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Education of yesterday, today or tomorrow?

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

As a part of our work with Aurogames, we are interested to understand education, and how it has evolved to become what it is in the world today. Through our more recent human history, three educational systems have evolved. Traditional education, Mainstream education and Progressive education. Each one emerging as a result of trying to solve the gaps and problems of the previous system. Today these three systems coexist, overlapping each other.

They all have the common definition of what the purpose of education is:

1. Work preparation (main focus of Traditional education)

2. Cultivation of citizenship (main focus of Mainstream education)

3. Personal development (main focus of Progressive education)

A perspective of education for social reproduction

During the industrial revolution in the 1800‘s, the expansion of mass public education and industrialization went hand in hand in the western world. Colonialism added to the wide spread of this education across the globe, as well as later the migration and refugees movements during and after the world war and cold war.

A system developed that was stable and resistant to change, with a one way hierarchy. The teacher has the role of a master, deciding what is taught, when and how. It is an education designed to shape the citizens to fulfill their duty in society.

The main value underlying this form of education is security, through discipline and responsibility. Students need to meet the teacher’s expectations. Methods used are rote learning, textbooks, copying the teacher’s notes off the board. Student voice is not so important. There is a clear hierarchy in schools. Negative aspects that can be seen are lack of creativity, independent and critical thought.

Perspectives of education for social transformation

The world changed with globalization, and society developed more neoliberal and neoconservative goals. The main values underlying education moved from security to opportunity, through ambition. Out of the Traditional system the Mainstream system emerged. This is the dominating system in the world today.

This system is created to act as a filter for the job market. Higher levels of schooling lead to higher salary and success in life. It believes in measurement of student’s performance, through fixed curriculums, age-grades and standards. Students are treated as a homogenous group in regards to measurement,

Teachers are seen as coaches, and deliver the curriculum through individual subjects. Students don't all need to be doing the same thing at the same time, and the teacher can uses various implementation methods, such as project work. Student voice is valued, and students are given feedback on their achievements.

This system works on a series of hierarchical ladders, with accountability on all levels, be it national curriculum, teachers or students. Rewards are given both to students, teachers, schools and countries. Negative aspects that can be seen are competition and materialism.

As a reaction to the previous systems not being child centered, came Progressive education. For the individual to find her/his own sense of meaning and purpose. Focus is on individual development, and for each one to find their own path, discovering their own skills. The teacher is a counselor, looking for solutions for the well being of each student. Students make their own decisions, and can choose what they learn, when and how.

Its main value is inclusion, through sensitivity of individual needs. Important aspects like equity, equality, diversity, and work with emotional development. Learning should be meaningful, with flexible time and spaces. Trans-disciplinary 21st century goals like critical thinking, problem solving, flexibility and communication have a central role across all subjects. What can be seen in such an education, is that students can lack rigor, miss areas of developmental importance, and develop selfishness and ego.

A perspective of reflective education for socio-cultural transformation

We are now at a crossroad. The world is calling out for root solutions that cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them. An education of a new consciousness is needed that goes beyond the three dominating educational systems. A system that can recognize that no one size fits all. There needs to be a balance between the individual, the community and the global perspective. A new education that can respond to this complexity, based on the value of synthesis through integration, development and harmony.

The seeds of the fourth perspective have been planted, and have started sprouting around the globe by revolutionary educators working to reinvent education. In this blog we will explore and unveil Integral Education – a new education awakening to systems thinking and an understanding of how everything is interconnected. It opens up the concept of human evolution, and each one's place in it. An education of consciousness that takes a leap in humanity's awareness of reality.

Where do we start? What learning opportunities can support children to develop a deeper connection to themselves? To see their own connection to others and to the environment? That brings concentration and creativity, drawing children of today off the screen to experience life with all their senses?

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