I was watching this morning a television program with Christine Van Den Wyngaert.
The program was in essence about her views and role in the Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, but mu attention was triggered by something she said in the introductory part of the interview.
She was referring to the dramatic decrease of the quality of our education, mainly due to the Bologna Treaty. Just have a look at the Wikipedia link or do a google on Bologna Treaty. Or have a look at the Europa site. The first sentence on that site reads:
The Bologna process aims inter alia at making divergent higher education systems converge towards a more transparent system by 2010, based on three cycles: Degree/Bachelor – Master – Doctorate.
I always get irritated when people talk about “convergence” or “consensus” or “compromise”. For me these terms have a built-in notion of quality-loss.
Indeed, Christine Van Den Wyngaert explains that “thanks” to this treaty it was not possible anymore – no, even forbidden – to offer education with the same high quality standards as we used to have.
All this in the name of democratization of education and to give everybody access to higher education.
She went on by stating that many base foundation courses of general knowledge were being reduced to the level of “kindergarten”.
And that for some professions – definitely for a judge or a lawyer – good solid foundation education about history, society, etc are quite fundamental for doing the profession.
It is getting pedantic in a sense that even talking about creating an “elite” of scientists, judges, of whatever profession starts being banned straight-away.
I do not want my child being educated in mediocrity.
It made me think of the book “The Five Minds of the Future” by Howard Gardner.
I am reading it on my Kindle as we speak.
In that book, Howard Gardner arguments that education should not only be based on memorizing lots of information, but that education (whether at school or at home) should more focus on some essential skills that will be needed in the future (of real-time, high-information-based-society).
He calls these the 5 “minds” for the future. They are:
- The disciplined mind
- The Synthesizing mind
- The Creating mind
- The Respectful mind
- The Ethical mind
About these “minds”, Gardner says:
Any individual with a deep understanding of a topic or method can think about it in a variety of ways. Conversely, an individual exhibits her current limitations when she can only conceptualize her topic in a single way.
This is very similar to having a very limited palette of ways to express yourself. Sometimes you hear somebody saying “I cannot dance on this or that sort of music. If i have to dance to that music, i cannot be myself (in an authentic way")”.
That’s pretty poor, if you ask me.
The art is to expand your palette of ways of being yourself in different situations.
Having the right to (the old) high standards of education, being trained in the 5 minds of the future, learning to be authentic in many different ways: all this should be part of the educational package of any young person having some ambitions for the longer term future.
I have come to a point where i do NOT believe anymore that our politicians and the whole system of lobby groups will help us getting there.
I was making the same reflection some weeks ago, when we were having our meeting of the Think Tank on Long Term Future, when i heard my friends complaining on how bad is it is getting in Flanders with respect to getting innovation on the political or any other agenda.
The innovation and education and
get drowned into a political swamp
of consensus and power games
The end result is often or nothing, or something very grey (because of the consensus), or something very Kafkaesque.
I am getting convinced we have to do it
Bring together some smart people in our think tank, and get private funding for the innovation, education and cultural development of the Generation-M.
Because they are looking for the things that really matter.