GLL – State and Civil Society

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, development, Third Way, Education, Marxism, Trent, active citizenship, co-participation

Step 2 – Part2: on Populism and Adult Education, Frank Youngman

Link to blog

Link to forum

Wonderful comments! Thank you.

I see how we get into troubles when we try to find a solution of universal applicability. When dealing with the complexity of the issues under discussion, I feel that there should be first a clear framing of local conditions (factors, stakeholders, agencies, state, goals, resources, outside influences, etc.). That would allow for contextual and systemic analysis that may yield different solutions to different areas.

One example. In my home area (The autonomous province of Trent) the provincial government is enacting education and learning policies in contrast to those put forth by the state (national government). In this regard, it is acting more as an entity akin to Civil Society, in that its actions are parallel but distinct to those of the state. However, view from within the provincial borders, the provincial government acts like a state, and deals with a complex and variegated  universe of local NGO’s, which diversifies educational opportunities for the people.

I believe there is merit in Gloria’s comments on whether Civil Society is indeed capable to sustain a viable system outside the state’s control (I am paraphrasing; I hope I am correctly interpreting Gloria’s thoughts). In my home region, the local provincial government is acting as the main reference agency, at the center of a web of other agencies and relevant relationships. I would agree with Gloria that, in that specific geographic, cultural, historic, social and environmental context, things are better served with the local government acting as a clearing house, making relevant laws – through political debate – that provide a shared framework for civil society.

Words that come to mind when thinking of such synergistic approach are — dialogue, inclusion, motivation, social capital, co-participation, and active citizenship. It also reminds me of a “connective model” for work and learning in general.

Link: A Roadmap to Work and Learning


On International Education


FORUM: The future of work and education

TOPICS: Larsen, international education,

Larsen, K. & Vincent-Lancrin, S. (2002). International Trade in Educational Services: Good or Bad? (link to Itslearning)

As amply explained in the article by Larsen et al., English-speaking countries clearly dominate the international education market in its different forms (in-country ed, distance ed, offshore ed).  International student mobility is firmly attracted to English-language learning experiences.

Educational pathways in other languages pursued by international students pale by comparison.

This reminds me of the expensive TOEFL test, now an almost universally mandatory application requirement for all non-English speaking students. There is no doubt that the private company that offers it has turned huge profits. It is virtually a world-wide monopoly. Not so long ago prospective students could prove their fluency in English in a variety of ways, including taking a free test upon arrival at their home university.  Things nowadays have changed dramatically.

Consequently, a huge market for English preparation classes ensued linked to a market for TESL instructors who are now required to obtain “proper credentials.” International education in English has turned into a multilayered business.

I also believe that the streamlining of application procedures and the setting of uniform application and language proficiency standards have contributed to limiting access to learning opportunities. Students with limited financial resources are for the most part excluded.

The importance of history, culture and context


FORUM: The future of work and education

TOPICS: Papadopoulus, culture, history

Papadopoulos, T. (2002). Lifelong Learning and the Changing Policy Environment. In D. S. Istance, H. G. Schuetze, & T. Schuller (Eds.), International perspectives on lifelong learning: From Recurrent Education to the Knowledge Society (pp. 76-88). Buckingham, UK: Open University Press

The importance of history, culture and context (link to Itslearning)

In this article, Papadopoulos recognizes the difficulty in comparing international scenarios (p. 44). I would like to add that policies of work and learning should be informed by the relevant specific historical, cultural, and language contexts.

I am thinking for example of my home region, and how such factors still remain of paramount importance in all local policy making issues. I believe that that is the case with most countries and regions.

Globalized approaches need not discount the value and specificity of local experiences in both education and workplace learning. The challenge – I believe – is to be mindful of such experience while engaging in a transformative process that would eventually lead to a new paradigm for work and learning. I do not personally believe that there will be a one-fits-all universal approach, but instead I hope we will implement a system of networked dynamic coordination among different parts of the world. It seems to me that E.U. policies proceed in this direction.

Issues of intercultural competence


FORUM: The future of work and education

TOPICS: McLean, cross-cultural competence

McLean, G.N. (2006). Rethinking Adult Learning in the Workplace. Advances in Developing Human Resources. 8 (3),416-423.

Issues of intercultural competence

Go to my blogGo to itslearning

Dear Erin,

Your post asks interesting questions. Here is my attempt at answering them.

I also found that McLean’s article was rather generic. However, I read it as a personal account of someone’s experience and self-reflection. In other words, I believe McLean was speaking “from the heart” and was not trying to present an academic argument.

You wrote:

I found the discussion of worldviews and their influence on adult learning somewhat redundant, as I would think that for all of us who work with adult learners, it almost goes without saying that people bring with them unique experiences and perspectives that influence their learning and we should recognize and appreciate these differences.

From reading this and many of your posts, I have the impression that you are definitely at an advanced level of intercultural awareness. In the past, in another forum, I presented information on how such awareness may develop in stages and how different people would be situated at different levels of intercultural awareness and competency.

McLean’s article does not offer much in terms of analysis of such issues; it only – in my opinion – gives a personal, supportive narrative of the author’s experience. It could serve well as a key-note speech.

I agree with your comments that just “participating” in a cross-cultural experience doesn’t necessarily affect one’s intercultural competencies. That would require an approach built also on self-reflection, knowledge of meta intercultural differences, different ways of looking at cultures, etc.

Such stages of intercultural sensitivity were researched by Milton Bennett. A synopsis of his work is listed on my e-portfolio: (go to the link and scroll down to)

Milton Bennett: A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity

I have discussed these issues earlier in the program. Here are the links to my post (whichever works): (link to my e-portfolio) (link to itslearning)

McLean’s article could not possibly cover all of that and therefore remains of limited use if you are looking for comprehensive answers.

Issues of access and power in future scenarios


FORUM: The future of work and education

TOPICS: Doornbos, power, access, active citizenship, motivation, elite workforce,

Doornbos, A.J., Bolhuis, S. and Simons, P.R. (2004): Modeling Work-related Learning on the Basis of Intentionality and Developmental Relatedness: A Noneducational Perspective. (link to Itslearning)

As pointed out in other posts on this last block of readings, issues of power, inequality, and access will continue to affect future policies of work and learning.

I believe that there is a real danger of creating a framework of affordances that is restricted to those who are “in the system,” leaving the others out. Examples of such a development are at hand both in workplace training and in formal education.

Doornbos et al. – however – recognize the impact of issues of power and access in workplace learning contexts, whereas they assume equality of access in formal education settings.

“Cliques, politics, and power may intentionally or unintentionally influence the distribution of opportunities to learn. Those with more access to power can claim learning opportunities, and they can also deny opportunities for learning, whereas those with less power may find access to what they want difficult. In contrast, access to learning is assumed to be equal within a formal education setting” (p. 257).

Unfortunately, the article does not seem to add much with respect to such assessment. This could lead to the establishment of what Rifkin calls (see his article) an elite workforce.

The risk is real, as also recognized by George Papadopoulos in his assessment of access policies. (see article Lifelong Learning and the Changing Policy Environment)

I feel that current and future policies of work and learning should frame the discussion within an open system approach similar to the one suggested by Marsick and Watkins. That would ensure permeability of access within and across interrelated work-and-learning contexts. By doing so, we could transform (and not just reform) today’s approach into a new challenging and promising platform that would offer opportunities for open participation, motivated interaction, transnational co-operation, active citizenship, and diversity of learning styles and educational pathways.

Pierre Caspar: Training Networks and the Changing Organization of Professional Learning


FORUM: The future of work and education

TOPICS: Pierre Caspar, cognitive learning society, E.U., active citizenship, motivation

Pierre Caspar: Training Networks and the Changing Organization of Professional Learning (link to Itslearning)

The article examines the issue of life-long learning and reminds us that training will have to take into account the changing conditions in today’s word: training is designed in a different way; training is implemented in a different way, and in new spaces; training needs to be implemented and managed differently.

I was particularly interested in its application to the development of lifelong learning policies in the E.U. and the establishment of a cognitive (or learning) society that will promote active citizenship. Active citizenship also appears in a citation in the ILO chapter where, according to the EU Memorandum on lifelong learning, active citizenship is about how “people participate in all spheres of economic and social life, the chances and risks they face in trying to do so, and the extent to which they feel that they belong to, and have a fair say in, the society in which they live”. Raffe (2003) defines it as follows: “In the words of the European Commission’s memorandum on Lifelong Learning, ‘Living and working in the knowledge society calls for active citizens who are self-motivated to pursue their own personal and professional development’ (European Commission, 2000, p. 17). Active citizenship is promoted through the processes of education, by letting young people own and manage their educational biographies, as well as through its formal content” (Raffe, p. 13).

In such context, Caspar envisions a society where “learning is a natural process, where everyone is potentially teaching and learning” (p. 111).

On the other hand, each individual’s personal commitment is pivotal to the success of such ambitious program. (p. 113) This was also affirmed in other articles examined in this course.

However, I can see that in this model of lifelong learning a gulf could develop between active participants and those who are – for whatever reason – not participating, or are even excluded from participation. I believe that the affordances made to all need to be accessible to people who may be currently marginalized and not fully integrated in the complex system of formal education and work formation.

The future of work and education (1)


FORUM: The future of work and education

TOPICS: whole systems, chaos, Taylorism

Link to Itslearning

Beck’s article was interesting in that it gave a very readable overview of possible scenarios. I do not believe that we are moving towards an age of “increased production.” In fact, many production sites have scaled down their work, even in Germany, where the figure of “working citizens” (Beck, p. 51) has dominated the scene for decades.

Recent developments may make us more critical of Beck’s article, however I find that the closing paragraph is right on target.

What must happen politically to ensure that everyone doing something outside the classical careers – whether on a short-term contract without job security or without any kind of contract – should nevertheless remain or become a full citizen? How can the basic right to participate in the basic rights of modernity be reaffirmed in a context of deregulation and fraying of the work society?”

Beck provides us with an socio-political overview, whereas Marsick and Watkins present metaphors that help us understand the meta-dimensions of organizational learning in these changing times. The transition, within just a few decades, from a tayloristic approach, to a more modern one is still in process. I believe that an “open system” approach has not yet been fully explored, whereas we are already talking about moving on to learning organizations based on “holographic” and even “chaos/complexity” premises.

I personally still need to fully understand the whole system approach envisioned by von Bertalanffy, (Marcick, p. 203) which I regard as a powerful tool to function in networked systems.

Here is a link on that:

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