The reflections in this article are a result of my explorations with rethinking education and development over the past 20 years. They were part of a talk delivered in Lisbon, Portugal.
Learning Societies: Deepening the Dialogues
An Invitation to the Reader
We published our first book on the theme of unfolding learning societies in March 2000. That was just before the World Education Forum at Dakar, Senegal, and we hoped that our publication might contribute to expanding a process of critical and constructive reflection about the vision, processes, and actors driving the Education for All Campaign. We also hoped that it might serve as source of further inspiration for people who wanted to stop looking at the world through tainted school-colored glasses and wanted to try to understand themselves (both individually and collectively), Nature, and the human spirit in new ways. Lastly, we hoped the book would lead to new opportunities for learning and growing amongst the Shikshantar family. We knew then that even the partial fulfillment of all these hopes was dependent on our being able to generate meaningful dialogues with diverse peoples around the world and to connect these dialogues to each other.
One year later, it is difficult assess how successful we have been. We have, to some extent, been able to connect to and generate discussions related to learning societies in different part of the world. Much of these discussions have focused on: (1) how to mount various challenges to the illegitimate monopoly of schooling, the global media and the global consumer industrial society and (2) how to regenerate non- schooled spaces, expressions, knowledge systems, relationships and wisdoms. This special issue of Vimukt Shiksha seeks to share some of these conversations with you in an effort to further demystify and deepen the dialogue on learning societies.
We will repeat the warning that we issued in the first book: this is not a how-to manual, it is not a prescriptive workplan, and it is certainly not a declaration. For those in search of quick-fix, replicable solutions, it will be a great disappointment. Rather, this book should be taken as an invitation to get involved in an organically evolving and highly contested discussion, which has great implications for the future of humanity and for all life on this planet. Unless each of us takes an active role in creating our own learning communities, the concept of learning societies will remain hollow. No degrees or diplomas are required to do this – only an honest commitment to make oneself vulnerable to the inspiring and moving processes of life.
We invite you to join us in deepening the dialogues on learning societies.