Combatting extremism through education

Although the 20th century has been marked as the most lethal century in the history of humanity in which over 150 million people have died at the hands of others (ICE, 2001) but the same century has also been the most promising one in terms of intellectual & technological inventions. The great challenge inherited by the 21st century is that how can we ensure that such developments be used in the promotion of peace and prosperity of nations and in the improvement of the quality of life of people, thereby truly allowing for the survival of humanity?

The 21st century is loaded with a large number of challenges for the global community. These challenges include the exponential growth of information & innovation, availability of information (time, speed, volume, mode and nature), globalized business environment and access to data, the control of international and inter-organizational business processes in real time, highly uncertain and chaotic business environment, new level of national & international competition (hyper-competition), social & cultural diversity, rapidly changing products and processes, energy, government regulation, increasing importance of skill, quality, productivity and other stresses (Davenport, 1998; Locke et al, 2005; AMR Research, 2006; the Aberdeen Group, 2007; Hawking, 2007; Caruso, 2009;). Moreover, extremism has emerged as a common trait of the globalized society; posing serious threats to global prosperity, harmony, and peace.

May people consider “education” as a solution to this problem. They may be right; but someone has to define “Education”. Education is commonly defined as “change of behavior” and “to educate” means “ to modify behavior”. The question that logically must follow is, “change to what?” ”To what extent shall we modify the child in order to change our society?” A review of the educational philosophies – perrennialism, essentialism, eclecticism, progressivism, re-constructionism, modernism and post-modernism – and their associated objectives reveals that they have always been affected by the underlying socio-economic and political conditions of the specific time slot in the course of history (Lovat & Smith, 1995:11). Talking about the relationship between educational knowledge and power, Bemstein (1971: p.41) argues “How a society selects, classifies, distribute and evaluate the educational knowledge it considers to be public, reflects both the distribution of power and the principle of social control”. The NEPI Report (1992) acknowledges this reality as it states, “There are, therefore, important social and political dimensions to the curriculum. The way in which knowledge is organized in the school curriculum is a social activity which produces a social product. It is drawn up by particular groups of people; it reflects particular point of views and values; it is anchored in the experiences of particular social groups; and it produces particular patterns of success and failure.” A further exploration of these aspects may demand for a new definition of education. The question that logically will follow is “ Who is responsible of defining education?”

However, in current situation knowledge of personal, social, and civic responsibilities is the key area which may help us to combat against terrorism. It has also been included in major Frameworks for 21st century skills.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills Framework has included following section:
Life skills: Good teachers have always incorporated life skills into their pedagogy. The challenge today is to incorporate these essential skills into schools deliberately, strategically and broadly. Life skills include:
• Leadership
• Ethics
• Accountability
• Adaptability
• Personal productivity
• Personal responsibility
• People skills
• Self-direction
• Social responsibility

Metiri Group and NCREL ‘s 21st century skills framework has included
Effective Communication
• Teaming, Collaboration, and Interpersonal Skills
• Personal, Social, and Civic Responsibility
• Interactive Communication
In their 21st century skills framework the American Association of Colleges and Universities has included
Personal and Social Responsibility, including

• Civic knowledge and engagement—local and global
• Intercultural knowledge and competence
• Ethical reasoning and action
• Foundations and skills for lifelong learning

Some useful material on “Extremism and Education”

Some limitations of the existing Curriculum
Overall, the distinction between perennial and contextual skills is important because, unlike perennial capabilities, new, contextual types of human performances are typically not part of the legacy curriculum inherited from 20th century educational systems. Conventional, 20th century K- 12 instruction emphasizes manipulating pre-digested information to build fluency in routine problem solving, rather than filtering data derived from experiences in complex settings to develop skills in sophisticated problem finding. Knowledge is separated from skills and presented as revealed truth, not as an understanding that is discovered and constructed; this separation results in students learning data about a topic rather than learning how to extend their understand beyond information available for assimilation. Also, in 20th century instruction, problem solving skills are presented in an abstract form removed from their application to knowledge; this makes transfer to real world situations difficult. The ultimate objective of education is presented as learning a specific problem solving routine to match every situation, rather than developing expert decision making and metacognitive strategies that indicate how to proceed when no standard approach seems applicable.
In the legacy curriculum, little time is spent on building capabilities in group interpretation, negotiation of shared meaning, and co-construction of problem resolutions. The communication skills stressed are those of simple presentation, rather than the capacity to engage in richly structured interactions that articulate perspectives unfamiliar to the audience. Face-to-face communication is seen as the “gold standard,” so students develop few capabilities in mediated dialogue and in shared design within a common virtual workspace.
Given that the curriculum is already crowded, a major political challenge is articulating what to deemphasize in the curriculum – and why – in order to make room for students to deeply master core 21st century understandings and performances. This is not a situation in which one must eliminate an equivalent amount of current curriculum for each 21st century understanding added, because better pedagogical methods can lead to faster mastery and improved retention, enabling less reteaching and more coverage within the same timeframe (Van Lehn and the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, 2006). However, what education should emphasize as its core outcomes is politically controversial even if substantial sections of the 20th century legacy curriculum are not eliminated.
In the legacy curriculum, little time is spent on building capabilities in group interpretation, negotiation of shared meaning, and co-construction of problem resolutions. The communication skills stressed are those of simple presentation, rather than the capacity to engage in richly structured interactions that articulate perspectives unfamiliar to the audience. Face-to-face communication is seen as the “gold standard,” so students develop few capabilities in mediated dialogue and in shared design within a common virtual workspace.
Given that the curriculum is already crowded, a major political challenge is articulating what to deemphasize in the curriculum – and why – in order to make room for students to deeply master core 21st century understandings and performances. This is not a situation in which one must eliminate an equivalent amount of current curriculum for each 21st century understanding added, because better pedagogical methods can lead to faster mastery and improved retention, enabling less reteaching and more coverage within the same timeframe (Van Lehn and the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, 2006). However, what education should emphasize as its core outcomes is politically controversial even if substantial sections of the 20th century legacy curriculum are not eliminated.
Beyond curricular issues, classrooms today typically lack 21st century learning and teaching in part because high-stakes tests do not assess these competencies. Assessments and tests focus on measuring students’ fluency in various abstract, routine skills, but typically do not assess their strategies for expert decision making when no standard approach seems applicable. Essays emphasize simple presentation rather than sophisticated forms of rhetorical interaction. Students’ abilities to transfer their understandings to real world situations are not assessed, nor are capabilities related to various aspects of teamwork. The use of technological applications and representations is generally banned from testing, rather than measuring students’ capacities to use tools, applications, and media effectively. Abilities to effectively utilize various forms of mediated interaction are typically not assessed. As discussed later, valid, reliable, practical assessments of 21st century skills are needed to improve this situation.
Lack of professional development is another reason 21st century skills are underemphasized in today’s schooling. Providing educators with opportunities to learn about the ideas and strategies discussed in this volume is only part of the issue. A major, often unrecognized challenge in professional development is helping teachers, policy makers, and local communities unlearn the beliefs, values, assumptions, and cultures underlying schools’ industrial-era operating practices, such as forty-five minute class periods that allow insufficient time for all but superficial forms of active learning by students. Altering deeply ingrained and strongly reinforced rituals of schooling takes more than the superficial interchanges typical in “make and take” professional development or school board meetings. Intellectual, emotional, and social support is essential for “unlearning” and for transformational relearning that can lead to deeper behavioral changes to create next-generation educational practices. Educators, business executives, politicians, and the general public have much to unlearn if 21st century understandings are to assume a central place in schooling.

Pakistan’s Education System and Links to Extremism
Author: Jayshree Bajoria
October 7, 2009; Council on Foreign Relations
http://www.cfr.org/pakistan/pakistans-education-system-links-extremism/p20364
The World Bank says nearly half the adult population of Pakistan can’t read, and net primary enrollment rates remain the lowest in South Asia. Experts say the system suffers from inadequate government investment, corruption, lack of institutional capacity, and a poor curriculum that often incites intolerance. In August 2009, chief counterterrorism adviser to the White House John Brennan, summing up a concern held by many U.S. terrorism experts, said extremist groups in Pakistan have exploited this weakness. “It is why they offer free education to impoverished Pakistani children, where they can recruit and indoctrinate the next generation,” he said. There have been some efforts by the Pakistani government, Western governments, and the World Bank to reform the system, but serious challenges remain. [ A bird eye view of this paper may give some points]

Universities failing to fight extremism, says watchdoghttp://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/18/counter-terrorism-watchdog-universities-fail-fight-extremism
Lord Carlile, who is in charge of overseeing the government’s counterterrorism strategy, Prevent, urges ministers to develop a “new narrative” for combating extremism, supporting moderate Muslim theologians against al-Qaida. “You have to meet like with like,” he says.
He is scathing about the conclusion reached by Universities UK, representing 133 universities – and says their report contains a “glaring omission”. He told the Guardian: “[There] is a total failure to deal with how to identify and handle individuals who might be suspected of radicalising or being radicalised whilst within the university.”
The vice-chancellors’ report says universities should “engage, not marginalise” extreme political views on campus. It says universities should confront “aberrant behaviour” and refer it to police but it is “emphatically not” universities’ function to engage in censorship or surveillance of students.
The report adds that “by being places where ideas and beliefs can be tested without fear of control”, universities act as a safeguard against ideologies that threaten Britain’s open society.

Education, Extremism and Terrorism: What Should be Taught in Citizenship Education and Why By Dianne Gereluk, Continuum (May 10 2012)
This book considers whether the issues of extremism and terrorism should be addressed and taught in schools. In England, the issue of extremism and terrorism has recently been introduced within various aspects of the curriculum at secondary level. Little has been said about the justification of including these issues and little has been said about how such subjects should be broached within school walls. This text redresses this void and explores and critiques various justifications used for why these issues should be addressed in schools. The broader education and political objectives of the extent to which the state should develop political education with particular reference to extremism and terrorism. In light of the exploration of the justifications for teaching extremism and terrorism, the way in which educators should teach these topics in school are explored with practical suggestions.
The Educational Environment as a Means for Overcoming Youth Extremism by Panina, G. V. Russian Education and Society, v52 n10 p3-18 Oct 2010
During Russia’s societal transition extremist behavior by young people shows signs of increasing. An extra effort is required on the part of Russian educators to try to contain this phenomenon. The increasing extremist activity on the part of young people is linked to a particular stage of the development of society. It appears that youth extremism serves as an indicator of society’s economic development, and of its transition to the postindustrial phase of development. In this article the author attempts to substantiate this paradoxical assertion. The author discusses extremism as an indicator of social troubles and describes some measures to overcome youth extremism. The author stresses that the most important way to combat youth extremism consists of showing concern for the development of the social institution of education and perfecting its structural components.

How can we keep extremism out of our schools?
Blog of Neil O’Brien
Neil O’Brien is Director of Policy Exchange, an independent think tank working for better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy. He writes in a personal capacity.
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/neilobrien1/100064844/how-can-we-keep-extremism-out-of-our-schools-with-a-commitment-to-british-values/

Can Autonomy Counteract Extremism in Traditional Education? Author: RESNICK, DAVID
Source: Journal of Philosophy of Education, Volume 42, Number 1, February 2008 , pp. 107-118(12)
Abstract:
The very purpose of traditional—especially religious—education is to induct the young into a unique vision of reality. When the compelling religious vision conflicts with other visions, extremist confrontations may result. This paper explores ways to `square the circle’ of the educational conundrum of how to educate for fervent commitment to tradition without precluding autonomy and diversity, both within the tradition but especially vis-à-vis outsiders. Some liberal educators see educating for autonomy as an antidote to extremism, but such an approach is found wanting both ethically and empirically. Reinforcing the roots of toleration within religious traditions is offered as a more effective alternative.

Advertisements

Published by: Dr. M. A. Pasha

I have obtained a M. Sc. in Physics (Gold Medal) degree from Islamia University Bahawalpur in 1981 and a Ph. D. degree in Computer Science from University of Southampton, UK in 1996. I have more than 30 years experience in tertiary education, ten of which have been in strategic leadership positions, including as Professor of Computer Science and Dean, Faculty of Computing & Information Sciences, Imperial College of Business Studies, Lahore; Professor of Computer Science and Director, Division of Science & Technology at University of Education, Lahore; Pro-Rector of Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education, Karachi. Director, Institute of Computer Sciences & Software Engineering, The University of Lahore; Dean, University of Central Punjab, Lahore; Advisor to the Vice Chancellor on Information Technology, University of the Punjab, Lahore; Principal, Punjab University College of Information Technology, University of the Punjab, Lahore; Professor & Pro-Rector, Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education, Karachi. I also have the honor to work as Vice Chairman, National Computing Education Accreditation Council (Pakistan); Chairman Inter Universities Faculty Board for Policy and Framework Development of Computer Science and Information Technology Degree Programs (Punjab, Pakistan). In addition, I have worked in various academic and administrative committees of public as well as private universities performing diverse nature of assignments. Presently, I am member of the Chief Minister’s Committee to “Develop a Vision for Information Technology in Punjab”. I have delivered various teacher training workshops and taught at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, supervised postgraduate students and published 40 papers in national & international journals & conference proceedings. Knowledge Management, WWW Multimedia Content Management, and Artificial Intelligence are the key areas of my interest. I have attended various national & international professional trainings, conferences and took part in international ICT consultation sessions in Cambodia and Bangladesh in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

Categories General1 Comment

One thought on “Combatting extremism through education”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s