LILLIPUT Materials and Resources on Politics and Democracy in Learning Cities and Regions

Tool type(s): 
Charter
Tool type(s): 
City/Regional Development
Tool type(s): 
Learning materials
Examples of Good Practice: 
Active Citizenship
Examples of Good Practice: 
International Cooperation
Examples of Good Practice: 
Communicating a Learning Region
Examples of Good Practice: 
Learning Organisations
Examples of Good Practice: 
Learning Region Financing
Examples of Good Practice: 
Employability and Future Skills
Examples of Good Practice: 
Learning Region Strategies
Examples of Good Practice: 
Stakeholder Involvement
Target Sector(s): 
Local/Regional Authority
Target Sector(s): 
Industry
Europe-wide?: 
Yes

This module addresses issues concerned with the operation of the city from a political and democratic standpoint. It examines the crucial role of lifelong learning in those processes and emphasises the challenges and opportunities which the city/region will face in its journey towards becoming a learning city/region.

Creating a learning culture in a city or region is an intensely political activity. It entails the liberalisation and democratisation not only of its administrative structures and those of its institutions but also of the way in which its citizens are empowered to contribute to that process and to the functioning of local government. On top of this, cities are faced with the prospect of enormous changes in the short, medium and long term future – changes that will require great perspicacity, prescience and understanding. Changes that will increase the pressure on its institutions and its operations. Such a transformation requires a certain flexibility of the corporate mind and a step increase in the collective knowledge and achievement of citizens.

At the centre of this is the educational process itself – for children and for adults of all ages. It too has to be democratised in order to cope with the task of building that learning culture. This is not merely a question of improving targets or examination performance or increasing the assimilation of information. Those are the limited objectives of the last century. It concerns the acquisition of skills, knowledge and competencies to allow citizens to perform the vastly more complex tasks which the 21st century workplaces will demand. A learning culture presumes the development of creativity, imagination and insight on the part of all citizens to allow them to survive and prosper mentally and financially in a vastly more complex world. It empowers and enables and liberates.

This of course is a long term process – it will not happen overnight and nor will it happen easily. Vast numbers of people in cities are disillusioned, dysfunctional and disenfranchised from the learning process. But the thinking, the structures and the means to make it happen have to be put in place now for it to happen at all. Education in the city therefore faces a profound change of mindset and method, since present techniques and structures are demonstrably failing the vast majority of people. Many more people will need to become involved not only with their own learning throughout life, but with the learning of others. The city and its institutions will have to learn how to stimulate all its citizens into a love of learning from cradle to grave. It is a matter of social stability and the well-being of the citizen as well as prosperity of the individual and the city.

This module therefore addresses those who are responsible for initiating the changes – the politicians, the city professionals, the educators, the community leaders. It provides about 20 hours of materials for the learning journey of those with an open mind and a willingness to assimilate new ideas and concepts. It explores and explains the roles and responsibilities of the people concerned, the differences in educational terms between the education and training world of the 20th century and the lifelong learning world of the 21st, and the actions that need to be taken to get from one to the other. It examines the city as a learning organisation, and the way in which different services of the city can function more effectively. It ends with a couple of examples of good practice – one from the city of Espoo in Finland, and the other from a project opening up city stakeholders and people to each other in an outward looking collaboration that will increase trade, knowledge and understanding between different cultures, creeds and races.

This is a Learning module. Ownership of the learning has been passed to the learner with the learning leader as a facilitator of that learning, drawing upon the experience, creativity and imagination of the learner to better understand the subject matter. Learning Leaders are encouraged to read the notes on methodology in the course notes.

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