We are trying to make sense of transition and build up on Edgeryders experiences together, as a community and with help from a small research team, and hopefully get to build a longstanding declaration for change (a transition handbook) with our adventures ryding edges. After putting up the Ethnographic report and the Making a living analysis, we’re getting down to Learning. You know the story folks: summary below and full paper in google doc, both inviting you to comment and put your own thoughts on the table
“school is a hostile, limiting force, essentially extraneous in preparation for adult life; where acquired knowledge is not always welcomed either useful for life, even not related with society around them” (Edgeryders Research Papers, 2012, Learning, Gutierrez and Mikiewicz)
1. Edgeryders on Education, learning & recognitionEducation is identified with the school system, formal education, as a process of obtaining credentials while learning is activity of an individual.
Learning is generally associated with positive experiences and acquisition of useful knowledge and skills. Although much of this is gauged to happen either outside, in parallel to, or in spite of formal “teaching” and or educational environments, the need for some kind of learning foundation is recognised.
While the perceptions about the experiences and kinds of knowledge acquired during formal education are mixed, there is general consensus that it neither sufficiently prepares young people for working life nor does it (with exceptions) provide them with skills, networks and other resources that will generate paid work. Teaching methods are criticised for not motivating students to discover their own interests or helping them to develop personal frames of enquiry (with the exception of art education). That said, several participants know and use theoretical approaches and thesis for explaining some facts taking place in their lives, such as staff behaviour in the work place, relations between employers and employees, violence (of any kind), manipulation and feelings.
Edgeryders perceive that it is necessary to explore alternative paths to gaining skills and knowledge and have repeatedly raised the topic of recognition and acknowledgement of knowledge and skills acquired both within and outside formal educational environments. There is awareness within the European policy space of the need to promote and validate “invisible” skills. This is expressed in the current concern within the EU of evaluating skills and acquired in non-formal and informal settings. A perceived big challenge is to identify what kinds of skills are learned both within and outside formal educational settings (in Eu speak distinction is made between formal, non-formal and informal education) .
The attempt to gain acknowledgement and promotion for skills acquired in non-formal or informal education has been put in practice and coordinated at a national and European level through the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). EQF is based on recommendations and common principles developed in these areas gauged to be of “key” competences for learners:
- quality assurance in higher education and in vocational education and training
- quality of mobility,
- validation of non-formal and informal learning, lifelong guidance
- the recognition of qualifications abroad
2. Socialization, social relationships and learningThe Edgeryders mission reports point to different, and possibly contradictory, roles played by socialization as par of the learning experience. On the one hand doubt is cast on whether or not socialisation is an actual part of purpose of university or possibly even part of the problem; some experiences from long-distance learning highlight the ability to pursue learning at one's own pace as a distinct advantage over synchronous teaching - teachers in classrooms are saddled with managing a balance between different students, and they end up tuning in to the average students, with the faster and slower ones suffering as a result. On the other hand one of the most important solutions to solve some recognised problems of educational/learning system is networking and building dense social relations.
Andres Davila raised the point about the need to upgrade teaching methods in the classroom. In the same conversation it was pointed out by Gyula that classroom dynamics per se, rather than teaching methods, are a much bigger threat to some childrens learning trajectory due to discrimination and or bullying. In another conversation it was pointed out that distance-learning environments where there is correspondence (email/forums/phone) before physically meeting may offer young people opportunities to demystify power-relationships through socialisation with superior parties.
Perhaps decoupling the different expectations of what education in general is supposed to offer can enable us to cope with new or increasing demand without putting more preassure on the same limited resources?
3. New practices, new requirements, new demandsIn the 20th century we have seen increased access to primary, secondary and tertiary education in Europe. The effect of this is a consistent increase in the numbers of people with higher educational credentials - as well as prolonged periods of education, which in turn means a longer of transition period, ie. the period of “youth” or “not yet adulthood” is stretching far into people’s 30s. This has been driven by:
- logic of the market: the need to adapt the workforce to changes in the labour market
- Different strands of ideology pulling in different directions:
- classical functional vision: education is a sorting machine. It exists to effectively organise the training, selection, and allocation of individuals into set positions in society via different professional identities
- theory of human capital: more educated people = more effective economy
- discourse of equal opportunities and open access: equal access to education at all levels for larger number of people eliminates inequalities resulting from social origins. It is compatible with theory of human capital in that if everyone has educational credentials efficiency of the economy will be maximised and social awards will be distributed on the basis of professional and personal competence and not social characteristics
The policy makers’ perception of why we have unemployed graduates falls into two categories:
- the fault lies with the education system: it is not working well as sorting machine
- the fault lies with unemployed individuals: there is no probllm with the sorting machine, but individuals lack of competence makes them incompatible with the professional (social) structure and so they are out of it.
- improve the efficiency of operation of the sorting machinery
- provide support for people, who “do not fit” the market by providing them a proper type of training (again in the machine of preparation and sorting them).
- prevalence of short term employment
- precarity/ uncertainty, escalated by a worldwide economic crisis and the fluctuations of the global economy, affecting all social layers
- variability of working conditions
- lack of transparency
Education as sorting has another problem. It fails to recognize that some young people don’t necessarily want to follow in the path of the previos generations, but are considering new ways, and in fact new goals. Some of them are freedom, self-actualisation, satisfaction in work and personal lives - even though young people - at least from the vantage point of Edgeryders - don’t know how to achieve them, or if it is even possible.
In learning environments, Edgeryders behave as they do elsewhere> sharing knowledge, ideas, thoughts and experiences. This is in direct conflict with the rigid, hierarchical social structures which are an implicit and important element in political thinking about society in general and education in particular. Even though it has repeatedly been questioned (e.g. several thinkers have put forward that social structures are shaped by the rules and resources used by individuals in action), it is still there in the background and it is important to be aware of. Further it is reasonable that people who have power to create educational systems are imprinting it with their vision of the world. This means that educational systems are, almost by definition, conservative. The issues of democracy and the democratisation of societies are absent, as the assumption is that purpose of education is to maintain social stratification, not disrupt it. Expectations of any sort of change as fuelled by transformative capacity of education are misplaced.
- innovation in administrative processes for evaluation of individuals and projects that better support fluid collaborations and more flexible approaches towards learning
- shift focus of programs financed by the European Commission from increasing value of indicators of participation in formal education to placing greater emphasis on changing culture of education/ students.
- encourage giving educational institutions more autonomy while promoting more exchange of experiences and what seems to be working well.
- open schools to society: networking and social capital support in order to build learning communities also with schools/universities as part of them. European policy should support regional programs and those in local communities in order to create spaces of continous improvement of skills and resilience of students social networks needed to successfuly navigate the real world. As well as emphasising the need for use of social media and other online resources by teachers and learners in education e.g. encouraging children to write blogs as studying method..
- use the Edgeryders project as a prototype of an successful online space and methodology for informal education. In addition to serving as a source of first hand knowledge about experiences of young people coming into maturity offering almost real time information about how policy is being perceived by and contributed to to by individual citizens, projects using the Edgeryders methodology offer:
- opportunities to cross paths with people from a broad range of backgrounds to discuss relevant issues, develop critical thinking skills and develop personal frames of enquiry
- while creating new contacts and building new networks
- enhancing development of pre-existing, or gaining new, communication skills (including improving language skills)
- stimulating use of online resources and developing personal social media presence
Does any of the above stick out for you? Anything missing? Any questions you have about education and learning that the community could help you answer? Please help us turn this into a useful resource by sharing your thoughts…
All the Mission reports on learning:
- Reality Check: Which skills do you especially need to have to be able to manage your life and work? How, where, and with the help of whom are you learning them?