Author: Risnoveanu, Adriana
Date published: January 1, 2010
A student-oriented education system is one of the essential needs on which the organization and performance of contemporary education should rely on, reflecting the contribution of post-modem thinking to re-conceiving education. The education-humanist paradigm is at stake in this approach, which analyses things from the student perspective towards education and towards the institutional ways of performing education.
At least theoretically, postmodernism influences the theory and practice of education. As Professor Emil Päun shows in his study "A reading of education through the post-modem perspective" (see "Pedagogy. Theoretical Fundamentals and Applicative Approaches": p. 19), there is a visible gap between the post-modem analyses and the school practice, still structured according to the modem paradigm. Furthermore, the post-modem approach in education is still developing and it has enough theoretical shortcomings that do not allow a considerable change in education practice to occur at present.
The existential-humanist perspective is one of the representative paradigms of postmodernism in education. This paradigm aims at a person-oriented society and, consequently, at a person-oriented education, too, having humanist psychology at its core (C. Rogers, A. Adler and others). The reevaluation of the subjective dimension of the education act is one of the major characteristics of this paradigm, which
introduces a global and holistic perspective on the individual, postulating it as a fundamental dimension of education goals.
Education is - as everyone knows - a specific social-human action, which has certain defining characteristics:
- the educative act is basically a relationship between a subject and an object, in which the subject or the agent of the action hints at a change, a transformation of the object according to a goal, while the object is the one upon which the characteristics of the subject's actions are projected;
- the relationship established between the subject and the object - as components of the education act - is a social and anthropological one;
- the active and creative character of the interaction existing between the two poles of this relationship ensures it a particular characteristic;
- the educative act is a subordinate component of a social assembly which regulates and directs this act in a particular way;
- the performance of the educative act has a functionally dynamic character through the direct and indirect relationships established among its components.
Education is the expression of two complementary dimensions: socialization and individualization.
Socialization implies an outer pressure exercised by education on the human being in the name of several social imperatives, which are expressed in the social ideal, of which the education one implicitly arises.
Individualization means the free expression of the inner tendencies and it offers education a self-assertive meaning, by stimulating the individual potential through the stress laid on differentiation.
Pedagogically speaking, the pupil/student is the object of education from the perspective of socialization, while from the perspective of individualization the pupil/student is the subject of education.
Re-evaluating the subjectivity of the education object is the basis of education nowadays, namely the one of transforming the object into the subject of its own personality development. The implication of the object in its very development explains in pedagogical terms what activating, involvement and commitment mean.
At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, two explanatory directions came into being in pedagogy: the socialization direction and the psychological one, interpreting education either from a sociological or a psychological point of view.
According to the theorists of the sociological direction (Emile Durkheim), education should be subordinated to society. It is considered a mainly social function, its role being to socialize individuals, transform the biological, asocial individual into the member of a collective group. Education offers the "set" behaviour - which is considered to be normal and therefore represents a generalized behaviour among the members of a community - an inner dimension. "Education is the action performed by the adult generation on the actions that are not considered ripe for social life. Its object is to provoke and develop in a child a certain number of physical, intellectual, moral states, which are demanded by the political society and by the special environment the child is destined to live in" (Emile Durkheim, Education si sociology, p. 39)
According to the theorists of the psychological orientation, education should have the child at its core, his needs and aspirations, and the educacative process should be based on these aspects. Helen Kay's work "The century of the child" (1900) pleads for the necessity of respecting the child's individuality, his freedom of acting according to his nature, without any external constraint. She claims a new type of education, one that is "child-centered", as opposed to the ones that have at their core the society's demands imposed by the educator through an external constraint.
The important changes, sometimes even spectacular, that occur in the contemporary society, along with the needs and the expectations of the younger generations, determine changes in education, in the school's organisation and functionality.
The reassessment of the object in the educative act, of his relation with the adult, whose mission is to educate the pupil/student, of the latter' s relation with knowledge, with the others and with one's self.
According to professor Emil Päun, in the postmodernist age, the most interesting aspect of the education is the transition from the certainty paradigm to the uncertainty paradigm, from the intense programming of the educative act to the subjectivity of teaching, from the identical reproduction of stereotype knowledge to projects initiation, from viewing knowledge as a sum of simple units to unprogrammed pedagogical situations.
In the postmodernist age, the education-humanist paradigm chooses an "open" education system and a school that allows the active involvment from the receiver of education, in creating the message, the meaning and the value.
The pupil/student-oriented teaching is one of the humanism's developments in the educative sciences, the reflexion of a teaching model that is centered on the subject of education, on his needs, interests, beliefs and on his experience. Through the organised activities, this model of teaching emphasises the creative aspect of personality, the development of autonomy, the ability to accomodate to changes, the relaxation of relations between the subject of education and the adult, the care for the affective dimension of the developing personality.
Also, on the one hand, the educationhumanist paradigm develops the ideas of undertaking one's education by the receiver, who has to focus and to use his inner energies in teaching situations, and on the other hand it develops the ideas about the educator as a facilitator in the evolution of the developing personality.
The subject-oriented teaching (education act) is also reflected in the control exercised by the subject in his learning activity, in the selection of the themes in accordance with the affective and cognitive needs of the subject, in the development of the learning experience in the presence of an empathical educator, who is attentive to the subject needs and has a cultural mediation role.
The subject of the education act should be offered trust and should be allowed to research what is of interest to him/her, because this is the condition of authentic learning. The quality of learning is ensured if it is perceived as being connected with personal projects, the educator having the role of helping the subject identify and deal with significant problems for him/her.
Among the humanist pedagogical principles developed by C. Rogers, one could mention:
- learning a lot and effectively through action;
- learning is facilitated when the subject is responsible for the teaching method applied;
- teaching that wholly involves the subject in the education act is the one that clearly leaves a mark on the personality of the taught person;
- the independence of the spirit, creativity and self-trust are facilitated when self-criticism and self-assessment are considered as being fundamental, and the assessment of the subject through another person is considered as having a secondary role;
- nowadays it is of utmost importance to leam how to learn, to become aware of your own learning processes, to remain open to your own experience and to integrate within you the changing processes accompanying the education act.
The organization and the university didactic performance need to be founded - to a larger extent - on the principles of humanist pedagogy. It shouldn't elude its formativeeducative functions and focus only on the systematic transmission of knowledge. The real involvement of the students in the didactic act shouldn't be an episodic reality, on the contrary the instruction sequences should be more numerous during courses, seminars, applicative lessons, in which students should have the initiative and autonomy, and should be involved through heuristic, active-participative methods in the course in order to discover new truths.
The students' subjectivity, the way they study, think and feel should concern the educators to a larger extent. University didacticism should "become a part of the students' concern", place them at the core of the education act, in its very centre. Individualization should be stressed more, by using more and more information technology methods, the computer and the modern, existing ways of learning.
According to the ideas expressed above, we present below - informative - a chart including the criteria proposed to be used in the assessment and self-assessment activity of a student-oriented educative system:
*** Metodologia de evaluare externa, standarde, standardele de referinß §i lista indicatorilor de performanß a Agenfiei Romane de Asigurare a Calitäpi m Invatma tul Superior (www.aracis.ro).
Durkheim, E. Educafie si sociologie. Bucharest: Editura Didáctica si Pedagogica, 1980.
Leiter, LB. Postmodernism. Pitesti: Editura Paralela 45, 2000.
Nicola, I. Tratat de scolara. Bucharest: Editura Didactica si Pedagogica, 1996.
Paun, E. "O 'lectura' a educajiei prin grila postmodernitatii". In Emil Paun and Dan Potolea ed. Pedagogie. Fundamente teoretice si demersuri aplicative. Iasi: Editura Polirom, 2002.
Rogers, C. Le développement de la personne. Paris: Dunod, 1966.
SORINA MIHAELA MARDAR
"Carol G' National Defense University, Bucharest