Raising the Consciousness of World
(with its implications for race
"THE BIGGEST EDUCATIONAL TASK OF ALL"
Reischauer's Call: Raising the Consciousness of World
“THE BIGGEST EDUCATIONAL TASK OF ALL"
Excerpts from a paper presented at
Harvard University's Sixth Annual International Forum
by Gregory D. Watson
Copyright 1987 ©
** ABRIDGED / ABSTRACT **
Edwin Oldfather Reischauer, Harvard Professor (Emeritus), and
former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, in a marvelous book titled Toward
21st Century: Education for a Changing World, 1973, proclaims the
. . .the world community we must develop will never come into
being or operate successfully unless the bulk of the people feel
to be members of a world community — that is, unless they develop a sense
of world citizenship.
Professor Reischauer traces the development of the perilous "us &
mentality and shows how
This is clearly the biggest
task of all, for millenniums of history have conditioned men to
think in terms of smaller and more exclusive units, while suspicion and
hostility toward other groups lie deep in their patterns of thought.
. . . .Before long, humanity will face many grave
that can only be solved on a global scale. For this there must be
a much higher degree of understanding and a far greater capacity for
between disparate peoples and nations than exist now. Education,
however, as it is presently conducted in this country—and in every
in the world, for that matter—is not moving rapidly enough in the right
direction to produce the knowledge about the outside world and the
toward other peoples that may be essential for human survival
within a generation or two.
This, I feel, is a much greater
problem than the military balance of power that absorbs so much of our
attention today." (p. 4.) [underlining for emphasis]
"most people are probably not conscious that our traditional education
is overwhelmingly about our own particular group, and thus tends to
a strong sense of identity with it, to the exclusion of the other members
of the human race who do not qualify for membership." (p. 179.)
One example of how "most people are.. not conscious" of our unity and
how we exclude other members of the human race from our own group comes
from my own experience in my American History course in high
You will probably recall the classic portrait of Thomas Jefferson
the Declaration of Independence, all the while being fanned by a slave.
We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty...
We did not notice that the slave represented an incredible cultural
At the time equality and liberty were being espoused, the contradiction
was hidden. Every culture has its "cultural blinders," by which
people are taught to ignore or repress the unpleasant contradictions
their society. We are taught to "soften the blow" with
hide death and pain in sanitized hospitals away from our children and
etc. In the slave dichotomy, we can see a clear illustration of
exclusion Reischauer describes take place. The slave simply did
"qualify for membership" in the category of "man" . . .
". . . . A sense of world
embracing all national groupings and the acceptance of ethnic
diversity within our own nation are really two sides of the same
coin. Both accent the universality of man and help place the
national unit in proper perspective as only one of several successive
of human organization. The focus on mankind and his civilization
as the subject of education includes the ethnic minorities in a way
that a narrow focus on the dominant national tradition does not.
They, too, share fully in this common human heritage. A
of this point could make their search for identity less agonizing to
and less threatening to others. Thus education for world
could prove of great value in this seemingly very different direction."
As Dr. Reischauer concludes his book, he puts the concept of
citizenship into the strongest possible terms:
"... a reorientation of education so as to give young people
everywhere a sense of the shared interests and basic ONENESS OF
and to prepare them for effective participation as members of a world
is, I believe, a clear necessity for human survival in the twenty first
century." (p. 195.) [emphasis added]
[NOTE: The unabridged version of this paper is in review for
publication and includes some suggested curricula for schools.]