• Opinion
  • 31 de May de 2024
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  • 6 minutes read

The False Science of Pedagogy versus the Good Pedagogue

The False Science of Pedagogy versus the Good Pedagogue

The False Science of Pedagogy versus the Good Pedagogue

In Spain, for reasons unknown, there is a persistent tendency to label pedagogy as a science

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David Rabadà


In Spain, experts, whether pedagogues or not, contribute to the field known as educational sciences. However, education is not a scientific discipline in itself, but rather a collection of methods we learn for teaching content. These methods are sometimes acquired through trial and error, which is not a scientific method, and at other times, they are learned from skilled teachers through an act of faith, which is also not science. Estonia, a country that achieves excellent results in PISA, serves as evidence of this. Unlike Spain, Estonia employs pedagogy not as a science, but as a set of effective techniques. Teachers there experiment with new didactics instead of unproven theories. They first present a final thesis, a product of a series of real data and techniques. Then, during their classroom activities, they continue to test whether such strategies improve the didactics of the classes, applying trial and error. This process generates a corpus of techniques, devoid of theoretical reflections, but effective in the classroom.

In Spain, for reasons unknown, there is a persistent tendency to label pedagogy as a science, even though its concept does not fit within it. A science is a body of knowledge validated under a central theory that provides a unified explanation. Pedagogy has never offered a unified and validated explanation of the human learning process. In other words, this discipline does not possess a central paradigm like the sciences do. It is merely a collection of opinions without a consensus among all its experts. Disciplines like Geology with Plate Tectonics, Physics with Relativity, Biology with Neodarwinism, and Chemistry with the Periodic Table contain a central paradigm that enables them to predict facts. Pedagogy, however, does not. For over two hundred years, it has been inconsistent in its predictions about how to educate students. The reason for this is simple and clear: it is not a science, at least not yet. What needs to be done is to follow the strategies of teachers or pedagogues experienced in teaching. One such individual worth mentioning is a trained pedagogue who greatly influenced many learners. As a teacher, he instilled responsibility and demand in his students, pushing them beyond their limitations. Before the PISA tests were even introduced, he had already taken note of the Finnish educational model, which was yielding excellent results at the time. In fact, he set out to study it to implement it in his school. Xavier Melgarejo highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the Finnish educational model. His PhD thesis widely circulated among many politicians, some of whom even travelled to Finland with Melgarejo to learn about the Nordic panacea. However, within a few years, many demagogues forgot about Melgarejo. Some even served as Members of the European Parliament, disregarding everything they had learned.

Melgarejo, with his honesty, humanity, and humility, shared his extensive knowledge about a temporarily successful teaching system, the Finnish one, a system that he studied and mastered without any institutional support. In recognition of his efforts, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the White Rose by the Government of Finland in October 2014. Those who knew Melgarejo saw him as a kind spirit filled with struggle, perseverance, and love. But don’t be fooled, this practical pedagogue was also critical, sincere, and acidic towards institutional mediocrity. His battle with cancer only reinforced the value he already placed on something that ultimately claimed him: time. That’s why he said,

“If education must be resolved and we know how, what are we waiting for? If the Finnish model solves school failure under equity and efficiency, what on earth is our country doing with equality, freedom, and happiness in its educational objectives? If it never achieves them!”

Consequently, Xavier distanced himself from debates that were superficially slick and sticky, yet hollow and theoretical at its core. Instead, he focused on practical solutions that had been thoroughly tested, favouring technique over theory. He successfully applied what he learned in Finland to the educational centre he directed, while also avoiding its shortcomings. It’s worth noting that Finland’s performance in the PISA tests has declined in recent years.

Source: educational EVIDENCE

Rights: Creative Commons

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