The film Schooling the World looks at the role played by modern education in the destruction of the world’s indigenous cultures. It examines the hidden assumption of cultural superiority behind education aid projects, which overtly aim to help children “escape” to a “better life.” It looks at the failure of institutional education to deliver on its promise of a way out of poverty in the United States as well as in the so-called “developing” world. It questions notions of wealth and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, as it uncovers the role of schools in the destruction of traditional sustainable agricultural and ecological knowledge, in the breakup of extended families and communities, and in the devaluation of ancient spiritual traditions.
The film calls for a “deeper dialogue” between cultures, suggesting that we have at least as much to learn as we have to teach, and that these ancient sustainable societies may harbor knowledge which is vital for our own survival in the coming millennia.
Shot in Ladakh, the film weaves the voices of Ladakhis with conversation between four thinkers: anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence; Helena Norberg-Hodge, Vandana Shiva, and Manish Jain, a former architect of education programs with UNESCO, USAID, and the World Bank.