martes, 31 de marzo de 2009

Biocultural Diversity and Ecosystem Management in the Classroom

Cultural diversity is exponentialy increasing in this world, as people from everywhere is melting everywhere.
Biocultural diversity, according to United Nations, is: "Biocultural diversity: diversity of life in all its manifestations — biological, cultural, and linguistic — which are interrelated within a complex socio-ecological adaptive system."
Undoubtedly, through this enormous "melting-pot", cultural diversity has significantly increased in almost classrooms.
Ecosystem management is: "...integrating scientific knowledge of ecological relationships within a complex sociopolitical and values framework toward the general goal of protecting native ecosystem integrity over the long term. (Grumbine, 1994)"

We recently assisted at a lecture by Pedro Arrojo in University of Málaga about ecosystem management in water ecosystems. Water ecosystem management in Spain is beginning to adapt to U.E. standards and thus applying the principle of "Proactive Citizen Participation" (P.C.P.).

P.C.P. enhances citizen participation from the very moment a certain public proyect is beginning to writing. Along this interesting lecture I discover a paralelism between classroom and water ecosystem, as recently I notice that the changes to adapt spanish (and european) universities at U.E. standards state that the classrooms must radicaly change their classical, hierarchical physical structure.

According to Pedro Arrojo, the spanish experience in Proactive Citizen Participation in relation to water ecosystem management in Ebro Basin was still premature, because as any radical change could need time to produce the hoped results.
After to hear this opinion I choose to participate talking about another radical change we need for a better application of P.C.P. in water ecosystem managament.
This radical change I referred to was the structural changes in classrooms. In some years, if our students enjoy a more participatory environment in classrooms,it is very probable that later, their work as technicians or citizens, would benefit of this better "Classroom Ecosystem Management".

Classroom Ecosystem is a monospecific ecosystem where it is possible to distinguish two different groups of people: teacher and students.
In classical hierarchical classrooms teacher is generaly, or preferentialy, in one area of the clasroom. Of course we are simplifying, because there are many levels and types of hierarchical classrooms.
Students, in classical hierarchical classrooms are generaly situated in desks whose spatial distribution follows the typical order of rows and columns.
In this way, where we actualy find thousand of millions of young people all over the world, knowledge is not managed from a ecosystem perspective. Teacher perspectives generaly dominate. Consensus, in many decisions related to classroom and courses, is far from be reached anyway.

In "Culture of Denial" C.A. Bowers ask himself "Why environmental movement needs a strategy for reforming universities and public schools".
Maybe this is the time to attack the most easy and radical way for this task.
Those teachers more reluctant to accept that hierarchical classrooms must finish their actual dominance, probably is because they have been subject to this hierarchical clasroom so many years that don't can imagine the great advantages of the changes ahead, according to U.E. standards.

With the great development of Information and Communication Technologies, more advantageous for young people, because they are "native digitals", we have the great opportunity to increase, in exponential way, society knowledge. For that we need, as soon as possible, that traditional lectures decrease their dominance in classrooms at all educational levels.
It is urgent that knowledge will circulate in classrooms with maximum freedom and eficiency.
Time has passed when knowledge was mainly considered a teacher value. In Classroom Ecosystem Management knowledge is considered a quality of all the ecosystem and from all classroom participants. Classroom Ecosystem Management and Classroom Proactive Citizen Participation imply, at least in public education centers, that cooperative knowledge must be a relevant complement of lectures.
In this way, the chairs or desks must be free to adapt to any spatial structure we choose in any moment in the classroom.
We need all people having participated in cooperative classroom activities to join our voices together in order to facilitate this important transition ahead. Take in account that almost all activities in our lifes develop looking our eyes ourselves, because biological and cultural evolution have demonstrated that in this way communication efficiency is significantly increased, as our senses are situated in the frontal area of our heads. After eons of evolution it would be competely paradoxical that the best way to communicate and to understand among us was not looking our eyes ourselves.
The classical hierarchical structure was an advantage in the development of our classical disciplines and specialities. Along last century humans have accumulated so much knowledge that we would need some century more for a complete scrutiny and digestion af all this knowledge.
A big crisis is here. A knowledge crisis, any way. In "Knowledge civilization" we assist plenty of perplexity to a strange situation where knowledge have become overwhelming. But we don't have any idea to how to manage so much knowledge in a practical way. And politicians saying that we have a great and long crisis.

We have a very good science, a very good knowledge, but all this knowledge is so sparsed in hundreds of disciplines that it is difficult to manage. Almost scientist are specialists. But today we urgently need generalist scientists whose wide vision would permit society to solve actual crisis paradoxes.

And we think the fresh and technological minds of young people that every day give life to classrooms, are very important to change actual dominance of lectures towards a better equitativity in classroom learning processes. In this way mutual enrichment would reach all cultural richness in our multicultural societies, not only considered this "cultural" in narrow sense, but in wide sense, as any individual person holds a certain culture as the result of their singular and individual way of living and of relating with ecosystems.

We refer finally to eficiency. Progress would be in the future measured as eficiency. And learning eficiency in the classroom depends from adapting classroom structure to the most efficient way of human communication; that is, looking directly among ourselves. efficiency will increase more and more when we add to the cooperative classroom the "instantuniversity", where access to internet is instantaneous in any clasroom, with virtually any clasroom in the world.

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