22 ONLINE 25 A, Teaching and Learning Aims in Higher Education in Current Times
Paper Session<br>MeetingID: 815 3790 5794 Code: 6qUAfk
Higher education systems around the world appear to be increasingly struggling to meet the major challenges of the 21st century (Readings, 1996; Scott, 2021). Furthermore, educational institutions have been among those institutions most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic: schools and universities have found themselves on the front line in facing a situation as unprecedented as it was unforeseen (Bertagna, 2020; Farnell et al., 2021). A real “crisis” that has put everyone to the test in a major upheaval, highlighting the many flaws already present in the educational system, widening the growing social inequalities in terms of educational opportunities and the unresolved knots, the delays and the reluctance to change (Levine & Van Pelt, 2021); but also representing at the same time a call and an opportunity for rethinking the entire education and training system. It is not surprising, therefore, that a radical change is being called at international level (Treadgold, 2018; Connell, 2019), with some authors even going so far as to ask themselves whether it is still worthwhile enrolling their children in a college (Bennett & Wilezol, 2013). The "crisis" brought on by the pandemic presents an opportunity to return to the fundamental questions at the heart of any education system.
First of all, it seems that it has not been clear for some decades now what the main purpose of the university institution is and what educational and social functions it is called upon to perform. The traditional tasks attributed to it in the past - including: 1. selecting the leadership class; 2. providing a legally valid higher education qualification; 3. guaranteeing equal learning opportunities for all - now appear to be incomplete and partial responses to the epochal social and technological changes we are experiencing. We can ask ourselves: what are universities for? (Collini, 2012), to reimagining the new pedagogical possibilities for universities post-Covid-19 (Peters et al., 2020). It is useful to begin by asking ourselves what is alive and what is now “dead” compared to the university models of the past (Magni, 2021). It is significant, in this regard, what Karl Jasper wrote in May 1945, in the aftermath of World War II and the disaster of Nazi totalitarianism, in the preface to his “Idea of a University”: «The future of our university is founded on the renewal of the original spirit [...] in the return and actualization of our best traditions» (Jasper, 1946).
Following this suggestion, the study, starting with a critical reading of some authors who, in the last two centuries, have questioned the aims of education in general and the university in particular – such as Wilhelm von Humboldt (1810), John Henry Newman (1852), John Dewey (1902), Alfred North Whitehead (1929), Ortega y Gasset (1930) and others – aims to identify some points of relaunch for the Italian university system, in light of the recent Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), part of the Next Generation EU (NGEU) programme plan. Italy, in fact, needs an important action to relaunch its university and higher education system. To understand the extent of the problem, here are two examples: Italy is one of the European countries with the lowest number of young people aged 30-34 with a university degree (just 27.8% compared with an EU average of over 40%) and one of the highest researcher/citizen ratios in Europe (1 researcher for every 650 citizens, while in France the ratio is 1/580, in Spain 1/275, in Germany 1/200) (Eurostat, 2019).
The study is based on a holistic, historical and qualitative research perspective. In the first part, starting from a brief reading of some great "classic" texts on the university and its purposes, the research aims to identify the pedagogical and didactic paradigms on which to re-imagine the university during and after the pandemic crisis. In the second part, with a qualitative research method based on documentary research, the study aims to identify the main reforms to relaunch the Italian university system, considering the perspectives already contained in the Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR). The research sought answers to the following research questions: • What are universities for in the 21st century? Why do they exist? What is their mission and what are their aims? • What are the pedagogical paradigms of the past that are still valid today and can be rediscovered? • On what cultural, pedagogical, didactic and organizational paradigms must they re-invent themselves? • How should universities change considering the pandemic experience? • What reforms are necessary to relaunch the Italian university system?
The study aims to critically re-read the role and social functions of universities in the 21st century, identifying what is still alive and valid in the tradition handed down to us by the classical models of universities and what instead needs to be questioned, rethought and rediscovered. Secondly, the study aims to identify the main reforms to relaunch the Italian university system, considering the perspectives already contained in the Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), which provides for the Italian education sector an investment of over 17 billion euros over the next six years (2021-2026), divided into 6 main reforms and 10 investment lines. Particular attention will be reserved to the following issues: the relaunch of the non-academic tertiary sector, through the “ITS Academy”; the reform of initial secondary teacher education system and the establishment of master’s degree programs for teaching qualification in secondary schools; the reform of the scientific disciplinary sectors to encourage and promote greater interdisciplinarity among courses of study.
- Bennett W., Wilezol D. (2013). Is College worth it?. Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson. - Bertagna G. (2020). La scuola al tempo del Covid. Tra spazio di esperienza ed orizzonte d'attesa. Roma: Edizioni Studium. - Collini S. (2012). What are universities for?. London: Penguin Books. - Connell R., (2019) The Good University. What universities actually do and why it’s time for radical change. London: Zed Books. - Dewey J. (1902). Academic freedom. In «Educational Review», no. 23, 1-14. - EUROSTAT, Educational attainment statistics, 2019 https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Educational_attainment_statistics - Farnell T., Skledar Matijević A., Šćukanec Schmidt N. (eds.). (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on higher education: a review of emerging evidence, NESET (Network of Experts working on the Social dimension of Education and Training) Analytical report, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. - Jaspers K. (1946). Die Idee Der Universitat. Berlin: Springer Verlag . - Levine A., Van Pelt S. (2021). The Great Upheaval, Higher Education’s Past, Present, and Uncertain Future. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. - Magni F. (2021). Ciò che è vivo e ciò che è morto dell’università. Prime riflessioni pedagogiche nel mezzo della pandemia globale. «CQIA Rivista - Formazione, Lavoro, Persona», vol. XI, no. 33, pp. 10-26. - Newman J. H. (1852). The Idea of a University. - Ortega y Gasset J. (1930). Misíon de la Universitad. - Peters M.A., Rizvi F., McCulloch G., Gibbs P., Gorur R., Hong M., Hwang Y., Zipin L., Brennan M., Robertson S., Quay J., Malbon J., Taglietti D., Barnett R., Chengbing W., McLaren P., Apple R., Papastephanou M., Burbules N., Jackson L., Jalote P., Kalantzis M., Cope B., Fataar A., Conroy J., Misiaszek G., Biesta G., Jandrić P., Choo S., Apple M., Stone L., Tierney R., Tesar M., Besley T., Misiaszek L. (2020). Reimagining the new pedagogical possibilities for universities post-Covid-19, in «Educational Philosophy and Theory», 1-45. - Readings B. (1996), The University in Ruins, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. - Scott P. (2021). Retreat or Resolution? Tackling the Crisis of Mass Higher Education, Bristol: Policy Press, Bristol University Press. - Treadgold W. (2018). The University We Need: Reforming American Higher Education. New York-London: Encounter Books. - von Humboldt W. (1810). Über die innere und äussere Organisation der höheren wissenschaftlichen Anstalten in Berlin. - Whitehead A. N. (1929). The Aims of Education and Other Essays. New York: The Free Press.
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