How to get an exciting education


When I was 16 years old, in the public school where I was studying I was puzzled, the first day of class of the new course. The teacher, at the beginning of the course, told us that that year the subject was not going to be called Natural Sciences, but “learn to flirt”.

We stood with our mouths open, and a look between dreamer and astonished showed in our eyes. The silence became deafening. There was not even a fly’s flight. All our attention stopped being aware of the thousands of entertainments with which we used to kill the boredom that we expected would be that class.

We could not believe it, but the enthusiasm seemed to surface in the bodies and a tension emerged that made practically all the boys and girls in the classroom turn in an unusual attention towards this new teacher. I had completely captured our curiosity when connecting with one of our fundamental interests at age 15: how to relate affectionately with those who began to like us and who only knew how to make “signals” by pulling their hair, pushing them or making “idiocies”, among the ridiculous, shame and surprise. And it was a time when this was beginning to occupy most of our time and our efforts.

Work for projects

He explained that it was a ” Project of work ” together with the teacher of Language, Physical Education (then we called “gymnastics”) and Drawing (now would be of Plastic Expression). We were even more surprised, because for the first time I think we were aware that several “professors” had agreed to work jointly and in coordination. At least, they made it explicit. We even realized, as the course went on, that they began to use similar educational terms, or to act in class in a similar way.

At that time I did not know what it was like to ” work for projects ” certainly, but what I do remember is how we get involved in that “project”. Of course, we built scientific knowledge in Naturals and gave anatomy of the human male and female body and biology and much more, but from those that began to be our fundamental questions in the discovery of our body and our hormones and to which almost nobody he responded Of course we gave Language and Literature and morphological and syntactic analysis, but to write poetry in language class, in order to express our feelings to the beloved, from the poems of Pablo Neruda, Miguel Hernández or Mario Benedetti, who was the author that I was passionate about and many whose poems I memorized and still remember.

Of course we work with artistic expression, artistic and corporal, but also through a joint theater project with language, in which we build the decoration of the work, we develop theatrical techniques to learn to express ourselves orally or remove the fear of physical contact and body expression in public. So many learnings …

An incipient educational innovation

The fact is that, 40 years later, I keep remembering that course and most of the learning that for me, as for the rest of my classmates, was exciting. And I remember with enormous affection those teachers who put into practice in a lucid, organized and collective way what today we call with a certain pomposity “innovation” and that they are still proposals that the great pedagogues and classical pedagogues have done as long history of education: Paulo Freire , Celestin Freinet , Ovide Decroly , John Dewey , Maria Montessori , Anton Makarenko , William H. Kilpatrick , Francesco Tonucci

But for that it is necessary to rethink not only the methodologies, but also the disciplinary division in subjects, and the excess of school contents of a curriculum that has become inabarcable with the last reform of the LOMCE , as well as the evaluation systems implemented based on in continuous evaluation tests and learning standards.

It is difficult to design a slow, restful and exciting education that allows the students to think, reflect and ask themselves, with overloaded and immense programs, before which the teachers themselves are overwhelmed and that forces them to an essentially transmitting methodology to fulfill the program demanded by the administration. It is difficult to be able to be passionate about scientific discovery, if the answers are given in “canned” contents before the questions are asked, so they tend to memorize those answers, but without understanding why humanity chose those and not others

If we do not stimulate their immense curiosity, motivating them to try different answers, make mistakes and we can work with the “pedagogy of error” to explain the purpose and usefulness of the alternatives, we can hardly make them understand the meaning of the teaching-learning process and they will end up seeing it as an imposition or, in any case, a way to get a future job or a better social position.

In short, to design an exciting and motivating curriculum we have to rethink the essential contents of the curriculum and substantially reduce them to a good knowledge base that allows them to add and assimilate others afterwards and, above all, to trust and support the teaching staff, which are the professionals and experts in education, so that they have sufficient autonomy so that they can be, with the support of the educational community of their centers, who organize the curriculum that effectively connects with the interests of the students and starts from those relevant and fundamental aspects where new generations need to educate themselves to live, be happy and develop our life together.

Author Bio:Enrique Javier Díez Gutiérrez is a Professor of Education Sciences at the University of León