Volume:1, Issue: 3

Dec. 15, 2009

An Anti-Crisis Model of Education
Parnitsyna-Kurbatova, Natalia A. [about]

DESCRIPTORS: interconnections of civilization and education; economical and educational crisis; three objective threats to the world; the cost of an individual mistake; quality of education; “technology of a foundational level”; a culture-centered new educational paradigm; value-oriented self-management.

SYNOPSIS: The author raises serious questions of the connections between the present economic crisis and the current quality of education in the world. She challenges the reader with an analysis of three modern threats, and finally presents the concept of the Center of Education No. 1804 in Moscow and its achievements. A technology of value-orientated self-management is also introduced to the reader.

An Anti-Crisis Model of Education

The debates about moral aging of education have become an inevitable part of different meetings, talks, and publications since the 1950s. So the current economic crisis should be of no surprise to anyone who realizes that the quality of education heavily impacts every sphere of individual and social lives.

The interconnectedness and interdependence of civilization and education has been well proven in the world. Different materials published by the United Nations clearly testify to the importance of continuing education for the world economic stability. In 2005, UNESCO announced Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, and this is one of many similar initiatives adopted by different organizations practically in every part of the world. These efforts help to understand the critical importance and necessity of improving education to provide for a stable world development.

Regardless of the overall understanding of the necessity to improve education, and in spite of a number of practical measures in this direction, the world economy has fallen into a deep crisis – and no wonder, because it has always been a very conservative sphere of activities, and whenever changes were made, they have never touched its foundation. Modern civilization demands totally new approaches that will allow serious changes in the education as a system and in its paradigm.

Today, accelerating changes in life conditions heavily impact the development of civilization. We still need to fully reconsider and analyze the fact that the reproductive nature of the present educational system has allowed us to develop and sustain our current technological progress. However, the speed of changes, caused by this technological progress, has increased so much that the reproductive system of education can no longer keep up. As a result, education is unable to properly prepare individuals and organizations to meet new life challenges. Along with a number of fundamental achievements any progress has its negative side – a growing instability.

There is an increasing number of research papers from different spheres (technology, ecology, economics, and sociology) which tend to show our civilization’s self-destruction and/or its inevitable death during the next twenty-five or fifty years at most. Such disturbing research-based prophecies have made many politicians face this problem and cause them to seriously consider these challenges of the third millennium. The research identifies three objective threats for the modern world [8; 10; 12; 14]:

  • Increased technological progress has been accompanied by a growing spiritual crisis. We can suggest the following cause consequence model connecting science development and civilizations’ viability: science produces new knowledge, which increases capacities and potentials of individuals and the society on the whole, but these growing potentials can be used for both good and bad. This is the primary reason why many researchers consider that sooner or later the potential of a certain individual or a group with a destructive value system, limited intellectual capacities, and mercenary interests, will grow to the level of totally destroying life on this planet. [3; 4; 8; 9; 10; 14].
  • The dark side of new technologies is a growing cost of mistakes in their usage. It is only in the 20th century that a single technical mistake of one person at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station caused damage, which consequently brought total destruction and many deaths to the whole region. The growing capacity of power sources and other industrial objects could finally provoke the situation when one individual mistake will bring about the death of all humankind.
  • Today, we are witnessing a growing complexity of future consequences of any new technologies. The ecological state of our planet is the best example of this kind of threat. Every country is developing its industry and technology in accordance with its own needs and chosen strategies. But today’s industrial influence on the ecology of the planet has not been fully studied. Still, a number of facts clearly tell us that the speed of species extinction has increased. A human being, an individual, is just another species, which means that the future of humanity is under a serious threat.

These three threats are directly connected with the system of education.

We can avoid the first threat if we move to new principles of education — a new system of values, spiritual-moral basics of human relationships, and of ethics and culture, which will guarantee that new technologies would only be used for the benefit of all humanity.

Increased damage from mistakes caused by growing capacities of new technologies can be compensated for only by the quality of education outpacing the growth of technologies. There are always groups of pessimists who predict the inevitable self-destruction of civilization. Their ideas are as such: our civilization has been moving towards increased technical progress, from the discovery of fire, to that of a nuclear reactor and beyond; the cost of a mistake is inevitably higher, and making mistakes is only human, which means that we cannot avoid mistakes, and that we can finally cause such a mistake which will destroy our civilization.

So much for the pessimists. We are of a different opinion — though we do agree that civilization is following a path of technological progress and the cost of a mistake is higher than ever before, and individuals are destined to make mistakes, we still believe that the cost of the mistake depends on the quality of education. If we learn how to define the interdependence of the mistake’s cost and the quality of education and also learn how to create educational models that guarantee quality, then, we will definitely manage to avoid self-destruction of our civilization and provide for its stable development.

We can also increase the quality of predictions of safety in development by introducing new technologies for overall decision-making. New communication systems allow us to arrange global productive and interactive communication to effectively solve the world’s stability problems.

The foundational basis, methodological provision, innovative technologies, and a system of in-service training of how to use these technologies, were created and successfully used during the last twenty years within an innovative anti-crisis model of the public educational institution — Center of Education “School of Health” No. 1804 Kozhukhovo, Moscow2.

For the first time ever this school, though under very unfavorable social conditions in a highly criminalized Moscow location, managed to organize an educational process starting from a pre-natal stage and extended to adulthood, and to provide a stable spiritual-moral development, intellect, health, and quality of education. Such negative aspects as violence, alcohol and other drug use, and related risk factors impacting local youth were resolved within two years. After that, all educational indicators became higher in comparison with typical world practice. As you can see in Picture 1, the success of our student’s participation in different school subject’s and creativity contests and athletic competitions has tremendously increased. During the last school year, we could observe the obviously high increase of students’ achievements with their ratio to the number of students being 702%, which means that on average, every student won at least seven times in different contests, creativity competitions, and athletic competitions from regional to international levels.

One of the factors which allows the success of the anti-crisis model is the innovative technology of studying “Art”; we call it “technology of a foundational level.” This technology is different from traditional approaches because it uses art to specifically develop students’ intellectual capacities and creative decision-making in any sphere of activities. We started developing new technologies using the results of deep-rooted art-therapy, popular art-education and fundamental research which process the possibility of music influence on the development of different species, including microorganisms, plants, animals, and human beings, as well as research in related fields.

Different studies of an educational influence, which “Art” produces on the development of human beings and society, have allowed the creation of safe and effective technologies for life-long education. Due to these technologies culture has become the foundation and a central part of a school curriculum, and it allowed us to describe a new educational paradigm as culture-centered.

We should also mention another technology, which is new and necessary to provide for a stable civilization development — value-oriented self-management. The necessity to master this technology can be explained as follows: the 21st century presents us with a growing number of non-standard situations, which human beings have to face and deal with during their lives. The speed of technical progress has increased so much that a number of non-typical, non-standard situations that arise out of new high technologies has grown tremendously and has overwhelmed the number of standard situations.

These new life-changing conditions demand the rethinking of our values’ system. Due to the fact that every individual tends to create his or her own system of values the society faces the threat of developing separatism and confrontations. The latter could grow to a level, which will cause the destruction of families, different organizations, splitting nations and states apart, and segmenting all of humanity into different groups, hostile to each other.

In his 2007 presidential addresses, Vladimir Putin formulated this problem as such, “…the spiritual unity of the people and the moral values that unite them is as important for development as political and economic stability. I’m sure the society is able to raise and solve huge national issues only when it has a common system of moral orientations.” [15] However, a common system of values in a situation of rapid social changes cannot happen by itself. Besides, we are facing the problem of providing harmony between new and traditional values, values of a personality, family, society, state, and humanity. President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, expressed this idea in the following way, “we have values which we will never give to anyone and which we will always protect.” [11] This is about a real system of values, such a system that can be accepted by every human being on the basis of his or her inner motives, definitely not under the ideological influence, and direct or indirect brainwashing.

Today we do not have such a common system of values. We have various opinions from numerous famous researchers, politicians, and groups about what this common system of values is. [1; 2; 10; 12; 13] There are multiple attempts and calls to organize education in accordance with different understanding of such a common system of values. But this does not mean that the ideas of researchers, politicians, or groups are common for the whole of humanity. It is no wonder that the United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon announced the necessity to develop the so-called preventative diplomacy. Today, the formula, technologies, and strategies for such diplomacy already exist.
The formula to provide developmental stability for civilization can be expressed in the following way: a life is defined by activities, activities are defined by values, and values are impacted by the environment as well as by the creativity of individuals, groups, or all of humanity.

Unfortunately, due to the reasons mentioned earlier, individual subjective values are the result of an overall informational environment but their viability and stability tend to be degrading. Consequently, there is only one way to provide for civilization’s stable development – the creation of culture which allows every human being to be active and conscious in the systematic and constant process of developing his or her own system of values.
In fact, this formula defines the technology of building a new culture of a safe and stable world development in the process of advanced civilization’s development.

The technology of value-orientated self-management is based on the systematic self-diagnostics of one’s own system of values, on the process of creating an ideal system of values and planning and realizing different steps, which will allow the development of such a system of values. This will prevent a contradiction between the speed and safety of the civilizations’ development, providing for a positive direction and a high intellect of everyone who uses this technology.

The primary preference of the above mentioned is that every human being possesses all the necessary resources to use such a technology; in other words, this is the technology to realize the self-potential of a human being and a society which also allows every human being to be active in building the civilization of the future regardless of one’s age.

If we manage to involve all humanity into this process, then the stability of the civilization will be guaranteed. We believe that the suggested technologies of value-oriented self-management and a current level of information technologies (including Internet) allow for the solution of this task within a very short period of time.

One of the titles of the suggested project is “Captains of History.” Everyone can make the first step to participate in this project, by just answering the following questions:

  • What are the values that determine the development of the world today?
  • What is the best possible system of common human values to allow a harmonious development of civilization?
  • What are the first steps, which should be made to improve a current system of common human values?
  • How can we arrange the process of improving a current system of common human values to provide stability for a technological civilization of a post-industrial information-oriented society?

Value-oriented self-management as a continuing process of producing values that can provide for the stability of individuals, families, groups, educational establishments, NGOs, regions, countries, and the entire humanity – can be and should be arranged with an adequate technological basis.

If this ever happens, we can predict that any tragedies caused by religious, nationalistic and ideological conflicts, separatism, terrorism, and wars, will remain in the past.3

1 Parnitsyna-Kurbatova, Natalia A. [In Russian: Наталья Андреевна Парницына-Курбатова], an associated member of the International Academy of Social Studies, a winner of the President of the Russian Federation Award, and of a competition «Moscow Grants», Vice Principal of the Center of Education No. 1804 "Kozhuhovo," and a teacher of social studies.

2 Center of Education No. 1804 "Kozhuhovo" was opened as an experimental educational complex in 1990; it included a number of children's institutions and realized a model of a full-day school.

3 Visit the following website for more details about a new paradigm of education http://era-obrazovanija , or email us questions at : sec1804@mail.ru

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