We live in strange times. Teaching is confused with entertaining, emotivism prevails over emotionality and entertainment appeases knowledge. Can one think critically when many are unable to distinguish fact from opinion? That is one of the questions that the educator and philosopher asks Gregory Luri in your book The school is not an amusement park. A defense of powerful knowledge (Ariel).
Written with brilliance and cultured prose, pertinent in every quotation and analysis, Luri proposes in this book an analysis of current education. Speaking of today’s students, Luri maps to contemporary adults, beings full of intuition and with just reading skills of which we find explanation in many of the chapters raised in this essay.
There is no longer powerful knowledge, but seekers. The school, losing the arguments to defend its nobility, tries to hide its imperfections by trying to be entertaining, says Gregorio Luri. Now, those children who will not find anywhere what they do not find at school, do not deserve more than a fun school? Is that one of the questions that the author of Conservative imagination Y School against the world answer this interview.
“He is not talking about the children of the present, but even more about the adults of the present. It is a diagnosis in which it is difficult to separate where one begins and where the other determines.
—We are experiencing a deep culture crisis and it will not be so especially worrying if it were not affecting some essences of our western tradition, such as humanism. A theology professor told me that a student defended that a human being has no more dignity than a stone, since they are both beings. That these things enter into the debate of the imaginable shows that a series of concepts that seemed unthinkable today are open.
—He ensures that the school reduces his cognitive demands and recovers the idea of learning as memory modification.
–You have to defend without complex what you believe in. Because many times the cultural battles are lost by the withdrawal of one of the parties. And there is always a cultural battle present, because you have to give them and we will see the result, what you cannot do is withdraw. In this sense, essential aspects must be defended, the transmission of the best of our heritage and memory is, of course, one of them. When I say this I do not rely on Steiner or the humanists only, I try to extract the arguments of the most modern cognitive science.
–He says the school has given up knowledge and is merely entertaining children. Hold pedagogues accountable.
—The main cause of our current educational crisis is the loss of clarity about the ends, what we educate for, what an educated person means in a cultured world. Since we are confused about the ends, we are focusing everything on the procedures. If you are not clear about the purpose of these procedures, the discussion about them will be to beat the blind. Our school commitment is not only with the student’s psychology but also with the common culture. The two things go together.
– It does not attribute to technology a negative role, under any circumstances.
–I cannot be against technology, because I live in the 21st century. I have a mobile, a blog, I move through social networks. New technologies allow you to reach many things and provide many resources, but I define them as anthropological prostheses that amplify what you already are. According to your interests, they will develop what you already are, in one direction or the other. I love the time in which I live because I also believe that if you do not like your present you are not able to speak about it.
“What is powerful knowledge?”
–It is curious how in education we pay more attention to the beautiful than to the rigorous. There are ideas that suggest that effort can be replaced by entertainment, and we find them wonderful. What I am saying is there is no substitute for effort and I even believe that one of the great satisfactions of this life is the intellectual effort that finds the answer to what it seeks. It is a feeling of complete satisfaction. And sometimes you find the answer once you’ve stopped thinking about it and you’re on to something else.
—It opposes emotion and emotivism. He claims that it is not enough to present someone’s suffering as a definitive argument that he is right. The problem is that that dominates.
-The man can be evaluated from the highest or the lowest. And we like to look at ourselves from our capacity for suffering, not from what we aspire to and that is an investment of our entire humanist tradition. Animals also suffer, so if the human being also, there is an interest in creating unity. Measuring ourselves by the highest, by what we can really become, is what really dignifies us and gives meaning to the human.
—What does that victimizing mechanism of contemporary society obey?
–Frankenstein staged the moment of that breakup. Mary Shelley’s novel is a wonderful novel. The creator has given life to a monster, and since he does not accept it, the monster feels rejected, so he goes doing bestializing around and at a certain moment he meets his creator Frankenstein and says: ‘grant me happiness and I will be virtuous ‘. That is new.
-In what sense?
–In the history of humanity things have always been considered the other way around: I am going to be virtuous, to seek happiness, but now anyone who suffers, whatever they do, will be ‘poor’. That is to say: ‘poor, who has had a bad family’; ‘Poor is this or ‘poor the other’. We give them, not our solidarity, but our compassion., There is a victimhood, see how I suffer and therefore I deserve your solidarity.
Is that the forgiving logic of Minister Celaas proposals for an education law?
–I am concerned about the ignorance of the reality of the schools that this implies. The student who was presented with a questionable subject to the final evaluation has been approved for decades. No one is suspended, and I say this knowingly. The evaluation sections have done this for a long time. What is new is that now the minister tells you that you must approve it by obligation and that is when you impose an external criterion on something that the cloister was already doing. But the important thing is not the number of students who arrive at the evaluation with a doubtful subject, the important thing is the very small number of those who arrive at all the approved subjects. That is our problem and not wanting to see that one in four students completes their compulsory schooling without being able to understand a minimally complex text.
—What are the current capacities of students in Spain?
–According to the latest PISA, 90% of students finish their compulsory schooling without knowing how to differentiate a fact from an opinion. So you say: if this is true, how can you insist on a critical model and autonomy? You are selling me something that later you do not know how to fulfill. I do not believe that in conspiracy theories or that there is a power willing to infantilize people, I believe that they want to do the best and I believe that the government wants to do the best and that when choosing what is such a thing as the best they are evaluated more to themselves for their intentions than for their results.
“Do they fail then?”
–To politicians, good intentions must be taken for granted and judged on the results. When children come out of school with a subsistence vocabulary of 500 words, I think we have failed. And if you have mathematical illiterates, for example, what the hell are you talking about when you talk about entrepreneurship and innovation? Good intentions hide mediocre results from us.
—Reading is nourished by the preeminence of an inner voice. Trends in the publishing industry, for example the rise of the audiobook, show that the capacity for introspection is limited.
–On the one hand, there is an editorial phenomenon that, in itself, is interesting. For example, the descriptions have disappeared from the literature, from the juvenile to the adult, because when the reader comes across them, he turns the page. Spielberg has beaten the great storytellers by a landslide. But what it shows is linguistic poverty. The phenomenon of understanding is to place something in a context that gives it meaning. If you want to promote reading comprehension, what you should do is enrich the context, language and knowledge. Contextual poverty is what leads us to reading poverty.
—Spain has eight educational laws. What does it mean not to have a long-term educational project?
–There have been several educational laws, but behind all those that have been put into practice there has been the same legislative majority, which have been socialist and nationalist, because the educational laws of the PP have never fully functioned, nor did Wert’s. If we analyze the facts as they are what you find that there is an ideology legislating. That this ideology legislating has needed to remake its legal discourse so many times is something that should concern us. Our results come from the same succession of laws with the same ideological support. It seems that the only ones who can legislate in education are social democracy and peripheral nationalisms and that in itself implies a poverty of debate, how are you going to reach consensus if you assume that only you can legislate. What we are experiencing is the educational perplexity of the socialist party.