Teaching in Spain has been the pasture of gurus for years, coaches and all kinds of pseudo-experts striving to make it a substitute for what it should consist of. More and more removed from good judgment and rationality, the good-natured, silly and anti-enlightened character proliferates riotously. Memorization, effort, perseverance and critical thinking are replaced by an amalgam of pedagogical occurrences covered by their supposedly innovative character to give them validity. Cooperative learning, project-based learning, flipped classroom, along with a myriad of crazy proposals, are spreading throughout the education system like a plague. Knowing, the transmission of knowledge, its analysis, understanding and questioning are overshadowed by the affective and socio-emotional, in a treatise in which happiness becomes the new object of desire and success as the highest claim. As Alberto Royo explains in his book “Against the New Education”, professional competencies are set aside to give priority to emotional ones. All this sponsored by entrepreneurs, positive psychologists, emotional educators and a whole string of charlatans and enlightened people, many of whom without any teaching experience. This emotional debauchery is done at the cost of the devaluation of the teacher, who ceases to be a transmitter of knowledge, guide and reference in the classroom, to reconvert him into a simple companion by way of coach. It seems that for the student body to become active, the teaching staff must have a passive role; a role whose goal is that students have a good time while learning, or be happy in class. The serious thing is that aspects such as attending, listening, thinking, memorizing, analyzing or questioning are neglected, which require effort and dedication, and, therefore, are reviled. As a consequence, students tend to penalize teachers who force them to study in their evaluations. It is therefore logical that the use of these new methodologies is positively correlated with better evaluations to the teaching staff. And from there to consider that the best valued are the best teachers there is a short distance.
We are turning education into an ode to “imbecilization”, belittling knowledge and trivializing knowledge. The new pedagogy condemns our students to a comfortable ignorance, forming uncritical citizens with the system, docile in the face of political excesses and without intellectual aspirations. Knowledge will therefore be exclusive to those who can afford it, increasing the already accentuated inequality and curtailing the possibilities of social advancement.
This pedagogical drift is permeating the entire educational system, with economic power taking advantage to impose its values. The indoctrination of neoliberal values, promoted by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), and directed by the guru on duty, stigmatizes content learning and deactivates the desire for pride in learning. The new, hyperstimulating and “recreational room” pedagogies – as Andreu Navarra calls them in his recent book “Forbidden to learn” – based on social networks, emotional dynamics or video games, without any academic requirement, condemn the youth to infantilism and insignificance.
All this anti-pedagogical, ridiculous and sloppy dynamics miseducate the youth to form passive consumers and docile and easily interchangeable workers. Citizens molded to the neoliberal economic order in which precariousness and the wildest temporality prevail. Not surprisingly, the arrival of competency education aims to favor the ” employability ” of students by impregnating public education with words and neologisms of an economic and business nature, such as coaching, profitability or entrepreneurship. And all this despite the gradual worsening of the results of our country in the PISA tests, the high rates of school failure and the low general academic results. In contrast, the more traditional and proven methodologies, such as the master class, are denigrated and treated as impostors. And it is that the militants of this neo-pedagogy postulate themselves as the only supporters of meaningful learning, promoting ineffable talks and proclaiming frivolous slogans such as the so hackneyed “learning to learn.”
It is not a question of going back to gray times to resume authoritarian and outdated educational models, but of getting it right in the diagnosis and treatment of the ills of Spanish education. If we really want to recover the true meaning of school and learning, we must stop so much myth and pedagogical occurrence and focus on forming a critical, conscious and informed citizenship, capable of tackling the future that is presented to them with autonomy and responsibility. Recovering teacher independence, reducing ratios and bureaucracy, enhancing knowledge, improving teachers’ working conditions and increasing investment in public education are essential recipes for recovering all lost ground. And all this re-trusting the work of the teacher, so reviled in recent times by the media and political powers.