Education Teachers with the best record, faced with poor grades in PISA: "The system does not work, it penalizes knowledge and effort"

«Reading and writing are in the spotlight

Education Teachers with the best record, faced with poor grades in PISA: "The system does not work, it penalizes knowledge and effort"

«Reading and writing are in the spotlight. With the excuse of not leaving anyone behind, a drop in level has been covered up. Knowledge has been replaced by skills and the master class is threatened. "The role of technology is being overstated and there is a need to innovate for the sake of innovation, even if this does not mean an improvement for the students." The speaker is Carmen González, a 28-year-old professor of Linguistics at the University of Salamanca. Born in Villablino, a small municipality in the Asturias mining basin, she grew up hearing her elders repeat that she belonged to a "lost generation", although she and her friends were the first to go to university. She finished Baccalaureate with a 10, she bordered on perfection in the Selectivity and now works as a teacher, which is what she wanted to do since she was a teenager.

EL MUNDO brings together Carmen González and three other excellent professionals to talk about the drop in the results of Spanish students in the PISA Report, where they have obtained the worst results in history in Mathematics and Science. Along with a stone Alfonso Alberto García, a teacher at a public institute in Villanueva de los Infantes (Ciudad Real), and Iván Arias Rodríguez, who spent four years teaching Computational Linguistics at the Complutense University, but left to move to a private company, where he has excellent working conditions. many best.

Between the four of them, they accumulated 112 honors degrees when they were studying at the university and now belong to The Invisible Faculty, an apolitical and non-profit association that brings together all the winners of the End of Degree Award. Its 700 members - who are mainly teachers and researchers, although there are also engineers and middle managers from the company and the Administration - are "concerned" about Spanish educational indicators. Those who were the best students in the Spanish university system denounce that the "terrible" results obtained in PISA "demonstrate that the pedagogical model that has been applied for decades in Spain does not work," because "it penalizes effort and knowledge." This system, warn those who worked hardest when they passed through the classrooms, is a "prelude to what will come, and is already coming, to our universities."

This is the same thing that the Royal Academy of Language expressed on Thursday in a 55-page report in which it denounced the "deficiencies" detected in students in the subject of Language and Literature, especially since the educational reform of Pedro's Government. Sanchez. More and more voices warn, from all areas and all political orientations, that "knowledge has been relegated to the background" in classrooms and "a false dialectic between knowing and being competent" has been created.

The Lomloe, approved in 2020, follows a competency approach that relegates memorization and prioritizes the practical application of the contents in the student's daily life. But already in previous laws - from the Logse to the Lomce, passing through the LOE - this approach was already present to a greater or lesser extent, also characteristic of other European countries, especially the Nordic ones. The paradigm is Finland, a country now out of favor in the PISA Report.

Andreas Schleicher himself, Director of Education at the OECD and responsible for this international classification, has begun to rethink the suitability of the Finnish system. A few days ago, after publishing the report and seeing that all countries had worsened except the Asian ones, he acknowledged in the Financial Times: «When PISA began, we thought that Finland was the recipe for success, but 20 years later we do not know if those elements have been part of the solution or part of the problem.

Arias Rodríguez, who has dual Spanish and Finnish nationality because he was able to qualify for it after living 11 years in Helsinki, where he worked as an engineer at Nokia, is "saddened" by the educational decline in this country. «I see an educational degradation of the West compared to Asia. Asian countries are clearly eating our toast, I suppose because there is more discipline and effort and work are rewarded more," explains this 47-year-old graduate in Telecommunications and Computational Linguistics, who has a doctorate in this field and speaks eight languages.

From his current work in an artificial intelligence laboratory that analyzes the use of Spanish in legal texts, he believes that "AI is going to be a revolution in all areas of life and also in teaching, because it is going to enhance the capabilities of the students". "But now more than ever," he adds, "young people need to acquire a sufficiently solid base of knowledge to not believe everything the machine tells them."

His colleagues, also recognized with End of Degree awards in different editions, agree with him, stating that "our students have to be in an environment conducive to learning." «Teenagers are increasingly treated like little children. There is an obsession with not suspending anyone," says Alberto García, a 28-year-old teacher who teaches Physics and Chemistry in ESO and Baccalaureate at a public institute in Campo de Montiel, a region "with a low sociocultural level." "Teachers are asked to dedicate themselves to administering recreational activities to students and filling out Excel tables with criteria and percentages," he denounces.

“There is pressure on teachers to lower the level,” adds Carmen González, who reflects on “how interesting it is to teach Don Quixote or The Iliad to students by themselves, and without any need to make a video on Instagram with it.” ». "It doesn't help students if you treat them like fools," she emphasizes.

What do you see, in general, from your experience as teachers? «It happens in many educational centers that there are students who do not have any books at home and the majority do not read. They are only interested in social networks. They reach high school with difficulties understanding the problem statements and do not know the meaning of very basic words. We have discussed it with teachers from different autonomous communities and from different specialties," responds García, who emphasizes that, in addition, "they have impressive spelling mistakes."

He himself has been a member of an opposition tribunal for a secondary school teacher and has seen that only one point can be deducted for spelling mistakes. “Shouldn't it be a qualifying criterion that a teacher writes correctly?” he asks.

González has also witnessed that "people come to university who do not understand what they read." "I have been correcting the Castilla y León Selectivity Language exam for two years and they do not know how to make a simple text comment on a newspaper article," he laments. Even at the end of the Humanities degree, he says, "many end up not knowing how to write a final degree project."

Cristina Murga, a 54-year-old professor who has been at the Faculty of Sciences of the Autonomous University of Madrid for more than five years, sees that what differentiates her students now from those of before is that "they live in a world where everything is very different." faster and with many more distractions. «It is more difficult to find moments free of stimuli, which provide the serenity and reflection essential to achieve deep learning. Furthermore, they are hopeless at 20 years old. They come to the classroom and say: 'Why am I going to university if the planet is going to become extinct?' 'Why finish my degree if I'm not going to have a job?' They are suffering from an epidemic of anxiety and depression. "It's not just what happens in class, it's what happens in life."

The four envision "a social crisis" that encourages misuse of social networks - "They are fried to stimuli due to the dopamine hits that the screens give them" (García) - and the discredit into which the authority of the social networks has fallen. Adults. «We must guarantee respect for the teacher, who is attacked by both students and parents, who have stopped conceiving that we are all in the same boat. If we are not respected, if we are not listened to, if the students do not pay attention, they will not learn," complains García, who remembers that her parents were not able to study (her mother started sewing at the age of 13 and her father began very soon to work in the field) and he has always had in mind "the importance of school because it allows us to know the world and have critical thinking and the ability to analyze."

"We have to give teachers confidence, that they are well trained and that they can do in their classes what they know works best," adds Cristina. She is clear that "good teachers must be recognized and a dynamic created in the system in which a job well done is valued so that everyone wants to join in." A year ago, the Government proposed making changes to the teaching career to give it prestige. It was contemplated to voluntarily evaluate teachers and give incentives to those who did well. But, three years after the approval of the Lomloe, nothing is known about this reform.

And the teachers are tired. The size of the classroom. Of legal changes. From the lack of means. That the effectiveness of innovations is not measured. Of having to attend training courses on things that are of no use to them. They do not understand why they have to do more and more bureaucratic tasks that take away their time to prepare classes well, nor why, "if it has been seen that there are things that work, their example is not followed."

"We are always blamed for everything going wrong, we are the scapegoat," says García.

They all make a final reflection: «The educational system must seek excellence, maximizing the abilities of students, providing them with tools that allow them to access the labor market and providing them with knowledge and culture so that they can develop fully. Without a solid knowledge base, citizens cannot freely exercise their democratic rights, even less so in a scenario like the current one, in which it is increasingly complex to discern between lies and truth.

"DRAMATIC". Faced with the "dramatic" Spanish educational scenario, the 700 End of Degree awards have created what they have called an "Emergency Work Committee" on the PISA Report made up of teachers of all levels.

«LEAVE THE ICU». The teachers have been divided into different groups by area and are working to diagnose the situation and propose solutions so that "Spanish education leaves the UCI." His idea is to deliver it to the different educational leaders. "We understand that continuing to insist on the same model that has brought us here does not seem like the best option," they say.

«BETTER THAN OTHERS». The Government has not explained the causes of the fall of Spain. Their analysis has been that "we are better than some countries that we have used as a reference before, such as Norway or Italy, and even tied with Germany and France" and that "the fall has been much slighter than in the rest of the countries." in the words of the 'number two' of the Ministry of Education, José Manuel Bar. 28% of Spanish students do not know how to perform the simplest arithmetic operations to get along in life.