The Arctic Dilemma – Nomadic Life or Boarding Schools?

Nomads, 30-40 millions in 1995 around the world, roaming around and moving from one place to another for pasture or hunter-gatherer is a fast disappearing life-style. Reindeer have been herded for centuries in polar and sub-polar regions, horses remain national symbols in Mongolia and camels are still the perfect choice in the Sahara. After the industrial revolution “mechanization” and with increasing dependence on fossil-fuel, urbanization became “magnets” causing considerable drainage of people to technology and modern life, even without basic knowledge about the requirements and threats of the new life.

“There’s no place like home”, but with the advance of science and technology the definition of home becomes much different in particular in the era of globalization and the Internet. The choice between staying home and being drained to new life-styles may create conflicts between generations and communities or at least cause separation and fragmentation in families.

The weather in the polar mountains can turn in just a few minutes and at the artic circle conditions can be extreme. The ways of life, learning and even childbirth are often intense. People living in the tundra are accustomed to a nomadic life. Tents are their homes, food is basic, and the deer is king. They don’t watch TV or don’t use internet. Children do go to boarding schools, but not all parents are in favor of them. A well-known writer and teacher created her own alternative education for the children of the tundra as she believes that a good education should be based on the essential skills needed to survive in the artic far north. She explains that our constitution clearly says our indigenous children must have free education but it doesn’t say free life care. In schools everything is done for the children and later on they face life without to know how to do ordinary things, as they don’t have that knowledge when they leave schools. Children become gradually separated from their roots, loose ties with other generations and when graduated from school they have to decide between going to higher education or back to the tundra. What to choose when they already separated from home and are not able to establish roots at home?

Find out more about life and education in the tundra.

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