Uzstāšanās konferencē "A Human Touch - Adults Learning with a Difference" 2003. gada 13. maijā
Education without boundaries
Ladies and Gentlemen,
When I was asked to deliver a speech for this conference on the future look for our cooperation in the field of life long learning with the stress on adult education, I ‘ve started to think: what kind of unifying idea could be for it and I came with two letters, - NB. Letters are as a Learning symbol and I think they are appropriate in this audience. Really, for what stands those two letters – NB ? Yes, it stands for Nordic – Baltic, it stands for Nota Bene, and it stands for No Boundaries. And really in my speech I’m going to touch the issues about
- The value of Nordic Baltic cooperation experience
- The prospect of No Boundaries not even in mobility of people in the region but also in everyone’s mind and
- What kind of Nota Bene this part for Europe could be for the rest of it
As I’ve understood that during this conference you had an excellent opportunity to discuss a lot of questions of practical matters, you shared a great amount of experience of your work and this is the actual value of such events. Experience in general is greatly appreciated as there is no bad experience. We could have hard, painful, terrifying experience but it never would turn into bad one. As bad it is something what we tend to give up with, what is unpleasant and forgettable. For this reason experience I see as great treasure for everyone who was touched by it. And you know that everything what is gained could teach us and you, who are dealing with educational issues, know it much better then me.
10 years of Nordic Baltic cooperation in Adult education has shown that people from this area could not even to help each other, but also to develop together valuable and meaningful things. I think that during previous days there were many opportunities to speak about value of this cooperation and here I would like just to mention that major political decisions in this area is supporting any activities which promote people understanding, common efforts and development. Education in general and adult education in particular is an occupation which fosters people progress and development most. For this reason Life long learning strategy and policy is important not even from the point of view of separate country but countries alliances as well. Nordic Baltic regional cooperation could be an excellent sample for the rest of Europe of promoting Life Long Learning Memorandum ideas into life. Those predispositions are based upon Grundtvig ideas cradled in this area and, our cooperation experience in now a days. And what future could be for us?
I would call it - education with no boundaries. And those boundaries should be broken not by major and overwhelming strategies but by concrete and small deeds and initiatives. What do I mean by that?
Firstly, it should be education without area limitations. We need to create such learning opportunities for adults that they could fulfill their curiosity, their professional development needs anywhere and at any time. Nice title for this conference – A Human Touch. What do politicians can do for a single human being in order to make him / her feel better and more secure in this life? Provide the opportunities. Opportunities for more interesting, meaningful and rich personal life. Governments and politicians should support local initiatives for cooperation not even with their neighbors but with remote regions in other countries as well. We could break walls with supporting their meetings in forms of conferences, workshops, study visits, study networks developed through internet. But before we spread out those activities on a new scale, communication means should be improved. Simple one, - language. I know that during this conference you’ve touch upon this issue many times. It is serious. Why for the future one of our priorities in cooperation couldn’t be language ? For example, one part of the supported projects could be highly recommended as summer language and culture camps for project participants. I think that with such a practice we would promote essential meaning in adult education, where education for work and job would stood closer to education for life.
When communication will become more fluent and quicker, decentralized model of cooperation should take another spin. Then we’ll face coordination problem. If we encourage this decentralized model for widely spread activities not even in countries but among countries, who then will be coordination institution? I think the institution should be a meeting place like this - conference, where politicians, practitioners and participants of adult education will meet and discuss their successes and pitfalls in the area of cooperation and their own practical and meaningful issues . The conference like this could be as an advisory institution for implementing concrete decisions at national levels and it could promote not even national developments in an area but on the international scale as well. One of the main initiative could be development of small local communities through all over the region. In Lithuania today we face great need and interest in developing small villages communities. Some cases discussed during this conference have shown that local initiatives has a great potential and for this reason those initiatives should be shared.
Secondly, it is should be education with no material boundaries
It doesn’t mean that without any but at least such which would stop or lessen the scope of cooperation. Quality and effectiveness of provided education are essential as life is speeding and we are getting professionally old much quicker than physically. In order to meet challenges of that speed we need to focus upon quality – not even to get, but to get best quality of education. I think that we need to dare to make initiatives for finding out more opportunities for supporting life long learning activities in material sense.
And thirdly, education should be without psychological barriers
Education fosters democracy. It could inspire people to be more responsible for their own life and work. For this reason – accessibility for various society groups to continuous development are crucially important. But how to get people to learning activities? How to attract them? Education should be understood as activity which brings to people life joy and wealthy. Teaching, learning and organizational methods and forms should show that education is strong enrichment of life. In that sense “marketing” education as life style should became a norm to each person with social responsibilities – starting with low level civil servant and ending with the top politicians of each country. We need to create such learning environment which would be different for traditionally known. Not opposing but expanding it. Conference title - A human touch – Adult Learning with Difference – obliges us to do that. From my point of view this difference could be simple one. In now a days and in this conference as well there was mentioned several times – how important is to educate people for job and work. No question – this very important. But I think that stresses sometimes give to us not even different meaning but different type of quality as well. In my understanding stress should be laid upon education for life and afterwards for job. In education for life we concentrate upon values and attitudes very much. Why do we live? What’s the value and meaning of it? Those questions are not rhetorical ones they are very practical. In such a turbulent times like now a days, each person need to have very strong main life issues tailoring concept. Those concepts could be developed through new approaches in learning activities and its programs. In one of your project “Learning for Sharing” you’ve created criteria set for good adult teacher and one of those criteria was “to create value based programs”. I think this is very important message. In order to overcome various learning difficulties – inviting people to learning, helping them to change their attitudes and others – we need strong dimension in humanist approach throughout the whole process of learning. That’s why I think that your conference approach - A Human Touch – is very much to the target. A touch from the teacher means to be closer to learner’s personal needs and his/her motivation for proceeding in learning; a touch from the learner means to become more open towards personal strengths and weaknesses in order to achieve attractive way of living
And Nota Bene to us and the rest of Europe
Such ambitious approaches could be met just with the help of huge amount of people, - Nordic Baltic adult educators are such community and it could substantially promote European Life long learning policy into Europe itself. I believe that this region around the Baltic sea is not even very comfortable for people to live but also very interesting with an opportunities which are stretching in front of us. Education throughout all span of life has very solid ground here and we need to foster it and share it with others. We are not going to compete, we are not going to overcome, we are not going win. We are going to enjoy richness of life and we are going to share this with the rest of Europe and the world !
Thank you for your attention and pleasure to be here with you today.