News

Guest blog: the future of education

No ratings yet. Log in to rate.

David Morris, a delegate from Durham Students' Union, writes about the fringe on 'the future of education' facilitated by NUS' further and higher education zones at NUS National Conference.

This discussion, led by the NUS vice-presidents for further and higher education, was refreshingly open in two ways.

Firstly, the discussion leaders were anxious to have attendees discuss their experiences of their own education. They wanted to hear these delegates speak openly on how they felt about learning, and they showed a real enthusiasm for listening, rather than lecturing.

Secondly, the discussion was open to novel ideas about the purpose of education, the impact it has on those involved in it, and how we might piece these together into a more purposeful model for future NUS policy.

Attendees were asked to reflect on a number of questions that could be holistically understood as ‘what good education feels like’. What is exciting and frustrating? What are our hopes and fears for the future? What communities does it serve and how?

From these discussions I got a real sense of how students, asked to step back from the usual slogans and invocations, understand the place of their institutions in public life, and the organic relationship that education providers and partners have with wider society and personal development.

The event reflected on the currently disjointed relationship between learning at school, learning at university, and learning in further education colleges. A vision for future education would surely develop, and perhaps break down, the links between each of these learning environments.

We also discussed how learners participate in wider communities, often through fundraising, volunteering, and political work, but also how institutions (particularly in higher education) could do more to offer their educational services to the communities they exist within.

The final point that particularly stood out for me was how education providers can respond dynamically to changes in the society and economy, particularly in providing employment opportunities and remaining relevant to the needs of wider society.

I’d like to submit that considering these issues can be a much more constructive way for NUS and its allies to articulate a vision for education that would likely encompass the already-held ideals and hopes of the majority of delegates: public value, free and equal access, support for the great diversity of learners, partnership with providers and public funding.

However, I feel that this approach, by reflecting how a quality education feels, is a more human methodology that will be more likely to attain wider public understanding and sympathy, and indeed be more relevant to the vast majority of the NUS membership. It could transcend some of the tired moralistic and political platitudes repeated ad nauseum at conference: ‘free education!’, ‘stop privatisation’, ‘end discrimination’, ‘action now!’ etc. All commendable aims yes, but which after just a day and a half of conference for a first-time delegate are already tiresome. I’ve found quite demoralising the language of a vocal minority of delegates, and the way it sometimes seems to dominate conference, not because of the ideals being fought for, but the way they are articulated.

Discussions like this fringe event, and vanguard policies passed at this conference, such as ‘the public value of education’, ‘student partnership’, ‘deepening partnership’ and more, are a step towards a more effective and mature discourse.

NUS’ vision for education should be about the good life, civil values and ‘making gentle the life of this world’ (to paraphrase Robert Kennedy’). Students' unions, like their trade union counterparts, are some of the largest and most active non-governmental civic organisations in the country – the ‘big society’, ironically.

Back in Durham I witness the virtues of personal development, civic engagement and promotion of the good life every day through the activities of my union. From my perspective, it is the essence of the student movement, and it should inform our advocacy of a quality and desirable education within the institutions we are a part of, and for the benefit of wider society.

I was very encouraged to see such an innovative approach to understanding and conversing about these values and their role in providing education at yesterday’s fringe meeting, and I look forward to participating in similar discussions in the future.

Comments

Please login to comment.

No comments have been made.
 
Some features of this site - including article viewing - require javascript enabled.
You must be logged in to view this article - Login now

Share

Latest in campaigns

Myfyrwyr yn galw am estyniad o'r hen gofrestr etholiadol a phleidleisiau yn 16

Mae UCM Cymru wedi mynegi pryderon ynglyn â sut mae'r system bleidleisio bresennol yn annog myfyrwyr a phobl ifanc i fynd ati i bleidleisio fis Mai nesaf, ac eto yn etholiadau Cymru yn 2016.

 
Students call for extension of old electoral register and votes at 16

NUS Wales has expressed concerns with how the current voting system encourages students and young people to cast their ballots this May, and again in Wales’ 2016 elections.

 
'Draen dawn' o fyfyrwyr i Loegr os na fydd addewid tebyg i ôl-raddedigion

Gallai Cymru wynebu dylifiad dawn o fyfyrwyr i Loegr os nad yw Cymru'n ymrwymo i addewid tebyg am gyllid a gyhoeddwyd yn natganiad yr hydref yr wythnos ddiwethaf. Dyna rybudd Undeb Cenedlaethol y Myfyrwyr Cymru.

 
Wales could face ‘brain drain’ of students if PG pledge not matched

Wales could face a brain drain of students to England if Wales does not commit to a similar funding pledge announced in the autumn statement last week, NUS Wales has warned.

 
Help shape fairer funding and win £100!

NUS Scotland has launched a major survey of the student support system in Scotland, to help us fight for a fairer system for students.

 
Student Leader outlines catastrophic impact a DEL funding cut could have

Following today’s publication of the Department for Employment and Learning’s draft budget and spending plan, NUS-USI President Rebecca Hall has underlined her strong opposition to the proposed 10.8% cut to DEL funding within the Executive’s draft budget, saying it could have catastrophic consequences for students and the economy. She said that government must invest in students, and there must be no increase in tuition fees and no reduction in the number of student places here.

 
 

Latest news

Students’ Unions Local – Coming to a town near you!

We are delighted to inform you of our upcoming Students’ Union Local events. These specially designed one-day events have been created to meet the needs of officers and staff in students’ unions.

 
NUS Black Students' Officer Malia Bouattia wins #EightWomen award

Malia Bouattia has been voted a winner of Media Diversified’s #EightWomen awards.

 
Charity fundraising partner Student Adventures goes into administration

It has come to our attention that recently that a charity fundraising partner used by many Students’ Unions, Student Adventures, has gone into liquidation and is ceasing to trade.

 
Proposed GCSE reforms could be detrimental to many students

NUS vice president Joe Vinson explains why the Government's planned reforms to GCSE’s (the most significant set of reforms in the history of these qualifications) could be detrimental to students, and offers advice to GCSE students on their next steps.

 
University students warned to stay vigilant amidst suspected mobile phone fraud

The National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU) has launched an investigation into a suspected mobile phone fraud targeting students at universities across the UK.

 
NUS criticises ‘Know Your Limits’ rape poster campaign

NUS has expressed huge concern today at the ‘Know Your Limits’ recent poster campaign to tackle rape. The poster points out that in a third of reported rapes the victim had been drinking and warns people to monitor their alcohol consumption. It is available for download on the Home Office website and has been sighted in NHS premises.

 
 

Most Read

Trending/Most Shared articles

 

Recent Comments

Latest Guest Blog

 

Latest Result

 

Latest Podcast

Election Debates 2012 | Black Students Officer

Sun 13 May 2012

It's our last Full Time Officer candidate debate of the year, this time for the post of Black Students Officer. Candidate Aaron Kiely debates all the big issues- the other candidate Samaira Anjum did not attend.

 
Election Debates 2012 | President

Tue 03 Apr 2012

This time it's candidates for the position of President. Candidates Kanja Sesay, Ed Marsh, Liam Burns, Usman Ali and Claire Locke debate all the big issues.

 
Election Debates 2012 | VP Union Development

Sat 31 Mar 2012

This week it's candidates for the position of Union Development. Candidates Vicki Baars, Christina Yan Zhang, Rebecca Bridger, Tom Hollick and Luke Young debate all the big issues.