Skills and techniques. Education is rightly concerned with the transmission of knowledge, which must include the techniques and skills required for survival. This is true for urban as well as rural areas and is an integral part of a humanistic education. In some circumstances, however, the development of emphasis upon skills and techniques has not been related to the true needs of the countries involved, but has reflected the orientation, concerns and vision of other, helping, countries. This has been disruptive by inducing educational institutions to develop centers or programs poorly adapted to their circumstances, needs or capabilities. The impact of ideologies of "success" and consumption upon the content of education from its earliest levels often conveys implicit value messages of hedonism and conformity.
Informal education can be an important corrective to the emphasis upon the technical, but there has been a tendency increasingly to transfer to the school the informal educational responsibilities of the home. This has been accompanied by an abandonment or reduction of personal values in favor of the scientific and technical.
Normative content vs value neutrality. Beyond skills and techniques, it is the normative content of education which seems both most lacking and most needed in the present social crises. Hesitations regarding attending to values in education have arisen from the substitution of an increasingly scientific orientation in the curriculum, an increasingly secular outlook in society accompanying the progressive materialisms of left and right, and the fear of state manipulation if value content were to be addressed specifically. Value neutrality, however, is an illusion for the vacuum left by abstracting from values is, in fact, filled by a secular and materialistic view conducive to hedonism and passivity. Considerable pressure is experienced, even in peer reviews, to inhibit one from departing from a reductive materialism. This becomes the norm and any other view is considered disruptive.
Education as a Process
Shared values and sharing values. If social values characterize the ways in which we relate to each other in a culture, then some universality can be expected inasmuch as what harms others, when generalized in our society, harms oneself as well: in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" the bell tolls for you. In a nation with reasonably well-established and long functioning structures the national identity and values would have been assimilated by the citizens raised in this context. In contrast, where nation-making is recent and very much in process a stronger, ideological effort may be needed in this regard. In any case, within the school or university context it is essential that there be an authentic search for truth in all fields. The primary concern of education is the development of the student as a personal member of the community. This implies a search not only for information, but for the values by which that person and society with their cultural identity can thrive.
A hermeneutic task. The conditions for education as a group effort are essentially the hermeneutic conditions of open dialogue in which each person is free to assume any role (proponent, questioner, critic) in order that all aspects of the issues be explored from as many perspectives or horizons as possible.
Some note as characteristic of Latin American cultures that its rhetorical mode of discussion is focused not upon the truth of the matter, but upon convincing the other of my own position precisely as mine. This could be problematic for education if it impedes the process of removing one's own misconceptions through being presented in dialogue with other points of view (see chapter I). The emphasis upon convincing others tends to promote an ideological mode of speech which could be a factor, not only in politicizing, but in polarizing educational institutions.
Art and literature are important for personalizing discourse in contrast to depersonalizing abstractions, for expressing the historicity of the culture, and for promoting personal dialogue. In the New York Times (Oct. 17, 1987), M. Friedman remarks that "Psychoanalysis is the study of self deception. And it may be that the deep necessity of art is the examination of self deception."