miércoles, 27 de enero de 2016

Special needs

According to the dictionary, the special needs are defined as:

"the educational requirements of pupils or students suffering fromany of a wide range of physical disabilities, medical conditions,intellectual difficulties, or emotional problems, including deafness,blindness, dyslexia, learning difficulties, and behavioral problems"

Too often the system when it looks at this issue, emphasize the part of the "difficulties" or, better called: differences, emphasis, this one, that ends like this:

social outcast, bad educational results, lack of interest for learning and increment of the learning difficulties. 
And for what? for being "special"? Isn´t everyone special? Isn´t it that what parents said about their children? How is to be special the best and the worst

Back to the definition, the first part of it: educational requirements, is starting to be forgotten and substitute by a kind of "chemical requirement". Children are sticked in their forehead with a term that justify them for doing everything and justify parents and the education system for not been able of empowering them to became and to learn whatever they want. And, instead of asking "do you have any interest on climbing that tree?, should we find a better way?", we drug them and force them to go up the tree without even wondering if they will be happy there. 

Should we continue using the old manuals and drug children for them to behave on a way that fits that manual instead of updating all our education systems?


sábado, 24 de octubre de 2015

Back to the future: schools

Now I work in a school as a teacher (justifications will come later in an already-started-post).
I have been wondering what 
is a school. The school that I work in claims to be special, democratic and based on a "learning by doing" methodology. 

Some weeks ago, because of the international teacher´s day, a question was raised to the children in the school: "If I were a teacher..." The children answers were exposed on the walls for parents to see it and to commemorate the day. Answers were interesting, and one of them stuck to my mind. The answer was "If I were a teacher..." "... I will let children learn 100+100".
"Let children learn", not teach, something that match perfectly with my concept of educating, as I have said in many occasions: "I do not teach, I encourage the learning".

"School" the word (because #wordsmatter) has a history in itself (like every word). It has its origin in the old Greece 
σχολή (scholē), meaning "leisure" but also "a place for lectures". So, that implies that hearing or giving a lecture was fun... (it may be). The Latin (always so... latin!) try to put it together and define a schola as "an intermission of work, leisure for learning..."  (still fun) but added "place of instruction, (...) disciples of a teacher" ... instruction? disciples?, all of a sudden the verticality and hierarchy appears... Then history continues and the old English make it easier and simplify the definition "school: "place of instruction.".

I guess religion and superiority complex, together with some greediness and all this things that history of the human are full of, somehow raped the concept of "schooling" and made it, exactly that:  a "place of instruction". 

Last week, I went to some conferences under the title "Learning Spaces for Inclusion and Social Justice". This concept "learning spaces" opens the door to the education that I believe in and the one which, I think, children would enjoy and learn from. The concept is nearer to the scholē that the Greeks defined, and why not, maybe the one we should go back to.
Shouldn´t we, maybe, change the names of "schools" for this one "learning spaces"? Within this concept there are two words: 
  • "Learning" an action being played (-ing) of "getting knowledge, being cultivated, studying, reading, thinking about" (form the old English leornian). 
  • "Spaces" as some pedagogues call it: "the third teacher". The use of the space as an educational tool, bring us the opportunity of letting children discover by themselves what they want to learn, while educating in democracy by making them part of the space and the space part of them. The space is flexible and adjustable to the children that makes the classroom and the knowledge they want to get.
A couple of weeks ago I went to the national assembly about reading in Iceland. At the end of the assembly, someone asked to the final panel :"what is to read?" (read -> lectura -> lecture). There were different answers, from a "remarkable" representative of the Minister of Education in Iceland who started the answer with "200 words per minute" to writers who focuses on the fun and pleasure of reading. None of them said the word "information" and nowadays, don´t we read the most to get information?. Every time we open our computer, telephone, etc., are we not reading information that we find interesting? about other people´s life, the news, about a topic we want to know more, searching for ideas, etc. Isn´t it to read an independent way of getting the knowledge we want to get?.

Within my field, Social Education, we plan the education process (educational project) with the person/s who owns the process (the one who is learning). Why is it not like that in the formal education system? Why in the year 2015, the future, are we still planning for the children what they need to learn? Is it maybe that the system do not trust in the children´s decisions? Is it maybe that teachers do not know how to create doubts, questions? 
wouldn't it be better to give the tools (reading) in the early ages (when they are actually willing to learn it) and trust our children to create, design, and learn by themselves?

Maybe, as some answer in here, "this is too much work" for those who educate... but wouldn't it be worth the try? Shouldn´t we go back to future and reinvent the scholē as a learning space?

* In this presentation I did for a very nice place of lectures are some of these ideas: http://www.slideshare.net/Ele-na/crosscutting-objectives

sábado, 25 de enero de 2014

What do we learn?

As in every other Bachelor degree, Social education is a 3 years learning process (now 4, according to the Bologna Agreement) in which we have some obligatory courses and optional ones. The optional ones are defining the way of your future dedication.
Social Education is a very wide profession, and so, the path you choose will prepare you for a more specific future job, but the general/obligatory courses make possible to still having options in other fields of our profession.

In my case, I studied in the University of Castilla la Mancha, in their Center in Talavera de la Reina, where they made a big effort to have the best teachers in every field and so, made it a center for the development of the professions taught there (Therapist, social work, social education and speech pathology therapist).

The obligatory/general courses that I took are the following:

 - Sociocultural promoting programs
- Sociology and Antrophology
- Educational theory and contemporary institutions
- Diagnosis and evaluation in social education
- Adult education
- Developmental psichology
- Social Pedagoy
- Social psychology and psychology of organizations.
- Didactic means
- Sociology of Education
- History of Social Education in Spain
- Gerontological pedagogy
- Practical Training (1,5 months)
- Didactic: curriculum development
- Organization of educational institutions
- Interculturality and education
- Social protection systems and social services
- Permanent (Continuing education)

In my case, I chose the "non-adaptation, marginalization, etc." path, and so, my specific courses were:

- Analysis of social in adaptation
- Penitenciary Education
- Drugs and Education
- Social Rights of foreigners, refugees and stateless
- Educational intervention in fundamental problems of non-adaptation
- Prevention, reeducation and reinsertion of marginalized persons
- Socioeducative action in the family environment. The family educator.

Hope this gives you an approach to who we are and what we can do!
Social educators are social agents. Persons that go into the society and are able of analyzing problems, needs, etc. and later on, can seat with the person/group and write down an individual project, and accompany them in their path to make their goals real.
We do not focus on the person, but on the problem he/she/they have. For example,  we do not work with a "yonki" but with a person that have an addiction problem, and so, we work on his addiction, because this is his/her obstacle to be a fully participant into the society.

Our aim is to increase social capital, to work with citizens on their rights and responsibilities within the society that they live in.

Later on, you could read more about us! keep your fingers ready to click! :)

lunes, 11 de marzo de 2013

We are all crazy

I live now in a country (Iceland) where there is not social education as we understand it in Spain. Here our profession is focus on people with special needs, only one of the branches of our tree.

I am working now with "disable people", which I prefer to call just "people". The work takes place in a farm in Iceland and follows the beliefs of Rudolf Steiner. The people living there work in the farm, and the farm itself tries to be as self sustainable as possible. They grow their own food and process it themselves.

I have spent now 5 days in a row living in the farm, with them and many thoughts come to my head. 

 I have always think that we are all different, I don´t want to call anyone disable, because, I think, we all have different abilities, we are better at some things and worse at others. 

Living with them I have heard other workers saying "they are all so egocentric, they don´t care about others", but then, looking at the world, are not most of the people like that?.
We see the world from our eyes, and so, even if we look at others we are seeing what we decide to see.
Even the most helpful person is helping others because of the problems that he, himself, find on others.
They have some "crazy things" need to bite themselves, or need to have everything perfect around them to be in peace. But, we all have some "crazy thing", we all like to do 
this like that or in another way.
When do you cross the line? How is it crossed? I think the line is crossed when we give a name to it. If you grow as a normal person, without any special stick on your forehead saying to everyone else "I am special", will you be considered crazy afterwords? or you will grow up normally, and be just one more person, different, like everyone else?

martes, 20 de marzo de 2012


You can find my Symbaloo in here. I will be adding more tiles, will be glad if any of you want to recommend me an interesting site to add.
Hope you like the tool and find it useful.


Podéis encontrar mi Symbaloo aquí. Iré añadiendo más baldosas. Agradezco recomendaciones sobre cualquier web interesante para añadir.
Espero que os guste la herramienta y que la encontréis útil.

AIEJI. Internationalizing Social Education

AIEJI is our international association. According to their website, the purposes of the association are to:
1. Unite social educators from all countries and promote quality practice that seeks to ensure the best for people served by the profession. 
2. Encourage the richness of diversity by promoting the working together of people of different backgrounds and cultures through the international membership of AIEJI. 
3. Contribute to the development of professional education and training to increase the competence of all social educators. 
4. Promote the organization of the social education profession and encourage networking among AIEJI members to increase international collaboration. 
5. Emphasize professional practice and educational methods based on the United Nation’s declarations of human and children’s rights.
In a world that is going international, where information knows no borders, where we all are influenced by similar stimulations, needs became more alike as do problems and possible solutions.
On 2013 AIEJI will hold an international congress in Luxembourg under the theme: Integration and social Inclusion.
The first international congress was held in Copenhagen in 2009 (further information here).

We will definitely follow up on everything related with the Congress next year, and, who knows, maybe we will be there.

Changing education paradigms

To understand social education we should first of all, understand the concepts that describe it: social + education.
In a changing world, where new challenges appear everyday, what is the role of education? Is it being played properly? or are we using an "old concept" in a "new society"?
Education, as everything else, needs to be reinvented and needs to shape itself to match our new way of living.
This video raises some problems of formal education. The world has became "social"/"shared". So, does education need to do the same? Is education responding properly to these new challenges?

This video is also interesting because of how they present the information: new tools for a new society.