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How can active citizenship be learned?

Annika Turunen

The welfare and stability of modern democracy is not only dependent on the justice and functionality of the institutions, but also on the attitudes, activities and skills of its citizens. Today, it is widely considered important to promote active citizenship in order to maintain the legacy of modern democracy (Bengtsson, 2008).In the Nordic countries, liberal adult education (folkbildning) has traditionally had the role of providing knowledge and skills for citizenship (Niemelä, 2011; Sundgren, 2000). How active citizenship is learned or can be taught is a complex question. In the end, what a functioning democracy is considered to be determines what active citizenship is and how it should be learned. In my doctoral thesis, I am asking whether this role is important in the everyday activities of folkbildning today.One of the central questions in my thesis is thus how active citizenship can be learned. A general assumption about learning active citizenship is that it has to be learned through activity (Bengtsson, 2008; Held, 2006). In this paper, I explore different views on this matter.


The Next Step?

Bruce Spencer & Jennifer Kelly

After the writing of the new constitution, arresting the bankers, refusing to pay bankers’ debts or agreeing to IMF conditions what is “the next step” for Iceland?What can adult education bring to a discussion of alternative ways forward?This presentation will discuss the idea of drawing on adult education’s long association with issues concerned with community building and promotion of economic democracy – a democracy that can exclude “foreign investment” and “external shareholders” and draw on workers’ savings, ingenuity, knowledge, and ownership of the means of production.Is it possible to build on what has happened to date by having a broader popular (adult education) discussion about future economic development – to develop a kind of “popular economics?” – can we learn from an earlier Antigonish co-operative movement in Canada, and from the current, and to date successful, mini-economy of Mondragon worker-owned co-operatives?This paper will draw on research carried out for a new book on Work and Learning (currently with the publisher) as well as other work on community development – it is intended to provoke discussions rather than provide any definitive answers. It will attempt to build on what has already been achieved in Iceland in response to the crisis, on Nordic traditions of equity, social democracy, and adult education practices such as study/research circles and folk schools.We think the paper proposal links directly to the conference theme of “A Theory of Practice” we acknowledge that the issues we raise are probably already under discussion but hope to bring a sympathetic outsiders perspective that will contribute as Icelanders continue to develop their own theories of practice.


Why LLL should be moved to the central stage of the system of education

Jón Torfi Jónasson

The paper will argue that many aspects of adult education should be transferred from the peripheral to the central stage of education in the Nordic countries, even though the general argument has a much wider application. This would mean that the rhetoric of lifelong learning would be taken seriously and implemented as the core of the system of education. The point of departure is professional education but the argument extends to all work related education and education for citizenship. The paper will be in four parts.I. In the first we will briefly argue that the premises for our current system of education are largely outdated and describe what new general perspective must replace the older one.II. In the second part we will present theoretical underpinnings for the LLL perspective, derived from three categories of arguments. The first will focus on change, i.e. how changes along at least four dimensions are becoming increasingly important, i.e., changes within any job (such as technological changes), increasing changes of jobs among the population in general, quite dramatic changes in cultures among employees and how change can most fruitfully be orchestrated from within the workplace. The second focus, the pedagogic focus will note that there are motivational, developmental and pragmatic reasons why incremental changes related to the tasks at hand are most likely to become tools of thought and action. The third focus is the professional (or expert) focus, where it will be noted that developing any skill takes time and is most often situation specific.III. In the third part of the paper various obstacles to system change will be noted, in particular that the current system itself resists change.IV. In the fourth part a necessary system change will be outlined, where some pragmatic suggestions for change will be made.

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