A blueprint for co-constructing a learning society


Catherine Bizot, Guillaume Houzel, Gaëll Mainguy, Marie-Cécile Naves et François Taddei[1]

On 4 April 2018, François Taddei, director of the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI) submitted a report entitled “A blueprint for co-constructing a learning society” to the French Ministers of Work, Education, Higher Education, Research and Innovation.


Democratising education and knowledge should be a political priority. This is particularly true because education and training throughout life, professional development and forming the new skills required by tomorrow’s occupations, many of which remain unknown, are indispensable for economic and social progress and represent a real issue for sustainability, stability and equality.

For example, the UN has defined 17 sustainable development goals, one of which is to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

As the economists Joseph Stiglitz (a Nobel prize-winner) and Bruce C Greenwald explain in their work: “Creating a Learning Society”, developments in knowledge technologies are changing ways of learning and should lead to a transformation of society. For them, learning is not just the basis of long term growth and development, but “one of the advances in modern economies has been the improvement in their learning processes; they have learnt how to learn.”

That is why it is necessary to rethink and redesign the means, the methods and the pathways of life-long training.


Faced with changes in work, facilitate learning for all

To face up to the new challenges and the very rapid changes in society, largely brought about by the development of digital technology, automation and artificial intelligence (AI), we all need access to the tools and procedures which will enable us to learn how to learn throughout our career. Job security cannot be guaranteed by qualifications from initial training or a permanent contract.

As well as ensuring that the least qualified jobs do not disappear, tomorrow’s jobs must be invented. Professional fulfilment will be important, not just economic profit, particularly since predictions in this sphere have always underestimated the speed and extent of the transformations to our work and our relationship with work that machines would bring about.

Setting up “tomorrow’s jobs labs” open to all those interested in helping to invent them, as well as the corresponding training courses, is an avenue that several decision makers are already looking at, such as the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation (ed.: the Portuguese Carlos Moedas). Employees, apprentices, jobseekers and students can come to learn through multi-disciplinary research, experimentation, trial and error, sharing approaches and exchanging practices developed in France and abroad.


In France, people are afraid of digital technology and AI. This fear will, however, have no effect on the speed of their expansion. If governments do not do anything to take control of AI, the unregulated marketplace will get all the benefit and profits without necessarily thinking of the human, social and environmental consequences. Yet AI could be a key asset for professional and personal development.


Machines can be used to relieve employees of repetitive and time-consuming tasks so that they can concentrate on more rewarding activities or have more time for training. So-called social, emotional and soft skills cannot be duplicated by computers. Empathy, patience, and general relationship intelligence, plus adaptability, initiative and organisational skills, motivation, intuition and artistic sense are concerned here. As the “Villani report”, submitted to the French Prime Minister in March 2018, noted: human creativity is the main matrix skill in a constantly changing world.


The need for human interchange should prevent various jobs from being replaced completely by machines in an economy of competitive services. For the philosopher Pierre-Henri Tavoillot, if society does not accept it, not all technological progress will be grasped, even when it is advantageous; he uses the example of refereeing in sport, when sport, particularly football, has often been described as a place for expressing emotions.


Promoting a learning society

This progress can only be made within a learning society. This is a real cultural revolution, with the precise objective of facilitating individual and group learning, in such a way that what some people learn will make it easier for others to learn. Trust, sharing and cooperation are essential values for this; they encourage pooling of each person’s experiences to make progress easier for all.

The learning society takes its inspiration from schemes that already exist all over the world. There are actually thousands of experiments and innovations that develop collaborative research and co-research, create incentives, places and time for inventors and transmit and receive knowledge, at the national, regional and local level in France, in Europe and beyond. The need to make them known and ensure that everyone can benefit from them and participate is urgent, so that nobody is left by the wayside.



Read the whole article on www.theconversation.com

Consult the « Plan pour co-construire une société apprenante » on the CRI website: cri-paris.org

[1] This contribution is taken from an article published on www.theconversation.com on May 28, 2018.

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