Análisis The state of education in Spain



    On purpose of La tarima vacía*


Javier Orrico is a writer and professor of Spanish and Literature

Do not expect anything. Regarding the state of education in Spain, it’s not like we’re entering Dante’s Inferno and someone must make us aware of what awaits us (in other words, what doesn’t wait for us: hope itself). It’s just that we’ve been in that hell for many years, and the illusion of a radical and true change has gradually disappeared following the frustrated or not even addressed reforms, the ideological stubbornness, a fundamentalism which alleged experts, who live from it, nourish like a sacred fire. And said fire and, most of all, the reasons of said fire, its nutrient substance, its ideas, have corroded the system to a point most probably irreparable. Even though, when I’m asked about the solutions, I still have the audacity to propose a way out. In fact, I don’t know if when I express this possibility, when I refuse to accept that nothing is possible now, it’s just a strict optimism of the will, because I have heard too much nonsense – overly, always interested – progressing and implanting itself in education without almost anyone discussing them.

In my last book, prefaced by Gregorio Salvador, I provide account of this calamity: the one that has demolished the Spanish education over the last thirty years. Through some very bad laws – LRU, for university, and LOGSE, for basic and medium education –, ideas about teaching and allegedly renewing and egalitarian pedagogies were implanted in Spain (comprehensiveness, constructivism), which, however, have led our system to an inequality, never seen before, in the results and in the social promotion of our youth, and to an absolute collapse in the education levels.

These are the causes of the so-called “ni-nis[1]”, the most visible consequence of the system, but also of the high rates of educational failure and dropouts, precisely among the social categories and regions which had more need of a good education as a lever of social redemption, balance and compensation for cultural underdevelopment to which their subordinate geographical position, and their destiny of cheap and easily assimilable workforce for the industrial areas in the North, had condemned them for over a century.

And those ideas and pedagogies, disguised as progressive intentions, but deeply reactionary, are still intact, moving forward, spreading themselves and causing more damage every day, because nobody discusses them anymore, nobody questions their legitimacy, no educational pact aspires to remove or correct them. Lastly, they constitute an unstoppable tumor, deeply guilty of the mediocrity crisis in this once more without pulse Spain. And what delves even more the lack of horizon is the disaggregation, both intellectual and sentimental, which the mentioned laws and their mere subsequent updates, have produced in an old nation which cohesion and structuring are unsustainable without a national education system.

The wrongs which I identify are, essentially, two, even though at the end they’re consequences from one another. In the first place, the denial of knowledge and culture as the true objectives every education institution worthy of the name must serve; that is, the purpose of education, which always was the transmission of our cultural heritage, and which now is the acquisition of some ethereal competences, disconnected from knowledge, mere applications void of a wisdom we do not posses, not destined to the formation of cultivated people, and by cultivated, critic and free, by the students. People do not need to know anymore, and enjoy it by it. They just must know to do. And thus the system lends itself as a vehicle of pure indoctrination, destined to form dependent people, who haven’t learnt to look into themselves, to face obstacles, to better themselves, to know themselves, because they never had to do so.

And as a consequence, the ones who disappear with knowledge are those who, until now, had been their executors: teachers. That was the sense of my complaint of the mechanisms, legal and ideological, used in the service do the elimination of the teachers – formerly book people, in the beautiful minting by Bradbury in its Fahrenheit 451 –, responsible of the transmission of our culture, to transform them in mere partners of what they call “the autonomous learning of the student, a new kind of dedicated bureaucrats under vigilance, devoted body and soul to fill in forms of said supervision, and not to teach. And that’s how the theories expanded by educators, psychologists and sociologists of the system: teachers do not have to be cultivated anymore, they do not have to transmit, but “know how to implement strategies”, in that unbearable language which experts use, nobody must be on the platform, there mustn’t be any platform.

And if in the past, when culture symbolically lived at the height of the platform, what had to be achieved was the student rising up to it, to knowledge; what is promoted now is knowledge descending to the student, to the floor. And that is what’s been achieved: degradation of culture, sinking of education. That is the substitute we give you, that is “nothing for everyone” with which Spanish people have been deceived with, most of all the most humble ones, those who do not have well-formed families who demands them what the system doesn’t anymore.

And that is also the tragedy of education in Spain nowadays, we have a system which doesn’t teach or form or strengthen nor prepare for life nor science nor anything, because it has been deprived of its principal role: to transmit our culture and, with it, our values. And thus, thrown in confusion, surrounded by corporate interests, by ideological fundamentalisms and by a court of the pedagogical miracles which has taken over its fundamental purpose, education in Spain is struggling between farce and ogre, those constants of the Spanish life in which the voices who tried to correct its course always drowned. E la nave va.

[1] “Ni-ni”: a young person who neither studies nor works.

*La tarima vacía. Javier Orrico. Editorial Alegoría, Sevilla, 2016 (1ª edición), 2017 (2ª edición).

#Spain #enseñanza #sistema educativo