Revolution in Education
An approach to education "based on the premise that understanding requires conscious participation of the individual in an act of finding out".
WENDY LILL* reviews Professor Rafiq Islam's new book
M. Rafiq Islam, Revolution in Education
With Preface by Gary Zatzman, Foreword by Prof. George V Chilingar
(Halifax: EEC Research Group, 2004)
523 pp. ISBN 0-9733656-1-7
DARTMOUTH -- It is a great honour to be asked to make a few remarks and observations about Revoluton in Education: the world's first knowledge-based curriculum in Energy, Environment and Communication and its author Professor Rafiq Islam.
This book begins with the provocative statement that current education systems everywhere are involved in inducing thinking partterns that can be characterized as anti-knowledge. In this text, Islam discusses the disturbing trend of corporatisation of education. This book tackles some of the most critical issues of our time and none too soon. We hear constantly about the deadening of the imagination, the explosion of information and yet at the same time of the shrinking of wisdom. We hear of the inability of young people to concentrate on anything for longer than an episode of The Simpsons. I am not showing disrespect for our young people; they are the product of the world we have made for them. If they are experiencing difficulty in learning, concentrating and finding meaning, then it is a collective problem which we all need to address and come to terms with.
My perspective is one of an elected community representative working within the social and political framework. We live in a world that is overwhelmed by information but short on synthesis and clarity. We have an extremely concentrated and biased mass-media that is not conducive to critical thinking. We have an under-funded education system that does not provide the environment to nurture learning. It is also significant that young people have to spend many of their waking hours working in low paying, often mind numbing jobs to pay for their post secondary education. Recent statistics in Canada put the rate of child poverty at between 16 and 20 oer cent -- which means that many young people enter school every day without enough food in their stomach to allow them to think and create and reach their potential. All of these variables are crucial issues in setting the scene for how it is that a young person actually learns.
I am impressed with the range and the imaginative spirit of Professor Islam's curriculum -- Revoluton in Education. It begins with a fundamental respect for the individual learner and the dignity of humanity. It begins with the premise that by reforming the educational system, any nation can create human resources that will allow them to lead the world. Prof. Islam's approach is based on the premise that understanding requires conscious participation of the individual in an act of finding out. It is through doing that learning and creative thinking occurs. The proposed curriculum is geared to students' participation in problem solving, in answering a series of open-ended questions leading into more questions.
It is brilliant in its simplicity and rings true for anyone who finds themselves in the act of learning and creating when they least expect it -- when they are engaged in solving a problem. It is through the production of solutions to actual problems that people become learners. They become energized to a life of learning. As we all know there is no end to the problems facing us in the areas of energy, environment and communications. This important and invaluable book provides a means to unlocking the answers to those questions.
Revolution in education is available from:
Kwesawek EEC Research University,
34 Bernard Trail
Fort Folly First Nation, NB
E4K 3V5 Canada
Additional ordering info:
To order by e-mail, contact
*Wendy Lill, playwright, mother and Dartmouth community activist, represented
the constituency of Dartmouth-Cole Harbour in the House of Commons from 2000
until the writ for the currrent (June 28th) federal election was dropped.
In April 2003, during the First Innovation Colloquium sponsored by the Energy,
Environment and Communications (EEC) Research Group at Dalhousie University,
Ms Lill's enthusiasm for its mission unintentionally triggered something
when she praised Dr Islam's efforts for "blasting the barnacles off this
parochial little place". One of the university bureaucrats attending the
Colloquium was so outraged that he subsequently attempted, without success,
to sabotage the funding of the EEC Research Group and have some of its key
personnel physically barred from Sexton Campus -- before departing with his
tail between his legs for the other end of the country (a university on an
island off the coast of British Columbia).
Comments to : firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright © 2005 New Media Services Inc. The views expressed herein are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of shunpiking magazine or New Media Publications. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. Copyright of written and photographic and art work remains with the creators.