Burning Issues: Education
See also Club of Amsterdam Journal, November 2011, Issue 143, Special Edition
Peter van Gorsel, Educational Business Developer, University of Amsterdam
Peter spent many years in publishing before becoming Director of the Institute for Media and Information Management at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam. Since October 2010 he started his current assignment.
Club of Amsterdam: Are the current educational standards and policies accurate to prepare future generations to this ever more globalized world? Which countries over the world seem best prepared?
Peter van Gorsel: There is no perfect way to educate people because local, national and international culture plays a big part and young people are not cattle. So there is no global answer to what education should be and what policies will work and what policies not. The difference between countries are enormous and there seem to be no countries that are the best in everything. Each country has institutions that are very good in some area's but those same countries are doing very bad in others. Nobody is really prepared for the uncertain future and unsure job market that will come out of this crisis. Education certainly can't be everything to everybody. Education in a broad sense is preparing people for a fulfilling life and a rewarding job that matches their talent and capacities. Most educational thinking is still very much rooted in the 19th century and revolves around the transfer of static knowledge that the teachers grew up with and is strongly divided along lines that are blurring: academic, vocational, artistic etc. It also takes the position that teaching is something completely different form the outside world. Hence the walls between education, business and arts. Politicians often see education as a means to enhance economic development or a way to promote their view or policy. Funding is in such cases used as a lever to bring about changes that they want to see in educational systems. Top positions in education are therefore often a political more than a professional nomination. The world maybe globalized but education isn't.
Do we now face more challenges concerning education in a globalized world then the ones we already had such as illiteracy, the necessity to prepare generations for the future or women's uprising through education?
Peter van Gorsel: Future generations will have to deal with the effects of globalization and their careers will be much more erratic and unsure. Intensified competition for top jobs will be a feature of the future as well as strong division between high earners and the mass of workers below them bridging about stronger class divisions and erosion of educational systems as state support falls away. Students in western parts of the world seem to be especially unaware of this while they are the first ones that will have to face these harsher circumstances. The role of women will be more important than in the past both in education and inn the workplace. They, however, work and learn, differently from boys. Education should reflect that without bending too much in one direction.
What role should technology play in our educational system in the context of a globalized and evermore technologically advanced world? Should we set limits to the use of technology in education and if so to what extent?
Peter van Gorsel: Technology can never take the place of good and committed teachers. It can, however help teachers to work in a more interesting way and assist students with complicated projects and give them access to knowledge now beyond their reach and means. Technology is vital when we look at the education and training or those people already out there. Lifelong Learning is certainly one of the most important aspects of the future of education. Through blended learning, on line coaching and monitoring workers can stay up to date and abreast of the latest in their field. There are no limits to use of technology in education; there is however the fine balance between the time spent with technology and the time spent with teachers.