Education as ‘a Process of Living’: How Education for the Here and Now Can Help Lay the Foundations for a Secure Future for Everyone
“I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living” (John Dewey, 1897, My Pedagogic Creed)
Many governments seem to be mesmerised by international comparison tables, such UNESCO’s PISA. These tables are based on crude tests of performance in certain academic disciplines. The underlying pedagogical assumption of this approach to educational evaluation is that the raison d’etre of schools is to prepare young people for the adult world of work by providing them with a set of pre-determined skills that they will need in order to participate effectively in the economy of tomorrow. This approach seems to require the suppression of students’ immediate personal concerns. These are deeply mistaken assumptions that are more likely to perpetuate social, political and economic failures from which our planet suffers to an increasing extent, not least through their ability to promote the twin evils of docility to the status quo for some and disaffection from civil society for others.
The key to positive progress (it is argued) is achieving the goal of Educational Engagement. Educational Engagement is a social-emotional, cognitive and political process. Its starting point is the recognition of the humanity of children/young people (which are terms requiring careful examination) and the recognition that our current world is dominated by people (some are politicians, some are criminals, there are many among us every day), many of whom are still struggling to meet unsatisfied infantile needs, who use their political office as a vehicle for gratifying their fragile, unmet ego needs. The result of this phenomenon is potentially catastrophic.
Some points are made about the basic requirements for educational engagement. The key message is the importance of foregrounding the social-emotional lives of school students in the curriculum in the context of a genuinely transactional curriculum