Monday, September 15, 2008

baby clothes update (Kenyan Educational Fears)

I've collected about 40kgs of clothes so far, baby clothes and teen girl clothes. I found a place in Forest Gate which can ship them to Kenya for £2.25 per kg with a £25 documentation fee as long as we do our own clearing. Which was a great option, as previous ways of shipping were running at £10 or £20 to Kenya. So I was going to pack about 20kgs of clothes and send, for £75. I did wonder how many baby clothes £75 would have bought in Nairobi, but I thought I might as well try it, so we could see what it was like in practice. Then I got paid and the bills hit (my other half is out of work at present) and it looks like I'll have to wait another month and see what I can do then! But I haven't forgotten or lost interest, I'm still mulling over the problem and sorting baby clothes.

In recent years I've heard twice, from concerned 30 or 40ish Kenyans, the fear that Chinese students are very intelligent and hardworking and these are the people our children are going to be competing against! This is said to show that Kenyan schools must train our children to be ever more competitive.

Well, I've been reading a lot of John Holt and John Gatto, about the long term effects on a society of compulsory, competitive schooling. And at present I'm reading Neal Stephenson's Barock Cycle, about 17th Century Europe.

Competitive thinking is, I submit, a symptom of an immature society. Africa and China are looking at each other the way France and England used to across the sea, each fearing the success of the other. As Louis the 14th says in The Confusion of the muted roar he hears across the Channel, 'I prefer silence.' In those days countries thought that if the other did badly, they themselves would needs do well. But today, as Lehman Brothers collapses, the news that US banking giants are falling causes us in the UK to tremble. We don't say, 'Bad things are happening to our neighbours. Bully for us!' We say, 'Bad things are happening to our neighbours. Soon, bad things will happen to us.'

In this interlinked world where we are all in one economic and environmental entanglement, the logical conclusion of the insanely competitive few centuries we've just had is playing itself out. Our planet is being destroyed and our economic system is collapsing under the weight of its own greed.

In this context, making the sole aim of a successful adolescence the achievement of A grades is not very bright. A grades are for getting good jobs and buying THINGS. Not for being enthusiastic about life and interacting with people. They are for avoiding poverty. But this is a fallacy built on false propaganda. The idea that our world is poverty stricken is a red herring.

We are not suffering from profligacy caused by cheap energy. We do not need to economise on energy. On the contrary, the sun delivers for free, to every part of the planet, 15,000 times more energy than we need every day. We could use twice as much energy and still have 7,000 times more than we needed. The sun and its derivatives, however (wind, waves, biomass) cannot be sold. At some point in the 1980's the conventional energy industry actually as good as stated that as no-one could own the sun, nobody should. The only way to guarantee a steady supply of money is to market consumables, which is why it's important to keep the world addicted to fossil energy. In the same way, there is no shortage of money. But 60% of the world's money is locked up in the stock market. No wonder there's too little in my pocket!

In fact the only form of poverty that matters is water poverty and poor soil. How much money is poured into research on how to make terra preta (artificially enriched soil in deserts) compared to research on new ways to suck fossil energy out of the earth beneath us?

Crude oil is a very unpleasant substance, black, sticky and smells horrid. Bio-diesel is golden and a great solvent. Moreover, everywhere we suck fossil oil out of the ground it causes war and attracts mayhem and misery. Then we burn it and destroy the planet. It really is like a curse we delved for.