Authors: Lt Col L.G. Schunck and Maj L. Nielsson
It is evident that new opportunities offered to people as described in the “Paradigm of tomorrow” require an effort from each one to adapt, particular in assembling one’s own qualities on the basis of “building blocks” of knowledge acquired at different times of life in various situations. Therefore, the society of the future will be a learning society. In Danish language the word “learning” has recently been admitted in terms like “life-long learning” and being "responsible of one’s own learning”.
Hereby, a paradigm that regards education as a product or an article that simply may be bought really must be watched from a distance in the future. Until recently the main effort in education and training was laid upon measurable dimensions like technical skills, competencies and benefits, whereas the more open values like understanding, reflection and being well informed were squeezed in the background.
“How-questions" dominated over “why-questions", because it was regarded more important to solve problems than being able to explain the complexity of problems and demonstrate what one knows about the nature of problems.
The results were regarded more important than the process.
Fundamentally such focus on competencies and skills in stead of knowledge and understanding may be regarded anti-intellectual because practise is prioritised over theory, and all kind of critical reflection is neglected.
Using a negatively loaded expression one might characterise the learning concept lying behind “competence - learning” as a kind of “petrol pump attendant - education”. Education was prepared and accomplished from an approach that knowledge simply fills up the head of the trainee in the same way as gasoline fills up the tank of a car.
However, focusing at the open values mentioned above one attempts to settle with this thinking and establish education and training (i.e. the learning process) as a value in itself. Education and training are no longer just something you are engaged in when you are young and take part in different parts of career training.
In the future education and training have to be looked upon as life-long processes in which the learner must take a decisive responsibility of his/her own education/upbringing.
The “petrol pump attendant” learning concept may be supported by modern perception of the human brain, in which cognitive learning theories are compared with obsolete punched cards where each subject is coded in a new card. Subsequently the brain creates links between the different cards like in a modern HyperCard-system.
In many ways this metaphor is exact and explains partially why we from time to time do not understand a certain presentation - we simply do not possess the necessary cards, or they have not been properly filled in.
Of course this perception of the empty card is too simple. The learning process is far more complicated, because it primarily is a question of restructuring more than a question of supplementation.
We already possess different kinds of knowledge when achieving new knowledge. The existing knowledge may be incomplete or directly wrong, but it does exist, and during the learning process it has to be replaced by new knowledge.
The conception requires that the learning situation makes it possible to establish “a room for reflection”, in which the learner has the possibility to “negotiate new information in line” - in relation to existing knowledge.
This means that the learners in accordance with the “Paradigm of tomorrow” and The Pedagogic Principles have to be placed in situations in which they - through dialogues with themselves, the teacher and other learners - produce new meaning and construct new knowledge by integrating new information into the existing knowledge.
It is of central importance for the understanding of the learning process that there is a distinction between information and knowledge.
Information is not changed to knowledge before undergoing an active adaptation in the mind of the individual, and a subsequent integration in his or her understanding of the surrounding world.
In other words a very important effort lies in the individual's reflection, which leads to learning, and not in the participation in classroom-, lecture hall- or syndicate room activities.
This does not necessarily mean that the teacher’s role and the dialogue with and between learners becomes less important, but from being “Alpha and Omega” in the education process it has become just part of a greater entirety.
Learning is not just an obligation of the military school or the teacher’s job, but the individual learner’s (i.e. officers accomplishing career training courses respectively NCO´s or regular soldiers doing continuation training courses) own responsibility.
On the other hand, institutions (military schools and units) have to promote knowledge in a pedagogic form that may be assimilated by the learner.
Tags: Pedagogics Education