Educators must be educated – Edgar Morin

“Education cannot ignore children’s curiosity”
– Edgar Morin

Profound changes occurred on a global scale in the last decades of the 20th century, including the advance of information technology, economic globalization and the end of ideological polarization in international relations.

Faced with this scenario, the French sociologist Edgar Morin, now 95 years old, argues that the greatest urgency in the field of ideas is not to review doctrines and methods, but to develop a new conception of knowledge itself. In place of specialization, simplification and fragmentation of knowledge, Morin proposes one of the concepts that made him one of the greatest intellectuals of our time: that of complexity.

In an interview, the thinker criticizes the Western teaching model, which, according to him, artificially separates knowledge across disciplines. For Morin, closed disciplines teach the student to be an individual adapted to society, but hinder the understanding of the problems of the world and of himself.

Interview with Andrea Rangel / O Globo

In your opinion, what would be the ideal model of education?
The figure of the teacher is decisive for the consolidation of an “ideal” model of education. Through the Internet, students can access all kinds of knowledge without the presence of a teacher.

So I ask, what makes the presence of a teacher necessary? He must be the conductor of the orchestra, observe the flow of this knowledge and clarify the doubts of the students. For example, when a teacher passes a lesson to a student, who seeks an answer on the Internet, he must subsequently correct the mistakes made, criticize the researched content.

It is necessary to develop students’ critical sense. The teacher’s role needs to undergo a transformation, since the child does not learn only from friends, family, school. Another important point: it is necessary to create means of transmitting knowledge in the service of students’ curiosity. The education model, above all, cannot ignore children’s curiosity.

What are the biggest problems with the current teaching model?
The teaching model that has been instituted in Western countries is one that artificially separates knowledge across disciplines. And it is not what we see in nature. In the case of animals and plants, we will note that all knowledge is interconnected. And the school does not teach what knowledge is, it is only transmitted by educators, which is a reductionism.

Complex knowledge avoids error, which is made, for example, when a student chooses his career poorly. That is why I say that education needs to provide subsidies to the human being, who needs to fight against error and illusion.

Can you explain this concept of knowledge better?
Let’s think about a simpler knowledge, our visual perception. I see the people who are with me, this vision is a perception of reality, which is a translation of all the stimuli that reach our retina. Why is this vision a photograph? People who are far away are small, and vice versa. And this view is reconstructed in order to recognize this change in reality, since all people are similar in size.

All knowledge is a translation, which is followed by reconstruction, and both processes are at risk of error. There is another vital point that is not addressed by teaching: human understanding.

The great problem for humanity is that we are all identical and different, and we need to deal with these two ideas that are not compatible.

The crisis in education arises because of the absence of these subjects that are important to live. We only teach the student to be an individual adapted to society, but he also needs to adapt to the facts and to himself.

What is transdisciplinarity, which defends the unity of knowledge?
Closed disciplines prevent understanding of the world’s problems. Transdisciplinarity, in my opinion, is what allows, through the disciplines, the transmission of a more complex worldview.

My book Man and death is typically transdisciplinary, as I seek to understand the different human reactions to death through knowledge of prehistory, psychology, and religion. I needed to take a trip through all social and human diseases, and I used knowledge from areas of knowledge, such as psychoanalysis and biology.

How can the association between reason and affectivity be applied in the educational system?
It is necessary to establish a dialectical game between reason and emotion. It turned out that pure reason does not exist. A mathematician must have a passion for mathematics. We cannot abandon reason, feeling must be subjected to rational control.

The economist often works only through calculation, which is a blind complement to human sentiment. By not taking human emotions into account, an economist operates only blind calculations. This attitude largely explains the economic crisis that Europe

is currently living.

Should literature and the arts take up more space in the school curriculum? Why?
To know the human being, it is necessary to study areas of knowledge such as the social sciences, biology, psychology. But literature and the arts are also a means of knowledge.

The novels portray the individual in society, whether through Balzac or Dostoevsky, and convey knowledge about human feelings, passions and contradictions. Poetry is also important, it helps us to recognize and live the poetic quality of life. Great works of art, such as Beethoven’s music, develop a vital feeling in us, which is the aesthetic emotion, which allows us to recognize beauty, goodness and harmony. Literature and the arts cannot be treated in the school curriculum as secondary knowledge.

What is your opinion about the Brazilian education system?
Brazil is an extremely open country to my pedagogical ideas. However, the revolution of its educational system will undergo reform in the training of its educators. It is necessary to educate educators. Teachers need to leave their subjects to dialogue with other fields of knowledge. And that evolution has not yet happened. The teacher has a social mission, and both public opinion and the citizen need to be aware of that mission.

Source: Fronteiras do Pensamento | O Globo