Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Learning Race -International Conference and The Cold War - North Korea

October 30 & 31st
Who is doing better in the learning race? This is the second day of the International Conference on Education. It has been fascinating to hear varied research presentations, perspectives, and critiques of the state of “schooling” and of the broader landscape of lifelong learning. One of the key dilemmas for some of the speakers is the focus on capitalism as a driver for the “knowledge economy.” Many of the speakers questioned the utility of this framework of Marx and Marcuse for the future of life-balanced learning (or of living complete lives – including work, learning, and learning). Some individuals examined the issue of the broad international landscape based in K-12 assessments of PISA and OECD figures – showing varied levels of performance of nations on international standards. The underlying belief that, our national is doing well or that it needs to do better. A few focused upon practice, evidence based efforts – predominantly with teacher education, and higher education class structured research. Lastly, there were a few who were futurists focused upon developing future global leaders, of the future of a lifelong learning economy, and of the nature of academic competence and its applications to varied contexts and peoples. In Korea, it is clear that there is a focused achievement orientation—of being the best academically and also in the world marketplace. Thus, there research both philosophical and empirical was concerned for being the best. Interesting cultural contrast from two years ago - when the strong topic was Confucianism and its importance for engaging in lifelong learning. Yes, there are cultural clashes here also.
Saturday, I did my own learning project and visited the DMZ and Panmunjeon – the site of continuing military and political focus for North and South Korea. As is always the case, I gained a new emotional and historically appreciation of the conflict between these two groups – and of the major issues that continue with North Korea desires to take over South Korea for its own territory. No other place in the world has this continued tension and war atmosphere. Seeing the barbed wire, the secret tunnels, the stories of killings both by military and by spies, of ongoing attached on their premier again reviews my understanding that peace in the world is yet far away from us.

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