Jeremy Seabrook- Children of other worlds

Now there is nothing wrong with children acquiring skills and abilities through practice rather than sitting in the regimented uniformity of deficient schoolrooms in the presence of listless and uninterested teachers. The model of childhood as a work- free zone is essentially a concept from the Western world, in which childhood is a functionless period of life, distinguished only by increasingly inactive leisure (to which we owe both the growth of obesity and the arrival of couch- potato) and the ritual of passing examinations. This is, in itself, a travesty of childhood. The vast quantities of material foods which the average western child acquires during her or his dismal apprenticeship in the mysterious arts of consumption, fail to stimmulate more than a fraction of the whole personality.

Education is beset both by sentimental myths and a calculating mendacity. Under the guise of preserving children from exploitation, promises are made that education will pro vide them with a place in the global economy. „Education” does not necessarily pro duce fulfilling and rewarding labour. It simply raises expectations which, for millions of young people, remain unfulfilled; and the consequent disillusionment, bitterness and anger will have to be dealt with sonner or later.

Child labour is a far more complex and difficult phenomenon than campaigners suggest. While play and significant learning are as necessary for children as nourishment and love, it does not follow that initiation into a useful social function at the same time necesarily militates against the best interests of children. It depends upon the work they do. The confusion comes when education is interpreter too narrowly: intelligence purposfully applied is not the same thing as the sorry version of the educated turned out of places of learing all over the world; and it May be that even the least instructed- indigenous and tri bal peoples whose minds are stocked with such a health of under standing of their environment- have something to teach the knowing ignorance of the highly educated.

Jeremy Seabrook, Children of other worlds, Pluto Press 2001, (extracts from the introduction)