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Reinvent the School or Deschool Education?


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Paper presented by Eduardo Chaves at the Problem-Based Learning 2018 Conference (PBL-2018), promoted by the PAN-PBL Association, which took place in Santa Clara, CA, USA, from 16 thru 19 of February of 2018

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Reinvent the School or Deschool Education?

  1. 1. Reinvent the School or Deschool Education? Eduardo Chaves University of Campinas (Campinas, SP, Brazil) (1974-2006 – retired) PBL-2018 – PAN/PBL Association, Santa Clara, CA, Feb 19, 2018
  2. 2. Initial Explanation • I am all in favor of an education that is: • Competence-centered • Hands-on (active) • Project-based • Learner-focused • Problem-oriented • Inquiry-led • But I contend that this kind of education, if it is to have a clear future, will need to become more and more school-free, because schools and similar institutions have their days numbered • I want to suggest, therefore, that we should extend our attention to educational environments that are not schools nor similar to schools (as, for instance, training and human development departments are)
  3. 3. Some Facts of the Situation - 1 • For about 250 years education has been basically school-based • Today schools are more and more controlled by standards – i.e., they are becoming totally standardized (even at the global level) • Standardization involves basically every aspect of school life: • Curricular content (subject matter knowledge organized in specialized academic disciplines in dosages appropriate to different age groups) • Methods of transmitting or delivering this content (teaching/instruction) • Specialized teachers (viewed as essential to successful student learning) • Extensive use of ample resources and state of the art technologies • Global exams and tests as the guarantee of the quality of the process
  4. 4. Some Facts of the Situation - 2 • The result is a “one size fits all education”: what Finland does is supposed to be applicable to the Indians of the Amazon forest; what Singapore does is supposed to be applicable to the drug-infested slums of Rio de Janeiro; what Switzerland and Hong Kong do is supposed to be totally applicable to the whole of Brazil – or of Russia, India, China, and even the USA and Canada • The idea that education is the means through which basically unique individuals, based on their interests, talents and desires, choose a life project and acquire or build the means to transform this life project into reality (i.e., into life), which characterizes the ideal of personalized education, has been totally lost in the process
  5. 5. Some Facts of the Situation - 3 • No one describes the education we have today as ideal • Very few describe it as good or even minimally acceptable • Almost everyone emphasizes the need for change & innovation • But change, when it occurs, is mostly cosmetical, and what passes as innovation rarely has much that is really new • Some have talked of reinventing the school (more drastic change) • But this will not do, because change outside the school will make it obsolete by redefining education in a flat & horizontal direction • There have been warnings of a different view for thousands of years
  6. 6. A Basic Postulate “The only way to drastically change the world, or any of its organizations and institutions, is to imagine them radically different from the way they are today. Apply too much of the wisdom and knowledge that got us here, and you will end up right where you started. If you want to get different results, you must take a fresh look at things from entirely new perspectives.” (Jay Allard, Microsoft VP, creator of Xbox Kinect, 2006)
  7. 7. Older Alternatives • Closer to us • Ivan Illich: society needs to be deschooled for education to work • Paulo Freire: education takes place through dialogue and cooperation in the day-to-day context of the world • A little more distant • Dewey & Rousseau: all that we need to live our life and that is not innate to us must be acquired through education (Education = Life) • Considerably distant • Romans & Greeks: the environment for education is the whole society • Socrates: the way to contribute to education is facilitating mutual learning
  8. 8. More Recent Development • New Understanding of Education (UNDP, UNESCO) • Education is the same as life, the same as Human Development • New Understanding of Learning (Peter Senge, among others) • To learn is to become capable of doing that which we were unable to do before (NOT simply to accumulate information and knowledge) • A Revolution in Communication and Information Technologies • The essence of this technology is to place people in contact with people and give them access to information that will allow them to do what they are uniquely interested in doing and want to do – i.e., life projects • Social Media and Social Networks, and the Web 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, etc., will become more and more geared to that
  9. 9. The Learning Society: Scalability and Urgency • The education proposed by the Greeks & Romans, by Rousseau & Dewey, by Illich & Freire, which is centered on the creation of a Learning Society, has recently become feasible in scale • Something similar to Socrates’ maieutic has become scalable and it is an urgent matter that we resort to it instead of to schools • “High Noon” (Jean-François Rischard): the important and urgent problems we face now will not be solved by the same mindset that created them: a new mindset is imperative, if we want to have a chance to solve them – and only education can create it
  10. 10. Thank you! Eduardo Chaves