“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.” (Carl Rogers)

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Lernfreiheit: learning liberty?

Google Translate gives 'Lernfreiheit' as 'Academic Freedom', although other sources suggest 'Freedom to Learn', which chimes beautifully with a person-centred approach to education, and 'Learning Liberty', which is probably even better as it sounds activist and puts me in mind of Paolo Freire. In its original context of the Humboldtian University, it meant a student's right to determine an individual course of study, which I not only fully support but which makes me want to problematise the corresponding concept of 'Lehrfreiheit', which embraces the right of professors to determine the content of their lectures and to publish the results of their research without prior approval. The last part is a given - yes, publish and be damned! However, I would much rather see something like a collaborative approach to determining lecture content, the same approach used by the Social Science Centre at Lincoln, which is run as a not-for-profit co-operative, and organised on the basis of democratic, non-hierarchical principles. Although, I don't know the German word for 'collaborative freedom', unless it's kollaborativenfreiheit, which I hope it is, because it looks and sounds beautiful...

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