Formal, but without substance. LO30018

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 03/24/03

Replying to LO30008 --

Dear Organlearners,

Andrew Campbell < > writes in
Subject: post script the Lamb LO30008

>That's my learning, this morning
>...and, here is a URL
>wherein is written the UN Convention on the Rights of the
>Child. Perhap someone here could go find it, open it, write
>it out and put it fully here.

Greetings dear Andrew,

I never got as far as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. I
began to browse through the site which you recommended. Thank you very

Under the directory
< >
i studied the following: (please bear with me the extensive quote
Save the Children helps children get access to good quality education
*Supporting governments, local authorities and communities
  to provide appropriate and useful education for children.
*Training teachers and other adults who work with children
  to use creative teaching methods and understand the process
  by which children learn.
*Strengthening the involvement of local communities, children,
  parents and teachers to ensure education meets the needs of
  disadvantaged children.
*Developing education policies and curricula that take into
  account children's needs, and teach them useful skills.
*Supporting flexible learning schemes for marginalised children
  and those (such as working) children who don't go to school.
*Supporting good early years provision to ensure that
  disadvantaged children get the best possible start in life.
*Providing education for children caught up in conflicts and
  natural disasters.
*Campaigning for more aid to basic education through the
  Beat Poverty campaign.

The reason why i quoted the above at length, is that it chilled my heart.
I do not dispute at all the good intentions of SavetheChildren in its
educational programme. In form it is heart warming. But without substance,
it becomes heart chilling.

Let me explain what i mean. Consider, for example, the first bullet:
*Supporting governments, local authorities and communities
  to provide appropriate and useful education for children.
What is this "useful education"? Dozens of times i have observed how
education which is useful for European children living in Europe,
becomes completely useless for African children living in Africa. The
education of any particular child has to take into account the immediate
environment of that child -- specifically both the nature and the culture
of that environment.

For example, consider a basic resource such as water. Most activities
involving water are vastly different from a desert region to a marshland.
I have seen children in arid regions getting a few centimeters of water
learning about water activities applicable to regions where the rainfall
is many dozens of centimeters. The only thing which they can do is to
memorise the information which is utterly useless to them. They cannot
explore one byte of information practically so as to gain in experience.

I do not want to discuss each of the other bullets in the same manner
because this will make the spirit too negative. Creative education means
that the best possible use should be made of the immediate environment.
Creative education means that each skill should reflect manual and mental
dexterity. Creative education means that information should be put to the
use of personal knowledge gained by practical experience. Creative
education means that an exploring, problem-solving mind as well as willing
hands should be cultivated even when basic aids are almost non-existing.

We cannot expect to save the children by subjecting them to rote learning
using "cookie cutter" methods. I do not suggest that SavetheChildren is
actually advocating it, but i have found nothing on the site to convince
me that they are promoting authentic learning. Actually, the more i
explored the site, the more i felt the "formal, but without substance".

Despite my reservations, the directory
< >
has a formidable list of what SavetheChildren has accomlished up to
now. I can recommend fellow learners to study this directory closely.
May SavetheChildren forgive me should my reservations be without
substance too.

The plight of the children of the world is staggering. For example, just
above our own border is Zimbabwe where hundreds of children are dying
daily as a result of famine, poverty and social violence inflicted by an
insane dictatorship. I do not expect that SavetheChildren will even be
given the opportunity to do their good work under the present
dictatorship. But once it is over with the country and its people ruined
completely, much will be needed. I have read recently that hundreds of
thousands of mere children try to keep their families in place, the adults
having passed away because of diseases like Aids and violent conflicts. If
you fellow learners want to read more about the tragedy unfolding itself
in Zimbabwe, surf to the site < >

More than two billion of children all over the world need our help now.
The biggest help we can give them, is foremost to change our own ways of
living which brought them into this demise. Without applying this
"self-organisation" to ourselves, all other help will be like throwing a
bucket of water out on the desert floor. Let us begin with ourselves and
regain our substance which makes the formal worthwhile.

With care and best wishes,


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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