Fabienne Serina-Karsky , Catholic Institute of Paris (ICP) and Maria Fernanda Gonzalez Binetti , Catholic Institute of Paris (ICP)
The saying “no one is a prophet in his own country” could well apply to Edgar Morin's work on education. This is a field that the sociologist has extensively covered, yet his contribution in this area does not seem to be recognized in France. The man of complexity does not find in this “province of the Fatherland” to which he devotes himself the echo of the honors and plebiscites that he receives on a planetary scale, for example in Latin America which since the years 60 formed a strong relationship with him.
Thus, Brazil will attract his attention through the study of “mestizo thought” and “the myths of pre-Columbian civilizations”. In 1999, UNESCO will open the “Edgar Morin Traveling Chair for Complexity” and will widely disseminate the work The 7 Knowledge Necessary for the Education of the Future , a study requested by the former director of UNESCO Federico Mayor Zaragoza.
For more than 20 years, Morin has identified issues in the educational system (ecology, error, knowledge, uncertainty, the teaching mission, etc.) which lead him to propose elements of reflection for a school understood as a place of reform for thought . This approach is not proposed as a remedy or a magic potion to save the school, but as a challenge to rethink it through the prism of the 21st century.
This challenge to which Morin invites us through complex thinking seems so obvious that we can wonder how it is still possible today not to take it up in the context of a school faced with numerous challenges.
Whether it concerns improving the level of students or the need for social diversity, the transmission of the principle of secularism, reflection on the recruitment of teachers, or even the redefinition of programs for school of tomorrow, everything seems to indicate that it is necessary to reform the school. As shown in the UNESCO Report, Rethinking our Futures Together , the “global learning crisis” is due to content that is poorly adapted to the context, to educational methods and processes that do not take into account the realities of young people. or do not meet the needs of the most disadvantaged.
The Complex Education Paradigm
By placing humans at the heart of a community of destiny , Edgar Morin's anthropological vision of education is part of a societal aim which makes each of us a citizen of the world, a world which is transmitted, and that it is up to us both to preserve and to build. Given the problems facing schools today, deploying reforms cannot be enough. Thinking that takes into account the globality of major contemporary challenges is necessary to ensure the transmission of knowledge to younger generations.
Morin devoted himself to this educational thought through a trilogy composed of the following works: La Tête bien fait: rethinking reform, reforming thought (1999), Connecting knowledge (1999), The seven knowledges necessary for education of the future (2000). The trilogy was completed around fifteen years later by the book Teaching to Live: Manifesto for Changing Education (2014), which inspired director Abraham Ségal to produce a documentary showing a perspective on ideas of Morin in 5 public establishments.
Of course, the question is not new; the educators of the early 20th century, like Maria Montessori and her disciples, had already tried in their time to revolutionize schooling. But the dialogical approach to which Morin invites us through complex thinking allows us to tackle it in several aspects, for example that of transdisciplinarity within the framework of school programs.
Transdisciplinarity in the service of understanding humans
The different disciplines must be mobilized together rather than separately in order to converge on the understanding of the human condition. It is on these bases that Morin calls for a reform of thought which he announces as being historic and vital in that it will jointly allow us to separate in order to know and to connect what is separated.
Thus, by arousing “in a new way the notions crushed by disciplinary fragmentation: the human being, nature, the cosmos, reality”, we will enter into the very heart of what he considers to be an imperative of education, namely “the development of the ability to contextualize and globalize knowledge”. This alone would encourage the emergence of “ecological” thinking allowing us to situate an event in its context and observe how it modifies or sheds new light on it.
Concretely, the teacher's mission is to give meaning to learning by offering his students work based on their deep needs, as recommended in his time by the Belgian teacher Ovide Decroly with the pedagogy of interest.
Morin advocates an education in the service of which teaching should make it possible to study the " cerebral, mental, cultural characteristics of human knowledge, of its processes and its modalities, of the dispositions as much psychological as cultural which make it risk error or the illusion.”
His vision of man understood in the complexity of a being that he considers both totally biological and totally cultural leads him to consider a science that he describes as anthropo-social regrouped in such a way as to consider humanity as a whole. both in its anthropological unity and in its diversities, both individual and cultural.
Establishing democracy at school
Edgar Morin also advocates the establishment, within the school framework, of a democracy which would allow students to really take part in debates and daily school life. The objective would be to restore the school to its place as a place of training for the future citizen. We are here at the heart of this education transmitting the values of a humanism which it considers as a fundamental principle which must "be rooted in oneself, anchored deep within oneself, because thanks to it we recognize all others as human beings", revealing thus “the only true antidote to barbaric temptation, whether individual or collective” that every human being can be confronted with.
In other words, according to Morin, education must not only allow one to learn to live, but to live in solidarity, and in a solidarity that he places in a planetary system. The competitive system that schools continue to promote should therefore be rethought through the prism of cooperation to allow children and young people to learn to work together, in a common world, and in a relationship of trust which also includes educators.
To do this, Morin thinks of teaching as having to respond to a real mission which cannot be reduced to a simple function or specialization. It is a task of public salvation which is embodied in a mission of transmission which supposes having faith both in culture and in the possibilities of the human spirit. Because education includes within it the principle of educability which is based on an essential postulate: each human has an ability to progress and improve, whatever their fragilities and weaknesses.
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This educational reform, which calls for a reform of primary, secondary and university education, could enable and support a paradigm shift. With regard more particularly to school, the evolution of our school system must take into account the human spirit, which Morin tells us is naturally ready for complexity, to educate against the risks of error and illusion. to which we are increasingly subjected, particularly through social networks, to teach us how to navigate uncertainty.
The concept of complex education thus makes it possible to provide a vision that takes into account humans, both their well-being and their development, as well as their weaknesses and errors. Which allows, by placing humans at the heart of the education system, to try to teach how to live, and how to live together. These questions, which are now essential to be understood from a very young age, require a rethinking of teacher training, because in this spirit they must have, in the words of Philippe Meirieu :
“the mission to educate without confining, to transmit without closing, to engage each and everyone in a process of research which no obscurantist credo can ever put an end to. The success of our School depends on it. And the possibility, for our children, of giving their future a future.”