In the UK the clearest evidence of populism today is the leave EU referendum result, called Brexit by media commentators who helped promote it. If our education system has helped created this rift in society represented by the brutality and complexity of populism, could there be new education policies that might help redress it?
As two people who have worked across the piece in the English education system, and with a keen sense of history, we think that there are many dimensions of the education system that have been run down, overlooked or ignored, which, looked at afresh, might enable a fresh set of education policies to emerge. This could be based on a combination of best historical practice, such as democratic, self-organised learning (Mechanics Institutes and Summerhill for example) and new social collaborations identified in the Digital Practitioner (that we have highlighted elsewhere) emerging from the curiosity of young professionals in FE colleges applying the use of new personal technologies to the practice of learning.
In A Dominies Log AS Neill patiently documents the results of his kindness as a teacher on his pupils, which he later implemented in the profoundly democratic institutional practice of Summerhill. He kept this log in 1915 as the horrific First World War had started and stopped the instigation of a professionals teachers group coming together. This represented one of many missed opportunities of the teaching profession to take charge of its professional self-organisation and set its own standards (as opposed to being a trades union organised around pay and conditions).
The new teaching practices we uncovered in our dialogical research project Digital Practitioner, which characterised the use of “personal technologies” in UK college learning contexts as creating “artfully-crafted, student-centred, learning experiences” point another way forward for the 21st century, driven by professional digital practitioners, that we want to further examine on this blog.
We think a post-Brexit educational policy, by allowing the expression of a natural learning curiosity, could draw on a range of radical practice that has been developed locally, which could produce original and stimulating learning to refresh our thinking, rather than the xenophobic hatred that has been produced by the current high-stakes assessment model that has driven the education system in recent years. Some of these open practices we have identified in Trust The Learner
We hope to share our reflections and learning in the manifesto part of this blog. Guest bloggers welcome too… (Fred Garnett)