Non-Western Educational Traditions: Indigenous Approaches to Educational Thought and Practice

By Timothy Reagan | Go to book overview

Preface

In all societies, throughout human history, people have educated their children. Indeed, one of the fundamental characteristics of human civilization is a concern for the preparation of the next generation. From one generation to the next, we seek to pass on what we know and have learned, hoping to ensure not merely the survival of our offspring, but of our culture as well.

The history of education, as it has been conceived and taught in the United States (and generally in the West), has focused almost entirely on the ways in which our own educational tradition emerged, developed, and changed over the course of the centuries. This is, of course, understandable, but it means that we have ignored the many ways that other societies have sought to meet many of the same challenges. In this book, an effort is made to try to provide a brief overview of a small number of other, non-Western approaches to educational thought and practice. An understanding of the ways that other peoples have tried to educate their children, as well as what counted for them as “education, ” may help us to think more clearly about some of our own assumptions and values, as well as to help us to become more open to alternative viewpoints about important educational matters.

Unlike most areas traditionally included in the training of educators, very few individuals have had any real exposure to non-Western educational traditions, and so the audience for this book is a very broad and diverse one. The book was written to be accessible to both preservice and inservice teachers, but may also be of interest to advanced students in graduate programs as well as faculty members. Although both the book as a whole and particular sections of the book maybe of considerable interest to educators in other societies, the book is written from the perspective of American readers and presupposes that readers are, at the very least, familiar with the Western educational tradition.

-xi-

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