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Challenges to the constructs of education

June 30th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Last week I was at the final event of a series of six workshops on the training of teachers and trainers. The workshops were organised as part of a policy consultation exercise by the European Commission, who regard the training of teachers and trainers as a priority area in terms of economic and social development.

Whilst leading to interesting discussions and interchange between researchers, policy makers and practitioners in different European countries, there was only limited agreement over what measures should be taken. The lack of agreement reflects, I think, major changers in education leading to a series of dilemmas.

firstly the move towards lifelong learning is resulted in more and more people having some responsibility for the learning of others as part of their jobs. They will often not identify themselves as trainers. And at the same time the opportunities for professional development and learning in different contexts are becoming braider, especially through the internet. Indeed one issue which perplexed participants as the workshop was just who should be considered a trainer.

Some at the workshop wished to introduce more regulation as a means of professionalising training and raising quality. But others pointed out that this would only really help professional full time trainers – those already with access to opportunities for professional development – and that with the increased use of the internet for learning, it would be impossible for any one nation state to regulate trainers.

There was also some discussion on the differences between vocational teachers and trainers. It was pointed out that whilst they often worked in very different contexts, both groups were responsible for the learning of others. Were the differences in job designation just a construct of our education and training systems? And with learning moving outside the institution could such constructs be maintained in the future?

On the whole there was some consensus that learning would take place in wider contexts in teh future and would tend to become part fo everday living and work. But on the issue of how within that scenario to provide support and professional development for thsoe responsible for supporting the learning of others, the workshop particpants remained puzzled. More on this issue in future posts.

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One Response to “Challenges to the constructs of education”

  1. Pekka Kämäräinen says:

    Thank you Graham for this quick summary. As one of those who were involved in the organisation of these Consultation seminars I find it useful that you draw attention to tensions and contrasts. Indeed, it would be difficult to compress the results of the workshops into one single message.
    Concerning the countries and organisations that are involved, some are looking at institutional reforms and formal structures. Others try to reach a more future-oriented way to combine new learning concepts, new facilitation approaches and wider settings of networking (in working life or in civic society). In this respect the scenarios for professional development may have different time horizons and different implications.
    From this perspective I find it essential that the participants from different parts of Europe tried to join in common discussion in spite of different starting positions.
    Graham promised more on this issue in future posts. I hope that we can also have some discussion on the Consultation seminar group blog.

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