So I am in the middle of writing a 30 page paper (kill me) for my independent study on global leadership and social change. I am writing about three instances in Latin America where individuals/small groups of individuals formed and led resistance movements against violent dictatorships (still need to think of a more concise title). There was one particular education-related aspect of my research that I wanted to write about.
Something that I have thought a lot about this semester is whether or not one can enact change by being a part of already established institutions or if it’s better to push for change from the outside. I’ll spare you the historical details, but in the 1980s in Peru there was a very influential terrorist group, called Sendero luminoso or Shining Path, that launched a violent war against the state, as well as local institutions and social service organizations, killing thousands of innocent people in the process. Prior to the insurrection, they spent years spreading their ideas and recruiting followers. One of the main ways in which they were able to recruit so many people was through their use of schools. Several of the group’s founders were college professors, and they used their classes to spread their message and indoctrinate their students with their ideas. They also set up other schools to continue teaching people about their ideas and plans. Their students then became agents in their “revolution”, as they not only helped to spread the ideas but became participants as well.
Now, obviously, what Sendero luminoso did was awful, and I am in no way supporting it. One of their main philosophies was to use brutal acts of violence to “pound ideas into the masses”. But what if the ideas that they had been spreading and their plans hadn’t been about slaughtering people, but a different, less violent form of resistance? Could schools and teachers be used in the same way to promote different types of action? Is this sort of use of the educational system at all related to what we do in global studies?