Transforming education on a global scale – Congress in Naples, Italy

Maestri di Strada hosted the First Global Congress of Educational Transformation between 29 and 31 October 2018 in Naples, Italy. Researchers and practitioners came together from all over the world to discuss the needs and possibilities to transform education to become more humane, more holistic and thus better for both individual learners and society. Parents International was invited to explore the role of parents as educators and learners in the transformation process as well as new ways of education. We have shared our vision in the form of a plenary keynote on parents as primary educators, caregivers, gatekeepers and scaffolders to cover the thematic axis of Educational Communities and Complex Integral Learning.

The congress considered education as a complex and continuous process aimed to support the development of people and the growth of human relationships, which constitute the foundation of society. This holistic definition of education concerns the intellectual, emotional, affective, bodily, motor, social, aesthetic, moral and political development of people, starting from the culture and the rules of coexistence of the contexts to which they belong, and which are in continuous transformation. Education can allow everyone to participate actively in this transformation, which involves the lives of individuals and the future of humanity.

The contemporary world is traversed by rapid and profound changes of the material and psychic structures of communal life, which challenge the structural and cultural assumptions of education as it is traditionally understood in the Western educational system: in particular, the value attributed to intergenerational transmission and to civil coexistence, the role of beauty and wonder, the space of hope and of the project for a better future have changed.

The crisis of these foundations of education also fully affects the educational institution, which is crossed by radical contradictions and profound malaise, becoming increasingly isolated within a world that no longer recognizes the social value of the mission that was entrusted to them. However, there has been an increase all around the world of practices and educational methodologies that prove to be locally effective and innovative.

Organisers and participants agreed that the time has come for an educational transformation with a broad scientific and narrative foundation, capable of imposing itself on the attention of individuals, communities, institutions and societies, which otherwise risk responding only to economic and technical logics: a transformation carried out in order to preserve, and not dissipate, the best of humanity. Teachers and other educators – including parents – must be given back a strong social mandate, on the basis of the awareness that education is the place where the social contract is constantly renewed, and in which one decides, as Hannah Arendt wrote, “whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it, and by the same token save it from that ruin which except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and the young, would be inevitable”.

The intent was to foster an extended dialogue and cooperation by encouraging the encounter between continents and disciplines, creating a space for the exchange of different experiences, researches and educational reflections. Care, beauty and dreams appear to the organisers as the first foundations for a possible change of education and school: the care of the Self and of human relationships, the research and the construction of beauty even in the most difficult contexts and situations, the capacity to dream together and aspire to a better world. Because, as Danilo Dolci wrote, education is carried out “dreaming others as they are not now: everybody grows only if dreamed about”.

The aims of the congress were:

  • To open spaces of shared reflection, for the exchange and discussion of ideas, activities and projects, between people, groups and institutions interested in overcoming the conventional paradigms of education.
  • To bring forward and analyse innovative educational proposals in order to promote creative learning, cooperative work, open and respectful dialogue, pacific and inclusive coexistence.
  • To generate initiatives for the systematisation of concepts, methodologies and psycho-pedagogical and didactic techniques in order to stimulate the passion for knowledge of students and teachers, extra-institution together with a greater social engagement.
  • To promote research and innovative experiences inter and trans-subject in order to change the educational programmes of the institutions.
  • To support interculturalism through the valorisation of all contributions of the people of the world.

The organisers also proposed to continue dialogue and collaboration until the next Global Congress for Educational Transformation to be held in South America in the form of a professional network that Parents International is happy to join.

The beautiful logo of the congress, The Star Archer was designed by Riccardo Dalisi. It refers to Dante’s Divine Comedy:

“E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle”. [“And thus we came out to see the stars again”] (Dante, Inferno, XXXIV, 139)

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