(A part of a document of a professional "common vision")
This is a critical part (2nd paragraph of the Preamble) of the document on the formulation of a professional "common vision", designed to reflect the vision of scholars and thinkers of education of the current situation in education and to approve collective professional positions of educators, ideals, principles, approaches, methods as a response to the identified problems. The document is conceived as a possible basis for the future global Declaration "Human Education in the 3rd Millennium".
The text was co-created by the group of scholars associated with the international initiative "Human Education in the 3rd Millennium" https://humaneducation.net. So far, this is the middle of the process, and the text is a collection of proposed theses, grouped thematically. It will be supplemented by the proposed theses of colleagues, for whose consideration the text is proposed, and in the future, all theses will be generalized and given in a summary form.
1. Humanity is destroying the Earth and Education is not giving the response it should to the climate crisis, and the degradation of the natural environment/Nature (=the UN's sustainability development goals)
- Education ignores the problem of the (impaired) relationship of humanity and the Earth. (Who speaks for the rhinos/ the glaciers?)
- There is lack of attention in education to the tendency of Humans to continue to look upon nature as one to be exploited for ‘human convenience’ and to assume all power for themselves.
2. Education is not responding properly to the challenges of civilization development in the post-industrial era, the threats of the dehumanizing techno-informational scenario of the latter which determines the emergence of detrimental trends.
- The current ideology of education, developed under the conditions of economic imperialism, is based on the assumption about a human as a 'homo economicus', a rational maximizer, and all the other human dimensions are underestimated.
- Education does not recognise/cognise the immense power of love, fraternity that Humans are capable of in creating an environmentally and socially harmonious civilisation/society, and ignores its mission to cultivate a sense of shared human responsibility. Education does not engage with either these questions academically nor the practice of it in terms of developing these untapped potentials, energies
- There is 'crisis in humanities': utter focus on STEM within educational policy framework, with the humanities being marginalized
- Education has undergone depoliticization, i.e. has been severed from its critical role in developing and sustaining an equitous and socially just society and is continually positioned as ‘neutral’ and ‘apolitical’.
3. Education policies, featured with managerialism and neoliberal ideologies, around the globe are privileging the concept of 'learning' over 'education'.
- The narrow framework of 'learning' lends itself more readily to 'miseducative' cultures, detrimental to individuals and the larger human community, the impact of which is evident in the standardization, benchmarking, high-stakes testing, accountability measures, commercialization.
- The transformation of education from a public good into a private subject to market enterprise is determinative to such developments.
- The current situation within education is characterized by a very low interest in educators and educatees as humans. Damaging trends in education reduce teachers and students to economic units that produce and consume.
- Educators are considered by current policies technicians and not intellectual and artistic agents; as such their task and mission is completely mischaracterized.
- Education cultures in the current environment are increasingly defined by managerial deference, technocratic efficiency, upward accountability, and performance, along with the involvement of new actors and organizations from business and philanthropy.
- There is a collusion between political and corporate power that deprives educators of professional and academic autonomy, and self-determination, marginalizes educators and their professional judgments, and leads to the politically constructed conditions that prevent educators from participating in educational policymaking.
4. It could be said that the rise of populism in societies is due to a failure on the part of universities.
- There is no understanding of the responsibilities upon universities to widen the public sphere.
- If just 50-60% participate in higher education and if entry to the dominant institutions and conversations of society in effect requires a higher education, the remaining 40-50% can be forgiven for feeling marginalised - a recipe for populism globally. There is no sign of universities addressing this very serious situation.
- The pandemic, being far from being a biological matter but a matter of societal values, education, selflessness, public-spiritedness, presented the case of 'vaccine hesitancy' as a test to examine the role of the university in this matter and revealed links to adult illiteracy/ populism/ schisms in society. But universities do not see a role for themselves, falling short of their responsibilities and possibilities.
5. In education, as in society in general, there is a weakening of clarity about what ‘democracy’ is and what is its role for peoples and education. (Is it the gold standard of contemporary society?)
- A social ethos of shared purpose of education is being destroyed.
- Education today shows a very low interest in democratic and collective welfare values, concerns of society, equity, social justice, individual and social freedoms, training performers and literate consumers rather than active and responsible citizens of their country and the world, and remaining immune to the continued creation of an individualistic society steeped in populism, narrow selfishness, sectarianism, and hatred.
- There is not enough attention to the concept of human rights in education.
- There is an inherent tension between the ideology of neoliberalism, influencing education, and democratic values. Neoliberalism is a form of totalitarianism that makes the economy an unassailable idol to be served – not critiqued, in contrast to the values and attitudes of democracy and which easily conjoins other forms of totalitarianism. The embodiment of neoliberalism in education with its 'common sense' ideals, promotes the pursuit of a private good. That is why ideals of democracy that place the public good, justice, and freedom above economics in education are under attack by populism and worth defending.
- In many parts of the world, the states exert forcible impositions on academics and destroy their academic freedoms
- Education also suffers from centralized, increasingly detailed control and regulation, embedded in public administration as "new public management", justified economically by the principle of "efficiency", that undermines the values and norms of democracy in its institutions.
6. Education does not prepare people to question the world and not to reproduce it as it does now.
- In many places of the world there are restrictions on universities as open fora, incarceration of students and academics, de facto neglect of critical thinking (sometimes along with proclamation of developing critical thinking, but in a very limited sense)
- Education does not recognize the problem of ‘hidden curriculum’, i.e. the hidden purpose of school education to accommodate children to the prevailing norms of injustice, to renew social inequalities and false ideas of legitimate power from the old to the new generation.
- There is an underestimated problem of religious indoctrination in education, since it is a main source of conflict and war.
- Most school curricula are chauvistic to the core, and often militaristic too. They glorify nationalism, which does not fit together with peace. School history classes are the main culprits of such nationalism: they are all about nationalistic history and heroic war -propaganda. They educate for war, not peace.
7. Today's education embodies the world situation in which decolonization took place, but all regions joined the stream of globalized culture defined by Western civilization, which, in turn, is itself disillusioned with the ideas laid down by the Enlightenment: the concepts of progress, rationalism, and others, so globally, education is confused because it needs meanings that are normally determined by ideals and the long-term prospects of human society.
- In education there is a lack of recognition of various systems of knowledge, of criticism and correction of the epistemic injustice, cognitive injustice.
- The search for what knowledge is of most worth to different societies is driven mostly by Western hegemony and canons and routinely accepted as the blue-print for transforming education around the world. This necessitates change in order to allow new imaginaries which are rooted in deep contextual milieus to emerge.
- In peripheric countries there are still hundreds of millions of people outside the Official systems of educations. Market-oriented public policies are indifferent to them.