Children of Their Fathers: Growing Up among the Ngoni of Nyasaland

Children of Their Fathers: Growing Up among the Ngoni of Nyasaland

Children of Their Fathers: Growing Up among the Ngoni of Nyasaland

Children of Their Fathers: Growing Up among the Ngoni of Nyasaland

Excerpt

Like the wooden Ngoni meat dish, this book stands on three firm legs. It is the outcome of lecturing for over twenty years to teachers and students of education from all over the world on how an anthropologist approaches the study of education. It is the result of living for three and a half years in Ngoni villages in Nyasaland, watching how they brought up their children, hearing their reasons for the shaping of that upbringing, and seeing what use they made of formal education in mission schools. And lastly, since the war ended, young parents in several countries have talked with me now and then about how they were bringing up their children and what they thought of schools in relation to their home training.

I like to think, though it may be self-flattery, that a close study of the home and of parents' attitudes towards the bringing up of their children is an essential complement to the ideas presented to young teachers, and to older ones too for that matter, of what education is and how it works. I am often startled, and driven to furious thinking, when I come across statements like these: 'School is a civilizing place,' from the Harvard Committee on Education in a Free Society; or 'We have to rely on the schools for the training of character' from the Beecher Report on Education in Kenya; or 'The school is an institution specifically established to produce desirable changes in behaviour,' from the opening address to a symposium on Education and Anthropology at Stanford University, California. We all know that there are parents everywhere who are only too thankful to . . .

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