Alain Michel offers us here a masterly prospective study of schooling at the dawn of the 21st century, taking as his starting-point the challenges facing education today as a result of the profound changes occurring in our societies. He then tries to identify the main aims that education systems should be pursuing, and ends by examining how these could be achieved: which approach, style of organization, guidance and evaluation to adopt.
In the first part, he discusses the changing context: the move towards both the global and the local levels, the start of the post-industrial (post-modern) economy, the emergence of new technologies... and the consequences that these may have in terms of demand for education.
He then highlights the priority aims of the education system (training for citizenship as much as for employment, providing everyone with "a survival kit of knowledge and skills") and examines the preconditions for schools to achieve these aims, stressing particularly the organization of the education system, with the simultaneous need for decentralization and for overall regulation.
A. Michel is convinced of the virtues of decentralization and local initiatives, of the urgent need to adapt schooling to its clientèles (equity principle), and of the need for systemic change, yet he keeps a sense of proportion. He argues in favour of maintaining a national system of education, and against the proliferation of brutal major reforms proposed for France, and in favour of flexible collective guidance and the use of stable processes of evaluation.
More than ever, despite the Information Techonology (IT), schools have a key role. Alain Michel tells us why and how this might be achieved.