The new educational model: students prepared to solve everyday problems

  • “Can we consider learning what is memorized for an exam and then forgotten?” ask Rosa Sensat

  • “What do we need children to know? Everything? No. There is essential knowledge and others that can be acquired,” says César Coll

Backed by the new education law, the Lomloe, also known as the ‘Celaá law’, Catalonia puts the turbo in the application of the educational model by competences. A model more or less based on the primarylittle implanted yet in the THAT and unknown in baccalaureate. Catalonia has already been traveling along this route since 2015. But the new curricula for these stages being designed by the Department of Education seek to extend and consolidate this way of teaching and evaluating based on the skills that a student has acquired. A model that flees from memory tests, players and of the traditional notes.

“It is about training to achieve knowledge, skills, attitudes that last, transferable, that the student is able to use successfully in real contexts. Can we consider learning what is memorized to pass an exam to forget it in a few days?”, summarizes Mark Beltranmember of the Avaluar per Aprendre group of the Associació de Mestres Rosa Sensat.

As happens with any important change, and this is it, society wonders if this model has less contentslower the levelis less demanding or does not encourage effort. The pedagogues consulted flatly reject these reluctance. Beltran explains it using the simile of a ladder in which if the steps are very high, not everyone will be able to climb it, but if they are more accessible, yes. “The contents continue to appear, although updated and have been prioritized. In addition, they must be applied, not just memorized. Well understood, the complexity and effort required for the student is greater. It is not about making it easier. The challenge in the classroom is how to facilitate that all students can develop their abilities to the maximum, not that they all reach the same maximum. Because it is in practice where the curriculum makes sense. We must reduce the levels of school dropouts and increase interest in continuing to study”, Beltran points out.

Ready for today’s world

Cesar Coll, professor of Evolutionary Psychology of Education and one of the co-authors of the Lomloe, places the new model in a world that has changed and with it, challenges and training. “The challenges are global and with a local translation. People must be trained to develop skills that allow them to face these problems,” he argues. “The exit profile of the student must be that of a person prepared to face today’s challenges”.

Coll flatly denies that the competency model involves lowering the level. “To face challenges, you need a significant amount of knowledge. For example, to solve the problem of sustainability, you need a lot of knowledge of history, biology, science, the context. It is not true that the curriculum is emptied of content or knowledge of competences means having less knowledge. On the contrary, knowledge of competences requires a lot of knowledge”, he insists.

Goodbye to the “eternal suspended”

Another key to the model is that the school is a place where everyone succeed. The conventional model explains Miguel Angel Alegre, doctor in Sociology from the UAB and head of projects at the Fundació Bofill, “does little to make the student feel that learning is their own. It is a model that expels the student who does not fit into the academic logic”. In contrast, the competency model “It’s self-referential. It does not compare between students, but looks at the evolution and potential of each one, where they are and where they can go. It is a model that adapts to each child and this will be reflected in the evaluation. It will be motivating for everyone”, underlines Alegre. A model in which, he says, the figure of the “eternal suspended”, with what this implies at the level of children’s self-esteem. This expert sends a message of calm to those who do not see it clearly: “If the method is applied well, it will benefit everyone. It will avoid the exclusion of certain students and will enhance the abilities of each child & rdquor ;.

learn and transfer

And how is learning taught and assessed? The idea is to learn from real situations in order to assume that knowledge and then be able to transfer it to other contexts. Beltran returns to the examples: “There is learning, and the students tell you, that you neither understand nor know what they are for. I don’t know what the integrals I studied have served me for. But now, if they had told me ‘let’s design a pool using integrals’, perhaps he would have seen the point. The key is to learn to solve real and significant situations. To have the ability to apply knowledge, the ability to solve real problems”.

Take the case of reading a book. “Doing an exam to check if they have read a book makes little sense. On the other hand, it makes more sense if we talk about that book in class and the student reflects on some aspect of that book,” says Betlem Cuesta, pedagogical coordinator of the institute Les Vinyes de Castellbisbal, one of those that has been working for years for competitions. Another case. In 1st year of ESO, Les Vinyes wrote an atlas of imaginary trips. “They had to document about a country and write a story. That supposes a job of deepening knowledge of different fields”. And another, a play about the Franco regime and the civil war. “To mount it they had to investigate and learn things about this time,” explains Cuesta.

The Jaume Cabré institute in Terrassa was already born with the competence system. Here they have always worked for large transversal projects. “In the 3rd year of ESO we worked on a noir novel and science. In the 4th year, one on history and language. And in the end, each student makes their own creation based on what they learnt,” he points out. Maribel Tarres, director of the center and one of the promoters of the Canviem el Batxillerat platform. Oral presentations, where students present learned content, and digital tools are other legs of the system.

Notes don’t matter

And the exams? “They are one more instrument. We can do them if we consider it necessary,” says Cuesta. And Beltran abounds on the subject, pointing out that “there are ways to demonstrate learning that are not only traditional written exams and, mainly, rote and reproducing ones. It is about generating varied situations or contexts so that the student demonstrates that he can transfer what what he has learned.” It can be assessed, for example, that the student, with all the materials at their disposal, and based on what they have worked on in class, knows how to analyze a real-life situation or problem, give their opinion, argue it and propose how to solve or improve it.

Where are the notes here? The new model contemplates the notes for certification purposes, but not for evaluating the student’s learning. “We confuse evaluation with certification. It is not about qualifying, but about evaluating. And it seeks to personalize learning for each student,” Cuesta points out. At the Les Vinyes high school they have it very clear: in a project in which each student presented what she had learned at the end of the course, “no one asked if that had a grade”. “They are understanding that it is about learning and improving.” And to calm things down, she adds: “We don’t forget the grades. The school has to certify if a child has achieved the skills.”

Along the same lines, Tarrés points out that the notes “are not important”. “You write not for a note, but to do it well. For this reason, in the learning process, you write a text, review it, give guidelines, rewrite it. We put a note because the system requires it to be accredited, but nothing more. It’s about putting the focus on progress,” he stresses. He adds that the competency system makes it possible for children to be aware of where they have to work more.

Essential knowledge and acquirable knowledge

Is there less content? Or perhaps in the previous resumes there were too many. “The curricula are very busy. Everyone knows that the syllabus never ends and that it is done quickly and quickly. Children must be given time to learn to think, to work as a team,” defends Tarrés. César Coll agrees with him: “The programs are oversized and overloaded, especially in ESO. And in high school it’s already crazy.” And it raises a reflection: “The issue is what do we need children to know? Everything? No, the important thing. There is essential knowledge and others that can be acquired. We must give them means so that they know where they have to go to look for information. And the contents are important and basic to obtain information”.

“Less content of what? Of things that you can search for on Google? There are skills that are very important such as planning, analyzing, working as a team, processing texts, communicating…”, adds Óscar Altide, director of the Quatre Institute Cantons of Barcelona.

hard change

Those consulted admit that the change is great and not easy. “We have to understand as schools and also as a society what learning means. This implies rethinking what and how to teach. We know that there are practices that are more effective than others. The challenge will be how to seduce and involve schools and teachers who have not yet advanced along these lines,” says Beltran. “It will cost and it will be a slow change,” adds Tarrés.

“Getting out of the comfort zone is not easy. It is a great responsibility and requires courage because it is a new path. But we have to place ourselves here, science confirms it,” says Altide, with years of experience already in the application of the competence model.

Related news

One of the keys to the goodness of the system is seen by Cuesta in his own students. “Now they ask me less about what they are studying for. Because they understand the meaning of what they are doing.” This teacher defends the culture of effort, but “a meaningful effort, not just to pass an exam.”

For this new model to work, teachers They will be keys. Educació is already working on training so that teachers know how to apply the new curricula, still in the draft phase. September is around the corner. “We’re just a little short of time,” warns Alegre.

Leave a Comment