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Knowledge & Culture, or Politics?

by Denitza Velcheva on 22nd September, 2011 at 8:30 AM CEST

It was the late 90’s; the soviet block was freshly decayed. Everybody needed a paradigm change, and children’s behavior is the best mirror. The 90's found me in school where I studied Russian for 11 years. I hated it. It was fashionable to hate. What I actually did was I degraded a whole language to simple politics. I regret that my immature political position deprived me of learning Russian better.

Then I look around and realize something worse – this illusionary attitude is still going on. Not necessarily towards Russian, and not necessarily in Bulgaria, but it is still active. To point a few:

- Greek children are brought up to claim it’s called Constantinopolis - not Istanbul. The truth is, this city is so important, it should be called both ways.
- Finn kids are brought up to refuse studying Swedish. It's a compulsory subject but schools don't mind. The reason - Sweden was an occupator beginning in the 13th century.
- In the 21 century, you would be fired from your position in the elite Istanbul Austrian high school if you called the geographical region where Kurds live – Kurdistan.

All of these are things the school told you to think. Ignorance is not bliss. And real knowledge is not taught as an extreme and undoubted opinion. The general public makes a horrible mistake – we still use schools as a cradle of pure nationalism often parading as humility, objectivity or national pride.

How to fix this?

- Common heritage textbooks
History textbooks are rarely objective. This educational habit leads to situations of this sort:

Common heritage means people will no longer argue about things they created together.

- History of peace
History textbooks are about history of war. Fights. Victories. Glory. National flags. The world would be a better place if instead of war based “development”, we focused on the culture shift. Culture is a better alternative to gently planting of the seeds of intellectual hatred in young people against their foreign peers. Don’t forget every child grows up to be an adult. What you teach them is really important.

- Languages before politics
Let languages form the perception of history, instead of allowing the knowledge of history to form the perception of languages.

Speaking of schools and their practical application, Kurt Vonnegut once said: "True horror is when you realize your classmates are running the country".

He couldn’t be more right. Schools can be peace makers. They can heal inflated egos and develop true respect for who you are and who other people are, unlike nationalism. The solution is too simple - to realize that after all we all started off from Africa.

Homo sapiens, remember?

Let me finish the article with the first 20 minutes of this film. They explain how we learn what we’ve learned.

A question to you - when was the last time you were prejudiced about something and realized you were wrong?

Denitza and Action Team #6

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So many times because no man is an island and we learn every day from people. Of course when I realised I am wrong, I take it as a its a form of correction.

22nd September, 2011 @ 10:41 AM CEST

Denitza Velcheva

Denitza Velcheva | Action team

(: what were you preudiced about? (: name the first case you recall, I'm really curious to know

22nd September, 2011 @ 10:43 AM CEST

Sayanee Basu

Sayanee Basu | Action team | CF Chapters

Yes, i'm extremely prejudiced against people who look down on others with no qualifications and money. Thanks for pointing this out Denitza!

22nd September, 2011 @ 12:22 PM CEST

Saad Khan

Saad Khan | Action team | CF Chapters

I am still prejudiced about those people sayanee.

22nd September, 2011 @ 3:15 PM CEST

Andreja Kodrin (C:F Management)

Andreja Kodrin (C:F Management) | Action team | CF Chapters

great "food for thought", congratulation Denitza!

Starting with Saad' last year Stereotyping video (and great video from Maggy) it is important that we are constantly reminding ourselves on wide diversity of human prejudices that still exist (or are even growing).

This partially ignited us when selecting the theme for a BIG fall competition CF:Change - Youth for youth, starting next week.

We sincerely hope that it will be more then competition and beyond competing. Something as movement, with youth engagement, youth impact, something what each and everyone among us is capable to do today to leave a footprint for better future. I am sure that we will see many ideas that will actually change the lives of many among underprivileged groups of youth, from immigrants, refugees, minorities, HIV/AIDS, abandoned,...

and for sure, on this way we will transform many prejudices and get many new friend...

23rd September, 2011 @ 7:16 AM CEST



Yeah, I think one of those things that have wipe off the taste of history is technology. Children don't get to learn 1st hand history of their heritage from their parents and grand-parents anymore because they get totally caught up in the excitement of their gadgets and modern equipments, parents no longer have time to call their children for a kind of round table section where stories about their Predecessor can be told.

This had led to many mishap about heritages, tribe and ethnic groups. Am not at all against technology, after all I wouldn’t have had this opportunity without technology but, I believe it has been a blessing as well as a curse to the development and growth of youths.

I strongly believe that knowledge helps not only to motivate, refine, re-edify our orientations but also to accept, respect and appreciate others and where they are coming from.

Nice piece.

23rd September, 2011 @ 3:44 PM CEST

Denitza Velcheva

Denitza Velcheva | Action team

@ Saad, poverty, and the logical consequences of it, is not a vice - it's a vicious circle. No qualification and money compliment each other to form this circle. I understand your viewpoint in a way. I also understand how I have to change this viewpoint for myself. I'm not perfect (:

@ Titilayo, the thing is, technology has nothing to do with educatiog people in perception. Yes, our parents may not have had "the technology" we are used to now, in terms of compuers and Internet, but they would use the technology of their time to pass the way they know things onto us. Sometimes they would be strongly mislead. This is why I wrote about "common heritage".

As I hinted, I was born a little before communism was officially over, and I can definitely claim - the technology the state was using on my parents and their generation is a lot limiting and more traumatising that what we have now - it was called propaganda and no freedom of speech.

True, right now, we have too much freedom of speech and what not, millions of examples of propaganda, but I prefer to have a headache, than to be deaf... if I can speak so metaphorically ,)

It's a huge topic where conservative approaches and innovative approaches both have what to offer. Our task is to take the best of everything.

24th September, 2011 @ 9:35 PM CEST

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