Friday, 3 March 2017

It's NOT Your Fault - Schooling and Deschooling

Overweight Dietician
Not Her Fault
Blame her Schooling
If I speak to overweight nurses, dietitians or doctors, I find it impossible to talk about the success of their "education," the failure of their dietary practice, and their need for deschooling. These people are super-sensitive on the topic, because they know they carry excess weight and they have tried to do something about it. Their failure is clear indication of the success of schooling, and educational failure.

I'm an old teacher. In the 1970's Ivan Illich was writing about the failure of traditional education in South America, to meet the needs of the children who were in schools. I guess today we would see this as colonization of the mind. The establishment decides what young people should know, and makes sure that happens. Schooling was seen as essential, both for the community and for the future success of each child. But that schooling, wasn't often in the best interests of the child, as Illich pointed out.

Like it or not, schooling in the beginning at least, is indoctrination, of necessity. Learning the rules of the family, the tribe and the wider community, isn't left to chance. You have to understand and reflect to others, certain knowledge and behaviour, to be acceptable as a friend, as a colleague, as a team member, as an employee. Although lip service is given to the process of education, freedom to think independently, to develop creativity and innovation, those abilities are always constrained by "the box," the social and cultural limits our society imposes on us. This is the price of being a member. Without "membership" you can't be accepted in that society.

You can see the failure of the schooling process today, in youth unemployment, alienation, and the failure of young people to engage in the political process. Schooling selects some people and rejects others. That's an old problem, with many new features in an information rich world.

To be accepted you have to demonstrate the success of your schooling. That's what makes it possible for you to find employment and to become a professional. So it's ridiculous to talk about thinking outside the box. To do that is almost certainly, the end of your professional career, and probably the end of many personal and family relationships. This is a cultural trap, that schooling forces upon us. If you are in that trap it's not your fault. The problem is in the whole of the society. We all get fat together. We can also get well together.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty liver disease is killing this man.
He is strongly insulin resistant, and probably diabetic.
I expect that he could recover his health in 12 months
He needs deschooling, and then LCHF nutritional knowledge.

So you succeed at school, and you go to University, and you get a degree. You have earned your professional qualification, which commits you to uphold professional standards. People with a training in any of the health professions, are expected to "know" about eating a quality human diet, and how to control one's weight. What they "know" is the standard diet recommended by the Department of Health in each country. That recommendation in turn, is almost certainly modeled on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. What most health professionals "know," is only schooling, a simple set of rules to follow.

For the last 60 years there has been a bias against fat in the diet, based on the idea that dietary fat might make heart attacks more likely. This was reinforced after 1980 around the world, when the Dietary Guidelines for Americans were generally copied by the health authorities in most countries. Thirty years later, it turns out that the fundamental ideas behind that dietary recommendation are wrong.

There were no health benefits in the recommended diet.
Neutral for heart disease. Worse for both diabetes and cancer.
Ineffective in reducing body weight.

There have been signals indicating this error since the 1960's, the MRFIT Trial and the Anti-Coronary Club for instance, but we've ignored those results, because the idea that dietary fat was bad for us seemed to make so much sense. Only in the last 15 years, has clinical research in small trials demonstrated in a precise way, how obesity develops and that dietary fat isn't harmful. When the massively large NIH study, the Women's Health Initiative, confirmed that result, in 2006, there should have been rapid change. But there wasn't, instead the schooling of established leaders in nutrition took over, and that "rogue result" of the WHI was set aside.

I have two personal friends, both ex-teachers, well educated, intelligent people, who have this problem. Their schooling tells them that the "know" how to eat a healthy diet, and they've done that for 30 years. So why are they overweight, and why do they have metabolic syndrome? "That's just old age coming on. It happens to everyone." Too true. It happens to 75% of the population. Why is that? I contend that it's not normal and it's certainly not necessary.

The escape from this trap demands two actions. First of all, understanding that one's "knowledge" isn't working as expected, that there is a fault in your knowing and that deschooling is necessary.

It takes time to do that. Unlearning our aversion to dietary fat takes time. In the same way we've been taught that "healthy whole grains" should be a significant part of our diet. So we love our muesli or our porridge, and we eat loaves of grain filled bread each week. Now we know this makes us fat. Understanding that and eliminating bread from your diet requires deschooling.

Once you understand that you don't know how to eat a healthy diet, your real education can begin. I can tell you where to start, with Banting. I can tell you what to do; but that's just more schooling, and in the long run isn't helpful. You need an education. Education is self driven, a process you need to control yourself. Or I can tell you what others have done, but where your education leads you, will depend on the choices you make.

John Stephen Veitch                     Printable Version Printer of this Essay
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