Thoughts on International Education
Some musings on Japanese and Ryukyu Budo
One of the great benefits of international education is the ability to work in an environment with people who come from various educational backgrounds.
A good friend of mine, Theodor is a trained Romanian physicist, a fantastic footballer and a genuinely great mind/soul/body embodiment. While Teo heads up our Science program and I work in a few roles we still find time to catch and chat about 'stuff', usually on the morning tea break. Recently, we have been discussing God, the Big Bang, Quantum Mechanics and the need for an observer - yes, this is usually the kind of stuff we chat about. However, this past Friday, we had a conversation about our mutual concerns around the lack of 'freedom' and 'exploration' we now both see in education.
Universities, although becoming more open to social and economic clientele have arguably redefined themselves as work-place preparation; a situation exacerbated by the ranking of them, along business model lines. Part and parcel of this movement have been a lack of pushing the new frontier of our knowledge. This mindest has filtered down to secondary education. In a 'publish or perish world' reproducing and revisiting established knowledge is a safer bet than going out on a limb, and such a mindset is likely to embed itself in the minds of students.
If we explore academics and what is being produced, we find a reproduction of more in-depth explorations of items we have known about for a century or so. My field, education, is still being driven at a basic level by the theories of Piaget, Vygotsky and Dewey all of who are dated. Likewise, Teo's field of astrophysics is delving into the frontiers already known such as QM, but not actively seeking out new ones. While there is no denying the excellent benefit in going deeper - surely it is time to explore new frontiers?
What aspects of knowing do did we need to uncover? Given present trajectories, the whole area of ethics and moral development of our collective species requires work. Just because we can, doesn't mean we should.
The access to and speed of knowledge and its production have, arguably, outstripped our ethical growth; to say nothing of our ability to meaningfully process this knowledge. To know is not to understand, but to understand is to know. We can make choices about our now and our future - surely freeing up the current generation to push new frontiers is necessary, timely and ethically imperative?
James M. Hatch
International Educator who happens to be passionate about Chito Ryu Karate. Born in Ireland, educated in Canada, matured in Japan