I had an opportunity to be present on EPALE Conference 2019 in Warsaw as e-pale ambassador from CROATIA. That event and especially one workshop I attended raised a question I would like to share with EPALE and adult educators’ community.
Let me give you some background story. I am coming from Croatia, country which started organized adult education programs early in the 20th century and have a large network of, as we call them, “Public Universities”, where common people can learn from basic writing skills to networking and robotics as very sophisticated training. It is opened for all age groups and is helping you to obtain with what you need for your future job or to be re-skilled, but it is also, and not less, present as a place to fulfill need of the people who just would like to learn or know or be able to do something that she or he missed in their life, just for joy of living!
I thought that serving the human need for knowledge as part of adult education is something that is European Cultural Heritage (“modernize the European social model by investing in people and building an active welfare state”…from Lisbon Strategy). On the other side was American perspective where adult education is oriented to fulfillment of work needs (“Knowles’ perspective is too much caught up with individualization, institutionalization, professionalization, techno-scientization, self-directed learning, the politics of exclusion, maintenance, and conformity“ Kansas State University Libraries, New Prairie Press, Adult Education Research Conference 2008 Conference Proceedings (St. Louis, MO), Comparing the American and European Perspectives on the International Concept of Andragogy and the Implications for the Development of Adult Education Theory and Practice, John A. Henschel, University of Missouri-St. Louis and University of Missouri Extension, Mary K. Cooper, Private Education Consultant, St. Louis, Missouri).
Even I was presented with fact that UNECSO changed the wording from „life long learning” what I found is what describes the European heritage in “education for all”, to the “adult learning” what can now easily be seen as American perspective, I did not believe that change have taken roots in European views and especially in younger generations. I was wrong!
When I during workshop stated European heritage of long-life learning for fulfillment of different needs of the people from very young to old and retired, I was asked where this European heritage idea is written! I was stoned because I believed that this is something we grow and nurture in our schools and societies through all the Europe.
Formal education is oriented to the skill and knowledge – Objectives – for the future job, although we are aware that we don’t know what the future jobs would be or even what should we teach/train the children for the jobs in near future. When one looks in changing that happened in computer programming languages in last 50 year (https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6590491419532677120/)
one must be assured that we should keep in mind the word “humanity” while training our young citizens. They have to be taught not only what they will need to prospect in their near working life but also very important skill “learn to learn”. I believe that we have to promote personal development as part of developing human being through promoting learning and raising level of individual knowledge , knowledge and skills for being more satisfied with oneself – satisfying our own need to know something. That have to be part of educational agenda in our societies and especially for young generations.
Young college ask me why I think one should learn if that is not necessary for the work that they will do? I was not able to answer, because I believe that learning is the most “human” need that do not need reason for …. Maybe I am wrong.
But if I am not wrong, and we wish to build the European society on traditions of French and German philosophers, Italian, Greek, Spanish, French and other European artists, or Middle Europe cultural and academic view and Polish Latvian, Lithuania and Estonian great achievements in preserving cultural and scientific knowledge we have to make BIG TURN!
I believe in Europe with people who learn during their whole life and contribute to the community with new knowledge. (I have just written article in which I stated that we have less and less synthesis and more and more analysis in new knowledge, and now I can understand why!) What we need is EPALE COMMUNITY promoting the knowledge for all and not just for the “next crossroad“in our work life.
Even now the employees in ICT ask public schools for the more general knowledge and “soft” skills because they know that that do not know what they will need tomorrow!
I will like to plead to all of you in “adult education”, “life long learning” that we define and confirm what was written in Lisbon Strategy : “modernize the European social model by investing in people and building an active welfare state” and renew this idea in younger generations. I believe in education for ALL independent of age, race, believe is essential human need, just need to know something new and … New Knowledge can be born!