Kjell Askeland Report



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Example 1. Control.

In development projects, where ’donors’ are involved, one always has to face the problem that is hidden in the simple question: Who should take hand of the resources, the ’donors’ or the ’recipients’? The tricky thing is to decide in the following question: Who are the recipients? Are they the end-users or the leaders of the end-users?


There is no simple standard answer to this. In international development work labelled as ’foreign aid’, it seems as if both strategies are used. In one project, one seeks to send the aid to the end user more or less directly. In other projects, the aid is transferred to some sort of ’leader’. This may be a local organisation or a local person.
In discussions about foreign aid, there also seems to be no clear answer to this question, but there seems to be a tendency to say that aid best fulfils its purpose if the recipients are close to the end-beneficiates. This does not of course exclude local or national authorities. In fact, there is also another tendency to react against attempts from the donors to make too many and too detailed decisions on the use of the resources.
This sounds complicated, and in fact it is complicated. Therefore it is extremely difficult to prove that the decisions made in the EUROFACULTY Project were either right or wrong in this respect.
In the EUROFACULTY Project, a decision had to be made: Where would and could the ’donors’ of the resources seek to place these resources? Should the resources be sent to the single individuals, students, administrators and teachers, or to the University, or to somewhere between?
The decision was made, that the main responsibility for the use of resources should lie in the hands of the deans of the two faculties in question.

All information that I have received supports the conclusion that this was a wise decision and proved fruitful. As far as I can see, this decision was possible because two factors were present and interlaced: the right decision competence and the right people who had the right decision capacity.


Example 2. ‘Report economy’.

The second example takes its point of departure in the discontinuity of the project, concerning the prolongation from the first phase to the second phase.


A closer analysis of this important phase transition (critical incident) of the EUROFACULTY Project tells us something about the importance of long term planning and the waste of energy and time involved if project participants have to fight to keep projects alive. Of course, the donors, and the political and administrative authorities have both the right and the duty to ensure that projects are run according to plan. On the other hand, one should always keep in mind that this control consumes resources, and that these resources have to be taken from the project itself, thereby reducing its success level. Everyone who has worked in ‘normal’ controlled projects knows the burden of ‘reporting’ upwards, and that this burden increases with the threat of potential sanctions if the report is not delivered or does not meet expectations. This burden is made even heavier if the ‘donors’ or ‘top authorities’ lack competencies to make their own judgements and decisions, and they have to ask for decisions at even higher levels in order to continue ongoing projects. I am saying what we all know: We should try to make long-term decisions. Where that is not possible, we should delegate decision competence as far ‘down’ in the system as possible.
Nobody, with any knowledge from the world of ‘projects’, would disagree that control is needed, and that sanctions are sometimes needed too. On the other hand, I have heard voices saying that the worst enemy of efficiency within the ‘project world’ is the ‘reportocracy’.

Having discussed this with people in many different positions, I have come to doubt that this problem is fully recognised. I have experienced how projects and the ‘participants’ have suffered from this system of control and reporting, and that project output has also suffered from it.

When it comes to the EUROFACULTY Project, I was convinced that the lack of long term commitment and the ‘reportocracy’ had some negative consequences for the project. Having (tried) to read all the internal and external reports that have been produced concerning this project, and with some knowledge of the workload behind them, I feel it certain to say that this effort and energy should have been used for more constructive purposes.
It is of course easy to say that in this particular case, the project leadership consisted of qualified, hard working people with extremely high integrity and morale, and accordingly all controls could have been done away with. But I am not saying that. What I say is rather that one should seriously consider ‘the economy of reports and controls’ and (if possible) try to find other means and procedures to meet the regular demands and reasons for stopping projects that are not run properly.

Since I try to stick to the slogan that ‘everyone who proposes that a problem has to be solved, has to deliver at least one possible solution’, I propose this:

Instead of wasting too many resources upon reporting, one should rely more upon ‘visits’ from unannounced controllers who have the qualifications and the competence to make their own decisions, including sometimes to demand for closer control.

Had this been done in the EUROFACULTY Project, the quality of the project would have increased, simply because the project leaders would have had the resources (time and energy) to focus more upon educational/pedagogical issues.

It is my firm belief, or to be more correct, it seems to be a reasonable hypothesis that a system of ‘controllers’ will of course have a cost in time and money, but that this cost will be much lower than that of spending too much time and effort to produce so many and so detailed reports. I believe that the decision makers above the project leaders would profit from this, by being given more possibilities for strategic planning and decision-making. (Of course I cannot prove this, because I do not have the adequate information.)

On the organisation of pedagogical development
Pedagogical development can either be performed as a discontinuous activity, taking place each time an educational reform is made, or as a continuous development work. There are several reasons for a combination of these strategies. On the one hand, the normal teaching of all participants, including teachers, staff and students that aim at raising the level of competence in educational matters, must be continuous. On the other hand, there are occasions where the institution itself has to get assistance from outside. This is likely to happen when there is no competence at hand within the institution.

If there is a big reform, initiated by central authorities, it seems unlikely that the authorities can be expected to send ’educators’ to all institutions being affected by the reform. The sole, and most modern answer to this challenge is to be found in distance education, utilizing all means available to teach the content and ’culture’ of the reform.

Between the big reforms, there must be a continuous development work within the institution, acting as a bridge between educational research and development, and the participants within the institution. One cannot and should not expect the participants to read important books or articles on pedagogics as a part of their normal job if they are not inspired to do so. Unfortunately, many good and relevant pedagogical publications are quite boring, written more for the purpose of impressing colleagues than for improving the educational system.

In both cases, for the discontinuous development work, and the daily activity in order to keep oneself and the participants up to date, it is important to take part in research. The good lecturer in chemistry, sociology, psychology etc. has got her or his position on scientific merits, which means ’own research’. This applies also to the people who are responsible for the pedagogical development work in each institution. It is an advantage if they have the opportunity to conduct their own research. On that background it can only be appreciated that it was decided to initiate research in new teaching methods, as proposed by rector Klemeshev in June 2001. Unfortunately, is has not been possible to get further information on this proposal that was adopted by the Expert Group.

The important thing is that scientific based educational development work was placed on the agenda of IKSUR and the EUROFACULTY Project.

Here, it must again be stressed that there are problems in traditional educational empirical research. Again and again I have made the sad experience that ’the people who know’, meaning the pedagogical researchers, are seldom the same people as ’the pedagogical innovators’. In many cases, I have found that the most progressive and competent pedagogical innovators are not educated in pedagogics at all.

Conclusion and recommendations:

The reader may accuse me of having been too positive towards both the leadership and organisation of the project. This possibility cannot be denied, since there is always a certain tendency to be positive towards people who have recommended you. You want to be polite. If people say you are good for something, sheer politeness expecting you to reply in the same way. It is known in educational research that evaluators have a tendency to be too positive. If they criticise too much, they do not get more assignments.

In my ’defence’, I can only say that the reader of this report will hopefully accept my conclusions that this project was lead and organised in a very good way, albeit not perfectly. On several occasions I have been very critical, and expressed this in a polite form as ’recommendations for future projects’. That is part of an acceptable discourse, as I see it.

A final plea in my defence: As already mentioned, I had some influence upon the pedagogical/architectural design of the university in Roskilde. As there was a need to evaluate the experiment, I worked in the evaluation team for some years, together with a group of other educationalists. Those who had wanted me to join the team did not expect me to be more positive just because I had contributed to the design of the experiment. In fact, as the evaluation project developed, it turned out that I was not the one being the most positive in my conclusions.

Having made this clear, I do not hesitate to give full credit to the leadership of the EUROFACULTY Project for both the design, planning and administration of the project. This leadership is in itself an important factor behind the success.

As always, there are factors behind the factors. In this case, it must be said that the use of earlier experience was one such factor. The competence among the leadership of the EUROFACULTY Project stems from different sources. Here it can be clearly seen that the experience gained from the Tempus projects, the pilot EUROFACULTY Project in Kaliningrad and the EuroFaculty Projects in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania has been utilised to its fullest extent.

Some critical remarks:

As the EUROFACULTY Project was an educational project, measures should have been taken in order to bring relevant pedagogical competence into the organisation, both in the form of pedagogical advice and activity on the spot. To this must be added a substantial need for pedagogical evaluation of the project. Above all, the sustainability of the EUROFACULTY Project should have been planned in a more pedagogical way.

Recommendations:


  1. Projects like this need not only knowledge, but also personality, - both brain and heart. This should be considered in setting up leader-teams for any such future projects.

  2. It is essential that competence for analogous educational development in the Eastern half of Europe be accumulated, so that each new project can be build upon earlier experience.

  3. All projects should be performed in a ’modern’ way. This implies a ’flat’ non-hierarchical structure of leadership as far as this can be done without jeopardising the ’firmness’ that is sometimes needed.

  4. In the same manner as no power plants can be built and operated without engineers, no educational development or experiments should be designed and run without pedagogues.

  5. The EUROFACULTY Projects should always be considered to be the first phase of a long term; continuous development work after the projects is finished. Therefore, personal and organisational measures must be taken at the beginning of each project to build up competent and effective pedagogical units at each university/faculty or institute.
    To be specific: Each project should have a pedagogical adviser from one of the donor countries and at least one pedagogue from Russia attached. The Russian pedagogue should work on a long-term basis. When the project is brought to an end, this pedagogue should work as a ‘pedagogical developer’ in the institution/university. This has something to with the next issue.

SUSTAINABILITY

The problem of sustainability has to be considered in two different ways: the ‘static’ way and the ‘dynamic’ way.


Semi-static sustainability.

An educational reform may be planned as a change process. Once the change has been made, the task is to maintain what you have achieved. If, for example, a decision is made that the length of a university course should be increased by one year, the problem here is to prevent it from being subsequently reduced again. This seems so evident that it is almost unnecessary to mention it. However, there are cases where this force to revert back to the traditional methods is quite apparent. If changing the teaching methods reforms a school, there is inevitably the risk that once the reform has been made, some teachers will say that ’the old method was better’ and look backwards. If you believe in the new way, you have to fight for its sustainability.

Since schools and their teachers often fight against reforms, and often ask for some stability, there is a tendency that once a reform is introduced, the reformers think in a static way. ’The reform was a success, and we made it. Now we may relax!’

This static way of thinking sometimes includes a demand or a wish to have a reform-pause, leaving planners, teachers and students in peace for a while. The result is a development that may be characterised as a stable system that now and then is changed by a reform, which lasts for shorter or longer time. We know this approach from companies, organisations and states.

In this context, the difference between the front side of the picture and its other side becomes important. In order to get acceptance for an educational innovation, and secure enthusiasm for it, the innovators present the front side, with all its simplifications. If the other side of the picture is not presented, there is a risk that in the long run, the innovation does not work, with the probable result that one has to step back.

Dynamic SUSTAINABILITY.

Another way is to see educational development as a continuous dynamic process without stable periods or reforms. The problem with this approach is that the system is never left in peace. Teachers, staff or students have no time to adapt to new routines, rules or a pedagogical everyday life.

Still worse, there is no room for asking whether the innovations are good or bad, simply because innovations have to last for some time in order to be evaluated in a proper way.

*

The EUROFACULTY Project may be seen as part of an educational reform in Russia. It was a project, which consisted of planning, implementation and a planned conclusion. Everyone who is analysing this process has to consider both dimensions of sustainability.

In documents and through interviews both aspects can be found. Some of the participants expressed the feeling of success ’quoted’ above in this way; ’the reform was a success, and we made it. Now we may relax!’ Other participants expressed the opposite feeling that ’Now it really starts! We are entering an age of continuous reforms’.

The problem is that neither approach represents a solution to the Scylla and Charybdis, named as ’stability’ and ’change’. Both are needed, There is no escape in making a choice between them. The question here is rather how to navigate through them?

*

As mentioned earlier in this report Russia has decided to adopt Bologna, and this was (at least partially) fulfilled in the EUROFACULTY Project. The problem is, however, that the Bologna process is still going on. Changes are being made now, and new changes are to come. So there is no time for resting upon ones laurels.

Personal commitment, a strength and a problem for sustainability.

Companies, states and universities are all unstable organisations. Sometimes this instability is an intended element of the organisation. The clearest example of this is of course to be found in democratic states. Here the elections may be seen as a desired element of instability. Universities are much more stable and seem to have many mechanisms that work for this stability with its inbuilt resistance to change.

If a university is changed, the change may be very ’personal’. Individuals may change the direction of their research. If this individual has a leading position, his or her own new priorities may affect other people, encouraging or forcing them to change.

The critical situation for change is when a person leaves the institution and one has to find the successor. In some university systems it is an explicit obligation to see if the profile of the leaving person should be continued, or the opportunity should be taken to make a change. Here, the ’profile’ always means ’direction of research’, never ’direction of pedagogics’. If applicants for the vacant position are compared, this is always done with respect to their direction and level of research. The direction is given in the advertisement, inviting applicants. Level is judged by some formal and informal rules. The missing dimensions being more or less the ’pedagogical profile and level’.

Against this background, pedagogical change and innovation is always threatened. It may take many, many years to change the pedagogical everyday life of an academic institution, but this change can be dismantled in a comparatively short period. What can happen is that a person, having spent many years supporting or adapting to the new pedagogical profile of the institution leaves. This may be a foreseen retirement or for some ’sudden’ reason.

There is always a risk that the newcomer does not agree with the new pedagogical model or that he or she is uninterested or even prepared to sabotage the new ideas. Even if the institution wants to prevent this, they have few means at their disposal, simply because pedagogical profile is not the most important criteria for ranking the applicants to the appointment.

Sometimes, but not always, the institution may be able to exercise an influence upon the process to secure that ’the right person’ gets the job. But if the position sought is that of a professor, a designated leader of an academic unit, then this person has a great influence on the educational profile. The higher the position, the greater this influence. But this leaves even less possibility to take the pedagogical profile into consideration.

In Russia, there are explicit regulations to be fulfilled in order to become a professor (Ordinarius). This means that there is a certain risk that IKSUR is in a rather weak position when it comes to defending the ’spirit and real changes’ that took place within the EUROFACULTY Project. The faculty cannot, and probably would not seek to circumvent either the regulations or the demand for research standard when replacing the professors who leave. If the faculty does not succeed in getting people with the necessary high academic standard it would lose the authorisation for giving degrees, since this authorisation is controlled.
This problem was discussed with the participants. It was not solved (because it cannot be solved, once and for all), but the information I received, indicated that they both were aware of the problem and had it under continuous surveillance.
Of course, this is not a cause for the success of the EUROFACULTY Project. It is a result. It indicates two things. First, that the commitment to the ideas, the results and the belief in the future of the EUROFACULTY model and spirit is high. It is worth defending and developing. Secondly, that the competence to do so is there. This is an important signal of sustainability.
Qualification and sustainability.

Working with the material collected in the EUROFAN Project, it was considered important to find clues to help answer the question of sustainability. What objective threats may be seen to sustainability, and how is IKSUR capable of dealing with these threats?

This turned out to be a very difficult task, but as indicated, it deserves more thought.

One approach may be described.

An example to illustrate the success.

The treatment of the GDSI-report13 with proposals, January 2006.

The problem of sustainability is often a central issue to be considered in development projects. In the case of the EUROFACULTY Project it is clear that both planners and participants paid due attention to this aspect. This seems to be done in different ways. From the side of the Expert Group of the EUROFACULTY Project it was stressed that there was a need to develop a strategic development plan for the university. As a result of this, a report was produced by GDSI: ’Development Strategy: Immanuel Kant State University of Russia’, submitted in January 2006.

The proposal areas of GDSI presented in the report were listed as some priorities: (p. 1)


Strategic Priority 1: Strengthening the University’s Financial Position.

Strategic Priority 2. Establish a Modern University Campus.

Strategic Priority 3. Developing a Suite of Quality Teaching

Et cetera


It is interesting to note that the reception of the plan from the side of the university indicated its competence to cope with the issue of further planning and development. The important thing in this context is not to ask if the plan was good or not. What is interesting is the reception of its proposals at the university
In a few number of cases this GDSI report and its recommendations were discussed with some participants. Here I tried to find out something about ‘planning competence’

It is my personal view that ‘planning competence’ among citizen is crucial for a society in order both to develop it and to take the burden of harsh times. If this planning competence is lacking in the population, democracy cannot work.

In this perspective, planning and planning competence must be seen as central issues in modern pedagogics. In the German educational tradition, this is considered in many ways. One dimension of it is called ‘Mündigkeit’, meaning ‘responsibility’. In these contexts it means something like ‘responsible persons’. ‘Planning competence’ belongs to this.

One may ask; is there any one ingredient in the process in educational planning that is always important determining the difference between ’lyricisms’ and real planning competence?

Perhaps the answer is in that of setting priorities and optimising.

On priorities and optimization as dimensions in educational planning.

As already indicated, the ’background’ for the EUROFACULTY Project is to be found in the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the need for Russia to adapt to new challenges and ways of thinking. It would be wrong to underestimate the effort and complexity of this task. The issue of optimization and priorities both on a grand scale and in peoples everyday life is far from ’solved’ in the rest of Europe, but to my knowledge and experience this development seems to be far more difficult in Russia today.
Both planning and planning competence were very different in the Soviet planned society compared with the market economy. In the same way as economy and law have to be built up as 'competence in planning’ this has to be rebuilt in all areas of the modern Russian society. This is not only a question about knowledge; it is also a new way of thinking. Therefore it belongs both to politics and pedagogics.

As I have understood the planning of Soviet economy it rested partly upon a model thinking that allocated the resources according to plans and not as responses to needs or priorities from its citizen. If an 'interest’ could get its ’importance’ recognised, the resources would be granted ’from above’ through a plan that as a rule was accepted without discussion or protest. If the Soviet leadership/planners believed that a specific development would be good for society, this development would get resources.14
It is important to mention this, and to do it in this context. As mentioned on several occasions in the report, pedagogics is a part of the society. Accordingly, the rise of ‘planning qualifications’ cannot be seen as either a political or an educational issue. They are both. If ‘too much obedience’ is a problem in both society and in school, actions and programs in both areas must meet it. It is in this perspective that the GDSI-plan must be read and understood.

The important thing is that ‘obedience’ was a necessity for the survival of the Soviet society. Therefore the different plans had to be obeyed and not questioned

There were no or very few options for choices, no or very few possibilities for priorities between the citizen and institutions. A plan for a university in the Soviet society would be obeyed. One would not expect it to be disputed. It is against this background I consider it to be a very positive signal for progress that the plan from GDSI was read with ‘normal scepticism’ by some of the participants in the EUROFACULTY Project.

The scepticism was expressed in precisely the area of priorities mentioned in the plan. If people within the Kaliningrad University react to some of the proposals of the plan from GDSI, this must be seen as positive.

An example may be given, looking at the task given the second priority in the plan. ’Establish a Modern University Campus’.

The formulation of this priority gives the impression that a university campus may be ’old’ or ’modern’, according to some research, common trends or standards. These standards do not exist. Is not possible to find a continuous improvement of university campuses, saying that one campus by necessity is better than another according to the year it was erected. There are no established standards for comparing university campuses, telling what is best.

The report, with its recommendations for the development of IKSUR, indicates several times that a ’modern university campus’ must have a central building as an architectural landmark in the landscape. This need for visual aesthetic monuments is repeatedly stressed:

‘The need to have a prestigious core to the University, which would be the pride of the University stakeholders’.

‘Signature buildings ‘Symbol of Russian pride.’

‘.. building plan for the creation of a modern university ... concentrated ... , which will be the ”flagship” of learning....’.

This evidently reflects the conviction that the primary task of a university is not research and teaching, but to ’represent’ the authority of the state or the established cultural tradition. Such manifestations of ’repressive architecture’ exist in all countries. A good example can be found in the old university temple-like buildings in Oslo and in the discussions concerning the building of the new university campus at Blindern in Oslo. For some architects, aesthetic is more important than function.

It is high time to abandon this tradition in university planning and design, since giving priority of external aesthetic has a very high prize. The message from modern university planning is, or should be this: One should not move resources (money) from the laboratories, offices or students working places to a ’representative, central building’ at the cost of research and learning.
An example:

Roskilde University was planned and built in 1969-72 it was done in accordance with the wish to avoid visual aesthetic bombast. The inhabitants of the university should not be impressed by the outer form of the buildings but rather by the inner quality of research, teaching and learning. Resources were moved from ’aesthetics’ to ’function’, aiming at giving each student his or her own working place. Since there was an agreement that the number of lectures should be reduced, together with some other pedagogical measures, this could be done without violating the framework for normal building costs at that time.15

It can be seen to be a success factor if the University and planning authorities can make critical use of the report on strategic planning, taking it as a central document for further discussions and measures leading in the direction of their own ’planning consciousness’ and development.

If the leaders of the university in Kaliningrad can make a critical use of the report on strategic planning, taking it as a document for further discussions and measures leading in the direction of their own ‘planning consciousness’ and development, this is a very good sign of an important development. There are some reasons to believe that the EUROFACULTY Project has contributed to this, or at least I hope so.

*

As indicated above, planning and priority consciousness should be a main concern in all democracies. Populism is a danger for us all. We have to fight against all tendencies from political parties or people promising to ’give everything higher priority’, and ‘more of everything’ and ‘better for everybody’.

This process of developing competence in planning, decision-making and priority thinking is important for Russia. The educational challenge in this area is not met in other countries either, but the situation may be more serious in a country with fewer and newer traditions. To illustrate the importance of this issue, and how pedagogics is a part of the overall culture in a society, an example can be given:

In a Norwegian university, the students of pedagogics had to write a paper four times a year. The paper should consist of 20 pages, and be delivered to the teacher, who was responsible for 20 students. The students then got a feedback from the teacher.

One day a group of students came to their teacher complaining that they had to submit their paper three days before they were to get the feedback. They asked if they could deliver it only one day in advance. The teacher said it was OK for him, but it meant that he would have to read and work with 400 pages in one day. ’As it is now, I read the papers several times. Each time I do this I write some notes, indicating and editing my response to each of you. That is my vision of pedagogical quality. If we do it your way, which I am prepared to accept, you get two more days to write your paper, but on the other hand you will receive no quality in the responses from me’.

On hearing this, the students said that they did not want more time for writing. They realised that the teacher, in his response to their written work, made them to learn pedagogics, democracy, planning qualification and the taking of co-responsibility for their own learning, not because they had read about this in a textbook, but by use of ‘modern pedagogics’ as part of the everyday life in education.

‘Planning competence’ as it is described in this context, consists of course of much more than ‘priority competence’, but here it can serve as an illustration to planning, design and evaluation of an educational program like the EUROFACULTY Project. Neither ‘planning competence’ or ‘priority competence’ are mentioned in the project plan, but still these qualifications represent a glimpse into what in this report has been described under headings like ‘hidden curriculum’, ‘responsibility for ones own learning’, ‘sustainability’ and other topics. These issues also illustrate what I also have called the change in ‘culture’ within IKSUR that can be seen as a result of the EUROFACULTY Project. From the viewpoint of the EUROFAN Project this illustrates why it was necessary to abandon the rather narrow approach of finding specific ‘causes’ behind the success of the EUROFACULTY Project. I believe that the positive development in subtle (but still important) things like ‘planning competence’ can not be traced back to one or a few ‘factors’.

The taking of co-responsibility for its own planning can be seen as a positive change for IKSUR. This change is of course not a result of the EUROFACULTY Project. It mirrors a change in the Russian society. On the other hand, some information indicates that the EUROFACULTY contributed to and accelerated this process. Seen in that perspective this co-responsibility was not a factor behind success. It was a result of the EUROFACULTY Project. Therefore, the question arises: What specific factor in the EUROFACULTY Project gave this contribution?

In my view, there were two factors that played a role: First of all, the overall optimism and cultural change that the EUROFACULTY project brought to the university seem to have been important. Secondly, the allocation of the funding within the university may have been an important factor. Since the funding was placed at a lower level than in the top of the university organisation, this contributed to the development of co-responsibility. One may add that the decision of the project leadership to run the EUROFACULTY Project as a framework seems to have strengthened the competence to make priorities within given frames of resources.

If these findings are correct, they seem to be in line with experience from projects within international development work.
IKSUR as a ’model university’? Recommendation:

The sustainability of the EUROFACULTY Project depends on the competence and the capacity of the people within the university to continue the development with limited resources. It must be considered to be of essential value that all groups, staff, faculty, and students cooperate and accept that even harsh priorities must sometimes be considered. Russia is a rich country, but the problems and challenges within research and education as in all other sectors seem immense. If the IKSUR reaches a high standard of quality in both science and education it may receive extra resources from the central budget, but only within certain limits.

IKSUR should strive to become a ’model university’, but it cannot expect tom achieve this status this as a result of extra resources alone. Other universities could then say that they could do just as well, if they got the same financial resources. The program to attain the status of a model university can in the long run only be achieved by further improvement in the quality of research and pedagogics. One may also add: planning competence as part of this.

WHO SHOULD PROFIT FROM EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT?

There are some indicators that separate success from failure in a very striking way. One such indicator is to be found in the answer to the question: Did the EUROFACULTY Project improve life for the inhabitants of the region and Russia as a whole or did it only serve the career of the limited number who had direct access to the investment in the project? The answer will be revealed in future evaluation of the project. The question however can be asked here in a very simple and crude form: Did the students who had a direct benefit from the project stay in Kaliningrad or Russia, or did the project serve their own careers abroad? If the latter should prove to be the case, the project (from this particular perspective) can be judged not only as a failure, but also as directly counterproductive. None of the donor countries will want to invest resources in a project resulting in a brain drain from Kaliningrad.

The underlying principle of the EUROFACULTY Project was, implicitly, not to improve life for a limited number of people who obtained this improvement by going abroad. On the other hand, nobody could have expected these teachers and students to serve their region or country by staying in Kaliningrad or Russia for moral or patriotic reasons. Modern capitalism does not work like that. Its basic assumption is that if you work hard and invest wisely you make profit and may become rich. This process in turn should benefit other people and the society as whole.

Perhaps my assumption is wrong, being that when people (the taxpayers) are willing to give resources to a development project, there may be a moral aspect in the transaction.

Why should we help Russia? There are so many needs in our own country, and there are more super rich people in Moscow than in London. If we help a country, have we then the right to put other demands on the receivers then we put upon ourselves? (Quod licit Jove, non licit bovid.) We consider it fine if young people in our country go abroad and earn a lot of money and become rich. But if students leave Kaliningrad after having received a push in their career through our resources, this is considered morally indefensible.

If Sweden does not spend enough money to educate enough doctors, this problem can be solved by globalisation (or at least by EU), - so Sweden may set up a recruitment office for qualified doctors in Poland to encourage doctors there to leave their country and go to Sweden where they earn more money. That is good for (almost) everybody).

It would be unwise to neglect such ways of thinking. On the other hand, it is not easy to answer the morale question arising here and the hypocrisy implied. We have to face it cold rationally and try to find solutions.
First of all, we can agree that it would be nice if the entire population in Kaliningrad and Russia benefited from the EUROFACULTY-project. It would be easier for the project leaders abroad, in Kaliningrad and in Moscow if the majority of the students that had benefited from the project stayed at home after their finishing education. It would also make it easier if all the teachers and administrators who were positively involved in the project had stayed at the university or at least remained in the country.

What means do we have at our disposal if we want to fulfil this wish?

Can we appeal to peoples’ moral values in much the same way as the governments quite rightful did during the war by asking for sacrifices from their citizens?

The answer, or the prospect of finding an answer to this question, may perhaps have something to do with education.

If we look at England during the 1800’s, we may say that the ideals of Adam Smith were manifest in the economic thinking and reality of the time, namely that if the desire for profit ruled, this would bring prosperity not only for the rich people, but also for the people as a whole. However, this is only part of the picture that we need if we want to understand that society. This focus upon profit has been questioned as being the only driving force for the rich people. A deeper understanding seems to show that education played a role as a factor in the development of another aspect, a moral one. The striving to become rich, but also to become a rich gentleman was very important. Of course we know that gentlemanship very often consisted in the hunting of foxes and activities of that sort, but it must be added that this gentlemanship was sometimes more than that, and the implication being that there was also present a social responsibility.

This moral aspect was also playing a role in the education of these ’gentlemen’.

My point is that limitless turbo-capitalism cannot be accepted. One does not need to be a socialist to react to a system where a small minority of the world’s population owns most of it. This is not only an issue concerning economic regulation. For the ongoing crisis/developing crisis, there seems to be more and more voices demanding moral responsibility. If this is correct, education, and thereby pedagogics is a tool that must be considered.

This means that it is permitted to use ’moral education’ if we want people to adopt an attitude where not only your own income, but the standard of living of other people becomes a dimension in our educational system.

There is nothing wrong in saying to the students at IKSUR that they get an education and it is expected that they have Tagore in their minds:

There are so many people in the world, with their needs and their sufferings that it makes me ashamed to have my mind occupied with my own problems.
The problem is that all appeals to morality seem to get lost in the sand, and that moral-preachers often have a very little impact upon people.
What about education? How can we use education to find a balance between the individual self-interest and moral considerations for other peoples needs?
The answer may be found in a famous quotation from Blaise Pascal:


  • Why do you kill me?

  • What! Do you not live on the other side of the water?

The implication seems to be that if you are a stranger, your interest is not so much worth as if you were closer to me.


Here we may find a clue to a valuable key. It is to be found in the question ’who is close to me’?

If this is relevant, and as far as it is relevant, we then have to ask the question, how do we bring other people closer to each individual among the teachers and students?

The answer to this question may perhaps be found within the EUROFACULTY Project. It is not directly formulated, but here the spirit in the objectives for educational reform manifests itself within three different dimensions for ’becoming closer’. Firstly, there is the message that to improve the pedagogical situation students should get closer to their teachers. (In order to teach somebody, you have to know him or her. Freire). Secondly, there is the message that we must improve not only the teaching, but also the learning process. (Pedagogical discussion shows that there is not a simple relationship between spending in education and educational outcome. There is however reasons to believe that student interaction (sometimes called peer effects) is an important factor here. So, logically, if you want to improve the learning outcome in a university, you should encourage student interaction.16 Hence the objective to improve student activity in the learning process. Thirdly, there is the message that the university should be considered to be a part of the regional development of the Kaliningrad region. This aspect shall be treated later. Here, the point is: If you want the students at your university to care for the people who live and work in the neighbourhood, you must bring everyone together. A pedagogical answer: Problem organised, project organised studies where the problems are not defined in an academic context, but reflect a real need and/or a problem in the surrounding environment (social, human, economic, juridical. or one concerning nature/pollution). The belief that this can be done, not with a consequent sinking of academic level, but rather a rising of it, is something worth working for in the development of ’project pedagogics’. (I do not say that this is simple, but it is promising).

The EUROFACULTY initiative and model is not going to be made permanent, But it will (I hope!) continue. However its longevity will depend upon results. Therefore it is essential that the investments involved make a contribution not only to a few individuals but also to the university as an institution and its surroundings. My point is that this be achieved neither by moral preaching to the teachers and students, nor economic incentives alone. One must meet this challenge with educational means, aiming at integration between all participants in the university and between these participants and the people in the surrounding society.
The reason why I have touched the borders of my commission is that some information I have gathered contains a possible indicator for success. It seems that some teachers, who normally would have left the university, stayed on, even if they could have obtained a better economic life in other jobs in the private sector. I have not conducted interviews on this topic, but if it is true, it is important. The explanation may be that if you are part of an innovation process, you get closer to (some) of your colleagues, There is a development of a ’we-feeling’ that may be felt as more important for life quality than economy. From my earlier experience as an evaluator of Roskilde University Centre I can verify that this ’we-feeling’ was extremely important for the inhabitants during some harsh times. It seems, if I am right, that the increase of internal social contacts was not specifically indicated in the objectives for the EUROFACULTY Project, but that it may be considered nevertheless as an important factor behind the success.

The hope is that this ’we-feeling’17 through social, educational and scientific contact will not only improve the development of a good academic habitus, but also contribute to the desire to create a prosperous KALININGRAD region in future.





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