Last week, the European Union launched its “Opening up Education” initiative.
But what does Europe mean exactly by “opening up”? Words are sometimes worth looking at.
Looking in the dictionary, we could understand “opening up” education to mean “spreading out” or “unfolding” education, as if the walls that constrained our classrooms for so long were about to fall down or be removed. A larger classroom should come out of the initiative, and a whole new education perspective would then open up before us.
A second definition tells us of something brand new about to start. Education in Europe will be about to take a new start. One can imagine a European educative factory full of innovative features changing the way we learn and teach.
From a more informal understanding, “opening up” education would mean “freeing” education. We think immediately to teachers and students that would be freed from conventions that could obstruct their professional and personal fulfilment. In this new educative environment, teachers and students would “speak freely and candidly” and tell the truth about their practices, ideas and desires, frustrations, expectations, and so on .
In a more surgical perspective, “opening up” education would mean directly “cutting” into its old practices and conventions, as if a surgeon was separating the good parts from the bad. Education systems would then experience considerable change.
But, obviously, “opening up” education means also making it “available” or “accessible to all”.
Looking at the diversity of meaning gives us a good idea of the challenges ahead of us. The Opening up Education initiative is not per se a transformation but an invitation to change, taking into consideration all the different perspectives exposed above.
This is a good opportunity to start filling the initiative with real projects that for once won’t come from above but rather be generated at grassroots level by the educative community itself.
The new Open Education Europa portal is a place where all these innovations can be shared, and where the dialogue can be enhanced.
Imagine you are opening up a can, not knowing what you will find in it, but you are impatient to know.
The education box is about to open up and so far the box is almost empty. It will be our collective task to fill it and spread the words.
It is unusual to see an initiative that relies on what will come next and our capacity to take it further. A nice commitment for all of us to make.
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