Finland’s plans to replace the teaching of classic school subjects such as history or English with broader, cross-cutting “topics” as part of a major education reform have been getting global attention. Stay calm: despite the reforms, Finnish schools will continue to teach mathematics, history, arts, music and other subjects in the future. But with the new basic school reform all children will also learn via periods looking at broader topics, such as the European Union, community and climate change, or 100 years of Finland’s independence, which would bring in multi-disciplinary modules on languages, geography, sciences and economics.
For nearly half a century, research on education systems has been increasingly popular. However, this popularity was long restricted primarily to internationally linked policy makers and education planners, often backed up by international organizations such the OECD but also by governmental or para-governmental organizations within the individual countries. These institutional affiliations provided education research with a specific character that often centres on notions such as excellence, efficiency, or standards. The specific comparative character of this policy-driven research agenda triggered the development of suitable research techniques such as comparative statistics and pertinent sub-disciplines such as cognitive psychology. Backed-up by powerful global institutions, this agenda purported to be rather unique, and it tended to ignore the cultural complexity of the educational field and those research approaches that address this complexity. This volume includes different historical, cultural, and sociological approaches to the education systems and to questions as to how research on education systems can be undertaken beyond the parameters of the existing research agenda. They demonstrate how pertinent problems of research on education systems can only be tackled taking an international and interdisciplinary approach with regard to both research questions and methods concerning education systems.
As the twenty-first century unfolds, it is becoming more and more evident that the major problems of our time – energy, the environment, climate change, food security, financial security – cannot be understood in isolation. They are systemic problems, which means that they are all interconnected and interdependent. Ultimately, these problems must be seen as just different facets of one single crisis, which is largely a crisis of perception. It derives from the fact that most people in our modern society, and especially our large social institutions, subscribe to the concepts of an outdated worldview, a perception of reality inadequate for dealing with our overpopulated, globally interconnected world. There are solutions to the major problems of our time; some of them even simple. But they require a radical shift in our perceptions, our thinking, our values. And, indeed, we are now at the beginning of such a fundamental change of worldview in science and society, a change of paradigms as radical as the Copernican revolution. Unfortunately, this realization has not yet dawned on most of our political leaders, who are unable to “connect the dots,” to use a popular phrase. They fail to see how the major problems of our time are all interrelated. Moreover, they refuse to recognize how their so-called solutions affect future generations. From the systemic point of view, the only viable solutions are those that are sustainable. As we discuss in this book, a sustainable society must be designed in such a way that its ways of life, businesses, economy, physical structures, and technologies do not interfere with nature’s inherent ability to sustain life.
The basic pattern found in the evolution of cognition is a pattern in which individual organisms derive an advantage from cognitive capacities in their attempts to deal with problems and opportunities posed by environmental complexity of various kinds. Cognitive capacities confer this advantage by enabling organisms to coordinate their behavior with the state of the environment. Cognition itself should be thought of as a diverse “tool-kit” of capacities for behavioral control, including capacities for perception, internal representation of the world, memory, learning, and decision-making. These capacities vary across different types of organism and are not sharply distinguished from other biological capacities, some of which have a “proto-cognitive” character. The “environment” referred to in the Environmental Complexity Thesis – ECT – includes the social environment, and there are some reasons to believe that problems posed by social complexity have been very important in the evolution of primate and human intelligence. Many specific evolutionary scenarios that have been discussed as possible explanations of particular cognitive capacities are instances of the ECT, or have the ECT as a part.
Human intelligence appears to be unique in the biological world, but how did it arise? Its very existence raises two fascinating and difficult questions. What evolutionary factors have given rise to human intelligence? How great is the discontinuity between the mental life of humans and that of other animals? Two recently published studies provide important new data relevant to the evolution of human intelligence. Both studies of social behavior in baboons, Bergman et al. demonstrated that baboons use two criteria simultaneously to classify other troop members, and Silk et al. showed that highly social female baboons have higher reproductive success than less social females. Taken together, these studies provide strong evidence for the importance of social context in cognitive evolution.
Entretien avec Augusto Boal – Si le «théâtre forum» est aujourd’hui une pratique largement connue, investie pour tous types d’objectifs, militants, associatifs, voire récupérée par certaines pratiques managériales, son inventeur, Augusto Boal, était un militant révolutionnaire. Dans l’entretien à venir, issue d’un chapitre inédit de Jeux pour acteurs et non-acteurs, Boal revient sur la trajectoire du théâtre populaire et révolutionnaire en Amérique latine, ainsi que ses liens avec les procédés et méthodes d’avant-garde ou européennes. Il défend une figure de l’artiste comme entité collective, non spécialisée, capable de s’adapter aux réalités sociales et d’inventer les procédés d’un théâtre émancipé.
The volume deals with the relationship between language, dialogue, human nature and culture by focusing on an approach that considers culture to be a crucial component of dialogic interaction. Part I refers to the so-called ‘language instinct debate‘ between nativists and empiricists and introduces a mediating position that regards language and dialogue as determined by both human nature and culture. This sets the framework for the contributions of Part II which propose varying theoretical positions on how to address the ways in which culture influences dialogue. Part III presents more empirically oriented studies which demonstrate the interaction of components in the ‘mixed game‘ and focus, in particular, on specific action games, politeness and selected verbal means of communication.
The contributions thus shed light on how human beings as cultural beings act and behave in the mixed game of dialogic interaction. They contribute to a view of dialogue as culturally based interaction which comes about not by the addition of parts but by the interaction of components in the mixed game. The concept of culture emerges as an internal concept inherent to human beings in general as well as being individually shaped, and as an external concept evident in habits and cultural conventions.