Updated: Fri 29.Jan 2016
Here you can read Marianne Skardéus „Opening thoughts“ at the forum meeting in Amsterdam 2013:
It is an honor and a privilege to be allowed to begin this session on the theme Education for ALL, a topic near to the heart of all educators. We should all be proud of our choice of profession and I hereby appoint you to the heroines for your contributions to Education. I think that we can agree that every child should have the right to get education.
The Education for All (EFA) movement is a global commitment to provide quality basic education for all children, youth and adults. It was founded at the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000, where 164 governments together with other organisations, the World Bank and UNESCO pledged to achieve EFA and identified six goals to be met by 2015. This involvement is very positive and it will be exciting to learn about the outcomes. Watch out for the results 2015 of the six goals effecting countries in the whole world but in particular in countries south of Sahara with goals that specially are affecting girls and women.
Here the goals:
Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to, and complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality.
Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programmes.
Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.
Achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.
Improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.
I suppose that I don’t need to remind you of the programme of our own Society Schools for Africa and the funding given by the Educational Foundation for projects in Africa and Latin America. As educators we should be pleased over all these achievements.
The goals are aiming at giving an education of good quality, but I would like to ask the forum and also you to define what we mean by good quality.
Reminding you of the fact that Education for All not always has been a matter of course in our hemisphere and how we also back in our history had to fight for education for all I want to refer to
Ellen Key (1849-1926), the dynamic lady and writer of Century of the Child, who already at the end of the 19th century argued for an education system that would be accessible for everyone in spite
Elle Key argued that School should have just one aim: to give to each individual as much self-development and happiness as possible. And she also wanted school to treat every child as something
unique. This is perhaps a good definition of education of good quality? What is your opinion?
Ellen Key “dreamt of a school that shaped a personality instead of shaping encyclopaedias in west-pocket size. “
Many of Ellen Keys ideas have been realised, but did the 20th century become the century of the child?
Our way of living and our society have been course of changes and the media world certainly has affected our lives in many ways starting with movies and television.
100 years after 1880 Ellen Keys book Century of the Child and Neil Postman, Professor of media technology at New York University 1982 published the book The Disappearance of Childhood.
Here he claims that already 1950 changes started for children as they were becoming more and more like adults: divorce, economic realities and women’s liberation, in his opinion, led to less
caring of children.
His evidence for the statement of the disappearance of childhood: the rise of crime perpetrated by and against children; the increase in sexual activity and drug/alcohol abuse in children; children and adults sharing musical tastes, language, literature, and movies (many big budget movies are comic books that would have been marketed solely to children years ago); the lack of differentiated clothing styles (little girls in high heels, grown men in sneakers). Even childhood games have been replaced by organized sports (Little League, Pee Wee, etc.) which are more like adult sports. "Adulthood has lost much of its authority and aura, and the idea of deference to one who is older has become ridiculous" (The Disappearance of Childhood. p. 133).
Neil Postman´s point is how the brain is affected by reading contra by watching television as watching television and reading foster two different ways to relate to reality. Reading is learning how to think in an adult way – reading needs abstraction and concentration, whilst watching pictures fosters a childish way of thinking.
While posting his theory, Postman offers no solution for society on the whole. Even as he wrote in times before the widespread availability of the Internet, he acknowledged that there is probably no turning back from our visual, electronic age.
In a television interview conducted in 1995 Postman spoke about his opposition to the use of personal computers in schools. He felt that school was a place to learn together as a cohesive group and that it should not be used for individualized learning. Postman also worried that the personalized computer was going to take away from individuals socializing as citizens and human beings.
Well we know where we stand today and how computers have become a must in our society. But still it could be worth reflecting on how and how much computers should be used amongst children and thus what education of good quality is. I would like to remind you of the lecture in Steinbach two years ago by Professor Pfeiffer about computer addiction amongst young students.
Matti Bergström is a doctor and Professor in Physiology at Helsinki University. 1991 he published the book The child – the last slave.
He writes that the brain of a child has enormous resources: Creativity, fantasy, ability to solve problems and to cooperate, to judge and value. But it seems as if we, when we educate our children, have a tendency to only focus on the strength of the brain that promote us adults and our society.
We lock them up and keep them back, we give limitations and we command. In all ways we are making the children to slaves, instead of letting them keep their natural curiosity and wildness. The games of children might lead into chaos for us adult and at school and their way of expressing themselves might appear as chaotic. But it is when they are playing, they can get an outlet for their fantasy and creativity and also a possibility to understand reality.
Fantasy is a free world and can contain anything but is very often avenged by us adult. We try to extinguish their fantasy world; we want them to play organised games, but writes Matti Bergström we must also let them play the wild games where their fantasy can have a free run. Many people believe that playing changes as we grow older but it is just the toys that are changing. Creative persons will continue to play their whole life. “Today everything is so organised and that is why our society looks it does. When a system does not have any chaos it can’t develop.”
Do we have an education of good quality adjusted to the needs of today?
We are living in a paradox as when working life now actually is asking for highly educated working forces in order to keep our well fare and get a sustainable development, many of our youngsters choose to leave school far too early.
I will finish by quoting Ellen Key:
Our age cries for personalities, but it will ask in vain, until we allow them to have their own will, think their own thoughts, work out their own knowledge, form their own judgements; or, to put the matter briefly, until we cease to suppress the raw material of personality in schools, vainly hoping later on in life to revive it again.
Updated: Thu 31.Oct 2013