Editorial - the new normal? Chris Duke
This is the year of paradoxes. Everything has changed and maybe nothing has altered. The impossible is easy, the familiar impossible. Taboos become normal conduct, as the taken-for-granted slips away. New information technologies and the use of media open up incredible learning opportunities, and more sinister ways to influence, control, enslave and destroy. There is nothing like a global pandemic or war to make the impossible obvious and easy.
C-19 pandemic sweeps across everywhere and everything. The rate and range of responses are remarkable; yet millions have lost faith in governments and leadership, science and rationality. Citizens are fed fake news by the false prophet and, fall prey to fantasy and terror; yet rediscover family, neighbourhood and ways of living together, even as wealth-poverty gulfs widen further, New technologies hasten to gain ground on an ever-accelerating climate-change extinction crisis brought upon ourselves. The glass is half full and half empty, as Chris Brooks pointed out in Bulletin 34, in Two Victories for Science and Rationality: Why so much doom and gloom?
The Bulletin looks beyond normal frameworks of assumption and practice for understanding and action to address, moderate or transform the way we manage now, and to have adult learning and education (ALE) in a context of lifelong learning (LLL) better serve peoples, as diverse and unique individuals in their communities.
This year we are part of a new effort to work together with others across nations, regions, and local communities to put learning in the reach of all for the benefit of all. We are looking afresh at how learning occurs and can be supported to meet individual, community, and ecological needs, while recognising the key role of nation-states, intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) - the UN agencies, the EU and OECD – aim to identify needs and orchestrate sustainable development, currently through the SDGs.
In the next Bulletin, No. 36 in May, PIMA Vice-President Heribert Hinzen will take up the theme of partnership with examples and experiences for building on our interwoven linkages, with opportunities to cooperate globally, as individuals and in associations.
This current issue goes to the heart of an ecological crisis with the extractive industries that consume non-renewable resources in sometimes devastating ways and at an unaffordable long-term cost. PIMA shares this initiative with many other local and global agencies, especially international and national civil society organisations (CSOs, NGOs, INGOs) that speak with one voice and common purpose about the essential contribution of big LLL guiding ALE: for effective advocacy and impact on political and institutional policies, strategies, processes and outcomes.
The pandemic this year influences all that we do. How do peoples and power-brokers learn from it and change our priorities and policies? This is up to us all, working together. The UNESCO World ALE conference CONFINTEA VII in 2022 is an occasion to promote the essential role of ALE in implementing all the SDGs, and in altering assumptions and behaviour throughout the human endeavour.
In this Bulletin, we also question the creation, ownership, accessibility and use of published knowledge created in academic, political and professional circles: what does postcolonialism (or is it neocolonialisms?) mean? Where and how is it sought, created and used, to what effect? Who creates, owns, and uses? - the wealthy North for the Global South, big powerful players for ‘little people’? – the wealthy hi-tech knowledge-rich ‘old West’ or older civilisations, ways of knowing and being of the ‘middle kingdom’ East? - and in every place, older wisdom and ways?
Is the only shared future competing for hi-tech megacity and uniform, or still and again shared ‘natural’ and balanced? We plan to sustain inquiry into learning life deep as well as lifewide, absorbing the ‘new normality’ that people forced to stay local and look inward are learning. We will probe the commodification of knowledge, like so many life assets; and the boxes into which we partition, hamper, or prevent more equable sustainable development.
In 2021 the Bulletin will sustain efforts for effective collaborative local-regional action and culture change, with special issues on the conduct of universities and higher education, and on what has fast become an extinction crisis. As part of our open collective process, we here present feedback on the Bulletin; and invite all members and friends to help enhance its impact and usefulness.