At the end of June 2015, I took part in the International Conference ”Beliefs and Behaviours in Education and Culture” organized by the Teacher Training Department of the West University of Timișoara in Romania. A huge number of academics from different nationalities mainly Europeans participated in the event, therefore I will present the main tendencies that were developed in the presentations and conferences that I attended.
A discussed topic was the Intercultural Education focused on inmigrants and minorities such as Gypsys (Romas) in Romania and Hungary. The papers showed the adopting intercultural dialogue as a strategical policy to prevent segregationism, racism, xenophobia and intolerance. The Council of Europe defined the Intercultural Education as a condition to get access to full citizenship, for children belonging to ethnic and linguistic minorities, but also with an eye to promoting the values of tolerance, dialogue and solidarity among different ethnic and cultural groups.
One of the most significant themes in several discussions was the importance of education of
university students who show lack of interest in the content of educational programs and are focused on social networks instead. One of the participants mentioned: «My university students behave like children. They are more interested in the their smartphones than in what is happening in the class. We as teachers have to develop a variety of activities that could capture their limited atention but if it does not happen we will be the ones to blame. We have been told that we should be guides in obtaining knowledge according to students interests. But, What if they are not interested in anything? Nothing motivates them».
Speakers stated that the education systems in their countries suffer a great structural crisis in their traditional functioning, usefullness and aim-setting of opposite points of view and attitudes of the new generations of students.
An alternative option to the general crisis of educational processes that was presented, is the homeschooling. This is a non institutional tendency where parents choose homeschool instead of sending their children to public or private schools. Homeschooling implies a critical confrontation with the formal system of education. The main parents motivations behind the homeschooling choice are the dissatisfaction with the current status of the educational system; the inability to ﬁnd a good school near home; the respect for the individuality of the children; the will to protect children from hostile or potentially dangerous contexts and situations; as well as the desire to ensure a better educational level for children (1). This tendency is the clear representation of an active role of the familiar context into the homeschooling experience.
Another wide discussed topic was the usage of technology in learning processes in the context of transition of acquisition of concrete knowledge and skills to the formation of learners competences full life in multicultural society.
Speakers from East European countries discussed the role of education in post soviet societies.
These nations have experienced profound political, economical and cultural changes for 25 years and they still are in the process of constructing and consolidating new institutions and values like democracy. In this context the role of eductation was esential in spreading these values and concepts that are fundamental for the European Union: Democracy, Human Rights and Free Market.
Colleagues stated that the process of political changes, no matter how peaceful or violent, have less importance than what happens after the regime has fallen. If there's no clarity in action and no national plan all the efforts can be useless and the fallen regime will simply mutate and get into the new goverment and they will not let any profound changes happen in this society. It was clear in some communist societies but it didn't happen in all of them.
Particulary in Romania it was discussed that although during the last 25 years there has been a debate about the educational reform, values and practices in schools remain unchanged. There is a conflict among declarations, curricula and policies on one hand, and the practices, attitudes as parts of the hidden curriculm of school on the other hand (2).
As mentioned, many of the concerns expressed by European Academics can be shared themselves into the Mexican context , the form may vary but in reality many of the educational topics occured with more similarities than we think in Western societies.
(1) Daher, Liliana, Anna Leonora &Augusto Gamuzza, Italy: De- institutionalizing Education. Homeshooling Movements as Alternative Social Form of Education in Italy.(2) Borovic, Darius, Romania: The Students Lost in the Educational Reform.