There was no need

There was no need

There was no need

No, there was no need to wait for the results of the latest PISA report. No, there was no need to know that something was not going well

“As soon as screens became a staple in classrooms, we teachers instantly understood their implications”. / Pixabay

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Mamen Gargallo Guil


Those of us who step into the classrooms daily; those of us who are with the children and teenagers every day, observing, conversing and listening to them, foresaw it coming since 2012. If I remember well, that was the year when computers started to become ubiquitous in classrooms. Without intending to demonise the so-called Information and Communication Technologies (the famous ICT, useful and necessary for some areas), the introduction of the 1×1 programme, A computer per student, marked a significant shift in educational reality, and not always for the better.

In the pursuit of progress, modernization, and educational improvement, we teachers found ourselves in an unreflective rush to leave behind the much-criticized school of previous decades. We were compelled to partially or wholly replace textbooks with computers. The computer was viewed more as an end in itself, often used indiscriminately, without prior pedagogical reflection, a defined criterion, or clear rules. It was seen less as a means or an additional tool for investigation, information sourcing, and shared learning. This shift began to distort the role of the student, the purpose of the teacher, and the concept of education itself.

As soon as screens became a staple in classrooms, we teachers instantly understood their implications. Considering that for most teenagers, a computer at home was (and still is) primarily a gaming device, it was clear that substantial doses of pedagogy, discipline, and patience would be required. A similar situation arose with mobile phones. Besides transforming teaching (and consequently, learning) into a game, mobile phones have been, and continue to be, a source of conflict for many teachers and students alike.

Did anyone pause to consider the medium and long-term implications of introducing screens into classrooms? Did anyone truly contemplate the consequences? Did anyone take into account how a pre-adolescent’s brain, in the new stage of secondary education, would react and develop with a screen in their hands, in terms of reading comprehension, attention and concentration capacity, fine motor skills for writing and more, as well as in terms of autonomy, responsibility, critical thinking, discernment, and ethics? If we adults grapple with these consequences, imagine the impact on our students.

Neuroscience tells us that a teenager cannot maintain concentration for more than 15 minutes. All of this came and is accompanied by new, short-term, learning methodologies: active methodologies, project work, cooperative work, gamification, multidisciplinarity or interdisciplinarity, and competencies-based learning. We seldom pause to consider the future contradictions (in the medium and long term) that these approaches might “entail”.

From my perspective as a teacher, a child or teenager who is in a school does so as a student, a learner. Observing the etymological roots of these terms, we are entrusted with a being who needs nourishment, who is beginning to instruct, perceive, and grasp. They must apply themselves to this, with the objectives of existing and participating in the world (with all its current implications), of becoming self-reliant, and of achieving their proposed objectives, of making their aspirations a reality in a holistic way. For this, they will have to undergo a selection process (be it a competitive examination, a curriculum, an intelligence test, a series of interviews, etc.). We, who dedicate ourselves to this, know that all of this requires time, requires tranquillity, requires silence, requires patience, requires perseverance, requires resilience, requires will and requires commitment and awareness. It is not a trivial matter that it is being done quickly, superficially, and playfully to gain their trust and foster their curiosity. It’s as if our protagonists were incapable of lucidly understanding what it truly means to be in school and failed to understand the importance of taking it seriously.

I am not suggesting that we should view the educational centre as a place of torment, but neither as a playground for making friends or having fun or a good time, very different from enjoying. We must not undervalue the power of reading and writing on paper, whether it’s a mathematical problem, a newspaper article, a novel, a map, a work of art, or a musical score, and all the capacities and abilities that are activated and developed with these activities. Perhaps it would be beneficial – naive me – to return to the somehow romantic vision of the school, as a place of GROWTH and KNOWLEDGE in all its dimensions. Perhaps it would be good to return to the idea that effort is not synonymous with discomfort or incompatible with happiness. On the contrary, it is intimately linked to self-satisfaction, maturity, and what will be discovered in the future. We seem to be deceiving them, either by trying to hide the future or by portraying it as a utopian world without obligations, frustrations, obstacles, or consequences. Alternatively, we attempt to trivialize or simplify it with cut-out works (which we call adapted), summaries, underlined or bold ideas, or brief compositions. Certainly, it appears that in recent years, we have collectively been determined to infantilize, and even objectify – despite our constant assertion that they are the protagonists of their own learning process – these future men and women who will have to demonstrate and apply their knowledge to “read” the world and the society in which they will live and coexist. They will need to exhibit their critical spirit, their capacity for work – both individually and in groups – their tolerance for managing the errors they will inevitably make, and the failures they will undoubtedly experience, without succumbing to pessimism.

We all want, and indeed society needs individuals who are resourceful, critical, reflective, and competent. To achieve this, they need knowledge…

But why is knowledge so important? Some of us firmly believe that the essence of everything lies in knowledge – KNOWLEDGE, in capital letters, that goes beyond a mere click, a headline, or a few characters.

To think, you have to know.

To understand, you have to know.

To analyse, you have to know.

To speak, you have to know.

To criticise, you have to know.

To debate and rebut, you have to know.

To judge, you have to know.

To apply, you have to know.

To transfer, you have to know.

To deduce, you have to know.

To infer, you have to know.

To calculate, you have to know.

To not make mistakes, you have to know.

To rectify, you have to know.

To make decisions, you have to know.

To be creative, you have to know.

To be alternative, you have to know.

To break the rules, you have to know.

To do, you have to know.

To be, you have to know.

To live, you have to know.

To know, you need time, silence, patience and willpower.

However, what is more detrimental? Is it not knowing that you’re unaware? Or is it being aware of your ignorance but not desiring to learn? Or perhaps, is it the belief that you already know everything? Personally, I opt for the understanding that I know something, and I desire to continually expand that knowledge.

Source: educational EVIDENCE

Rights: Creative Commons

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