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Different places, different ways

Is it possible to mix up our countries’ educational methods? As if all that’s going on in that realm is in some way separate from the rest of society, something that can be lifted up and transposed elsewhere as with other products and services.

I’ve talked before about education growing out of and within the history, customs and practices of any given society (Notes One). How the task of educating sits within its community, drawing upon the attitudes, knowledge and outlooks surrounding it to form the foundation on which understanding is built and the environment into which that understanding then finds its way.

Any process of education must serve its community: helping people to see where they stand, what’s expected of them, how we came to this point, and the main challenges that society’s facing. It’s perhaps a process of acclimatisation or enlightenment where we’re revealing what’s going on and all that’s gone into it? Handing over that social, cultural and human insight to those who need it.

But then, every community’s experiences and lessons are presumably different? Even within fairly homogeneous societies there must be countless perspectives, interpretations and agendas at work: different ideas around what things mean, how we should act, or what ultimately matters most within our world (Notes Two).

That relationship between what’s taught and the world we’re living in must matter. As do the attitudes with which we approach the task of education and the authority of those imparting it. Do we trust what we hear? Do we respect those within society who’ve decided to spend their lives bringing knowledge and awakening understanding in coming generations? Do we feel that’s an important and worthwhile endeavour?

We seem to live in a time where there’s not a great deal of respect for authority or the opinions of others, which must be problematic for both education and society as a whole. If we don’t trust those handing down humanity’s lessons or value that process of social, generational interchange, where does that leave us as people?

Of course, times change. And I suspect there’s a certain wisdom to the doubt and questioning of authority that’s been seeping into Western society (Notes Three). But still, it’s reshaping things: what does it now mean to step into community and relate yourself to what’s gone before? It often seems we’re losing the capacity or inclination to really listen, to relate respectfully to others.

Back to the point, though. Surely educational systems from, say, Finland or China cannot just be placed into another location. If teaching grows out of social attitudes, realities and experiences then all the countless assumptions and principles underpinning those methods “must” build on the world those involved are living within. Taking aspects elsewhere, inevitably, places them out of context.

Not to say there’s not a great deal we can learn from one another, just that this must be more complicated than simply adopting particular techniques. As with any cross-cultural pollination, understanding how everything relates seems so incredibly important.

Notes and References:

Note 1: The social metaphor of education
Note 1: Respect, rebellion & renovation
Note 1: What we know to pass on
Note 1: Meaning within it all
Note 1: Can we manage all-inclusive honesty?
Note 2: Freedom, what to lean on & who to believe
Note 2: Things change, over time
Note 2: What really matters
Note 3: How important is real life?
Note 3: Interdependency
Note 3: Right to question & decide
Note 3: Making adjustments

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