Paul Vadas, – M.A. Political Science, Professor, Lecturer, Tutor, Chief Educational Consultant at Vadas Educational Consulting and Chief Educational Editor at BrazilMonitor. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
“Every block of stone has a statue inside of it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it”. Michelangelo
If we apply Michelangelo’s quote above and make a parallel description of the role that schools should play, we can say: “Every student has a talent inside of her/him and it is the task of the school to discover it and help bring it to the fore.” Instead, schools, typically, look at every student as an object to be molded (formed) in the same cast, regardless of who they really are as individuals.
Formal education will not survive as it is structured and as it functions today. The biggest problem, besides the country’s bureaucratization that ties up the school’s administrators (by their own fault, since they are complicit in the process by having pretty much abdicated their constitutional rights), is that students cannot see the relevance and / or pertinence of HEI, mainly because schools maintain an old fashion model that does not attend the individuality of each student and, therefore, does not meet the differential that each student is, and wants to develop.
It is necessary to develop an individualized educational model that looks at each student as a subject, with specific talents and desires, and not as objects to be formed in a factory-like educational process. Schools should rethink their objectives and strive to meet the expectations of this new digitized generation and, at the same time, meet the constitutional commands (Article 205 of the Brazilian Constitution) that declares that the objectives of education are the:
- Full development of the PERSON;
- Preparation for the exercise of CITIZENSHIP; and
- Qualification for WORK.
How can we expect relevance and pertinence in formal education when, from the three educational objectives, only the third is attended to, and even so, in a fairly precarious way?
If HEIs want to attract and KEEP students, schools should be concerned not only about what the student needs to learn but, especially, what he / she wants to learn. Schools should be concerned with the differentiated talents that each student has to offer. Schools need to be concerned with the full development of the person and the citizen and not only with qualification for work.
If HEIs want to achieve the constitutional mandates and at the same time begin a process of solving the serious problems of Brazilian society, especially in relation to the elimination of corruption and inefficiency of public services, it is necessary that they be concerned with the development of the citizenry (in this sense, I suggest reading the interview of former Italian prosecutor Rafaelle Cantone “Punishing politicians, without changing culture, does not transform, says czar anticorruption of Italy”, https://noticias.uol.com.br/ultimas-noticias/ bbc / 2018/01/27 / punir-politicos-without-change-culture-does-not-transform-says-czar-anticorruption-of-italy.htm? cmpid = copiaecolahttps: //noticias.uol.com.br/ultimas- news / bbc / 2018/01/27 / punir-politicos-without-change-culture-does-not-transform-says-czar-anticorruption-of-italia.htm)
Citizenship is not expressed exclusively as an act exercised at the ballot box. The act of voting is only a result of a whole process of political consciousness. The exercise of citizenship takes place on a daily basis. It manifests itself, among other ways, in the payment of taxes, in the participation in public movements, in the participation in political parties, in the exercise of civic and social responsibilities, in the exercise of moral and ethical behavior, in the daily updating on political / cultural / economic issues of the community and of the country, in the vigilance and constant questioning of representatives (but how to question representatives when the individual does not understand the functions of city councilors, mayors, state deputies, governors, secretaries, federal deputies, senators, ministers, judges in their various instances, and the public servants at various levels of public administration?).
More than preparing for the exercise of citizenship, why not prepare people to become political leaders? (in this effort, we call attention to the laudable job of RAPS and the Lemann Foundation: https://www.raps.org.br/tag/programa-de-apoio-ao-desenvolvimento-de-liderancas-publicas/).
Brazil lacks professionalized political leadership. HEIs are concerned with training business administrators, but do not worry about preparing public administrators, whether for elective positions or for career positions in public administration. The result is: poor quality of the public-elective sector, with positions filled by unscrupulous politicians, and poor quality of services in the public-administrative sector, with positions filled, in general, by poorly prepared “professionals” who went through competitive public examinations which, in many cases, have nothing to do with their respective academic backgrounds and who only seek job stability and guaranteed medical insurance and do not care about the citizens who pay their wages.
Finally, when it comes to qualification for work, schools should be concerned with what I call “2020 Vision”: the development of an educational project for the coming decade of the twenties. They must stop teaching today the professionals of tomorrow with the knowledge of yesterday, and foresee the future in order to teach today the professionals of tomorrow with the knowledge of the day after tomorrow. This challenge will only be achieved when schools are concerned with looking into the future and develop (in the same manner as large companies) their own research and development sectors. It is only then that schools will be able to get in front of the times instead of lagging behind, as they do today.
How many schools do you know that care about studying the future? How many schools are really concerned about what the future professions will be? How many schools are seriously seeking not only using state-of-the-art in educational technology (benchmark) but also developing new technologies as a competitive differential? In this sense, the old saying reigns in Brazil: “Nothing is created here. Everything is copied. ”
How to become relevant and pertinent when what schools teach is no longer worthwhile? How do you keep a student from leaving school if she/he does not feel differentiated as a person in a classroom and when she/he does not see a return on his or her investment in the pursuit of a less and less valued diploma? How many schools are really concerned about the success of each of their students individually?
We live in a world where change is exponential. However, for over 7,000 years, schools have stood still in time and maintain the same model that, in ancient Egypt, was designed to train scribes.
How can we motivate the population to enroll in a formal, static, outdated school system, whose prestige is in decline throughout the world, by many factors, including those exposed above?
In a study carried out for the MEC (Brazilian Ministry of Education) at the beginning of this century, Cristovam Buarque, the then minister of education, stated that “A diploma had the validity of at least the time of a professional life and often an even longer validity. This situation has changed radically. The current speed of the advance of knowledge does not allow a former student to remain prepared, unless she/he is constantly updated (with new knowledge)”(Cristovam Buarque Brasilia, November 2003, The University at a Crossroads – MEC, portal.mec.gov. br / sesu / files / pdf / palestra6.pdf).
At a time when the diploma is only meant to indicate for how long the professional has been out of date, it is time to break with the past and reinvent the formal education sector. The reform of formal education necessarily involves the abolition of the diploma as a final degree and the adoption of periodic certifications of competencies that reflect the transformation and continuous updating of the lifelong learner, and that accepts the principle that education, by its very nature and by definition, formal and / or informal, is an ongoing process that begins with the conception of life and ends with the death of the individual.
Educational leaders must stop blaming the government and instead assume their constitutional rights and develop their own curriculum designs and their own didactic / pedagogical / methodological models in order to become relevant and pertinent to each student, to each citizen, and to each professional.
The question that remains unanswered is: Is it possible to develop a model of economically viable, fully personalized education? And the answer, given today’s technology, is: of course it is. And that is the theme I will deal with in my next article.