Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Beware Managing Chains of Public Schools in Foreign Countries Because You Might Trigger Xenophobia

Stephen Dyer calmly suggests Beware Xenophobia with Embattled Gulen Charters, citing examples of reasonable international educational collaboration:

It would be incredibly difficult for the Campus International School in Cleveland to find the four Mandarin teachers they currently have if they couldn't recruit in China. I just spent two weeks in Chinese schools that couldn't wait to bring over American teachers to teach in their schools and send their teachers to America in exchange. What better way to foster a cooperative, peaceful world than the free exchange of intellectual capital?

If the Sorbonne wanted to set up an experimental French language school in Columbus, would we want to prevent that? Or how about bringing over an education expert from Oxford or Cambridge to help run a new, innovative school in Dayton? Would we really not want them educating our kids because they spoke a weird form of English? Of course not.

My senior year of High School, Gareth Morrell, who was the chorus master at the Cleveland Orchestra at the time and a British citizen, came in and taught some of our choral classes. Would we want to deprive children of that experience?

The problem is that the Gulen schools aren't like those examples at all. If you're in favor of international collaboration, you should be horrified by the idea of a political group within one country running a network of schools funded by public money, drawing students away from the existing local, democratically governed system. Especially if the countries in question are so distant that essentially nobody in the country hosting the schools is capable of analyzing the context and motives of the foreign managers.

The Islamic connection is actually beside the point. The whole idea of running public schools in foreign countries is, as far as I know, unprecedented. It isn't even like a colonial system -- it makes less sense than a colonial system -- which is at least an open and comprehensive system of control, for better or worse. I suspect that one reason the Gulen system has thrived is that it is just non sequitur.

No comments: