Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What is the difference between the old educational system in the Igbo community and the new one bought by the missionaries in Things Fall Apart?

Expert Answers info

accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write13,728 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Clearly the old educational system was not one that we would recognise today as "education." Children would learn the skills they needed to learn for their lives by living and working at their parents side. Thus, for example, we see Okonkwo farming with Nwoye at his side and teaching him how to harvest yams. Likewise the culture, myths and legends are passed from parent to child through the narration of the tribal stories and legends. Yet when the missionaries come, they set up schools (a concept that was unheard of for the tribe) which would teach its students how to read and write, English and the Bible. It is clear in the story that "religion and education went hand in hand," as the missionaries tempted the members of the tribe to attend the school by offering gifts of singlets or towels. Likewise, attending the school was a quick way to ensure that you rose in prestige:

Mr. Brown's school produced quick results. A few months in it were enough to make one a court messenger or even a court clerk. Those who stayed longer became teachers; and from Umuofia labourers went forth into the Lord's vineyard.

We can see therefore how different the two systems of education were and how the system of education imposed by the missionaries served to advance the spread of Christianity.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial