Did Education fall between two solitudes?


It is very hard to get rid of
an existing stereotype
(Gosselin 2000 – From French original text)

I dedicate this paper to a dear friend of mine, she inspired the essence of these lines. She works as a manager, a manager who believes that work is a world of people made for people, she is also a mother of children who go to school. Thank you M… for such a unique and precious inspiration!

There isn’t a day that the word Education doesn’t show in newspapers, on news channels, in specialized forums and networks. Blogs, papers, studies, all converge to a single say: Education is going into crisis. Well I would add the crisis of growth.

Some consider education like any other business activity where budget and funding are ways more important than the rest: the students!

In fact no matter how right it is to think in terms of budgets, funding and financing, it is necessary to remember that education is a matter of people first!

Speaking of people, and looking at the prevailing model, we may also state that this educational model consists in the definition of objectives for students, performance to attain and goals to achieve, such activities are evaluated through assignments, tests and finally a record where a pass or fail mark is given to the student. We may call this model of education “The institutional model!”

But what happens when a student is unable to follow the pace and gets a “fail” on his record? He or she is confronted to two choices: either to get help to complete and succeed the missing steps so he or she can join the others or (eventually after a couple of trials) is declared unable to study as the other students do and falls under the category of “special needs”, this is a turnkey, a major change in the kid’s life, his parents and his family eventually.

I have met and exchanged in live discussion with parents, educators but also with educators for special needs, and to be honest I was surprised and amazed from these meetings. Every time I met someone for special needs, my sole and only comment was “Wow! That is education every person seeks and complains it is missing!”

To put in simple words, I met people who incarnate the true essence of education, educators who put the students at the center of their attention, compassionate attitude, real feelings of empathy, and an adapted learning strategy for every child.

Mainstream educators cannot be held as responsible at all, when we look at their tasks, I mean the tasks that are not for education, it looks these people have a double profile of employment. The amount of administrative tasks they have to accomplish on a daily basis, makes them an extension to bureaucracy (bureaucrazy!). These tasks are completed on education time, and the ones who pay the cost being the students.

How disappointing it is to see so many differences between both realities, one linear and segmented into milestones, objectives, performances, the other adopting the pedagogical approach that puts the student at the center of the learning approach, moving forward at the pace of the learner, helping him or her to better grasp what makes them realize what they learn is something for their wellbeing.

Watching both worlds as external witnesses we come to a certain conclusion that both worlds speak of education but each dealing with separate means! I cannot but think of a deep solitude that separates the two! And the most hard to admit is to know that we are talking about education. Education is the same for all, I mean all need to learn to read, write and recognize shapes, colours, and make the connections between concepts and relations to ideas and their use in every day’s life… yet the approaches seem to speak two different languages.

What will it take for both groups of educators to combine their skills and meet in order to define the real face of education? Why do we have to see such a great wealth unused and lost where and when children wait for a better learning model. Each model has its own proven benefits, that is a certainty no one will challenge and discuss, but we need to admit that as long as they do not merge there will always be a missing link to reach out the students.

Education experts tend to forget that today’s model defines what the active population will be in 20 years from now!

Special needs can give the heart and mainstream can provide the organization, both ensuring no more kids will be categorized fit for one or the other, but simply considered as same: People who undertake a different manner to learn!

What is Pedagogy if not a matter of people and less about administrative and bureaucracy?

Should we keep these two worlds each alone in its own solitude, claim that all if fine, or should we care, once for all, about the people who expect from education to provide them the means for a better future?

Michel – December 22, 2014

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