Learning to beAt its very first meeting, the Commission powerfully re-asserted a fundamental principle: education should contribute to every person's complete development - mind and body, intelligence, sensitivity, aesthetic appreciation and spirituality. All people should receive in their childhood and youth an education that equips them to develop their own independent, critical way of thinking and judgement so that they can make up their own minds on the best courses of action in the different circumstances in their lives.
In this respect, the Commission embraces one of the basic assumptions stated in the report Learning to Be:. the aim of development is the complete fulfilment of man, in all the richness of his personality, the complexity of his forms of expression and his various commitments - as individual, member of a family and of a community, citizen and producer, inventor of techniques and creative dreamer'.
This human development, which begins at birth and continues all through a person's life, is a dialectic process which is based both on self-knowledge and on relationships with other people. It also presupposes successful personal experience. As a means of personality training, education should be a highly individualized process and at the same time an interactive social experience.
In its Preamble, the report Learning to Be (1972) expressed the fear of dehumanization of the world, associated with technical progress and one of its main messages was that education should enable each person >to be able to solve his own problems, make his own decisions and shoulder his own responsibilities.' Since then, all progress in different societies, particularly the staggering increase in media power, has intensified those fears and made the imperative that they underpin even more legitimate. This dehumanization may increase in the twenty-first century. Rather than educating children for a given society, the challenge will be to ensure that everyone always has the personal resources and intellectual tools needed to understand the world and behave as a fair-minded, responsible human being. More than ever before, the essential task of education seems to be to make sure that all people enjoy the freedom of thought, judgement, feeling and imagination to develop their talents and keep control of as much of their lives as they can.
This is not simply a cry for individualism. Recent experience has shown that what could appear merely as a personal defence mechanism against an alienating system or a system perceived to be hostile, also offered the best opportunity for making social progress. Personality differences, independence and personal initiative or even a task for upsetting the established order are the best guarantees of creativity and innovation. The rejection of imported high-tech models, the harnessing of traditional implied forms of knowledge and empowerment are effective factors in endogenous development. New methods have evolved from experiments at local community level. Their effectiveness in reducing violence or combating various social problems is widely recognized.
In a highly unstable world where one of the main driving forces seems to be economic and social innovation, imagination and creativity must undoubtedly be accorded a special place. As the clearest expressions of human freedom, they may be threatened by the establishment of a certain degree of uniformity in individual behaviour. The twenty-first century will need a varied range of talents and personalities even more than exceptionally gifted individuals, who are equally essential in any society. Both children and young persons should be offered every opportunity for aesthetic, artistic, scientific, cultural and social discovery and experimentation, which will complete the attractive presentation of the achievements of previous generations or their contemporaries in these fields. At school, art and poetry should take a much more important place than they are given in many countries by an education that has become more utilitarian than cultural. Concern with developing the imagination and creativity should also restore the value of oral culture and knowledge drawn from children's or adults' experiences.
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