Good stuff from Rod Dreher:

“Schooling,” [the priest] told me, “has not changed the people for the better. This is the pain in my heart. Those educated want nothing to do with their animals. They just want to leave. Education should not be a reason to go away. It’s an obligation to come back.”

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. Unfortunately, there isn’t alway that much to come back to. I think of Africa, where many educated individuals leave. A few resolute and stay behind, but in places like Sierra Leone, C.A.R, or DRC? It takes more than moral fortitude to stay back in hopes of making a difference.

    Unfortunately, schools are provided but rarely do I see them ‘rooted’ in the community, nor do I see the community adequately prepared to absorb the newly educated.

    Of course, this argument can lead to a slippery slope…only to say that all in good time but one cannot ignore the environment in hopes that education alone can save.

  2. I wonder if WHAT we educate people in is not the problem? Could not education in a rural village in Africa be more helpful if it was focused on practical skills that improve their lot? Less literature and maybe more agriculture, well pumps and solar panel construction?

    Why are we giving laptops to kids who live in communities that do not have potable water ? Would not it be more meaningful to them and their communities if we taught them how to dig a deep well and maintain the pump?

  3. Cecelia, one can’t build a society–except one dependent on colonial masters–on materialism alone. You could have an abundance of wells, agriculture and energy, but deceit, oppression and moral failure would still cause starvation and poverty. There is already much evidence from areas with abundant natural resources that poverty comes not (only) of a lack of resources, but of a lack of moral character.

    Literature teaches and cultivates the moral imagination; to ignore literature is to ignore the soul and consign a native people to dependence on their imperial masters and their legal, moral, and social norms.

    We should not want this.

  4. When it comes to basic necessities, literature is a luxury. Should it be ignored? No. Simply to say that basic literacy would be a pre-requisite. One of the great problems in Africa is less lack of education than general under-education – an 8th grader writing at the level of a 4th grader. Of course, just making it pass 8th grade can qualify one as ‘elite’ in some corners.

    Wells and such are nice, but it must be done with local knowledge and locally sustainable. Wells with spare parts that cannot be made locally, too expensive to buy or without active participation from the local population serve nothing more than to alleviate western guilt.

    Recently reading “Life is a Miracle,” I would point you to p. 58 (counterpoint press). It talks about education and the lies it perpetuates – not everyone can be a leader. Education is, in many ways, monetized. Gone is the appreciation for the craftsman – the guilds.

    Only to say, basic literacy is a base. As much as I think about it, I am unsure as to the next step. Agriculture, solar power, etc…rarely takes in local know-how and particular issues. Resource management is a big issue. Contrary to popular belief, Africa is a continent of plenty; very disproportionally distributed.

    I digress. I do not have any answers, but my questions are no less.

    As an aside, a nice pictorial:

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