December 5, 2023

Nothing, except that it is noticeable that it has rained less, seems different when arriving at the Albal public institute, located to the south of Valencia. A center that EL PAÍS visited a year ago to see how it was preparing to face the educational reform and whose managers expressed their concern about the little time they would have to adapt. In his classes, however, as in those of another 29,000 schools and institutes in Spain, change, on paper the deepest in three decades of the educational system, has begun to take place, although with highly variable intensity. The deadlines have been short and the teacher training insufficient. But according to the testimonies of a dozen teachers, the difference in the degree of entrenchment of the reform does not depend so much on the territory ―although it influences―, nor on the center ―which also conditions―, as on the specific classroom that one looks at. Cristina Peris, the director, says: “In this institute there are people who are not changing anything, and others who are changing a lot. Those that are not doing it I would say that they are 50% or 60%. Some because they are comfortable, others because they are afraid, others because they are about to retire… It is difficult, because a part does not even want to reflect on how to do it”.

Peris believes, despite this, that the change will end up taking place, in a “calm and slow” way, as teachers verify the advantages of the new approach to learning based on competencies, on skills to carry out an activity. An opinion shared by Iosu Mena, director of the Alaitz public institute, in Barañáin, Pamplona, ​​who sees, from the outset, “a positive general disposition” in the teaching staff of his center towards the reform. “But the educational system is a bit like an ocean liner, which carries its inertia. The effects are not immediate.

Porfi Martínez, professor of Language and Literature at the Albal Institute, in Valencia, on Friday.
Porfi Martínez, professor of Language and Literature at the Albal Institute, in Valencia, on Friday.MONICA TORRES

A year ago, Marta Torres, head of studies at the Santa Eulalia public institute in Mérida, had many doubts. “I was skeptical, because of the messages that we received about the lesser importance that the contents were going to have, the chaos of the implementation calendar, the lack of knowledge that the teachers had… But later I realized that, in the reality of the classroom, it is a good law. It requires a lot of work, but I think it will have good results and that in the not too distant future most of us will be happy with the Lomloe”. The History teacher estimates that only 20% of her classmates have really begun to change the way they teach this course, but she remains optimistic about what she considers “two fundamental improvements of the reform.” “One is the freedom that it gives the teacher to decide how to teach the knowledge, combining it with each other and with other transversal elements. For example, when explaining the Middle Ages, instead of devoting so much time to the clergy, you can approach it more from the point of view of women in that historical period. And the other big improvement is attention to diversity. Before, everything was based on teaching a lot of content, and the students who didn’t make it were left behind. And now there are a series of parameters that you have to measure and adapt to the students, which allows you to attend to all the learning rhythms in the class”, she points out.

Almost all the teachers interviewed for this article believe that most of their colleagues continue to teach this year in the same way as last year, although they have had to formally change some things, such as the schedules (the document that details what each session of the course will consist of). ). There are not so many, however, willing to openly acknowledge that they have not started to apply the Lomloe, nor do they intend to, because disobeying an organic law can have labor consequences. José de Haro, public professor of Mathematics in Murcia, has no problem, however, in doing so. “I have been teaching for 27 years and I am not changing my methodology. I think that the changes focus more and more on a trend that is not correct. Effort and self-improvement are rewarded less and less, and less competitiveness is generated in students, which is what they will need when they go out into the real world, and what allowed many of us who come from humble families to be able to compete with anyone, because at the end there was an exam and the one who studied the most and knew the most progressed”.

new possibilities

The reform has given greater support to the part of the teaching staff, which is not less either, who already taught in a more competent way, less by rote. Alejandro Gallardo, who teaches Mathematics at the Rafaela Ybarra subsidized school in Madrid, has allowed him to propose more activities that combine the various branches of the discipline, such as geometry, algebra or functions ―“that have traditionally been taught as watertight compartments”―, promote “visual understanding of concepts” and encourage debate in class.

For Ana Trillo, a professor of Technical Drawing in Ciudad Real, the new law has served to replace the usual way of teaching the subject of tangents and curves -an explanation followed by exercises- by a learning situation of several classes in which their First year Baccalaureate students designed a flower bed. “We looked at several examples of garden plans, they envisioned their own and they did it. They learned the concepts in a much more practical and motivating way”, she affirms. The students incorporated other real elements, such as choosing plants adapted to their environment, and therefore needing little water, or justifying the design based on the place where it was going to be located, such as a nursing home. Porfi Martínez, who was already applying active methodologies in his Spanish Language and Literature classes at the Albal Institute, has noticed this above all in the evaluation system. “Instead of the exam having an exorbitant weight compared to the rest of the work, this year it has been more distributed with other questions that measure linguistic competence, such as oral presentations, class discussions and group preparation of multimedia presentations” .

The biggest change for Francisco Lires, director of the Felipe de Castro public school, in Noia (A Coruña), has been that with Lomloe his subject has become Music and Dance. “Although the second one was already working on it, this year we have done it much more. We do traditional dances and world dances, as the curriculum says, and also what the children love and motivate them, modern dance. We leave some time for them to contribute their ideas, which is what they like the most and with which we all learn the most. As you can imagine, many of the proposed dances come from TikTok. But that’s okay, we started from there and adapted it.

To advance or not in the competence turn is depending in the first place on each teacher, especially in public centers, agrees the majority of those interviewed. But the political context also plays a role. Andalusia, for example, whose Executive, like others of the PP, has insisted on its opposition to the law, is an example. “It is not explicable,” says José María Pérez, an educational inspector in charge of 37 public and private centers, “that in the month of April the regional decrees and their development orders were not approved when other communities have them from the beginning of course”. “It is irresponsible,” he adds, “that sends the message that it is not so necessary to change either.”

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