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 the new rift in society between leavers & remainers, signified by the brutality and complexity that is characteristic of populism, could there be new education policies that might help redress the dramatic social schisms we are now living through?
As two people who have worked across the piece in the English education system, and with a keen sense of the history of education & learning, 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 professional standards (as opposed to being a trades union simply 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 being the creation “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 that a fresh post-Brexit educational policy, by allowing the expression of our natural learning curiosity, could draw on a range of proven historic practice that has been developed in the U.K., 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 been driving the the education system in recent years. Some of these more open and trusting learning practices we have identified in Trust The Learner
We hope to share our reflections and the learning we hope this process in the manifesto part of this blog.
Guest bloggers welcome too… (Fred Garnett)