5 Takeaways about Global Education
Key-Learnings From Attending the SDG-4 Seminar Jyväskylä in 2022
How do you feel reading the news, nowadays? Do you sometimes also feel like a catastrophe is following the others? Have you ever thought about the influences of these catastrophes on global education?
We live in a time of crisis. This has an impact not only on our personal lives, but also on education systems around the world. Catastrophes like the COVID-19 crisis, wars, and natural catastrophes are affecting formal education.
At the SDG 4 Seminar in Jyväskylä in late November, educators, international students, and educational scientists came together to discuss issues on the topic “From Education for Emergencies to the Emergence of Education”. This annual event aims to bring together (future) voices working in the field of SDG 4 and spark discussions about it.
Here I will share my five key learnings from the diverse seminar.
Reflections on responsibility
Don’t be optimistic, don’t be pessimistic, be responsible! — Yuval Noah Harari
It is critical to remember the purpose of the discussions when having lengthy discussions about the urgency of an issue. Discussions about the education emergency are neither held as an end in themselves, nor as a tool for spreading panic. The discussions should be a way of sharing knowledge, but also as a catalyst for great action. It is difficult to pinpoint a single cause of educational emergencies, as it is a multifaceted problem. More importantly, more people must take ownership of the ongoing issues.
Growing up in Central Europe and attending German schools and universities exposed me to the same knowledge throughout my formal education. A rational-westernized perspective on the world. There is more knowledge in the world than western knowledge. Benny Wilson and David Spillman of the University of Canberra introduced me to their thought-provoking method for indigenous education during a seminar. Not only a rational, but also an emotional or interpersonal perspective on knowledge could be beneficial. Starting to question which knowledge is heard and where knowledge comes from is a step toward bringing world communities together and diversifying world views. What kind of knowledge did you acquire during your formal education? Did it represent the diverse world?
Approach concrete Utopias
What is a concrete Utopia? A negative left wing label influences the term utopia. Besides this label, the term utopia holds a real chance for us to develop ideas and put them into action. In his talk “Pedagogy of concrete Utopias” Antti Rajala explained that a concrete utopia is a utopian-based idea with actual potential for change.
He used the open dictionary Wikipedia as an example of a concrete utopia because it puts the concept of free knowledge distribution into action. The approach of constructing concrete utopias is already being used to transform education, for example, through projects that foster student activism for climate change. Concrete Utopias can help us to think clearly about what we want from a transformation in education.
The importance of the teacher-student relationship
In his talk, “The Flow of Meaning” Shashidar Jagadeeshan from the Center of Learning made a deep reflection on the importance of the relationship between teacher and student. As he facilitates the learning process, the teacher frequently places the student in the position of a learner. As a result, the teacher plays an important role in the learning process beyond simply teaching the information. The teacher also takes part in the way the learner is defining himself as a learner. Is learning something hierarchical or more something like a dialogue? In a sense, that information between teacher and learner is floating.
Education is an emergency
It might confuse one that one of my key takeaways is somehow the theme of the seminar. As a result of the seminar, I realized the many dimensions of the global education emergency. Some countries, such as Germany, have serious problems with their education system, despite the fact that education is free, whereas in other countries, educational conditions are incomparable to what is happening there. Two students who spent their adolescence in the Bidi-Bidi Refugee Camp described the educational conditions in the camp. They told us about a classroom with 1,000 students, a classroom in which learning might be hard to accomplish.
Speaking about various educational issues around the world, emphasized the importance of a rapid transformation of global education. Still, the solutions to various educational problems are not always the same, and they may not even be in the hands of those in charge of education. Education is linked to other issues such as safety, equality, and even nutrition.
Finally, spending two intense days at the SDG-4 Seminar in Jyväskylä highlighted the importance of a need for a drastic shift in education. There is a wealth of knowledge and transformative approaches available. Still, we must acknowledge that a single solution doesn't fit every problem.
It is critical to look at education not only from the perspective of education experts, as factors other than education also influence the possibility of good learning for a child. Let’s formulate concrete utopias for transforming education and create a holistic approach for a better future!
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Attending the seminar was possible through a travel grant from GINTL (Global Innovation Network for Teaching and Learning), University of Helsinki.
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