Environmental education is already long-established in Hungary. Peace- education is not so wide-spread but there are considerable networks in Europe engaged in conflict-resolution. The joining to the European Union gave international development and development education a stimulus. The ENSZ Decade of Education for Sustainability (2005-2014) began. The democracy and human rights education is also on the agenda. Health education is emphasized in schools. Preparing people for multicultural circumstances is well known in the civil sphere. Significant education is preventing from dependency in areas of drugs, alcohol and smoking. Also there is some type of demography education which is preventing from diseases (mainly AIDS).
How gathers this great variety of educations together to GE (Global Education)?
Global: in place, time, view, entity, metodology, age, science.
We can apply to education the attribute „global” at least in the following seven senses:
- Whole sphere: it focuses on the whole globe which was contracted to a “worldwide village” by the globalisation, and even more, it enlarge our view to the whole cosmos.
- Whole time: on the base of historical (and even geocronological) lessons global education teaches us to think in centuries, long-term responsibility for the future generations.
- Whole human: body, mind and soul, it focuses not only on the material needs of people but mainly on the development of the human personality (including that substance of it which according to most of the religions and philosophies survives even the death).
- Whole Creature: it goes beyond the human being and it educates on responsibility towards other creatures and even beauties (for example: protection of landscapes and cultural heritages, noise- and light pollution which disturbs the silence and the cosmic experience, etc.).
- Whole metodology: formal system of education, non-formal possibilities (trainings, workshops, etc.) and informal frames (internet, media, festivals, unknown target groups).
- Whole scale of ages: not only education of youth, but life long learning, adult and professional education, trainings of leaders, teachers, etc.
- Whole interdisciplinarity: e.g. social science can’t understand society without views of natural science. Sustainability needs to slow down natural driving forces of real flows behind social issues.
GE: sustainability on the limited Earth
One of the main messages of GE is that the Earth is round. The reader might think now that this is a well known fact. But the present state of humanity shows that it hasn’t already got to the common knowledge. Columbus only realised that it is worth to start robbing campaigns to the West, too. He didn’t think about the limits of the Earth as he took full advantage of the New World. He didn’t raise the question: why we don’t have enough places in Europe any more? And where will we spread further when we have already overcrowded even the New World?
Since then neither most of decision-makers nor the man of the street did realise that the Earth is round which means it is limited. According to the report of the UN Population Program 2005 about 76 million unwanted conceptions happened last year only in the so-called developing countries. But only very few people take care about this. „Where God gives a lambkin, he also gives a land for it” says the naive saying. It’s trying to shift the responsibility for fertility, supposing the Earth has no limits. Lots of politicians and advertisements promise endless growth. Lots of economy adventurers fill their pockets with money referring to this infinity. Speaking about sustainable growth (or about sustainable development with a meaning of growth) is a self-contradiction.
One of the main goals of GE is sustainability. It doesn’t mean that things going on now should be going on like this for a long time!
A simple definition:
Sustainability = the ecological footprint is less than the biocapacity.
Our ecological footprint grows proportionally with population and consumption. Environment-friendly solutions are moderating it. We burden the Earth more than its capacity would bear, so the following things happen:
– We ruin the Earth’s biocapacity while a continually growing population is trying to live on it.
– We cause a loss to the biodiversity, to the weaker groups of humans and to the future generations.
– The forests, the soil and the species perish, the climate changes, the ground water sinks, the energy and raw material sources are running out etc.
Several civilisations in the history overburdened their lands. Some of them collapsed. Some pursued ruthless exploitation on newly conquered territories. Now the overburden became global. There’s no place to spread to. Humanity can only choose between a collapse-type DECREASING or a voluntary gradual DECREASING of population and other Earth- burdening things (production, consumption, pollution, violence).
GE: good news
The inevitable decreasing and the unsustainability of the living standard’s growth are bad news. But GE has mainly a positive message: it’s possible to develop the quality of life without limits, because it is possible without material growth.
To understand this positive message the third dimension of GE is needed. GE focuses not only on the material needs of people but mainly on the development of the human personality (including that substance of it which according to most of the religions and philosophies survives even the death). Beyond the global crisis there are fundamental religious and philosophical reasons: fear of death and the desire for the everlasting biological youthfulness, the myth of growth, the estrangement of belonging to a group and being appreciated, dependences on consumption, safety as quasi-religion, petty ability for the direct experience of the non-material richness (spiritual adventures, intellectual treasures, loving-relationships), the slowness of human evolution on the field of planned parenthood instead of the unlimited productivity of living creatures, the ascendancy of interests over values, the paleness of cosmic amazement and mysticism of nature, escaping from silence because of unsolved psychical problems, play and recreation are becoming business, withdrawal of religions from reality, etc.
GE is like a satellite picture in the beginning of the weather forecast. After it the meteorologist approaches on our country and residence and helps us decide what to wear and what kind of program to arrange. GE helps us to form a successful life-strategy by making us understand our situation and the effects of global and historical processes on our local lives.
The invention of the bicycle (one of the favourite tools of the youth) is a good demonstrative example. In 1815 a far-away (Bali island) volcano eruption sent out enormous quantities of dust and ash to the high atmosphere. This caused a so-called „year without summer” in 1916 and there wasn’t any crop. Famine broke out and because people couldn’t feed the horses either they ate them. Decreasing of the main means of transport led to the invention of the forefather of the bicycle in 1817. The running-machine was made of wood and it could reach a speed of 14 miles/hour.
This example shows the danger and the chance very well in the time of climate-change.
The oasis picture: the dimensions of GE
On the attached oasis–picture the palm tree in the middle shows the ten parts of GE and their connections (see below).
Horizontally the one big and the three little palm trees illustrate the time dimension. The two trees on the left side symbolize the good and bad examples, the sustainable and the collapsed ancient civilisations. These examples help to understand the historical processes and causes. The tree on the right side symbolizes the education on responsibility towards future generations. The soil which turns to desert in the direction of the future (of the right side of the picture) refers to the spoiling capacity of the Earth which threatens the flowers with not turning into fruits.
Vertically the picture illustrates the theme-dimension of GE. The fruits of the personality development feed on the sustainable living (soil and the trunk of the tree).
But GE also educates the responsibility towards living creatures and beauties beyond the human.
The Sun (it can be associated with Aton, the Sun-god of Ekhnaton pharaoh’s love-religion) refers to the substance of human which survives even the death. The development of this substance is the meaning of life.
The thunder-cloud symbolizes that not the technocratic averting but the development of personality is the right answer on the trials of life. The expression „bad weather” arrived to the common language from the tourist point of view of weather forecasts. By the way if we always try to restrain the weather (heating, air-conditioning, travelling by car because of the rain, etc.) we will only make it more unrestrained (hurricanes, etc.).
The oasis-picture: the 10 parts of GE on the palm tree
Five of the ten parts of GE (on the trunk of the tree) help the sustainable living. The other five parts (the fruits) help the development in personality.
The colours and the vertical placing show that these form five pairs: DH–LG, EJ–DE, CC–CS, RM–EE, SD–PE.
The vertical order shows the demand hierarchy. For example: reproduction is pushed into the background if there’s not enough food; if the living creatures have to escape they live even the food behind; so planned parenthood is easier to reach than nonviolence.
The ten parts of GE will only be described here by a few basic characteristic each.
Trunk 5: DH Demography (planned parenthood) and Health education
The diagram of human population shows a shocking explosion. This is the most fundamental factor of the global crisis and the poverty. Besides people don’t want it, it’s flooded on them as a natural disaster. About six conceptions happen in every second on the Earth, and more than half of them are unwanted. The recent step of human evolution goes from the unlimited fertility of living creatures to the responsible productivity.
Fruit 5: LG Love and Gender: learning to cultivate good personal relationships, education on gender equality
Education of girls, rights and employment of women, and the availability of family planning means are the key factors of demography. Loving relationships make us happy but the lack of them makes us greedy consumers without satisfaction.
Trunk 4: EJ Enterprise and Job: preparing people for sustainable enterprise and job-seeking.
The world economy (the main cause of the crisis) will fundamentally change if we educate enterprisers, decision makers and workers on global knowledge and responsibility towards the future.
Fruit 4: DE Development education on international development cooperation and solidarity
One third of humanity is living in the poor countries. It depends on the Global Education whether the international development cooperation (which is to help them) is dispensing cheap tickets to the Titanic (namely it hands the Earth-destructive economy model over to them) or develops a sustainable civilisation together with them.
(I participate in the CONCORD DE Forum on behalf of the Hungarian NGDO Platform since its beginning.)
Trunk 3: CC Conscientious Consumer education, advertisement-critic, consumer defence training
The development commissioner of the EU astonished the DE conference in Brussels with the following fact: a fashion company spends more on the installation of its new perfume then the EU on Development Education in a whole year. Global Education helps us to fight against brain-washing. Enormous amount of money are spent on brain-washing, because it really worth to sell glass-beads (western analogy for junk) and “fiery water” (dependency) to the masses.
Fruit 3: CS Culture and Spirit: Education on non-material richness (intellectual and spiritual adventures, creation, playing, joy, appreciating silence and cultural variety)
The essence of the positive message of GE: instead of the primitive consumer-existence we can become able to live the non-material richness.
Trunk 2: RM Resource Management education for sustainability and integrity of Creation
The life will be harder and harder on the overburdened Earth for people who need too much material and pollution-neutralizer to make themselves happy. It is catastrophic to car race in a short dead end. The Little Prince life-strategy is the winning life style which does not need five thousands roses to be happy.
Fruit 2: EE Environmental education on loving the cosmic order, the beauty and the nature.
It’s not the miracle which is missing from the world but the admiration. You are a guest in the nature so it has to stay uninjured also after your visit.
Trunk 1: SD Security and Decision-making education, training on industrial and disaster safety
GE contents have to be put in to adult education (workplace trainings, fire prevention education, driving tuition etc.). According to an American Indian tradition, important decisions’ effects on seven generations should be carefully considered beforehand. Not only should a language certificate be needed for a degree but also a “responsibility towards future generations” certificate. It should also be linked with school leaving and professional exams. Global education of law-makers is especially important.
Fruit 1: PE Peace Education, preparation for democracy, training on human rights
Peace is seriously endangered by overburdening of Earth, scarcity and injustice. Human rights and democracy can guarantee the vital interests of weaker human groups, of future generations and even of the living creatures.