International Education , Globalization and Cosmopolitanism

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    Michael James

    [caption id="attachment_5124" align="alignnone" width="225"] Michelangelo’s Oracle of Delphi[/caption]

    International Education was, until the 1960’s a theoretical academic idea with no practical application. During a post war Nato conference attended by international academics and as part of an analysis into the causes of world war two, a hypothesis was suggested that a major factor was not the presence of some set of concrete causal processes but rather the absence of national educational systems which propogated international values and ideals. Thus was born the idea of an International Education which had ben discussed academically earlier in the century. With financing from the Ford Foundation, several academics and educationalists then embarked on a discussion and a cooperative adventure: to design a curriculm for a an international school-system embodying international humanistic values. This discussion took place in England and Switzerland against an intensive philosophical debate of the thoughts of the Philosopher Ludvig Wittgenstein who had first produced a work grounded in pure logic and science in 1922 “Tractatus Logicus Philosophicus” . It was this kind of philosophy which permeated the cultural atmosphere in Europe before and immediately after the two world wars. Wittgenstein was then forced to retreat from this position to a more humanistically orientated view in the wake of objections from many philosophers schooled in Classical Greek and Enlightenment Philosophy(Immanuel Kant). The Project of the so called “International Baccalaureate Program” began to take shape. The first task after designing the humanistic principles in accordance with the objections directed at Wittgensteins earlier Philosophy( a task which to everyone’s surprize the author participated in), was to decide how many subjects the proposed program should offer given the theoretical requirements of the program and the practical requirements of Universities(It was never in doubt that what was needed was a University-preparation program). The English Advanced level system and the German Gymnasium system were, it was argued, flawed for the following reasons.:the German Gymnasium system although it offered a large number of subjects and combined the sciences and the humanities did so in the spirit of science and pragmatism. The English A level system(the last two years of school for pupils aged 16-18) forced pupils to choose between a set of Science Advanced level subjects(thus studying no languages or Humanistic subjects) and a set of Humanistic Advanced level subjects (thus neutralizing the Humanistic component of Education which incorporates an interest in Science).The American system of Education was not even considered in this process because it had been formed to teach a population composed of immigrants who took time to learn the English language for the purposes of communication thus limiting the time available for the teaching of the academic use of the language. According to the opinion of the time the American University system rapidly accommodated itself to this situation by continuing Gymnasium level education for the first two years of College and University. The result of this comparative examination of different systems of education was the 6 subjects of the IB program which students chose in accordance with a hexagon of groups of subjects: Group one language, Group two language, Mathematics, Individuals and Societies(History, Philosophy, Economics, Psychology, Geography etc)., Natural Sciences, The Arts. A research Essay and a specially designed interdisciplinary theory of knowledge course made up the theoretical core of the program. There was also a practical creativity, community action and service component comprising 150 hours of activity meant to make the student think about helping people in the wider community which in certain cases could involve even helping people in need in other countries.
    The Program has extended to cover the total span of school-years which includes a middle years program and a primary years program. Growth has been continual since the first group of 29 graduates in 1970 and presently ca 150,000 students graduate every year from the Gymnasium Program and large numbers of students are accepted at the best Universities in the world. Sweden has allowed schools to teach the above programs but only conditionally. The IB Diploma program(Gymnasium level) MYP and PYP are not bona fide school forms with all the community and state benefits that accompany state sponsored school programs. This testifies to a an ambivalent state response to this form of International Education which is a state of affairs which is in need of analysis.
    The analysis we are going to engage in consists of charting the history of Philosophical and Educational ideas: in particular, normative ideas such as the idea of “The Good” and the idea of “Education”. What is often referred to as the “traditional divisions” of Philosophy, namely, Metaphysics, Ethics, Epistemology, and Political Philosophy will be used as a framework for the discussion of the development of the theoretical assumptions underlying these ideas. We will begin our account at the beginning with Plato and Aristotle where all good Philosophy begins.

    • This topic was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Michael James.
    • This topic was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Michael James.
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