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Dr Stevan Jokić, Professor - Scientific Advisor

Challenges Of Contemporary Education And How To Overcome Them

A society’s attitude towards its heritage is most evident through its attitude towards the level of scientific literacy of every member of the young generation and the assistance provided to teachers and schools in achieving this goal.

Because that’s the only way the civilisation of the 21st century can competently confront the following challenges:

• The necessity for each individual’s conduct to be harmonised with the concept of sustainable development;

• Existing development in which nature is to the fore and everything else is subservient, with which activities characteristic of the industrial revolution are reduced drastically;

• New technologies that are characterised by multi-disciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and trans-disciplinarity, coupled with a reliance on nanotech, cognitive technologies, information science and biotechnology;

• The teaching approach introduced by the ancient Greeks, which experienced significant transformation during the Renaissance, with the advent of the printing press, when Montaigne himself said that he would rather have a guide with a well-made head than a well-filled one, and now it is set to undergo even more significant changes with the advent of digitalisation.

That’s why every educator, tutor or subject teacher, of any educational institution at any level of the education system, is confronted by the following three questions:

Who are we addressing today? Young people whose education is provided through the use of book culture and screen culture; users of the results of the first quantum technological revolution, but contemporaries of current trends of the second quantum technological revolution, as well as a cultural, cognitive and psychological shift; youngsters who look at a picture for seven seconds and take 15 seconds to find an answer, who spend more than five hours in front of some kind of screen and will, in the next few decades, have a vocabulary that’s about 30,000 new words richer… Nevertheless, the data shows that, on the basis of a survey of approximately 900,000 adolescents in France (data from the magazine CLEFS NO64, 2014, p.30), upon completing primary and secondary school, around 25% of pupils are unprepared for the challenges they face today! I don’t have the data for Serbia!

Dr Stevan Jokić, professor – scientific advisor, served as a gymnasium-high school professor and teacher of a school for economics students; held the posts of sub-dean and dean of the University of Kragujevac Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and scientific director at the Vinča Institute of Nuclear Sciences. He is a recipient of the international PurKwa award of the French Academy of Sciences for his contributions to the scientific literacy of the children of the planet, while he has also been decorated three times by France…

What should we offer them? Perhaps curricula that, apart from taking a disciplinary approach, will also use an interdisciplinary one, with complex topics from everyday life. The possibility of providing greater freedom for teachers and the more active participation of pupils in the teaching process, with the use of non-formal and informal education, and more formative evaluation.

How can that be done? Try to apply teaching approaches based on research, projects, STEM and STEAM ((Science, Technology), Engineering/Art, Maths). These teaching approaches are coherent and attractive to all learners, because they respect not only their social, cultural and geographical differences, but also the specificities that are imposed on them by every school-centred situation.

Education is a discipline of intervention, because the teacher has to react in an appropriate way at a given moment. That’s why they need resources, first and foremost! Under the scope of the Hands in the Dough (Ruka u testu / Hands-on) project, over the course of 20-odd years, teachers had at their disposal 20 books (mostly translated from French and English), 15 books in digital format available to be downloaded for free, around a dozen types of inexpensive experimental boxes that can be made in every school, the YouTube channel Informatika i nauka za sve [Informatics & Science for Everyone] (40,000 views), the website Ruka u testu [Hand in the dough / Hands-on] (containing more than 3,000 pages), around a dozen exhibition-workshops, multiple seminars, lectures etc. These resources were created within the framework of: the contract between the French Academy of Sciences, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts – SANU and the University of Belgrade; international cooperation under the scope of EU projects SUSTAIN and FIBONACCI; cooperation among the collaborators in the Ruka u testu project and foundation La main à la pâte, the global network of science academies InterAcademy Partnership – IAP and the French Institute in Belgrade, with which we are also implementing this exhibition-workshop “Science and informatics for every child”.

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