A competence and interdisciplinary course. Essential and desirable learning. An exit profile at 16 years old. More personalized education. These are some of the premises that make up the Spanish education system that the latest reform aims to promote. The Celaá law proposed to carry out a “modernization” which consists not only in updating the contents but also in modifying the criteria from which they are selected. But, What and how will our children and youth study?
Twenty years ago, the EU and the OECD raised the objective of the competitions and the PISA report is already carrying out a skills assessment. In Spain, this is not the first law in which it is incorporated, but its actual implementation has been rare. “I know centers that work in this sector, but most of them don’t. We are far away, ”says Neus Sanmartí, Honorary Professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. “We have at least made progress in making teachers aware that they are important. We have made many experiences of innovation in schools. But a systematic training model is needed to enable teachers to prepare for the new way of understanding the curriculum. and to personalize it for each student, which is one of the great challenges of this system, ”notes teacher Carmen Pellicer, president of the Trilema Foundation.
The idea is to provide students with the skills, attitudes and values to function in an increasingly technological, globalized and changing world. At a time when data is just a click away, “the school should focus on what Google has no answer forPellicer explains, and that involves teaching children how to apply in other contexts and in everyday situations what they have learned in class in a specific circumstance.
“A student can tell us a physical formula if he memorizes it, but if he does not know what happens if vinegar falls on a marble structure, this knowledge will not lead him to be more competent”, illustrated Elena Martín, professor of evolutionary psychology. at the Autonomous University of Madrid, during a meeting with the media to present the main lines of the new program. In a conversation with 20 minutes Sanmartí gives a similar example: “A lot of information is given when civilizations are taught, but if we ask ourselves what a civilization is, no one has a clue. We have to understand it to apply it to one, to another… because otherwise all we do is repeat absurd content. If later we want to know more concrete things that we haven’t worked on in school, we go on the Internet and we learn them. “
This chemistry teacher emphasizes the importance of verb transfer, which Héctor Ruiz agrees on. “The transfer this is what differentiates superficial learning from deep learning. If the course does not lead to deepening, knowledge will be ephemeral ”, underlines the director of the International Science Teaching Foundation (ISTF).
In this context, the experts consulted indicate that it is not about stopping the teaching of history or physics but to do it in another way and that memory is not criminalized either, but rather that students are not limited to accumulating and replicating the lessons without further delay. “Of course there has to be knowledge. They are so important that is why we have to make sure that they are acquired correctly. You cannot think, create, be critical… without a knowledge base. And memory is our brain’s ability to understand everything, ”explains Ruiz.
In this way, the way of evaluating should also be different. This is why Sanmartí is betting, for example, on an assessment that is not immediate: “To know if you really learned, the verification activity should be done two months later. If then you are able to activate it and use the knowledge in another project, it is well internalized, but if it is immediate, no ”.
the eight skills offered by the Ministry of Education they are in linguistic communication; multilingual; STEM; digital; personal, social and learning to learn; citizen; enterprising; and in cultural awareness and expression. They are linked to what is established by the EU, which already in the early 2000s saw the need for a “combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes that everyone needs for their development and their life. personal development, as well as for active citizenship, social inclusion and employment ”.
“The LifeCom competition is an interesting novelty”
Carmen Pellicer is president of the Trilema Foundation and director of “Cuadernos de Pedagogía”.
Would anything change in the list of competitions? No. An interesting variation of the old wording is the new LifeCom. It is about training habits that allow intelligent learning but also add training in emotional skills and the practice of healthy habits and personal well-being. We must give more space in the curriculum to initiatives that stimulate it.
Will a model that seeks to be more personalized require lower ratios? I think this will require more investment than the law foresees. The most important thing in a school is the teachers. Co-teaching, that there are larger groups but with several professionals, which increase the hours of support and the time that each student spends with his tutor… are fundamental initiatives to improve the quality of the system. And that requires more teachers. It would be a priority when investing.
How do you rate Lomloe? The saddest thing is their lack of consensus. There are many positive initiatives and they need to be presented not in a way of revenge on past laws, but rather as a commitment to dialogue. We are not going to improve the teaching of Spanish if we confront each other. It is time to conclude a social pact that leaves him out of partisan discussions.
“To learn, we have to use memory”
Héctor Ruiz is director of the International Foundation for Science Education (ISTF).
How is skills development carried out? To learn, you have to use memory. You’re not saying you shouldn’t do it. Trying to avoid memorization means avoiding this superficial way of learning and learning en masse hours before a test that is taken by reproducing information, with which learning is not sustainable. You want knowledge to be acquired in depth and understanding and this is done with opportunities and time to use it in new contexts.
Is it a more practical teaching? Another misconception is to understand active learning as learning by doing. Academically, it means learning by thinking. It is necessary to ensure that the pupils reflect on what they are learning and that this implies giving it meaning, understanding it, relating it to other knowledge… The application must carry a reflection behind it.
What do you think of the eight blocks? Our foundation is focused on STEM topics and it would have been a surprise if they weren’t there. It is important that all citizens have notions of how science works, its limits, how it can help us… The current situation underlines the importance of understanding and criticizing information.
“The important thing is to know what a civilization is”
Neus Sanmartí is Honorary Professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Does part of the educational community fear that this method will lower the level? Yes, and it won’t be like that. What changes is what we teach. The important thing is not to know the curiosities of the Egyptians but what a civilization is. It’s also not about knowing the names of all the bones in the body, but what happens when you break and how it recovers. It is not a devaluation of knowledge.
Encourage students to self-assess. Is it really possible? The first condition is that the teachers believe it. The strategy is to clearly share the objectives and assessment criteria with the students. They usually don’t know what to do to get a six and therefore cannot rate themselves. But when they know it, they can take ownership of the process and it is proven to do it very well.
How will the generations be trained for competitions? In addition to having solid basic knowledge, there is transversal learning: autonomy, initiative, creativity, critical vision… Things which the school currently works very little and which today’s society needs. We see it with the coronavirus. It is not a question of knowing all the information but of being able to interpret it, it takes knowledge. And this, without a doubt, is a school task.