collective self-education in the arts and culture…

Community-Based Knowledge :: Vladimir Jankovski

Many of today’s experts in the areas of  education, urologist economy and community development have come to the conclusion that educational institutions alone can not prepare pupils and students for what awaits them after they complete their formal education. The key proponents of the new educational tendencies are advocating the introduction of new approaches that would unite study related activities conducted within the institutions with experiences and knowledge already existing in the community where they live and work.

Students frequently complain that the classes they attend are irrelevant and are not substantially related to what is happening outside the classroom. Because of this situation, shop they are very often not motivated to study, nurse because they perceive the educational process as something imposed, rather than as an exciting opportunity to improve themselves and contribute for the benefit of others. During the last few decades there has been a growing consensus on the need to change the educational systems. However, this reform should not be focused only on what is to be the subject of study, but also on how and where the educational process is to be conducted. Setting aside the idea that the place of the educational process lies solely in educational institutions  creates an opportunity for the process  to be  “opened” to such concepts as self-education, education carried out as part of the work of NGO’s, civic sector activities, activism, etc.

These concepts use the term community-based knowledge as a broad framework for the processes which encompass “service learning” (a method under which students or participants learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organised service that is conducted in and meets the needs of the community), experimental learning, school-to-work learning, internships, life-long learning, etc. It is important in this context to point out that the emphasis has been  on the desire of those involved in the educational process to learn or acquire skills related to those community aspects for which they think will be the most beneficial to their professional advancement and development.

In this context, the term “community” refers to schools, as well as all other formal and informal institutions in the place where the person involved in the educational process lives. The concept of community has been extended to include all sources of education that can be found and used on the internet.

The community-base learning principles apply to the changing nature of society, the person learning, the learning process, as well as to the sources of learning. The basic principles can be defined as follows:

-         Education must be seen as a continuous process which starts from pre-school age,  is carried out through various formal educational institutions, for then to continue as a life-long educational process for adults;

-         Learning is something that the individual does for him or herself. That’s why the process requires complete involvement both of the learner and the professor/mentor;

-         The future needs of employers will be focused not only on highly educated individuals, but also on  individuals with a versatile knowledge set including critical thinking, team work, as well as the ability to apply  acquired knowledge;

-         The problems facing educational workers are broader than the opportunities available to schools to solve them. For this reason, the involvement of the general community and all agencies working in the area of knowledge and its application is of key importance.

One of the more interesting aspects of this process is the dialogical relation between various different areas. Thus, according to Poulsen, this is a “method of learning/teaching which brings together the experience of community service with academic knowledge, personal advancement and civic responsibility “. (Poulsen, 1994)

Until know, the educational systems have been focused primarily on teaching. However, this has been changing in recent years, with the focus being re-directed from teaching to learning, from externally determined “expert” curricula and methodologies, towards learner-centred knowledge, based on experience and linking of knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to function in the dramatically changing world in which we live in.

According to Hamilton, the role of mentors in the community-based learning process has been problematic and critically perceived. The mentors provide advice and encouragement to the participants in the process, sharing their knowledge and experiences as part of a personal and long-term relation. (Hamilton 1990, p. 156). This is a reason more to pay special attention to the process itself. Along those lines, Berryman and Bailey point out that “passive, fragmentary and decontextualised trainings organised around the idea of providing true answers adds up to ineffective learning “. (Berryman and Bailey, 1992.)

Erica Sorohan sums up her experiences from this area in the following 5 key aspects:

-         We position learning within our own personal experience, which is why we learn best when we manage the learning process ourselves;

-         We learn most effectively when we learn in some context, which is why learning  should be directly related to work;

-         We learn from those around us, which is why we should be able to communicate and cooperate openly and freely with others;

-         We constantly generate knowledge, which is why we need to know how to encompass what we know and how to share it with others;

-         We learn unconsciously, which is why we need to learn how to recognise and question our implicit assumptions. (Erica Sorohan, 1993)


Berryman, S., and Bailey, T. The Double Helix of Education and the Economy. New York: The Institute on Education and the Economy, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1992.

Hamilton, S. F. Apprenticeship for Adulthood: Preparing Youth for the Future. New York: The Free Press, 1990.

Poulsen, S. Learning is the Thing: Insights Emerging From a National Conference on Service-Learning, School Reform, and Higher Education. Roseville, MN: National Youth Leadership Council, 1994.

Sorohan, E. “We Do; Therefore, We Learn.” Training and Development 47/10 (October, 1993): 47-55.

Category: Dictionary of Self-education

Tagged: , ,

Leave a Reply

Deschooling Classroom

Deschooling Classroom is a project that addresses the contemporary independent cultural scenes in the region, researching and offering an alternative to the hierarchical models of education in the art and culture. Methodologically, the project moves away from the concepts of individual authorship and expertise, and advocates open collective educational structures where self-organised communities facilitate horizontal production, exchange and distribution of knowledge.