Presentation on ‘Educational Colonialism’ today at USM

PHILIPSBURG–Today, Wednesday June 7, at 7:00pm Dr. Melissa Weiner will be giving a presentation at the University of St. Martin (USM). Weiner is a highly acclaimed scholar on race and decolonialization.

  Central to her research is understanding how racism operates locally and globally. In the past, Europeans imposed racial categories to divide humanity between themselves and those they exploited. Today racism still manifests through white supremacist beliefs that Europeans are better (more intelligent, rational, civilized) than non-Europeans, that cultures are “natural,” unchanging, and incompatible and is often built into institutional structures of society in ways that are unseen, allowing racism and inequality to continue unless explicitly named.

  Her presentation will address how historical and contemporary colonial structures and relationships are preserved and reproduced through educational practices and knowledge schema.

  Weiner contends that this “educational colonialism” specifically is in direct service of the colonial regime and is for colonial profit. Designed to maintain the colonial conditions, it does not promote emancipation or liberation of the colonized. Colonial education ingrains in children an imagery of colour that, overtly and covertly perpetuates conceptions of the colonized as backwards, uncivilized, infantile and educable only to serve the colonizer.

  The colonizer, on the other hand, is positioned as superior in every way and students are taught to emulate the rational, organized intelligence of Europeans who, in this model, bring the colonized civilization, modernity and technology, while ignoring the knowledge, culture, civilizations and technologies of the colonized.

  On the other hand, Weiner finds that decolonial educational goals for classrooms and the curriculum attend to students’ needs and interests and seek to promote empowerment, emancipation and liberation. Decolonized classrooms should be led by teachers with deep connections to and understandings of the community and seek input from parents and community leaders. Integrating students’ cultures and focusing on students’ strengths will provide full support for students’ holistic needs and prepare them to lead their nation through practical, political, academic lessons.

  Decolonized curriculum will allow students to subvert colonized self-conceptions through discussions of historic and contemporary mechanisms of oppression, achievements and accomplishments of the people in all fields and resistance to colonialism.

  Weiner will explore how, through textbooks and classroom discourses and practices, education maintains a local racial hierarchy, and internationally the colonial status of people and nations within the Dutch kingdom. She will conclude with a discussion of how decolonizing education can promote nation building.

  Presentation is free and open to the public and will start at 7:00pm sharp at USM.

Source: The Daily Herald