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Knowledge society: in search of a new paradigm for the educational sciences

Martha Abrahão Saad Lucchesi

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Scientific research is the ethos of the university, the very reason for its existence. The university must conduct scientific investigations, especially in the field of Educational Sciences. It is urgent that this investigation be directed to the solution of problems in basic and higher education. At this moment, the university is changing, both in Brazil across the world. A new university is “emerging”. It is not the French model, which is intended to create professionals for government and private enterprises needs, nor the German model, which privileges research and philosophic speculation. The basis of the university is scientific investigation, its episteme. The production of knowledge and technology is the essential function of the university, because in the “knowledge society” this is the wealth of the nations. Post-modernity brought to the surface the crisis of the University and paradigms of classic scientific research. But with the crisis comes a new paradigm: complex thought. Science paradigms and methods are changing deeply and this gives rise to a fundamental question. Advanced groups of researchers realized that classic science, with its rigid divisions into disciplines and specializations could not understand reality because the whole is not merely the sum of its parts. I believe that teachers are only able to teach permanent transformation to their students if they are themselves permanent scholars and researchers. Thus, if a teacher is not capable of taking a position of permanent learning in front of his/her students, he/she will not be able to teach. This dynamic and bi-directional view of the educational act may be a recent perception, but it is an essential and therefore epistemological one. To do research is to place yourself in the face of reality, to question it, to put forth theories which could explain the observed phenomena and to propose solutions, to verify its applicability in concrete cases and to offer contributions to explain problems and to present solutions to them. Researchers must hold a critical point of view in the face of reality. They must therefor take up an interdisciplinary position. Brazilian scholars understand interdisciplinarity as the next step after multidisciplinarity (as it is defined by CIRET - Centre International de Recherches et d'Etudes Transdisciplinaires of UNESCO) rather than transdisciplinarity. Transdisciplinarity, which was first used by Piaget in the 1970s, can be seen as the overcoming of disciplinary barriers. It does not mean that disciplines do not exist any more, but that to study a specific problem we need much more than just bringing together many fields of knowledge; we need the knowledge specifically produced to understand that object. A permanently interdisciplinary approach leads to a better understanding of the methodology without, however, affecting its rigour. I have my own opinion about transdisciplinarity: for me it is what is beyond the disciplines; it is, above all, a new research method that presupposes all the knowledge generated in the context of its application and which makes innovation possible. Innovating, with rigour and substantiation: that is the epistemic prerequisite for the construction of Transdisciplinary knowledge. Plurality and universality of knowledge are the prerequisites that should guide the University.

Author Bio(s)

Prof. Dr. Martha Abrahão Saad Lucchesi.
Ph.D and M.A in Education from the Catholic University of Sao Paulo and also a lawyer. Professor/Researcher in Educational Policies and Higher Education in the Masters in Education Program in the Catholic University of Santos/ State of Sao Paulo,Brazil, South America. Delegate from Brazil at European Educational Research Association,ECER,2004. Chairperson:Inovations on Education Crete,Greece, European Conference on Educational Research, University College Dublin, Ireland, 2005. Visiting Professor at European University of Madri,Spain,2005, Conference of Spanish Padagogy Society; author of three books about Educational Policies and Higher Education, and many papers published in Latin America.