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ERIC Number: EJ763898
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Feb
Pages: 19
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0030-9230
"Book Learning" versus "Adapted Education": The Impact of Phelps-Stokesism on Colonial Education Systems in Central Africa in the Interwar Period
Kuster, Sybille
Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, v43 n1 p79-97 Feb 2007
The article discusses the dissemination and reception of a practice-oriented, community-centred approach to colonial education, which was derived from educational concepts developed for African-Americans in the United States around the turn of the twentieth century. This approach--which came to be known as "Phelps-Stokesism"--gained wide currency among educationists in Africa in the decades following the First World War, and it became particularly strong in settler colonies such as Zimbabwe, where a large European community was steadily augmenting its political power within a racially segregated context. The premise that colonial education had to depart from a conventional form of Western schooling and was instead to be specifically adapted to what was perceived as African developmental and environmental needs shaped the articulation of educational policies and practices envisaged by local administrators. At the same time, within the context of rural decline and restrictive state policies--which severely limited African chances for advancement in the industrial and agricultural spheres--African men and women came to perceive a literary-oriented kind of education as the key to gaining remunerable employment, enhancing upward social mobility and circumventing the patriarchal control of chiefs and elders. African strategies to shape the contents of education in accordance with their preferences and aspirations to some extent mitigated the translation of Phelps-Stokesist concepts into educational practice and worked towards securing the provision of academically oriented forms of instruction to a greater extent than had been intended in prevailing schemes of adapted African education. Against the background of the author's evidence, theoretical paradigms that suggest the preponderance of academic subjects in colonial school curricula and that interpret this as a reflection of "cultural imperialism" or Western-induced modernization seem strikingly untenable. The successor failure of the attempt to transfer Phelps-Stokesist educational concepts to a colonial setting can hardly be understood without paying tribute to the interventions and struggles on the part of local populations. The haphazard and mostly unsuccessful implementation of practice-oriented educational programmes in the era of African political independence seems to suggest that colonial educational controversies constitute a legacy that contemporary policy-makers have to take into account when formulating plans for educational reform under today's postcolonial conditions. (Contains 54 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Africa; United States