized innocent victims.

While currently we only learn about other cultures through the lens of victimhood at the hands of westerners, innocent cultures interrupted by the evils of western imperialism, through a less eurocentric education we can learn of the atrocities and imperialism committed by non-westerners as well.

We can learn about the Arab slave trade, the barbary corsairs, the Arab conquest of north Africa, China’s westward expansion into Tibet and Xinjiang and its genocides.

We can learn of Japan’s genocide in the Second World War and their conquest of the aboriginal Ainu, Taiwan’s subjugation of its aborigines.

The Armenian and Greek genocides, Mao’s genocide in China, Indonesia’s genocide in West Papua, Sudan’s genocide in Darfur, etc.

No longer will we be held captive to the myth that Euro imperialism is the source of all the world’s evils.

A less eurocentric education is a double-edged sword. My vision of education is very different from that of many other people who want it.

They want it so they can further their cultural Marxist narrative, by focusing only on the good of non-European cultures and not the bad. Both the good and bad should be shown.

The current dominant academic narrative only showcases the atrocities committed by people who share my skin colour, while ignoring the atrocities committed by everyone else.

If I didn’t know better, I would come out of a liberal arts education with the message that all westerners are evil.

A prime function of a move to a less eurocentric education would be to dispel this myth, this oversimplified, false binary of victim and victimizer.

If Canada is truly a multicultural society, as official government propaganda so frequently purports us to be, then we need to become less ignorant of other cultures.

We can’t keep viewing cultures through a naïve, idealized lens of smiling faces and tasty food.

We need to learn that other cultures have their own difficult pasts. People of European descent don’t carry a monopoly of historical atrocities such as slavery, racism and imperialist aggression.

Racism has been a factor in non-white atrocities as well, such as Japan’s theories of genetic superiority over all Asia or Arab conceptions of racism against Africans dating back to before the Quran; and modern-day anti-African racism that propels the Arab Sudanese genocide in Darfur and slavery of black people in Mauritania.

The achievements and atrocities of non-European cultures need to be taught more in our education.

Many of those who want a less eurocentric education are anti-westerners and Marxists, but they need to realize that if people are learning the true history about the rest of the world, it won’t entirely jive with their narrative.

In fact, it may actually destroy their false binary of western victimizer and non-western victim that they’ve indoctrinated into people’s minds.

So, this binary should be smashed to pieces, as it deserves to be.

Our widespread ignorance and naiveté about other cultures can flourish only as long as we don’t learn the full truth about them.

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