Обучение для будущего

English version

The study of complexity has brought science closer than ever to art. Knowledge has gone through a cycle from non-specialism to specialism and is now moving back to interdisciplinarity, even transdisciplinarity. Art deals with the sensual world (media as the extension of senses) and the holistic concept of human being. Traditional knowledge has been disciplinary based although increasingly interdisciplinary. In the vocational field, knowledge is also contextual and needs to be created in application – learning by doing. This also reflects local and regional realities. The Western philosophy is characterized by analytical, scientific, objective, rational, and critical thinking while the Eastern approach is characterized by synthesis, literature and art with a subjective and emotional thinking. Both cannot and should not dominate the other, but should have close dialogues between them. In a sense, many of the basic issues were already discussed in ancient Greece by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and by the scholars of other civilizations.

The use of ICT and digital skills in performing art, craft, and other fields require a team work with special skills. The trend of digitalization does not mean that everything traditional should be rejected. New communicative inventions have always also destroyed something valuable, and special attention should be given to the diversity of approaches in the ICT applications. A blended approach is often adopted. Most essential in this new learning environment is the fact that the learner is constantly facing epistemic conflicts when a problem is presented that needs to be solved but lies outside the learner’s current repertoire. Most of the problems of the information society will be of that kind. The learner needs to proceed with self-regulation with an active engagement, which is the learner’s response to the conflict. The idea is to adjust and reconstruct thinking to deal with the learning problem at hand.

In order to learn new technologies and become digitally literate, new forms of learning paths have to be developed utilizing all forms of learning, especially at work and nonformal environments. At the same time, special attention should be given to teacher education in ICT skills and competencies. The period of transition in which we are now living differs from the periods of change of older dominant media. Traditional print and electronic media were introduced within a period of reasonable length, and when we moved to the active use of a new form of communication, we could also have a rough estimation of the economic and social impacts of this transition and train new professionals for the media and support people for the institutions. Now different forms of communication and technologies integrate and converge with a speed that hardly anyone has the time or ability to assess all of the consequences, real possibilities, or problems.

The global communication society harbours enormous potential, along with some risks. However, its full, positive realisation depends on whether humanity, including each and every one of us, gains in awareness and responsibility. Today this awareness must be media-related and humanistic. On the one hand, as media-related, its main goal must be to monitor the development of the media and be keenly aware of what it may  

a) In the sense that it must situate the human person at the core of this media civilisation, this new manmade, telecom world around us, just as in the Renaissance the humanists managed to place human beings at the centre of a world which had been organised by theology until then.

b) In the sense that this new awareness must drive the primacy of the critical sense towards technology and thus replace this trusting and rather unselective attitude that prevails today and forces us to unconditionally accept technological innovation. This echoes how the humanists defended a free, critical interpretation of the classical texts and ultimately the autonomy of the intellect and the human person. While Renaissance humanism served as a critical filter of the values of its day by filtering mediaeval culture with classical culture, the new 21st century humanism most foster a critical sense which is alert to the hypertechnologised environment and capable of discerning between what should be kept and what should be revamped.

c) In the sense that while Renaissance humanism helped to “discover” the sense of self and biography and fostered a new form of individual autonomy compared to the sometimes asphyxiating weight of traditionalist thinking, the new humanism must help to foster a sense of autonomy in a context in which global communication can engender dependence and very subtle forms of intellectual subjugation.

d) In the sense that while Renaissance humanism was characterised by a “discovery” of new “worlds”, America first and foremost, but also Africa and Asia, giving rise to an “encounter” – often violent – between cultures and civilisations, the new humanism in the global communication society must prioritise a new sense of respect for multiplicity and cultural diversity and must support media development with the goal of consolidating the new culture of peace.

e) Finally, in the sense that, just like Renaissance humanism, through the new media and humanistic awareness now is the time for us to be capable of reviving the classical idea of cosmopolitan, universal citizen, with very clear rights and responsibilities, which entail a planet-wide commitment. We must foster a kind of citizenship that stimulates the idea that individuals view themselves as the bearers of universal rights, as well as responsibilities which are also universal.

While the Aristotelian approach is common for the Western mind particularly in communication and search for truth, the mindset of the other civilizations are not only unknown in the global scholarly debate but may even have been forgotten. The need for higher humanity is obvious and we must broaden our educational approaches to create a new renaissance education which with comprise science, technology, art and spiritual values while respecting cultural diversities.

 Prof. Tapio VARIS, member of the UNESCO IITE Governing Board;  Professor Emeritus, UNESCO Chair in Global e-Learning, University of Tampere, Finland; Visiting Professor, UNIVATES, RS, Brazil


  • Perez Tornero, Jose Manuel & Tapio Varis: Media Literacy and New Humanism UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education , Moscow 2011
  • Varis, Tapio: Effectively Harnessing ICTs in Support of Skills Development for Employability, Curriculum Perspectives: Journal of the Australian Curriculum Studies Association, 2012 (in print)
  • Varis, Tapio: Effectively Harnessing ICTs in Support of Skills Development for Employability, Curriculum Perspectives: Journal of the Australian Curriculum Studies Association, 2012 (in print)