Friday, July 6, 2012

Lying heroes

Two years ago K1’s unit of study was ‘Heroes’ and one of the books they read was Greg Mortensen’s Three Cups of Tea. At the end of the school term, it was revealed that almost all of the book was a figment of the author’s hyper imaginative mind. Or did he succumb to all the things that he thought he was?

On page 129, Mortensen quotes Edmund Hillary:
But I’ve learned through the years, as long as you don’t believe all the rubbish about yourself, you can’t come to too much harm.

In retrospect, the fallout from Mortensen’s Central Asia Institute was almost inevitable. The board could not get him to account for anything and his coauthor David Oliver Relin remarked about how difficult it was to work with Mortensen (pg. 229).

At the end of the term the teacher spoke about the CBS ‘60 Minutes’ expose to the class. My sense was that universally the kids felt betrayed although this was not the word they used. The most important lesson I think they learned from this was that “Anybody can lie” and “Don’t believe everything you read”. In may ways I saw this an almost transformative experience as they shifted from 6th to 7th grade that year. And perhaps it’s a good thing to learn early and together as a class that lying is leads to distrust.

The time for arithmetic and poetry is past. Nowadays, my brothers, take your lessons from the Kalashnikov and rocket propelled grenade
- graffiti spray painted on the courtyard wall of the Korphe school.

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