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    International Winter School: Comparative Studies in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning

    Student-Impressions 2014

    My participation in the last Winter School (2014) was a great experience for me. Firstly I participated during two weeks in a course about comparative studies in European and international strategies of lifelong learning. During the course I had the opportunity to attend several lectures given by an international group of professors and guest speakers (such as Arne Carlsen) about politics, policies and strategies of education and lifelong learning. The course was composed by theoretical lessons and a great diversity of practical activities such as role playing, group work, case studies and so on. In the last part of the course, we had the opportunity to explore and work a specific theme. I worked about professionalization strategies and I can say that the preparatory readings that I did before the course and all the discussions and group work during these sessions of comparative project work were very useful for the elaboration of my thesis. The field visits were opportunities to analyze critically theoretical concepts and practices taught in the sessions. Secondly, to meet and interact with an international group of students/colleagues in a pedagogical context was a fruitful experience since we had the opportunity to discuss and compare educational policies and local practices concerning our home countries. And, thirdly, but also very important, all the social events such as lunches, dinners, city guided tours, informal talks and socialization moments were chances to meet colleagues from other European countries, to know more about each other, and to share our post-graduated experiences, concerns and hopes. Concluding, I would like to highlight that participating in this Winter School enriched my academic pathway and contributed to enlarge my network. My advice is: if you have the opportunity to attend the next Winter School, take this opportunity, do not loose time. (Catarina Paulos, PhD student at Institute of Education – University of Lisbon, Portugal)

     

    The Winter School in Wurzburg was really wonderful. I learned lots of data and elements from the different lectures into the programme. I also prepared a report about recognition of prior learning in Italy: it was really interesting because it was the first time I made a research paper. But the most interesting fact was the comparative group work. We had the possibility to know different national systems about our themes and we tried to analyse positive and negative elements of each one. I really enjoyed the Winter School. I learned not only to create international relationships, but I also understood what educational research is. (Carlo Terzaroli, Graduate student at the University of Florence, Italy)

     

    In February 2014 I have participated in the ERASMUS-Intensive Programme in Würzburg together with seven other students from Chemnitz University of Technology. First of all this was a unique possibility to meet students from different countries which are all working in the field of education and lifelong learning. The various perspectives and experiences that have been brought into the discussions as well as the working groups by the participants have made it very instructive and exciting. For me especially the comparative working groups were really exciting because there was so much to learn about the different educational working fields and this was a great possibility to talk in smaller groups and ask detailed questions about things I was particularly interested in. Also we have learned a lot about our countries and the different cultures while sitting together at lunch, during the leisure time activities and the evenings we spend together at our accommodation. It was great to see that despite the participants are from different countries we have become friends during these two weeks. Moreover, the programme opened up new perspectives on politics, policies and strategies in education and lifelong learning and we had the possibility to hear lectures from professors and guest lectures we would otherwise not have had the opportunity to. During the lectures and also the field visits I have recognized that my view on common practices and statements has changed and that there are now things I would call into question. Overall, the Intensive Progamme was a possibility to broaden my view on topics I have learned during my study and to learn what education and adult education is in Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, India and Portugal. It was a unique experience I will remember a long time. Those who have the opportunity to participate in the next Winter School should really do that! (Franziska Semrau, University of Chemnitz)

    Friday, 21st of February 2014

    It was a great experience. During the first week, we dealt with some important concepts, as education, learning, training. The most part of lessons and activities were leaded by Mr. Licino Lima and Mrs. Paula Guimaraes, professors of Universities of Portugal. Mr. Lima dealt deeply with three different political models: socio-democratic state, neo-liberal state, radical-critical state. Mrs. Guimaraes dealt with the concepts of micro, mega, macro, meso system. The approach was theoretical and practical, by frontal lectures and work in groups. For me, everything was new and I was interested in that; however, I think that we spent to much time on these topics. We dealt deeply with these concepts, but it was a too political point of view that excluded lots of perspectives. I would have liked to deal with Adult Education and Training through a multidisciplinary approach, including psychological studies, biological studies, pedagogical studies. I think that Educational Sciences require a multidisciplinary approach. Moreover, I would have preferred to know something more about the current problems of Adult Education, in each European countries.

    During the second week, we worked in international groups. We did the comparative work on the topic we had studied before leaving our own country. I was in group nr. 1 – Early Childhood Education and Care –. I liked too much work in an international Group! The comparative work was very interesting and exciting. It allowed me to learn a wider prospective about Early Education, it helped me to learn the complexity of this topic and of the Early Childhood system. It was a very formative experience indeed and I would have preferred spend more time with this comparative work in a international group. I think that learning needs time to collect data and reflect on that, but sometime schedule began too stressful and often we were in a hurry with our work. I would have preferred having more time to create the poster, prepare the presentation, present our work to the others, listen and comprehend the topics and the works of the other groups.

    About accommodation in Kolping House, for me it was a good experience of sharing and caring. The rooms were a bit crowed and most part of students slept on a mattress on the floor (I was one of that). The common space were big enough and with all the furniture, kitchen was useful and well working. For a two-week stay, this accommodation was nice; I cannot say anything about longer time. 

    In conclusion, I say that: I would have preferred a multidisciplinary approach to Adult Education, and more attention to issues of Adult Education;More time to work in international group; Accommodation in Kolping House was nice for a two-week stay. The experience was great and Regina and Stefanie were very kind and caring with us. I really hope you could go on with this Winter School, it was a very formative chance indeed and international students should experience it. Thank you one again.

    Thursday, 20th of February 2014

    "Today we had two interesting lectures on lifelong learning. On the one hand Arne Carlsen from UNESCO Institute for lifelong learning visited us and presented the institution and the aims of this international organisation which was really interesting. After his presentation we got the chance to ask questions and he gave us some more detailed information about the success of UNESCO Institute for lifelong learning and their strategies.

    In the afternoon Chetan Singai told us more about the situation of adult education and lifelong learning in India which was also really informative because he gave us an overview about a country which isn't part of the European Union.

    Referring to the speech we compared our different national situations of adult education in international working groups on the basis of the CONFINTEA VI report."

    Wednesday, 19th of February 2014

    "So far, the programme was running good as it is provided a good opportunity to share knowledge from international perspectives as well as I can gain a great experience related to lifelong learning area.
    There were many interested areas presented by professionals, therefore I have learned more in new contents on policy, practiced models and good examples. Moreover, I have known lots of friends, new cultures, languages etc.
    Thank you very much for everything you guys have been doing for the programme."

    "We think that the day was very productive! It was the finalisation of the comparative project works, and it gave us some integrated perspective about the different themes. It was possible to share the different national realities and get an international overview, to sum up the specific and commun policies and strategies in AE. We are looking foward for the presentation of all comparative project works! In a general sense, we can state that the orientation given by all professors in charge of each project work was very important, as well as the space given to authonomus work.

    Latter on, the lecture by professor Németh about "Learning Cities", as a concept to promote Lifelong Learning by UNESCO, was very informative, concise and interesting. Maybe this lecture could take place during the morning. We could say that the last days have been more dynamic and enveloping!"

    Tuesday, 18th of February 2014

    "The day started with the comparative project work in the groups. In my opinion it is a really intensive work which give us the possibility not only to learn how the subject we are working on is treated in the other countries, but also to analyze the situation in our county more on detail. Another positive aspect of the group work is also the language because you learn a lot of new terms  and also to speak spontaneously. So I really like the group work!
    After that we had a field visit into the Rudolf- Alexander Schröder Haus which is a protestant educational centre in Würzburg. It was a really interesting visit because we got an insight into the work of a non-profit organisation which is under the church leadership. Mr. Wildfeuer gave us a lot of information how this institution works and also which challenges it have and how they try to manage them. It was a kind of surprise to hear about the work because previously I expected more spirituality in this institution. But however, this field visit gave us a lot of information and was well organised.
    All in all the day was exciting and I have learned a lot!"

    Monday, 17th of February 2014

    "Today we worked together in our Groups. I was in the “Professionalisation”-Group and it was again really interesting to hear the view from other countries. We heard the presentations from Portugal and Italy, the differences and similarities were really surprising, not only from the content but also from the composition of the presentations.

    In the afternoon we have been at  Koping Akademie, what was really interesting but also challenging for the German students because we had to translate the whole presentation. Hopefully all other students were able to follow the speech."

    Friday, 14th of February 2014

    "The week ends with another full day of important themes and interesting activities, in which i highlight the role-play where we had to assume one of the 3 models of the social policies, defending arguments and trying to refute opposite ones. It was a role played with intensity, that allowed me to realize how these different views can be articulated in more practical contexts. This day also marks the beginning of the group work on the essay topic, which would result in true moments of comparitive studies in European policies."

    "On Friday we finally started to work on our group projects and we began to present our essays to our group members. Here we got feedback on our work and we were able to compare the different systems of RPL in different European countries.

    It was a really interesting day, and it was really great to do something more interactive and international work than we did in the previous days."

    "I found the topics of this day very interesting. I think it was very useful during the plenary session that we could learn a lot about the two basic social policy models, the neoliberal and the social democratic ones. The roleplaying in the international groups also connected well with the topic of the lectures and we could easily understand it in this interactive way.

    We could also learn about globalization and comparative education during this day. I was really looking for to this lecture because I find this topic as a very important part of lifelong learning and adult education policies in connection with the previous lecture about the social policy models.

    At the end of the day we started our ‘official’ group work which was very interesting. We got a short introduction about the topic and could hear some presentations from the students."

    "In the morning of 14th the lectures were really good, I heard lots of new information, what we used by the discuss. The exercise from the political attitudes was funny and useful for me.  The afternoon was a little bit long for me, because our teacher in my group in early education was really enthusiastic and she wanted to hear every presentation from our essays. I enjoyed that my teacher had positive attitude in the comparaitve projekt work, because that time and the other classmates inspired me, but the end of the day I felt that courses were too long. Summary I enjoyed that day."

    Thursday, 13th of February 2014

    "Today we had two interesting guest lectures on life long learning. After the presentation we had the opportunity to ask questions. In the afternoon we focused on learning in the welfare state as well as in the neo-liberal state. We were mainly interested in regulation and deregulation and had an interesting discussion at the end of the day."

    "Today I really enjoyed the teaching of Paula Guimarães in the afternoon about the Welfare and neo-liberal state. The tasks she gave us within the groups where challenging but also very helpful in getting an even better understanding of the topic. She made her points pretty clear and I was able to understand what she wanted to teach us pretty well espacially due to the international work in pairs. Moreover the first lecture of the day about the EAEA gave a good overview of what the EAEA is doing and what their aims are. Unfortunatly there was not enought time left in the end, that our guest from India was able to give his presentation. That was a pity as he is to my opinion a great teacher and is able to explain very understandable."

    "In the morning of the fourth day of our Winter School we heard a very interesting introduction into the actual practice of Adult Education by Gina Ebner from EAEA. After working with theories the previous days, it was good to get an insight in the actual practice of European Adult Education. The following presentation on the Promotion of Lifelong Learning of the European Commission was also informative. In the afternoon, after an expert discussion by the Professors, Paula Guimaraes did a great group work on regulation and de-regulation, which involved knowledge of the previous days. This group work has been my favourite part of the International Programme so far, as we experienced a new approach to (de-) regulation, welfare state, individuals' responsibility and also on governments' rhethoric in general. The introduction with an excerpt of Baumann, a sociologist, was perfect to get us thinking, and the personal life paths in higher education made the subject much more present. We elaborated a lot by ourselves in international groups, which was very effective in my opinion. This group work really produced some inspiring thoughts."

    Wednsday, 12th of February 2014

    "This day it was our duty to provide the coffee and other drinks. Even though we were tired, because of the long days, it was really nice to see everyone arrive and to give the other students a warm welcome.

    The first days of the Winter School 2014 were very interesting; we dealt with new concepts about LLL, vocational education, adult education and the differences between education and learning. It was good to get a summary of the memorandum of LLL in the beginning and to connect it with the European Agenda of Adult Learning.

    We really enjoyed the work in the international groups. For intensive discussions, we would prefer smaller groups with about 5 students. In these group works we had different reflections about the content of social-democratic and neo-liberal policy models.

    Some of us did like to improve their knowledge about policy models, and would like to deal more with the individual-person and the way an adult educator can constructively participate in the society. They think that Education/Learning are complex concepts should be analysed from multiple point of views: pedagogical, sociological, psychological, economic and more, as Educational Sciences request it. They would prefer a multidisciplinary approach.  

    For the end of the day, I really liked the metaphor of the right hand, that is our performative hand, excellent to be competitive – and the left hand not so competent but creative. Completed with the thought, that we mostly use our right hand but we should use both hands in our modern society and Lifelong Education."

    Tuesday, 11th of February 2014 

    "The professors are really well prepared on LLL themes, both in a methodological and a theoretical point of view. I think that the didactic approach is very efficient. The dynamic didactic methods help us to be always attentive to the lesson. Moreover frequent breaks help us to develop questions and reflections. During the breaks we can also exchange some ideas with other students and to know in deep arguments just explained.Working group are a great resource too, but I think that we could mix more nationalities to improve our knowledge and to work in English on AE. The 4 levels of analysis lecture of Prof. Paula Guimaraes is the most important outcome of this day. We have understood that AE field is very complex, with different levels that influence each other. To understand a phenomenon or a problem we have to study and analyse every level and the relations between them.The fact that we not worked today in transnational groups maintains strong connection in country groups and limit new relationships. I think that working in transnational subgroups will help atmosphere and sense of group."

    Monday, 10th of February 2014:

    „The first day was really exiting. We met the students and the professors from the other universities with whom we will stay and work together during the next two weeks: So to get to know each other and to make a good atmosphere, we did some games in the morning, which I liked very much. All in all it was a nice beginning although there were a lot of questions, which wanted to be answered. But the organisation-team managed anything very well! And then after lunch we started with our first section on the topic “politics, policies and strategies” and I found it really good, that there was not only a lecture but also group-works, in which we could discuss those themes from the perspectives of our various countries. And last but not least we had a informative sightseeing tour to the old town of Würzburg and a relaxed dinner together. So even if it was a bit exhausting for me at the end, it was a very successful start.”

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