A World of Difference? Comparing Learners across Europe

A World of Difference? Comparing Learners across Europe

A World of Difference? Comparing Learners across Europe

A World of Difference? Comparing Learners across Europe

Synopsis

This fascinating volume compares the experience of young learners in England, France and Denmark in order to examine the relationship between national educational cultures, individual biographies and classroom practices in creating the context for learning. It explores how secondary schools in three very different education systems work to develop the aptitudes and attitudes conducive to lifelong learning in conditions of complexity, uncertainty and multiple change. By drawing upon a rich data-set including questionnaires, individual and group interviews and classroom observation, the book gives a voice to young learners in the three countries. Through detailed case studies and quotations it examines their concerns with schooling, with teachers, with motivation and achievement and explores the very different social contexts which influence their engagement with learning. This book will be an essential resource for researchers, practitioners, students and policy-makers and all those committed to understanding the relationship between culture and learning and to improving secondary education.

Excerpt

Are schools in crisis? As the twenty-first century dawns, there is mounting evidence that the institution that has served industrial society so well in training, socializing and selecting successive generations of young people to take their place in society may be less well placed to serve the rapidly developing world of the twenty-first century. This is because we live in a world of change. a world in which, in developed countries at least, there are unprecedented opportunities for individuals to make choices about values and about lifestyles. the dawn of the third millennium offers the citizens of such countries access to a level of material comfort and a breadth of experience unparalleled in any previous era. It also offers unprecedented challenges for the organization and conduct of education. the information revolution, coupled with major changes in the labour market, requires traditional institutional structures to become more flexible in order to provide for the development of the skills and attitudes that will be needed if learning is to become sufficiently responsive to these changes. At the same time, the erosion of value-consensus and the growing cultural diversity within industrialized societies is focusing attention on the role of educational institutions as a mechanism of social integration and control. in particular there are expectations that schools will play a major part in the inculcation of moral values and notions of citizenship.

Indeed the evidence both from scholarly research and from popular press articles points to a situation in which schools are increasingly being charged with the responsibility of containing the fall-out of societies in which diversity, normlessness and even violence are becoming the defining characteristics. Yet schools in their turn appear to be less and less equipped to undertake this responsibility. Many of the children now growing into adolescence and young adulthood around the world are challenging the ethos of an institution which appears to have little relevance to their daily lives and fails to recognize their individual identity and needs. For every young person who is successful . . .

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