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Reflections in times of pandemic

Six months ago the usual and familiar world was collapsing after the onset of a pandemic. All our pedagogical tools and practices lost their usefulness, the multifaceted situation that destiny gave us, made us assume many and varied problems for teachers and students at all levels during confinement.

It was assumed that the solution to the need to stay at home, to reduce the number of infections, was to hold virtual classes. This model made evident the great inequality in rural areas and access to internet and technological resources in families with limited economic resources and a lower socio-cultural level, with the consequent stress for students and families. An inequality that has been practically ignored again in the current protocols of return to educational centers.

During the quarantine, the role of families has been very remarkable. Fundamentally, it has fallen on women, who have known how to mostly add pedagogical support to their daily jobs and housework.

On the other hand, confinement led to psychological and mental health problems in the students: frustration, loneliness, fear, uncertainty, anguish, sadness, loss of self-esteem. The school or educational center sometimes had become the only refuge of some conflicting homes; where anxiety, abuse or misunderstanding proliferated. These conflicts have led to an increase in impulsivity, behavior disorders and serious family tensions between parents and children, siblings and friends, still pending resolution.

A positive aspect of virtual communication between teachers and students, is that it has favored personal relationships between them, facilitating the possibility of rapprochement. Because those students with an introverted and reserved character, with difficulties to express their opinions openly in the classroom, gradually lost this difficulty, possibly due to the more individualized relationship that was established. In addition, some students accustomed to using social networks as a mean of communication, in which they reflect their most intimate feelings and emotions, were able to lose their shyness and feel more confident.

From these and many other conclusions, we should take the scenario that is presented as a moment to make various changes regarding the vision in teaching work.

Currently, we are working with excessively rigid and obsolete pedagogical approaches, in which basically rote knowledge is privileged. Knowledge that not everyone can achieve or contribute to live up to expired demands and expectations. In the 21st century, the training of our students should be oriented towards a more egalitarian, critical and entrepreneurial society, making it more flexible and improving different methodologies, objectives and contents. It has become clear that it is necessary to review and update the pedagogical system, orient it towards more interdisciplinary and open fields, applying new approaches to the objectives and contents of the didactic programs in Primary and, fundamentally, Secondary education.

In a few days a new course will begin, marked by uncertainty and the danger of contagion. Now a change of mind is needed and it is a good time to take a risk with a series of proposals that previously seemed more complicated. In principle, it will be necessary to renounce the efficiency paradigm, forget about the objective of the grade and focus on the well-being, communication and motivation of students in order to facilitate learning. This situation, back to the classroom or blank canvas can be used as a creative and communicative explosion that tries to make students happy and help them cope with all the problems caused by the pandemic.

We do not know how teaching work will change when infections in the classrooms increase. But, even wishing that they do not occur or occur minimally, we should foresee the possibility of organizing the transfer of some classrooms abroad. To large and spacious public buildings, open and closed: museums, town halls, palaces, churches, parks and gardens. Places where you can develop some of the curricular content.

In conclusion, and in addition to providing work and will, it would be beneficial to focus all teaching efforts and pedagogical resources on the emotional well-being of the students, in trying to guide the permanent transmission of knowledge, understanding their well-being and happiness as one of the fundamental and sustaining pillars of the society of the future.

Luis Sainz Blanco (Head Professor and Tutor of Secondary Education)

Rosa Poo Espinosa (Founder of Aldea del Talento)

Yolanda Pérez Novoa (Head Professor of Secondary Education)

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