Let’s free education from old structures
Setting up the frame. The world critical situation. Education at stake.
Before I enter the subject of Dean project ( Digital Edition and Libraries in Apprenticeship networking) I would like to talk about visions, a word I borrowed from Papert, which I mean essential for the future of education, our project and our own lives likewise. What you may listen next is my strong conviction on what is a primary commitment to mainstream education. You all know we’re getting through a worldwide critical situation right now. We even don’t know how long it will last. It’s touching and critical in all aspects of life. We doubt whether we’re attending the end of an era, or facing something new, a new renaissance, a new era in history of mankind. We all agree by now that new technologies of communication and information have burst onto the economical, social, cultural, educational and labour world stage raising uncertainty, instability and distress but also a blow of HOPE and FREEDOM. Likewise we’re aware this novel situation has arisen a voracious appetite for wealth on the side of the richest, and hunger, misery and desperation on the side of the poorest. This iniquity is leaving a gap between rich and poor which has become unsustainable though.
We stare at two ways : a descent into barbarism or a step forward in a new global social order. We should then choose. Never before than today’s the conviction on the fact that only education will help us to overcome today’s fated situation prevails. The quoted words, in 1931, from a well known scientist and epistemologist Jean Piaget are wit and sensible “Only education will likely be able to safeguard our societies from violent or sudden dissolution”
An appeal to vision
“What’s common to all education systems is the child or learner himself or at least some characteristics of his psychology” Jean Piaget says.
Once we were children and adolescents. We had dreams. Further more at age of 4 we use to build our own world and live in it as an extension of the real one. We felt happy and unique. When we grew up and became adults we ceased to dream, and we became “real-istic”, conformist and socially and politically adapted to established social conditions. We accepted what we were given without inquiries or claims. Our dream for happiness had swept away.
Maybe you might be thinking why I’m telling all this. It’s because within a critical situation as today’s we should appeal to education for repair damage and wrong. We agree things are not right as they are. Learning conditions are inadequate. Environmental and educational learning &training conditions are currently wrong. We feel defeated and unhappy. Our trainees and students likewise.
There’s an empty. There’s a Need. As I mentioned education is relevant for our future. Education is moving to the centre stage of intellectual interests, research and study and political arena. New technologies have made it possible. The quoted words from Papert sound appropriated.
« The approach of 21st century has brought lots of pronouncements on the fact that Information society both requires and makes possible new forms of education. We agree totally with this. But when these pronouncements are tardy in translating them into reality it’s often ascribed to a lack of money, technology, or teachers training. Actually there’s a need for all these. But the prior lack is a shortage of courage, coherent, inspiring and yet realistic visions of what education could be like 10 or 20 years from now .
No one dares to talk about the future or if one does we’re compelled to think of the present .Vision is not” a blue print but a compelling view of “look and feel” of the future-its needs, its opportunities and how we can prepare ourselves to act on them. Vision allows us to look beyond the problems that beset us, giving way to our passage into the future. Even more vision energizes this passage inspiring and guiding us into action. Envisioning the future drives us away from wasting resources vainly on trying to use new technologies to solve the problems of school-as it-is, instead of seeking radically new opportunities to develop school –as-it-can-be. The future is to match needs and opportunities -Papert »
Technologies burst onto the societal scenery
« New technologies propelled societies into action. Vision is a driving force.. Better test scores, Internet, computers in the classroom , more trained teachers. All these are fine and always useful things, of course. But these visions aren’t of the same stuff as Martin Luther King’s « I have a dream », Albert Einstein’s intuition for his intuition on time and space which led to the invention of relativity theory”, Henry Ford’s vision of a car everyone could afford to own. » « These are visions that inspired people to perform great deeds. Vision is the key of how policy makers and educators can participate in forging an education to match needs and opportunities of the new century »
« But vision is also the key to what this education should be. The primary commitment of education should be about vision. Every citizen should enter the world with :
1.- A proud vision of self as a powerful life-long learner.
2.- A vibrant vision of a worth-while life ahead.
3.- An optimistic vision of society to be proud of
4.- The skills and the ethic needed to follow these visions (Papert)
I mentioned it above. We’ve got a powerful tool as the computer to help us to develop learners’ potentialities. To empower the learner to reach further goals and achieve independence. We need to believe on child centred development instead of listening to those who in sharp opposition to the former believe in a more centred based- competence-curriculum approach. The child and development centred approach puts the accent on the individual development while the curriculum centred approach focuses on the information the individual will acquire. We strongly should align with the goal of education which fosters the independence and empowerment of the child, student and trainee.
Let’s lead instead of being followers
The role of the computer has more to do with a greater sense of empowerment given to the child than to information. The current intended reform of education on the part of the educational establishment which is taking place in the EU is to strive for a competence based curriculum. The new educational policy shifted its education goal from education as personal development to competence- based- curriculum.
« These issues need to be deepen in educational theory and philosophy. The computers sharpens the arguments against or for in educational theory » But we’re accountable to the individuals and citizens that we are growing up for the new society. We should then think and ask ourselves what kind of individuals and citizens de we want ? Do we want empowered and independent people ready to take their own decisions and shape their own lives ? Or do we prefer citizens who will accept the discipline of following the instructions and programmes that are set up for them by others ?
Commitment of education
We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a belly-full of words and do not know a thing. The things taught in schools and colleges are not an education, but the means of education (Emerson)
¿It’s a miracle that curiosity survives to programmed education (Einstein)
The word progress has no sense while unhappy children exist (Einstein)
A taught truth is just half a truth , while the whole truth should be reconquered, rebuilt or rediscovered by the learner himself (Jean Piaget)
One doesn’t learn to experiment only by looking at the teacher or doing exercises already organized. Only one learns by doing , working actively, that’s to say, freely and having all the time to do it. (J. Piaget)
Opening speech by Pilar Cataño in the Seminar« Digital Edition Apprenticeship Network » within Leonardo project’s DEAN held in Madrid at IES « Secondary Institute of Education at Avda. de los Toreros, » the 12th December 2008.