Education was a strategy in the colonization of large parts of the globe by European colonial powers. Postcolonialism, a diverse school of thought, demands that the ongoing destructive consequences of the colonial era be exposed, analyzed, and addressed through action. Postcolonial literature, while illuminating the dehumanizing effects of colonization, has understandably focused on the hegemony of Western culture and its effects on education, but it has been vulnerable to criticism that it ought also to pay attention to colonialism as the capitalist exploitation of colonies and former colonies, for their wealth and labor and as markets for manufactured goods. Postcolonial education addresses cultural imperialism by recognizing and unsettling its legacy in the school curriculum and the Western assumptions about knowledge and the world that underpin it, fostering a pedagogy of critique and transformation in the metropole and the periphery. Globalization in the 21st century has intensified interactions between the metropole and former colonies, in an increasingly integrated world system in which neo-liberal influences have created a new form of empire that embraces education. While demands for the restoration of indigenous forms of education are understandable as a response to cultural dispossession, new directions in postcolonial educational thought will also need to accommodate hybridity and to attend to the material conditions of global inequality.
Yvonne Poitras Pratt, Dustin W. Louie, Aubrey Jean Hanson, and Jacqueline Ottmann
The need to decolonize and Indigenize education stems from shared experiences of colonialism across the globe. In a world divided by ongoing conflict, and fueled by issues of power and control, the need to closely examine the ways that education has served hegemonic interests will help to inform future educational initiatives as well as serve as a form of reparation for those Indigenous peoples who have endured the dire consequences of colonialism. Present-day efforts to reclaim, restore, and revitalize threatened traditions are supported by international bodies such as the United Nations, in tandem with a range of approaches at national levels. Decolonizing education entails identifying how colonization has impacted education and working to unsettle colonial structures, systems, and dynamics in educational contexts. We use the term education in these descriptions broadly to name the sociocultural task of understanding ways of knowing and being (epistemological and ontological systems) and the ongoing formation and transmission of knowledges: for instance, we mean both formal education as structured through Western schooling and other forms of education such as those traditionally practiced within Indigenous families and communities. Decolonizing education fits within larger understandings of decolonization and Indigenization at socio-political levels. However, these undertakings address in particular the colonization of the mind, of knowledge, language, and culture, and the impacts of colonization at personal and collective levels of physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, and intellectual experience. In this time of transition, the work of decolonizing schooling necessarily precedes that of Indigenizing education for most educators and learners; yet, in keeping with Indigenous knowledge traditions, education must remain in a state of flux as we come to know this work collectively.
The landscape of history of education has become transformed by approaches that up-end traditional assumptions of the vertical unidirectionality of power, policy, and discourse. These have been displaced by notions of relational comparison and crisscrossing entanglements that draw on Lefebvrian ideas of space and time. These ideas help to provide a sense of how the landscape of education can be understood as both a material and symbolic space, as apprehended, perceived, and lived space, in which social relations are constituted and constitutive of everyday realities. The history of South African education, and specifically its teacher education colleges, exemplifies how landscape can be defined and understood as such spaces. Its history can first be apprehended through different conceptual and historiographical approaches, taken over time, for understanding it. Second, the emergence of specific types of institutions, within colonial political, economic, and social frameworks that defined their physical location and unequal structure in terms of racially segregated and often gender-differentiated spaces, assists in an understanding of these as colonial remnants. The historical landscape of education remains as restructured and reconfigured spaces, in which institutions live on as much in social relations as in memory and in actual, but highly altered physical conditions. As lived spaces, third, historical landscapes of education also embodied learning spatial imaginaries, deeply ambivalent memories of formal and hidden curricula, of formative and shaping years, and as such become landscapes of memory and identity.