The Peoples' Institute for Re-thinking Education and Development

The Educator's Unlearning Oath

(offered in the spirit of the Hippocratic Oath)

Unlearning is one of the most important processes we have to invoke and support in education if we are to find ways out of the global mess that industrial-military life has created. Unlearning opens an alchemical portal to reclaiming swaraj in our lives and shape-shifting into our expansive, inter-connected Self. For me, living with my so-called illiterate village grandmother and in her larger Grandmother’s University was critical to my unlearning journey and to finding my way home. We invite all educators around the world to bring unlearning into their pedagogical vision for the 21st century.


I invoke Saraswati, Athena, Isis, Odin, and all the forces of wisdom, creativity and deep understanding, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath.

I vow to support my students to unlearn the monoculture of the mind and TINA (there is no alternative);

I vow to support my students to unlearn the myth of technological arrogance and technological utopianism;

I vow to support my students to unlearn the fear of money, limitless GNP/GDP, the idea of life as a commodity and dependency on the global financial system for meeting our basic human needs;

I vow to support my students to unlearn the mainstream definitions of who is ‘educated’, who is ‘developed’, who is ‘wealthy’, what is ‘happiness’, who is ‘successful’ and ‘powerful’ and what is ‘real progress’;

I vow to support my students to unlearn the inner voice of constant comparison, artificial scarcity and competition, and the idea that more and more consumption and stuff leads to more happiness and respect;

I vow to support my students to unlearn the paralysing dependency on big experts, global institutions, governments, corporations, continuous fossil fuel extraction and the West to solve all our problems;

I vow to support my students to unlearn the conditioned disdain and shame of the ‘local’ as unhygienic, dirty, smelly, lazy, inefficient, unorganised, inferior, superstitious, backwards, unproductive, violent, etc;

I vow to support my students to unlearn the many institutional labels (such as ‘failure’) and associated trauma the System places on them and on Others;

I vow to support my students to unlearn the idea that valuable learning only happens in schools or online and that marks and degrees are an indicator of intelligence or self-worth;

I vow to support my students to unlearn the individualist, isolated Self and idea that we are separate from the soil, the trees, the rivers, the mountains, the deserts, the forests, the animals, the seeds, the bacteria. We need to remember that what we do to them we do to our selves.

I vow to live as a seeker and stay on the path of unlearning and up-learning in my life. I will keep carrying out my own experiments with truth. I will not be ashamed to tell my students, “I don’t know.”

I recognize that this unlearning journey does not only happen at the level of the rational-fragmented-anthropocentric intellect, text or classroom, but must involve our hands, our hearts, our cells, our intuitions, our relationships, our sensual rituals, our ancestors and our lands. It is an invitation to travel in the promiscuous informal, the messy margins, the unknown shadows, the puzzling paradoxes, the uncomfortable whispers and beyond political correctness and Left-Right polarisations.

May I walk this arduous path with courage, imagination and deep compassion in service to my students, my vocation and the well-being of all life on the planet.


I invite you to add to this.

*** Manish Jain, Shikshantar Andolan, Swaraj University, Ecoversities Alliance

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