11 September 2001, a Turning Point

The events of the 11th of September represent a turning point in many dimensions of life, both at national and global level. Many present trends must be redressed. Education plays a critical role in forging citizen's behaviour, and now an in-depth change is urgently needed, focussed on the basic aspects that constitute the permanent essential pillars of an endless process throughout life. In a nutshell, I think that - now more than ever - education must lead to:

1. "Personal sovereignty": Develop the creative and thinking capacities in order that every unique human being will have her/his own answers, being able to express them, and to listen to those of others, in a permanent interaction.

2. A global vision: To "lean out" as a constant attitude, being in a watchtower (and not in an ivory one), truly becoming a world citizen, open, with sharing and imaginative entrepreneurial capacity (daring to learn and learning to dare).

3. A passionate and compassionate behaviour in favour of the democratic ideals of justice, freedom, equality and solidarity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the best way to sow in all the minds the fundamental values and principles to guide reflections and conducts.

4. A multicultural and plurilingual preparedness, developing a temper of tolerance and otherness. "We the peoples..." All the peoples, in a culture of peace context, promoting the transition from a culture of force and imposition to dialogue and understanding.

5. Anticipatory outlook and foresightedness, in order to build and consolidate a prospective and preventive attitude.

Education has normally been considered and adapted from the teaching angle and not from the learning one. It is from this latter perspective that we realize now that it is a lifelong process, and that the behavioural attitudes that are forged, the awakening of the distinctive capacity of the human to create and to search for answers to the essential questions are the inner core of "education" in terms of personal autonomy. Skills and professional capacity building are the "outer rings." They evolve rapidly according to the knowledge acquired and technology developments in each particular area.

Federico MAYOR
President of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, Madrid, Spain
Professor at the Center for Molecular Biology at
the Autonomous University of Madrid
Former Director-General of UNESCO

September 19, 2001

Bulletin Interactif du Centre International de Recherches et Études Transdisciplinaires n° 16 - Février 2002

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