In Tomorrow’s Children, Riane Eisler presents a model for education that will assist a cultural transformation from our current dominator model of society to a partnership model. A dominator model is what we are most familiar with, as the majority of recent human history has existed in such a model: it is more or less what it sounds like, a society based on domination of one group over another and on control of others through control of resources and violence. A partnership model, on the other hand, is based on cooperation and equity. Eisler points out that our education system currently educates students in the dominator model and we need to instead educate them in the partnership model.
There are three cornerstones to any educational model: the process (how we teach), the content (what we teach), and the structure (of the educational system). I am most interested in the educational process, and secondly interested in the structures that support education. In the first two chapters, which I read, Eisler addresses these two aspects of partnership education, but the remainder of the book after that is focused on the third cornerstone, the content. She presents very specific suggestions for an integrated curriculum design that exposes children to the wider worldview of the partnership model rather than the restricted worldview of the dominator model. I found myself getting bored pretty quickly, as I am not personally interested in all the details she presents. I think it is an important and useful resource for educators, but not that applicable for someone like me who is not a teacher.
I did write down two quotes from the beginning of the book, which for me highlight why we absolutely must look at how and what we are teaching children:
Some people will undoubtedly argue that it is just up to parents, not schools, to teach children values. But all schools teach values, whether they do so explicitly or implicitly, by inclusion or by omission. All educational curricula are based on certain assumptions about social relations: about what was, what is, and what can be. The issue therefore is not whether schools should teach values but what kinds of values schools should teach.
I believe that we are all responsible for the choices we make. But to make sound choices, we need to understand our alternatives. And one of the most important functions of education is to help young people see the full range of their alternatives, both individually and socially.