Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Escola - uma instituição contrária à nossa evolução natural?

Why Children Protest Going to School: More Evolutionary Mismatch, por Peter Gray (Psychology Today):

Most children in our society protest going to school. Am I telling you something new?

They protest in many ways—by feigning illness, by dragging their feet in the morning, by doing the least they can to meet the school's demands (or not doing even that), and by violating school rules when they can get away with it. (...)

Why all this protest? Education is a good thing, right? Children need to become educated to do well in society. Society goes to tremendous expense and trouble to provide schooling—lots of it!—for every child (whether they want it or not). Are these kids just spoiled ingrates? If so, then you and I—and essentially everyone else who ever attended school after schooling became compulsory—were also spoiled ingrates. We all protested it. In fact, back in the days when schools first became compulsory kids protested it even more than they do now, even though there was much less of it then. They had to be beaten with birch sticks to get them to stay in school and do what the teachers told them to do.

In my last essay I used the concept of evolutionary mismatch to explain why infants and young children protest going to bed—alone, in the dark, at night. The term refers to a lack of congruity between environmental conditions today and those that existed during the time of our evolutionary ancestors. For at least 99 per cent of our history as human beings, we were all hunter-gatherers. Anthropologists have pointed out that the hunter-gatherer way of life is the only stable way of life our species has ever known. Ever since the origin of agriculture, a mere 10,000 years ago, we have been caught in an ever-faster whirlwind of cultural change. From a biological perspective, we are all still hunter-gatherers, doing the best that we can to cope with the conditions of life that exist today. In my last essay I pointed out that infants and young children protest going to bed alone because, in hunter-gatherer days, to do so would likely lead to death. The monsters under the bed were real. They were jackals, tigers, and other nighttime predators, prowling around looking for small snacks unprotected by adults. Instincts and fears that evolved when we were hunter-gatherers have not changed.

Now I want to apply the concept of evolutionary mismatch to the problem of education.

As I pointed out in one of the first essays in this blog, the means by which children became educated in hunter-gatherer cultures were the opposite of the means by which we try to educate children in our schools today. One of the most cherished values of all band hunter-gatherer societies that have ever been studied by anthropologists is freedom. Hunter-gatherers believed that it is wrong to coerce a person to do what the person doesn't want to do—and they considered children to be people. They rarely even made direct suggestions, because that might sound like coercion. They believed that people, on their own initiative, would learn to contribute to the welfare of the band, because they would see the wisdom of doing so and experience the joy of it. For hundreds of thousands of years, that was the organizing principle of human society. The hunting and gathering life required great personal initiative and creativity, and it required trust that people would share and cooperate because they wanted to. Hunting and gathering people seemed to understand that—and they also seemed to understand that children would best grow up to be free, trusting, cooperative, creative adults if they were permitted freedom throughout their childhood, in the context of the moral community and models that the band provided
.Um ponto - interrego-me se este não será um dos tais artigos "sem nenhuma relação com a realidade criados" pela "mitologia romântica" à volta das sociedades primitivas (não digo que seja ou não seja; provavelmente só um antropólogo pudesse esclarescer)


Anonymous said...

de certo modo sobre isso:

"Nicolas Wade also expresses concern over the tendency of many post-war archeologists and anthropologists to play down or even deny the prevalence of warfare (and other cruel practices) in primitive and pre-State societies. This theme has been treated in detail by Robert B. Edgerton in his book Sick Societies: Challenging the Myth of Primitive Harmony and, more recently, in Steven Pinker’s new book, The Better Angels of our Nature. Such wishful, or anti-Western, thinking not only obscures the progress that has been made in many modern societies, it also prevents scholars from properly assessing the role that warfare and competition has played in shaping human nature."

no site against politics.

Miguel Madeira said...

Diga-se que esse romantismo pré-agrário não é necessariamente "anti-Western" (embora frequentemente seja feito com essa intenção).

Afinal, pode ser feito um argumento que a moderna civilização ocidental representa em parte um regresso aos valores das sociedades pré-agrárias face ao valores e instituições dominantes nas sociedades agrárias (enquanto, p.ex., os "valores asiáticos" da China ou do Japão seriam a expressão dos valores agrários tradicionais).

Eu até referi há umas semanas um artigo com uma teoria parecida com essa.

Uma teoria diferente mas com alguns pontos de contacto é a de que foi a conquista de Europa pelos bárbaros (não eram caçadores-recolectores, mas pastoris, penso eu) que de certa forma a libertou do anquilosamento Romano-Bizantino e, a longo prazo, lhe permitiu dominar o mundo.

Ou seja, há bom argumento que pode ser construido segundo a qual o Ocidente (em comparação com outras "civilizações") até acaba por estar mais perto do passado tribal "pré-civilizado" e que foi essa a sua força.

Já agora, será coincidência que os mais civilizados países da Europa moderna sejam os que há 1.500 anos atrás (ou até menos) estavam dominados por tribos "semi-selvagens"?

Diogo said...

Interessante post.

Quanto aos putos terem medo de irem sózinhos para a cama, dou-lhe toda a razão.

Quanto aos povos pastoris terem vantagem sobre os povos sedentários, não me parece.