Just so you know… [about the Bologna Process]
Why this incessant focus on collaboration and cooperation? Why the article on Mantle of the Expert? Going back to our previous discussion on the 18th Century basis for our “modern” education system and it’s systemic faults, it’s worth casting a quick glance upon its raison d’etre.
Timothy Mitchell, describing the education system as a vital tool of colonization, maps out the original reasoning behind its implementation in the United Kingdom, which was to replace religion as a means of social management and control by the growing centralized state:
“The power of working upon the individual offered by modern schooling, was to be the hallmark and method of politics itself,” a politics “modelled on the process of schooling,” which would utilize the school’s “precise methods of inspection, coordination and control” to “change the tastes and habits of an entire people (…) and by a new means of education make him or her into a modern political subject—frugal, innocent, and, above all, busy.” *)
Busy being the key word; what is implied is not the need of the British people to become enlightened or empowered, but rather the need of the rising capitalist economy for workers skilled only at punctually serving the machines in the factory. As Sir Ken Robinson has pointed out, the school system itself is modeled on a manager’s dream of the factory – right down to the conveyor belt of Years, batch production replete with date of manufacture (“class of…”) and quality standard stamps (A+ to F-).
The reason I mention Ken Robinson here is that he is perceived by many as a radical innovator pushing the boundaries of education against incredible odds, where he is in fact completely (and consciously) aligned with the very same forces that once created the 18th Century system he and his colleagues are now fighting to change.
There is not much awareness that the Powers-That-Be have already issued a new wishlist (or rather, list of demands) to governments. They don’t want robots anymore: The demands of the knowledge economy mean a new type of worker bee is needed; the thinking worker, communicative, independent, flexible, able to engage in lifelong learning, project based employment and collaboration in a variety of uncertain contexts using novel technology.
So whatever we as educators, parents or students may think of it, Student-Centred Learning (SCL) is being pushed hard by governments across the world in a desperate attempt to stay on top of the future economic food chain. Four years ago the Bologna Process 2020 was signed by no less than 46 Ministers of Education. Articles 2 and 14 position SCL as the key to future success:
Student-centred learning and mobility will help students develop the competences they need in a changing labour market and will empower them to become active and responsible citizens.
We reassert the importance of the teaching mission of higher education institutions and the necessity for ongoing curricular reform geared toward the development of learning outcomes. Student-centred learning requires empowering individual learners, new approaches to teaching and learning, effective support and guidance structures and a curriculum focused more clearly on the learner in all three cycles. Curricular reform will thus be an ongoing process leading to high quality, flexible and more individually tailored education paths. Academics, in close cooperation with student and employer representatives, will continue to develop learning outcomes and international reference points for a growing number of subject areas…
There is no “if we adopt SCL”; only “how successful or unsuccessful is our implementation going to be?” And that’s reason enough to find new forms of teaching, such as Mantle of the Expert, which provide precisely these features – and more…
Follow this blog for precisely that more – I am currently working on an article on how this market drive towards Student-Centered Learning may be turned on its head if we, as educators, take the reigns now. There is a lot of hope. For a hint, I refer readers to the summary of my recent Copenhagen University paper.
“…active and responsible citizens”, indeed.
*) Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 68, as quoted by G. Starret, “Putting Islam to Work – Education, Politics, and Religious Transformation in Egypt”, (University of California Press, 1998).