It is almost universally accepted that innovations or simple changes in education are, perhaps, excessively costly, judging by how little teaching practices move in the classroom. In short, due to the slowness of the processes of assimilation of new didactic options – generically speaking – by teachers, to update their interventions and bring them up to date with what society demands at all times, offering diverse possibilities to students for their adequate training in order to join a world with specific characteristics and requirements.
Society evolves rapidly, there is no doubt, and if institutional education does not want to lose its fundamental role in the development and evolution of the person, it must start at a brisk pace so as not to miss the train in this process of progress that is visualized as essential for the future of citizenship in democratic systems in which active participation is essential.
Some examples can serve as evidence of that time lag in the school update with which we began this text. Let’s see.
Comenius, in 1630, published his Didactica magna , in which he proposed, among many other innovations, cyclical teaching, which was incorporated into our educational system in January 1981, after 300 years.
We could stay in the examination of the work of Comenius, because it anticipates important advances in education, especially in relation to women, but it is not the object of these lines, although the reading of this author is recommended.
Theories heard many times
If we review the issues that were problematic and current in the seventeenth century (for example), both in texts by pedagogues with recognized prestige, and in those of the “masters of the art of writing” (linguists, but teachers, after all), It is observed that the importance of the family appears in education, teacher training, school holidays, the number of students per classroom, the education of women, the role of inspection … It sounds familiar, right?
It seems that the discussion about certain educational issues never ends. We have not just learned from science and experience to solve them, despite the many advances that have taken place in all fields.
Project learning dates back to 1918
We make a jump to 1918, the year in which Kilpatrick formally proposed the project method as a methodology that favors the interest of students to learn, by promoting research and joint work, engines of fostering the curiosity of children and young people.
When the key competences appeared in our educational system, starting with the LOE, many centers opted for project-based work and learning . Perfect. The serious thing is that the majority of teachers thought that it was a current discovery. After 100 years after its invention, it finally reached the classroom.
New technologies are old
Computing appeared, initially, about 80 years ago. However, many colleagues continue to speak of new technologies when referring to their application in education. It would not be important, if it were not true in some cases. The situation of pandemic and confinement revealed the lack of updating and media literacy of a good number of teachers, for whom, in effect, these technologies were still (and still) new.
If we move on to the field of learning evaluation, let us remember that continuous evaluation (not continuous exams) has been implemented in Spain since 1970, in its Law 14/1970, of August 4, General on Education and Financing of Educational Reform . Well, we still have to insist on its benefits and the convenience of its generalization, at least in the stages of compulsory education, not selective in principle.
The teaching profession is reluctant to abandon the evaluation model through specific and written tests, to move on to the permanent evaluation of processes, of a formative nature, which allows immediate decisions to be taken to overcome any dysfunction that may arise, thus favoring personalized and successful learning in the majority of students (inclusive education). 50 years have passed without being able to generalize the model.
Today requires teamwork, because it is impossible for a single person to encompass the knowledge that humanity has accumulated and continues to do so at rates unmatched by those of other times.
This situation requires specialization in certain fields, but in order to advance, the collaboration of a lot of knowledge is necessary, that is, of many people who have had to train – in addition to the specific knowledge of their professional career – in research, cooperative work, creativity, divergent and critical thinking, emotion control, openness to innovation, etc.
Access to information is not the problem
Everything must lead to an educational model different from that of past centuries in which the transmission of information was essential. We must be aware that accessing a specific knowledge, at the moment, only implies entering the precise word in a computer search engine and in seconds there are millions of data related to what is requested. Information is not the problem of our society, it is the capacity of discernment referred to the enormous amount of information received.
It is time to advance without fear, to progress in methods, organization, evaluation, content, goals that are truly significant for the system that are also significant for the population. If a model is not achieved that captures the interest and awakens the curiosity of those who are trained in it, it will hardly be functional for the life that we have to deal with in this changing, insecure time, with uncertainty as the future.
If the initial teacher training continues to be carried out with traditional methods , the teacher, when he arrives at his classroom for the first time, will reproduce what they did with him when he entered school; that is to say, each teacher who joins as a new teacher goes back twenty years with respect to the date of his qualification. He leaves the race without having acquired the skills that are currently required to educate. And so it will continue if things do not change radically.
Skills are needed for today’s world
Education must guarantee the acquisition of competencies that assure the person mastery over decision-making that must be carried out day by day with a certain certainty of success. For this, a memory and routine system is not valid , creator of subjects without their own criteria or independence of judgment , but another that helps autonomy and creativity, with which to undertake a better life for each subject in each circumstance.
Will it take many years to make the necessary decisions? How long will we be wasting the young generations’ time? Do we still not know enough to put in place a system in accordance with the current reality?
Let’s hope that in this third decade of the 21st century we will be able to adapt education to the needs of the individual and of society.
Author Bio: Maria Antonia Casanova is Professor at the Camilo José Cela University and Director of the Higher Institute for Educational Promotion (Madrid) at Camilo José Cela University