Barcelona (ES), July 2011 - Pierre-Antoine Ullmo, education expert at the European Commission and founder of P.A.U. Education, was interviewed by Educaweb, the portal for professionals, institutions, and training centers dedicated to mobility. In the following interview Ullmo discusses the importance of promoting mobility in all levels of society.
The majority of universities offer international mobility programs for faculty with the goal of allowing participants to enrich their knowledge regarding their field of interest, while acquiring cultural training, international experience, and foreign-language skills. However, what are the options for primary and secondary teachers?
Pierre-Antoine Ullmo: Teacher mobility at the primary and secondary level is oriented toward praxis, for example, within the framework of collaborative educational projects like Comenius and Leonardo that allow for short-term exchanges, or within more complex networks oriented towards teacher training (e.g., Comenius networks).
The big difference from options at the university level is that the teachers themselves must create their own mobility proposals. Everything depends on their motivation to change how they teach and their interest in discovering new models. In fact, teacher mobility opportunities are frequently under utilised due to a lack of motivation or support within the educational system.
Do teachers from all educational sectors need more mobility? How can we increase mobility on an international level? What are the arguments against teacher mobility?
Pierre-Antoine Ullmo: Mobility expands our horizons, transforms our perceptions and increases our knowledge. Mobility is, above all else, a disposition to go out to meet others in order to share and learn from them. In this sense, mobility has many different dimensions. It can be "limited" to virtual encounters.
The European Union project e-twinning brings together tens of thousands of professors who collaborate online in work that is then introduced in the classroom. Reading the compendiums of best practice that the European Union publishes about their mobility programs helps us understand the reach of teacher mobility and its innovative role.
Increasing international mobility also requires evaluating how these experiences enhance the curriculum that teachers develop on their own, establishing a framework for recognising these experiences within training programs, and "freeing" the teachers of some of their teaching duties in order to allow them to spend time developing such time consuming projects.
Do you think that knowing or not knowing multiple languages affects international mobility in Spain?
Pierre-Antoine Ullmo: Nine out of ten Spaniards believe that knowing a foreign language is very important, but 91% of people haven't studied one, nor do they feel hindered in their workplace or degree program even though they don't have this skill (CIS, 2010). These data speak, more than any other study, to the magnitude of the problem we face. Knowledge of foreign languages and, more importantly, the value we place on cultural diversity and its role in promoting exchange are key to enhancing mobility and improving the education system.