In defense of the master class


The debate on university education is more alive than ever, and it is insisted by active and passive an idea that, roughly , we can enunciate as follows: our students live in a reality that demands competencies, both transversal or generic as specific , depending on the scope of knowledge. Conclusion: university pedagogy must adapt to the current situation that arises .

So far, all normal. The current pedagogy is not badly focused. Although there are certainly crazy situations, there are many others that have allowed us to move along the indicated path. What is difficult to understand is the criticism of the master classes. That kind of class has fallen out of favor and seems to have become the scapegoat for all our ills.

That censorship is worrisome: if we extinguish the master classes of our universities, we will lose, precisely, a very important competition without which it is difficult to understand what is that of university education. We may have made two mistakes that are worth treating separately: that of deception and that of appreciation.

Teachers who really are not teachers

Let’s go with the first one. The type of master classes that is most criticized is that in which teachers with monotonous voice are dedicated to reading a manual or a power point in front of the students and these, for their part, and in the best case, do not do more Than listen and take notes. These teachers are sleeping in flesh and blood. Of course, university education does not go with these teachers.

Well, those who criticize the master classes thinking in situations like this, or in very similar variants, should not fall into deception: that is not master class. They are rather a waste of time for everyone and, why not say it, also torture.

Certainly, the structure of the master classes, the good ones, the real ones, is not very different from that of the situations just mentioned. Maybe that’s why they get confused with each other. However, the “scam classes” have nothing to do with the master classes. The differences are colossal.

Minutes we don’t want to end

And what are the master classes really? Those of us who have been lucky enough to attend some of those classes of teachers (hence the “master”) can explain it. Those classes are those in which teachers appear who get two hours to look like five wonderful minutes that nobody wants to end, those that one does not want to miss in any way, those that remain embedded in mind and soul. From them you can remember even the smallest details.

It could even be said that they are the ones that make one forget the mobile phone for a while. Yes, and all that while listening to someone who has taken the floor, someone who questions and is questioned, someone who does not need much more than a conventional blackboard, handwritten sheets or five screenshots without much artifice.

Praise to the transmission

In short, the master classes are those that lead teachers who praise the transmission by word, perhaps one of the most extraordinary human accomplishments that one can imagine.

In the master classes, we said above, extraordinary competition is forged, and it is hard to believe how we have stopped appreciating it as it really deserves. We refer to the desire to know . In the master classes we are presented with people excited to meet , individuals who love what they understand and are passionate about what they do not know or understand.

And of course, that desire has so much power that these teachers usually get the listener to begin to fall in love with them, begin to get excited about the search for knowledge, truths, beauty and goodness. And is not that one of the main missions of university education ? Do not we ask the university to train professionals and citizens who want to know for the simple fact of knowing and without waiting for any pre-change in return? Do not we want doctors , biologists, lawyers, engineers and nurses who wonder every day why things are the way they are and why they could not be otherwise?

The desire to know

There will be those who think that this desire to know can be found in other kinds of classes. Maybe yes, but reality shows that maybe not. As an example, there are already companies that do Final Degree and Master’s Projects and, year after year, they see how their “university clients” increase, not only demonstrating their picaresque competence, but a null desire to know anything.

The master classes can live with other types of classes, of course, in the current university education there is room for almost everything. The mistake would be to do without them, to leave the desire to know without the habitat in which it is most naturally grown. Without teacher classes, of course, we will continue to have universities, but we should ask ourselves if they really would be such a thing or something called.

Author Bios: Francisco Esteban Bara isFilosofía de la Educación Superior and J. Oriol Escardíbul Ferrà is Investigador en Economía de la Educación both at the Universitat de Barcelona