“What’s happening?”

Monday, May 23, 2011

Teachers remain silent at the announcement of “new educational measures”, especially by the Madrid regional government

Everything that concerns education, which is truly the key to the future based on equal human dignity and social justice that we all desire, deserves special treatment on the part of the authorities.

Before changing present guidelines they should consult with:

a) Above all, the teachers of the students in the grades, courses and ages affected by the projected reform, to ascertain their opinions, which is fundamental for any provisions they intend to adopt. The experience of educators should be a determining factor, supporting any possible change with a broad majority.

b) The parents’ associations, gathering the points of view of those who really attend the meetings, since the participation of fathers often leaves much to be desired. And sporadic or prompted reactions don’t count. The responsibility for educating our children cannot be fully transferred to the schools nor be guided by electoral, ideological or religious interests.

c) National and international persons and institutions of recognized and impartial prestige in education methodology.

If it’s not done this way, the educational models will soon suffer new changes… that are especially detrimental to students and in some cases irresponsibly frustrate the careers of many people…

Education must be above any political debate. A national consensus, which I thought was reasonable, was finally rejected… and now, as attractive bait for the upcoming elections, a series of proposals are being offered that for the sake of education I hope will not later be implemented, which is usually the case.

In general terms, it’s scary to think that they can actually eliminate education in democratic citizenship and human rights, the cornerstone of any education that enables us to “sensibly conduct our own lives” and act upon our own convictions.

And they continue to believe that a teacher’s authority is greater based on the height of the platform from which they teach… when in truth it’s exactly the opposite: a teacher’s authority increases when he “descends” to the level of his students, when he knows them well and “personalizes” his teaching to the greatest possible degree.

And, referring more specifically to the Madrid regional government, apparently giving families more freedom to choose the school their children attend is actually a covert means of achieving segregation, favoring those who have the means and conditions for sending their children to semi-private schools (which, don’t forget, are substantially financed from public funds). This matter is presently well regulated and it would be dangerous to add “privatizing variants”.

Or extending the “other” segregation: separating the “intelligent” children from the “less intelligent” ones… ignoring the unambiguous opinion on the matter of the world’s most reputable educators. We must stimulate emulation, encouraging exchanges and friendships between the best students in certain disciplines with the best in others… The decision to “separate” so many students at a given age, right before they experience considerable changes in their behavior, motivation, learning capacity, and interests… is a serious error. And later it turns out that this categorization was erroneous… and the experience can have a long-lasting negative impact.

In the “new era” emerging in cyberspace, there are no social or material limits to encounters. Ideas, attitudes and creative capacity are what really count.

Although I do not condone the idea that “anything goes” and I have very serious and long-established reasons for not doing so, I can understand that an “anything goes” attitude generates aggressive campaign ads during turbulent elections.

What I can’t understand is the silence of all of those who, peacefully but firmly, should express their opposition: especially teachers. What’s happening?