This book explores the interrelationship between educational crisis, social, economic, political and cultural issues, placing it in a global context. Drawing upon scholarly studies on crisis in education, it aims to provide a comprehensive and critical approach to the major discourses in this field. Individual chapters assess thoroughly dominant education topics and offer to the reader an indispensable comparative interest. 1
In particular, the first approach of dealing with the educational crises includes nine tasks that the critical scholar/activist should follow. For example, he/she should “bear witness to negativity”, engage in critical analyses, become “critical secretary” and researcher, when it comes to challenges of social movements, reconstruct the form of a truly counter-hegemonic education, so that it serves genuinely progressive social needs. Critical educators need to act as deeply committed mentors, showing, with their way of living, that they are both excellent in research but also invaluable members of the society, that is scarred by persistent inequalities. “Crisis in Education” is also referred as the approach and action towards an event, rather than the outcome of policies. This recognizes the hardships and social wrongs, named after “neoliberalism and structural adjustments”. Boundaries should be challenged, and principles should be explored, in relation to how judgments are made, conclusions are drawn, and rectification is proposed in those fields of interest.
In another study, the world of crisis in education is confronted through the “Mind” and the “Soul”, with the vision of a Neo-Humanistic Paideia and the Socratic Critical Humanist Pedagogy. As it is pointed out, “Liberal Humanistic Paideia” has lost its roots, due to the instability of the public domain, as well as the erosion of the democratic values in education and the de-professionalization-deskilling of the teacher. In order to create democratic citizens in the Cosmopolis of the 21st century, the following key ideas and human values need to be reshaped and appraised according to the author: character, community, inclusiveness, integrity, cosmopolitan identity, sympathy and democracy, justice, wisdom, friendship, and critical thinking.
Additionally, the harmonious symbiosis of human-nature-culture is praised, considering the natural resources, humanistic ecology, and sustainable development of human beings, in a way that integrates unique elements of nature and humanity into the tide of modernization. On another level, a meta-modern approach to education is adopted, transcending the crisis in education and the misfortunes of the modern and post-modern educational paradigms. According to the author, meta-modernity gives rise to self-obligations as well as to institutions’ obligations to its learners. Compassion to both students’ and teachers’ needs allows the reflective participation of everyone, in cases of change and development, through action research. Another interesting chapter of this volume deals with globalization in education. Globalization is considered to affect the world’s cultural view, the world’s system view and the view over culturalism. As it is indicated, changes in human capital and post-industrialism created a system where wealth is tied to the knowledge-worker. The knowledge-economy focuses on the necessity of educating students with skills for the global market-place, based on the neo-liberal ideology. The financial/pedagogical school autonomy, the privatization, together with the controlled parental choice - deregulation of higher education, accompanied by increasing standardization and external evaluation, are common globalization trends in education. A question is then raised: why does education shift its function from equity to competitiveness in the era of globalization? In the race between pursuing ideology or conforming reality, competitiveness supports self-empowerment and it emphasizes upon individual efforts and experiences. This further creates the mechanism of collectivism and enhances competence. Either or, the best way to implement power, as created by neo-liberalism, is not through imposition, but through schooling, something that enhances autonomous people. Improvement of international competitiveness is achieved through education, and individual competence appears to be the main concern in educational reforms.
Furthermore, in another chapter of this book, it is pointed out that the revolution in communication, transmission of information and technological advancements can make education approachable and accessible to the vast majority of the population. Prolonged survival and a world that changes in a very fast pace are both creating an imperative need for a lifelong education, which also respects the national identity of each educational system and shapes a more unified model.
Nevertheless, socioeconomic status and political views, still seem to affect the educational affairs, in a globalized-neoliberal model of societies (quoting the example of states in USA). Recession and social vulnerability, together with austerity measures (e.g. the Greek case of the financial crisis) seem also to play an important role in health promotion education, where “human dignity and moral status can be prevailed, only though human-centered policy makers”. Moreover, when it comes to education-cultural politics and multicultural societies, the battle between universalism and cultural pluralism still prevails. In that context, education seems to face many challenges, while protecting human rights and keeping global peace. Multicultural classroom can reconcile cultural pluralism, towards an education that supports ethnic minorities and includes traditional cultures in its daily curriculum.
Additionally, as far as the academic institution is concerned, it is indicated that it should be more imaginative, integrating research institutes, art and community colleges, with an international caliber, in order to educate people, towards a more creative-critical way of thinking, reflecting on the roots of history and the needs of society, having a vision for a brighter future. In that pursuit for greatness, many European universities are considered to have lost their high caliber, in contrast to institutions in the United States, due to political-economic reasons, instructing radicalization and plenty of reforms.
Another paradigm is referred to East Africa, which has undergone many changes in terms of institutional diversification over the last couple of decades, and achievements have been made, although the massification has affected the curriculum and the precariousness of research. Inter-University Council for East Africa is of paramount importance in quality enhancement and strategic cooperation for management of better outcomes.
Equally in Asia, especially China, the academic profession has undergone great progress in the past 15 years. There is an increase in the number of full-time scholars working in universities and there is a great deal of international, scientific publications, ranking in a global scale. On the other hand, the brain-drain phenomenon prevails in countries that have undergone financial crisis and high unemployment rates. This term, refers to the migration of well-educated and talented people, such as researchers, academics, skilled professionals as well as students. Without the knowledge that those educated people have, improvement and progress of the country is difficult to be accomplished.
Overall, the pedagogical relationship between teachers and pupils could establish a real base for strengthening their social and cultural role, in the context of challenges and transitions, in and out of the school force, in the era of crisis. Hence, it is underlined that there is a great need for a holistic improvement of the educational environment in the primary and secondary educational systems. In this regard, the close relationship between principals and teachers is being emphasized. To avoid any conflict, there is a great need for initiation of constructive, internal regulations, in order to ensure efficiency and empowerment in the school environment. New global trends in educational systems highlight the importance of leadership for organization success as well as teacher quality, while they raise new challenges for the public policy complex and subsequently to the policy makers (at both supranational and national level) concerning education policy as well as social policy. Educational systems and schools need proactive, reflective professionals, with social responsibilities and leadership skills, able to make reasonable judgements and act upon an “educationally desirable way”. Finally, it is underlined that education should follow the technological advances and changes in the way of living and should reform and transform, in a way that applies to new challenges. Artificial intelligence seems to prevail compared to biological intelligence, hence education should follow the new rhythms of society, in a way that respects social equality, solidarity and cohesion.
All in all, this is a source book for researchers, educational practitioners, policymakers, university students, teachers and all those who care about education today.
Pella Calogiannakis, Nikos Papadakis, Amalia A. Ifanti
8 February 2018
The present book is partially based on the book entitled “Crisis in Education”, edited by P. Calogiannakis, K. G. Karras, C. C. Wolhuter, Tien-Hui Chiang and M. Tendo and published by HM Studies and Publishing (Nicosia, 2014). Even though the present book entitled “Crisis in Education: Socio- Economic, Political and Cultural challenges” includes the chapters of the abovementioned book, it is not a typical 2nd Edition. Many new contributions have been added, broadening the perspective and highlighting several other aspects and facets of the topic. In addition, for the already published papers copyrights’ permission has been given to the Editors for the present Edition.