Keynote II

Extended Education Conference - World Education Research Association


Rivers and ponds of the world worth living in

23 September from 1.45-2.45 PM – WATCH THE KEYNOTE

Education has a dual purpose: it’s aim is to contribute to the individual and social development, to make both persons and communities better. ­The task of education is to enable people to live lives worth living in their current societal condition. In a world of compressed modernity, different spheres of life are becoming more and more integrated forming a fluid and complex social system. Education has to be rethought when ways of communicating, the technological level of society, youth cultures or modes of production change. And they tend to change constantly.

One of the features that needs rethinking is what John Dewey called over hundred year ago “one of the weightiest problems with which the philosophy of education has to cope”, namely “keeping a proper balance between the informal and the formal, the incidental and the intentional, modes of education”. Many important matters today – such as media education, environmental education, peace education or entrepreneurial learning – require a holistic approach. They cannot be limited to one school subject, or to only one learning environment. For the educators the question is on the of recognizing the knowledge the young already have; on the other hand it is a question of being able to critically evaluate if the knowledge is epistemologically or ethically sound.  In the presentation the findings of youth studies are analysed from the perspective of non-formal and formal education using two metaphors. Rivers flow from one place to another, there is a stream of constant movement. Ponds are local and have clear boundaries. There plenty of rivers in the present educational landscape. Youth cultures of the present utilize digital tools with which to connect to different arenas. Mobility is increasingly common in the Western world. Also, global concerns such as environmental crisis transform local contexts. Education has become more complicated. There are more players than before. The field has widened from local to global. The rules are in a state of flux. However, it would be easy to be blinded by changes. Youth studies repeatedly show the importance of peer relations for the young, and while the arena for meeting peers might change from physical environments to seemingly un-bounded virtual sites, peer relations are still one of the key factors in promoting welfare. Despite occasional criticisms, formal education has maintained key positions in the society. The local context is also important for the young. Both rivers and ponds are needed to build socially and ecologically sustainable communities.