The new rural narratives, also from schools

Just six years ago, in 2016, 'La España Vacía', "emptied" they rightly added, by Sergio del Molino was a script twist in the narration of an interior Spain that is described with a beret, faded photos, wild children's summers, jokes of savages and that, for many, was still the one that Buñuel portrayed in Las Hurdes, where “the director says that that school is like any other. Children learn geometry and distinguish the subject from the predicate. And, of course, they learn morality and religion. Like anywhere else. (...) They are not savages, he says without saying so, just poor”, writes Sergio del Molino in his essay.

Possibly therein lies the problem, that in the rural school it has always been "like any other" since the leaders of the Enlightenment had no interest in understanding traditional cultures, much less in integrating them into an academic corpus, where that knowledge considered atavistic and savages never had a place. Neither with the liberals, nor with the conservatives, nor with dictatorships, nor with democracies. Even today we can hardly find the concept of "people", in its concept of population, in the Primary curriculum, built from the urban, as if the urban were the only thing possible.

One day we woke up and saw that the rural world was still there, but that it was nothing like the one they had been talking about for decades. It doesn't even look like the tearful abandoned world of heroic survival chronicles anymore. It's too late for that condescending crocodile wail. The model that it once was is no longer possible in a fast-paced, hyper-connected world that lives in ruthless neoliberalism. The rural world as we have known it is giving its last breaths, but a new rurality is beating under the ivy and this new rurality needs new narratives, also from school.

As on more than one occasion we have heard the poet Héctor Castrillejo, “The intention is to collect tradition, but not to put it in a showcase as something untouchable, in a museum, where it dies. Tradition is when it is alive. When it breaks the above, but preserves the root, the DNA”, or as the novelist W. Somerset Maugham said in his day, considered the most popular and best-paid writer of his time, “Tradition is a guide, not a jailer” . There is no doubt that traditional cultures contain retrograde elements that must be pruned through new contemporary readings, but they also integrate many elements that are extremely valid for the future, which must be articulated through new narratives that inhabit the rural and the traditional from the contemporary diversity.

The human being is a narrative animal that needs to interpret the world in the form of stories. “At every moment of time, we are the heirs to the cognitive functioning of the software of the billions of people who have come before us. No other species goes to such lengths to explore imaginary territories. No other is as determined to make the fictional real,” writes Brandt Anthony in 'The Runaway Species. This new story of the rural world that has to be built from art, in its many facets, but also from science, from education and from schools, breaking that urban-rural dichotomy that now only exists in textbooks. New artistic discourses, new codes, that abandon that discourse of urban supremacism and overcome the rhetoric of emigration, abandonment, backwardness and decadence that have done so much damage.

In the construction of these new narratives that include the ancestral wisdom of the elders, combined with contemporary concerns where "the role of the rural school in the process of social and cultural transmission is critical", according to the words of Benito Burgos, or as he collected in its conclusions the I Forum of Culture and Ruralities, "Pedagogical innovation and cultural practices connected with the territory in rural schools must be a priority objective of public policies aimed at the rural world (...) both to settle population and to generate collective identity, to transmit the sense of place and the feeling of belonging to a community, to promote the intergenerational transfer of one's own culture and stimulate a new cultural production capable of attending to other times and meanings and for its potential for development of innovative projects.

These new educational processes, both formal and informal, must build new narratives that serve to articulate a new relationship between traditional knowledge and future generations, dismantling stereotypes and paternalistic visions of the rural environment, ultimately changing the vision that suggests that cultural construct we call rurality.

A new generation of musicians, narrators, poets and plastic artists are creating from the rural, going beyond the sights of a rural culture designed for the vacationer, the tourist or the occasional festival-goer, since it is necessary to differentiate "cultural consumption in rural environments and the rural as an object of consumption in itself”, as analyzed by the sociologist Alexia Sanz.

The intuitive look of the creators and creators advances many steps ahead, because as Lévi-Strauss said, "art clarifies reality, constituting each work an information about the world", becoming a key instrument for teaching this new rurality. intuitively and naturally. For this, it is necessary to open the doors of the schools wide to contemporary creation, strengthening the relationship between teachers and teachers with contemporary creation.

This mutual knowledge between the performing arts and the classrooms, especially in rural schools, should serve to build new educational narratives that generate a new way of seeing contemporary rural culture, far from the clichés that have done so much damage to the prestige of the rural world. and to his school.

With this objective, this week teachers and artists will meet in Tragacete within the Week of Innovative Rural Culture, in the course of the University of Castilla-la Mancha, with the sponsorship of the Los Maestros Foundation, which is entitled "New Rural Narratives from Schools”. It is only one step, but added to many other small steps that are being taken from many places, it should bear fruit. We're very into it.

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