Education In The Poisonwood Bible

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Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese philosopher and agricultural scientist, wrote in his 1975 bestseller, The One-Straw Revolution, that “[t]he ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings” (119). In The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver expands upon Fukuoka’s theory that agriculture has and still promotes the cultivation of human beings by suggesting that cultural values are, to a significant extent, derived from a culture’s preferred method of cultivation. Whereas less developed countries like the Congo typically prefer to employ derivatives of subsistence agriculture, countries like the United States prefer to utilize a more industrialized variant of cultivation known as intensive agriculture. …show more content…
They serve society by learning skills and information in school so that they can be more productive and efficient in the workforce. However, education is an investment; one that many families in the Congo cannot afford. Leah Price remarks that “[d]rumming on chairs might have been of no special consequence in a Bethlehem school where little boys acted up whenever they took a mind. But these boys’ families were scraping together extra food or cash for their sons to go to school, and no one ever forgot it. Going to school was a big decision” (280). Certainly, education is a big decision in the Congo, where secondary education is not funded by the government. By sending their children to school, these families are in close violation of the fundamental principle of subsistence farming: self-sufficiency . They must sacrifice the food that would otherwise nourish the strongest of their children so that their children may learn how to improve their family’s conditions. As a result, many Congolese families do not value education to the extent that Americans do. To them, children are considered a consumer good; a finished product that can be used by a family. Not only are the explicit costs worrisome, but also the implicit costs of education. Leah Price notes, “There’s hardly any way to keep the école secondaire [secondary school] open another term without funds, and parents are anxious that education is only putting their children at greater risk. The awful truth is they’re right” (437). Besides sacrificing food, families in the Congo are also sacrificing the ability to produce even greater amounts of food by sending away a potential laborer to secondary school. Therefore, education has a more deleterious effect upon a family in the Congo than it does a family in the United States. In brief, education is a relatively unimportant value to subsistence farmers in the Congo in