A Panel on Challenges and Consequences of School Disruptions
on the Development of Social Cohesion in Children
as part of the 19th Annual International Conference on Education
15-18 May 2017, Athens, Greece
sponsored by the Athens Journal of Education
The Education Unit of ATINER organizes A Panel on Challenges and Consequences of School Disruptions on the Development of Social Cohesion in Children, 15-18 May 2017, Athens, Greece as part of the 19th Annual International Conference on Education sponsored by the Athens Journal of Education.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines a “cohesive society” as one that “works towards the well-being of all its members, fights exclusion and marginalization, creates a sense of belonging, promotes trust, and offers its members the opportunity of upward mobility.” This broad definition echoes the work of two influential thinkers about the role of education: John Dewey and Emile Durkheim.
Dewey stated that “the purpose of education has always been to everyone, in essence, the same—to give the young the things they need in order to develop in an orderly, sequential way into members of society”, and Durkheim described the importance of teaching social cohesion in this way: “if society lacks the unity based upon the commitment of men’s wills to a common objective … then it is no more than a pile of sand that the slightest puff will suffice to scatter”
Social cohesion, then, along with teaching literacy and preparing individuals for future employment is one of the three pillars upon which effective schools are built. Although there is consensus that these are essential and appropriate objectives for educating the young, the range of possibilities of how and when these are taught varies in different cultures and societies, and different political and economic circumstances. Where consensus frequently collapses, and momentous challenges occur is when circumstances disrupt—and sometimes destroy—the existing educational systems.
In the world today, many school systems, locally, regionally and nationally, do not function or function only minimally. Although the most dramatic example of this is evident in Syria where 15 % of all school buildings have been destroyed or put to other uses (such as housing internally displaced citizens) schools have also been disrupted in recent years as a result of natural disasters (such as in Kobe, Japan and New Orleans, Louisiana, USA). Schools also face difficulties in functioning effectively in fragile political states with limited resources.
The ability to maintain educational systems that can effectively teach and promote the principles of social cohesion is a particular and profound challenge for refugee children because those who have been made immigrants, migrants or refugees involuntarily feel social disruption profoundly. And, as their fears and insecurities increase, the very institutions that could ameliorate their emotional turmoil must be built, rebuilt, so that their education can continue. The plight of Syrian refugee children is a world-wide tragedy; more than half of all Syrian refugees, now displaced to more than 40 countries, are under the age of 18.
This panel will examine case studies of how social cohesion has been taught—and is being taught—in the midst of societal disruptions. Several of the case studies will deal with examine how education is being provided for children caught up in the global refugee crisis, but others will look at school disruptions resulting from natural disasters and political and economic fragility.
Special arrangements will be made with a local hotel for a limited number of rooms at a special conference rate. In addition, a number of social events will be organized: A Greek night of entertainment with dinner, a special one-day cruise to selected Greek islands, an archaeological tour of Athens and a one-day visit to Delphi. Details of the social program are available here.
Fee structure information is available on https://www.atiner.gr/fees.
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