In late June and early July, the First International and Ninth National Congress of Bilingual Intercultural Education “José María Arguedas” was held in Cajamarca; an event to which our colleague Alfredo Mires was invited to give a talk.
We share here the beginning of the text which Alfredo presented under the title “To educate the scorpion: Interculturality, cosmovivencia¹, and community education”:
There is an old African tale which tells the story of what happened between a spider and a scorpion. They say a scorpion needed to cross a river, but he didn’t know how to do it and he was very scared of drowning. So, when he saw the spider swimming he immediately said:
“Carry me on your back.”
“Me carry you on my back?” replied the spider. “Forget it! I know you: if I carry you on my back you’re going to sting me and you’re going to kill me!”
“Please, spidey!” insisted the scorpion, becoming very friendly. “I really need to cross the river”
“No way!” said the spider. “I like to keep my distance from you”
“How can you be so illogical?” the scorpion replied. “Don’t you realise that if I sting you, you will sink in the water and, as I can’t swim, I’ll sink too and I’ll drown with you?”
And so they carried on arguing for some time until in the end the scorpion won. The spider, convinced, carried the scorpion on his back and they began to cross. When they were in the middle of the big river, suddenly, the scorpion raised his tail and jabbed his sting into the spider’s back. The spider felt the fatal venom spreading throughout his body and, while he began to sink with the scorpion on top of him, he managed to shout out:
“But what have you done? I don’t understand, I trusted you. How could you do this to us?”
“I couldn’t help it”, replied the scorpion before disappearing in the water. “That is my nature.”
When they asked me to approach the subject of spirituality and world view in an ecological and community education, I had to remind myself of this story and ask myself: what is the nature of the education in which we have developed and with which we continue developed and developing? What kind of people forges the education which is given? Are the classes which graduate from educational establishments supportive, critical, respectful, bibliophilic and honourable? Or are we creating generations which are lazy, discourteous, materialistic, alienable, compulsive gamblers?
Rather, what nature do we come from and what will the future we are creating be like? What back are we contributing to poison whilst trying to cross this river muddied by the devastation of nature? What model do the guidelines give us, and which is the proportionality between technological obesity and ethical malnutrition or ecological atrophy?
¹ cosmovivencia: term to describe life and the experience of the cosmos