Youth Futures: Comparative Research and Transformative Visions

By Jennifer Gidley; Sohail Inayatullah | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Partnership Education for the
Twenty-First Century

Riane Eisler

Young people often feel powerless to change the course of their lives, much less the course of the world around them. Many become immersed in the “me-firstism” and “overmaterialism” that permeate mass culture, futilely seeking meaning and belonging in the latest fad or commercial offering. Some bury their pain and anger in drugs, gangs, and other destructive activities, seemingly oblivious of the effect their actions have on themselves and others. Some become violent under the thrall of hate-mongering or religious fanaticism, or simply because video games, television, ads, and movies make violence seem normal and fun.

Many factors contribute to this. But one factor can play a major role in providing young people with the understandings and skills to both live good lives and create a more sustainable, less violent, more equitable future: education.

For over two centuries, educational reformers such as Johann Pestalozzi, Maria Montessori, John Dewey, and Paolo Freire have called for an education that prepares young people for democracy rather than authoritarianism, and fosters ethical and caring relations.1 Building on the work of these and other germinal educational thinkers and on my research and teaching experiences over three decades, I have proposed an expanded approach to educational reform. I call this approach “partnership education.” It is designed not only to help young people better navigate through our difficult times but also to help them create a future oriented more to what, in my study of 30,000 years of cultural evolution, I have identified as a partnership rather than dominator model.

Although we may not use these terms, we are all familiar with these two models. We know the pain, fear, and tension of relations based on domination and submission, on coercion and accommodation, of jockeying for

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