A question about monks who provided education for children

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A question about monks who provided education for children

Postby Jorgnir » Thu Jan 07, 2010 1:24 am

Hello! I read somewhere that early in the 20th century, Buddhist monks provided education for kids(language, math..the usual), before the government handled it on their own. I can't recall which country(but it was in Asia) this was in I'm afraid. What I want to know is if it was a requirement to be a Buddhist in order to receive education, or if they accepted anyone, despite their religious beliefs. A mate claimed that it was a way for them to push their religious agenda and indoctrinate people. I have very hard to believe this(as it would go against pretty much everything I know about Buddhism), but I want to know for sure. Please enlighten me :)
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Re: A question about monks who provided education for children

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 07, 2010 1:57 am

Hi Jorgnir
Welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
I think you should be asking your mate what evidence he has that education of children by monastics was just a strategy to prosetylize Buddhism in SE Asia.
That's how I would have handled it. Whether he has any actual evidence and the quality of that evidence should indicate to you the veracity of his argument.
kind regards

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Re: A question about monks who provided education for children

Postby Jorgnir » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:14 am

No, he did not provide any evidence. But he has a well-developed hate against religions and so draws the conclusion that they educated them to get more followers. He stated that he thought that the monks forced the children to meditate. Please note that the period of interest is early 20th century.
The only thing I've been able to find is this(so I guess it was Thailand): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_i ... and_clergy , http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7014173.stm & http://www.hellosiam.com/html/thailand/ ... ligion.htm

"As in medieval Europe, most early Thai scholars were clerics whose major monastic activity was to teach the unlettered. Behind the quiet facade of monastic life, many village boys learned the rudiments of reading and writing Thai and Pali, simple arithmetic and the Buddhist precepts. Education was primarily concerned with ethical and religious instruction. Because most early Thai literature concerned religion, literacy allowed greater participation in religious life.

Although the Department (later Ministry) of Education was founded in 1887, monasteries remained centers of basic education until nationwide primary education became compulsory in 1921. In many remote areas today, monks conduct daily classed for village children. "

It would be very interesting to know if Pali was taught in the early 20th century and if the children still learned their language through religious texts by then. Considering the kind of literature that one expects to find in a monastery, that could've very well been the case. If it was so, it would be just as interesting to know if this was because of a lack of any other literature, a "what we have will do"-mentality or if it was on purpose, in order to teach Buddhism at an early age.
As for non-Buddhist children receiving education, I've been unable to find anything what so ever. My guess is that it was very rare, if not non-existing. A qualified guess would be that the church/mosque/whatever educated the children in a similar way, if the family was unable to afford any other education.

Of course we also have to take into account that Thailand in the the '20s was way different from now. And schools in Sweden(where I live) had children read the bible during the same period. I think it's rather safe to conclude that you were kinda stuck with the religion in the country you were born in.

Kind Regards

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Re: A question about monks who provided education for children

Postby Lampang » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:25 am

Certainly it used to be the case that education in Thailand was carried out at the temples, though I know nothing about the details of it. Whether or not it was used by religious authorities to "to push their religious agenda and indoctrinate people" is moot since everyone who went there would have been a Buddhist anyway and in Thailand Buddhism seems to exist at least as strongly as a cultural identity (in the sense of affirming membership of a particular community) as it does as a religious one (in the sense of assenting to a set of beliefs). If your friend wants a stick to beat religion, s/he's not picked a very strong one.
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Re: A question about monks who provided education for children

Postby Bankei » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:55 am

In Most countries of Asia the temples would have provided eduction to a limited degree. Indoctrination would have occurred no doubt. IN modern Thailand the children are still 'indoctrinated' in school in regards to Religion, King and Country. It is not limited to Buddhists in you are at a public school. It would probably be worse in Burma - to be Burmese is to be Buddhist.

In the past in Sri Lanka I believe many christians were educated in temples. Anagarika Dharmapala was a brought up a Christian I think, but had some temple education.
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Re: A question about monks who provided education for children

Postby Lampang » Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:08 am

^ I agree that the dynamics of Thai society point to indoctrination in a different sense. As far as I can see, the religious aspects are relatively mild whereas the royalist-nationalist ones - and sadly the Thai sangha is intimately involved with these - are overwhelmingly powerful.
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Re: A question about monks who provided education for children

Postby Jorgnir » Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:36 am

First of all, I would like to express my deepest apologies if I offended anyone by saying "to push their religious agenda and indoctrinate people". Personally, I don't think of it in such a way. I regard Buddhism to be the most interesting religion I've ever encountered.
@lampang: That is very true. We overlooked the cultural identity in our little discussion(my friend and I).

@bankei: Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. And I guess that answered my question :)

Kind Regards

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Re: A question about monks who provided education for children

Postby cooran » Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:55 am

Bankei wrote:In Most countries of Asia the temples would have provided eduction to a limited degree. Indoctrination would have occurred no doubt. IN modern Thailand the children are still 'indoctrinated' in school in regards to Religion, King and Country. It is not limited to Buddhists in you are at a public school. It would probably be worse in Burma - to be Burmese is to be Buddhist.

In the past in Sri Lanka I believe many christians were educated in temples. Anagarika Dharmapala was a brought up a Christian I think, but had some temple education.


In Australia, in government schools, I was taught Christianity. An hour was set aside once a week and people came to teach children who were divided by denomination (Catholic, Baptist, Anglican etc.).
Just the norm in most countries.
Most private high schools where a large proportion of children attend, are of one Christian denomination or another.

metta
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Re: A question about monks who provided education for children

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:59 am

Chris wrote:
In Australia, in government schools, I was taught Christianity. An hour was set aside once a week and people came to teach children who were divided by denomination (Catholic, Baptist, Anglican etc.).
Just the norm in most countries.

While I was in high school, that was the norm, but it went away, and I am guessing it was brought into court, and the separation of church and state clause struck a blow for the separation of church and state.
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Re: A question about monks who provided education for children

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:14 am

Jorgnir wrote:First of all, I would like to express my deepest apologies if I offended anyone


No one's offended, Jorgnir.
metta

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Sayagyi U Ba Khin


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Re: A question about monks who provided education for children

Postby Bankei » Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:37 pm

Chris wrote:
Bankei wrote:In Most countries of Asia the temples would have provided eduction to a limited degree. Indoctrination would have occurred no doubt. IN modern Thailand the children are still 'indoctrinated' in school in regards to Religion, King and Country. It is not limited to Buddhists in you are at a public school. It would probably be worse in Burma - to be Burmese is to be Buddhist.

In the past in Sri Lanka I believe many christians were educated in temples. Anagarika Dharmapala was a brought up a Christian I think, but had some temple education.


In Australia, in government schools, I was taught Christianity. An hour was set aside once a week and people came to teach children who were divided by denomination (Catholic, Baptist, Anglican etc.).
Just the norm in most countries.
Most private high schools where a large proportion of children attend, are of one Christian denomination or another.

metta
Chris


Hi Chris

When I was at school in Australia it was the same except when I complained that I wasn't a Christian I was able to go to the library with the muslims and wait it out.

More recently, schools these days still have a period of religious education each week, but the schools now send home a permission note with a clear choice of participating or not.
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