November 29, 2020

Blended education and the man for himself

The incidence of the pandemic in the field of Education has resulted in the express implementation of a blended system for those who, it is assumed, are fully autonomous people (13 and 14 years and older). This proposal was accompanied, in theory, by an increase in human and material resources, as well as a notable reduction in the ratios in classrooms. But it has not been that way.

Since the beginning of the school year, some very interesting and engaging articles have been published, signed by teachers, on the problems of blended education. They show their enormous concern from different points of view, ranging from how to do their job well in a third of the time, to how to manage their own exhaustion and frustration in a system that was already mortally wounded by the lack of political will at the time. to prioritize resources for the quality of development of our minors.

Families, students, teachers and management teams suddenly enter into a frantic gear that is more reminiscent of that scene from Modern times that to any situation in which we can stop to make a minimum reflection on how we are living from the families and also our sons and daughters this new situation, which, without a doubt, is proving very complicated. The deficient political management, once again, once again forgets the families, the educational community and the public education, failing to fulfill the commitments to provide resources to the new normal.

In the absence of common criteria, each center has done what it could. In many centers in the Community of Madrid, blended students have gone from attending 35 hours a week to spending only 12 hours in classrooms. The cut in hours has not, however, resulted in a reduction in curricular content, and it is on the days of non-attendance that the problem materializes most starkly. There are centers that have placed cameras in the classroom so that students can follow the classes from home, while in other cases the activity is limited to sending lists of tasks and duties. In others, the less fortunate, there is simply nothing to do, that is, days without class.

This system has a full impact on families, already, in many cases, affected by the ravages of the pandemic. This system requires, at a minimum, its own space, a Wi-Fi, a computer, a printer with a lot of ink and a good handful of sheets a week (almost no notes are taken anymore, now it is printed at home by not allowing the distribution of photocopies in classrooms). Let’s not forget that many families in our country do not have these “optimal” conditions in their homes.

At the same time, a very good self-discipline and self-organization of the student body is necessary, who, in most situations, happens to be alone at home, without monitoring of any kind. Do we have to stop working to follow up on this self-learning system? Do we leave the responsibility in the hands of our sons and daughters, who in some cases are 13 years old? Where are the families who cannot follow this system? Where is education as a fundamental instrument to reduce inequalities? Education is a right and in no case, the obligation of the State and its administrations can be transferred to the private sphere. This responsibility cannot be delegated to families or students. Not even in teachers or schools, which, in most cases, cannot be asked for more.

Our sons and daughters in blended education are 13 or 14 years old. They are teenagers, those sponges in search of identity and in full swing that must leave childhood behind to face adult life. They have been experiencing a pandemic for eight months. They have seen loved ones die to whom they have not said goodbye, they are afraid of harming their elders and they know they are singled out as guilty. They see closely our crisis, our unemployment, the future that lies ahead. They are not allowed to see themselves outside of their bubble group, they cannot play sports without a mask or go to places to meet, to meet, to try out, to prove themselves. None of this is understood as essential because none of this hurts the economy.

And they are alone and alone at home with hundreds of pages on top, a huge calendar of assignments, assignments and exams, with the uncertainty of not knowing how much longer there will be to wait and with the only company of a smartphone, the weight of responsibility and the echo of expressions such as “shoulder your shoulder”, “do your part”.

You have to tell them with your small mouth that this is what it is. But it is also necessary that as a fundamental part of the educational community we return to our important debates, to our legitimate demands, which the pandemic makes even more necessary today: the difficulty in reconciling family and professional life; the amount of homework; the debate on whether we are educating human beings or aspiring to the meager labor market; the shame of acting; the ratios; the need to review the volume of the contents or the questioned access to them through repetition and memorization.

And all this we must debate again without forgetting that education is the key that opens the door to other rights. That it has an important multiplier effect to reduce social gaps, to allow each and every one of the people who are students today to have equal access to the possibility of a decent life, the job market, active participation and transformation of society.


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