Fundació Jaume BofillUniversitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

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We are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Debats d’Educació by giving the educational community the opportunity to air its views

Ángel I. Pérez Gómez
Ángel I. Pérez Gómez
Professor of Didactics and School Organisation

I spent my childhood and youth in Salamanca, where I pursued my studies in Pedagogy and Psychology. My professional career began in Madrid as a bachillerato (post-compulsory secondary education) teacher for five years. My career as a university lecturer commenced in the Complutense University of Madrid, followed by periods in the universities of Salamanca and La Laguna, until I settled in the University of Málaga where I have been working for the past 27 years. I have combined teaching, research and academic positions (Deputy Dean and Vice-Chancellor). However, I think that what best defines my personal and professional life is the continuous movement between ideas, pedagogical experiences and innovations, in constant collaboration with groups of teachers from different stages of the education system, continuously forging links between initial and ongoing education, research and innovation. My springboard and platform for debate and contrast have been linked to groups and movements advocating educational reform, mainly in Andalusia, but also in Catalonia, the Basque Country and Latin America. A commitment to research and discovery has led me to work in conjunction with universities abroad, first and foremost in the English-speaking world (the United Kingdom and the United States) and in most Latin American countries.

The three things I’ve learned

Education must afford all citizens the opportunity to build their own life project
1

From knowledge to wisdom

I believe that, in the complex, changing and uncertain world in which we live, education must afford all citizens the opportunity to harness the best knowledge available to build their own life project. In other words, to use the finest resources available for autonomous self-regulation, to choose one’s own path, which is always unique and distinct, learning from one’s own experiences and the experiences and thoughts of others. The wiser person is not someone who possesses more specialised knowledge, but rather the person who best knows how to use such knowledge to direct and govern their life. Therefore, I think we should reserve the term “educate” for those processes by which each individual consciously and voluntarily constructs and reconstructs themselves as an autonomous subject that regulates themselves with a goal in mind, seeking to achieve a life project that inspires their confidence and enthusiasm in the personal, social and professional aspects. Our greatest challenge and our greatest job satisfaction is to help each individual to build upon and develop their unique strengths and talents to their utmost potential. Not everyone has to “study” and work on the same subjects, at the same time and with the same level of intensity.

2

The significance of emotions

The human brain is not an impartial, objective and neutral calculating machine that makes rational decisions based on the cold analysis of the corresponding facts, it is rather, and above all, an emotional body, concerned with survival, that seeks satisfaction and avoids pain and suffering. Reason and emotion are not two opposing forces; they co-exist and generally work together with the aim of achieving the most satisfactory survival. What ultimately drives each person in specific directions are desires, fears, beliefs and values. We embrace or reject ideas, situations and people by virtue of the emotions they awaken in us. If between 80% and 90% of the brain mechanisms that are involved in and determine our processes of interpretation, decision-making and action remain below the level of conscious perception, as confirmed by cognitive neuroscience research, why are we only dealing with conscious, explicit and declarative knowledge, which is offered in text books, at school? Restoring the learner as a complete human being – emotions and reason, the conscious and unconscious mind, body and mind – should be the core focus of pedagogical practice.

3

Ethical commitment and social community

Learning to live, to live together and to cooperate in human groups that are increasingly more heterogeneous, learning from everyone, celebrating and respecting differences is, in my opinion, one of the most necessary human qualities in contemporary world society. This ability calls for a minimum sense of shared ethics, a society founded on the rule of law and social justice that allows everyone to feel like respected and respectable members of said community. In the school context, it will therefore be necessary to see to the building of all learners’ capacity to understand collective morality and individual responsibility, as well as the development of the desire and commitment to contribute towards the democratic preparation of the ground rules governing our co-existence. Widespread corruption and the deterioration of democracy as a life philosophy, contempt for the public sphere, and the extolling of private profit call for greater effort in schools to dignify human interactions and to shape the ethical and political minds of citizens.

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