This week in Norway was presented the results og a research about how young people (17-25) sees disabled people. The results are surprisingly negative, meaning that younger generations are less tolerant to different kinds of people.
Then I come to think about what are the reasons for this outcome. I certainly doubt that this is an isolated Norwegian problem. In all Western countries winds of change have been blowing stronger paralell to stronger economical problems. But, is that it?
Are we coming to the end of an era where we really have to stop and reflect? I really think (and hope) so. For the last couple of centuries we have been measuring and valuing persons for what they can produce. How much money they can make, how effectively they can work, how little they can get sick, how fast they can react so the companies and others can earn even more money. Exactly this industrialized way of thinking has become the tendence in both school and health system. Everything has to happen fast and effectively, and the most important thing. Everything has to be alike. Mostly equal.
In the industry, jerseys that have some kind of fail are thrown or given away, at schools kids that do not follow what some adults have decided that what they should know at a certain time takes them out of the classroom, if someone does not feel well enough, just go and get a pill. Fast, fast, fast. Ignore the negative, put it aside.
Back to this Norwegian investigation, after reading it gave me actually a lot to think about after I tweeted about it. How did this happen? How did we get here? We forgot at some point since we discovered our DNA functioning that this is exactly what makes us human.
Human beings are special, unique. Far away from perfect, and even less alike. We keep on searching and creating mechanisms that leads us to be a bunch of zombies, Thinking the same, looking very similar and getting the same kind of knowledgement. I really have a little bit of hope that I feel like this today because I live in Western Europe, as we all know, we have always thought as we are God’s gift to humanity. And we are not. That our way of organising and living is “the” way.
But again, these local results about attitudes towards disability might make us think even in a bigger picture. It is about time to stop and think. Reflect. Life might move fast sometimes but it is always important to look and see that we have been making our own prisons. Divided in categories, not being able of getting to know each other. Could we get an answer to my questions if we could actually invest time and quality in our kids? As a pedagog I was taught once didactics, how to adapt themes, methodology, evaluation. At that time, 15 years ago, nobody told me about sitting on the floor with a kid and play. Kids, they meant, needed to learn about mathematics, languages, history. New words, new theories, new strategies.
Nobody taught me as a pedagog how to teach kids to love themselves. To respect each other. To help each other. As a grown up, and analyzing how the world is turning, I am more convinced than ever that this is actually the kind of education kids need. Emotional education, as well as knowledgement. At this point though, with all the new technologies we have kids need to learn to think critically, to follow their curiosity and their innovative ideas. This cannot be done making them sit around for hours, testing them every other week or having 8 subjects in the 3. degree.
In my opinion we have to go back to our own human nature. Kids are our future, and as far as I am concerned kids do not eat oil, gas or money. Kids need responsible adults who have time to talk with them, read for them and be social with them. In our fast and furious world we do really think that we have become super persons with super powers. But we are forgetting and unconsciusly denying our nature. As humans who are dependant on each other, fragile and mortal.
That is why with this post I beg the people who reads this to stop and think. Is this what we really want? At our schools have become unhuman industries of small creatures with the only goal of producing “normal children” who can more money? That just «regular» and «normal» students can be a partof our schools and communities?
Remember what Aristotle said: «Educating the mind without educating the heart, is not educating at all».