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date: 13 June 2024

Personalized Education as a Possibility to Promote Interculturalityfree

Personalized Education as a Possibility to Promote Interculturalityfree

  • José Jesús Trujillo VargasJosé Jesús Trujillo VargasDepartment of Education, Universidad Internacional de la Rioja

Summary

We live in a multicultural society that must bet on a vision of openness and exchange, whose start must begin in the education system from a perspective that clearly supports interculturality, and which aims to achieve a more just society through the exchange of different ways of life. We can only aspire to this if we start from a personalized vision of education—rather than stereotyping groups—to create a pedagogical experience for each person (student) while taking into consideration the sociofamily context. Therefore, personalized education must start from principles such as uniqueness, autonomy, and openness to promote an exchange of experiences, culture, and traditions, and from how each one lives and how it interferes or helps this to be configured as a whole person, open to new learning, and able to self-regulate in the broadest sense. However, there are a series of sociopolitical and economic obstacles at a formative academic level that must be overcome in order for personalized education and its principles to become a utopian entity.

Subjects

  • Education, Cultures, and Ethnicities

A version of this article is available in its original language.

Introduction

Much has been said about different educational systems, and about the inclusion of all students in the same space, environment, or classroom; however, on more than a few occasions, differences between students and the specific needs that accompany those differences are not considered at the educational or curricular levels. Diversity is one of the defining characteristics of humanity, and thus, our societies. However, instead of approaching diversity from an open and enriching perspective, different educational systems, as is the case in Spain, have worked to hinder initiatives working to foster equal opportunities. This is easy to understand when one recognizes that the legislators belong to the elite social classes who try to curtail all counter-hegemonic pedagogy, a trend we will analyze in the section entitled “ Oppressive Commodified Pedagogy” Versus Personalized Intercultural Education - .”

The migration of people from poorer countries to countries with more economic opportunities is a clear indicator that the globalization of the systems and resources of production are not enjoyed equally by all, and that most people do not benefit directly from their own labor. These migrations result in the confluence of a multitude of people from different cultures in the same geographical spaces. In this sense, no one can deny that we live in a multicultural society made up of people who are very different from one another with different ideologies and different cultures with distinct customs and traditions (Trujillo, 2007). This does not mean that necessary policies are enacted at the sociopolitical level to produce support true interculturality. Interculturality refers to the goal of achieving a society in which human rights are not violated and in which all human beings live together peacefully and harmoniously. This future can only be made possible by accepting the challenge of inclusion rather than exclusion, choosing the richness of diversity over the poverty of homogeneity, and reaffirming the rights of everyone as opposed to privileges afforded to only a few, therein promoting a new concept of citizenship. School is one of the most important socialization tools, and thus it must play a fundamental role in such a multicultural project (Zapata, 2004). This is why it is so important to educate from a perspective of multiculturalism. As García et al. (1997) explained:

Multicultural education emerged from a reflection that the presence of minorities within western schools necessitated both an approach that accounted for the “distance” between their culture the culture presented in and represented by the western school as well as special attention in light of continued failure when they access the [dominant] culture. Programs were designed to improve the situation of those groups within the schools, and in some cases these programs fostered respect for their culture of origin along with integration into the “host” culture (or at least, ideally these programs aspired to such an approach). (p. 223)

Clearly, no environment or institution understands this process in the same way as there is a multiplicity of multicultural educational models all grounded in different conceptualizations of culture. We can analyze this in different scientific works (e.g., García, 1991; Gibson, 1984; Sleeter & Grant, 1987).

Perhaps one of the few approaches with the potential to foster intercultural education and an appreciation for diversity in general is through personalized education. For García-Hoz (1988), the creator of “personalized education,” this process works to foster “the ability of a subject to design and implement their personal life project” (p. 176), and encompasses all of the mediation, help, and guidance necessary on the part of the teacher so that the student achieves their goal and fulfills their maximum potential as a human (García, 2011).

In the words of Calderero et al. (2014, p. 146), personalized education is a very broad concept that applies to different systems and methodologies and its scope goes beyond specific curricular goals which, while necessary, should also contribute to the development of all students, especially the individual characteristics that make each student a unique person.

The fundamental principles and dimensions of personhood within this framework (Bernardo-Carrasco, 2011, pp. 26–27) are:

1.

The person is always identified as him or her or themself. He or she has or they have their own identity.

2.

The person is the consistent and dynamic author of their actions. This principle is the origin of their autonomy, their freedom, their originality, and their ability to create.

3.

Their interaction with all reality (natural, human, and spiritual) is carried out through communication.

4.

Regarding sexuality.

5.

Regarding origin, no person has given themself life, but rather was brought into the world by someone else. Thus, the person is autonomous but not alone.

6.

Their affectivity, which shapes their personality, is where feelings, emotions, impulses and urges, affections and passions, sensitivity to beauty, and love, are all located.

7.

Their understanding, which interrogates reality in search of the truth.

8.

His will, aimed at the practice of good and the corresponding decisions to achieve it.

However, there are real obstacles to developing a personalized education grounded in interculturality. In a world where everything appears to be relative, everything is in flux, and nothing is unchangeable, we find ourselves in a contemporary education-training context (the university) where we are sold the idea that there is only one way to acquire the acceptable training for a given career trajectory, and only those that choose that path or are allowed to follow it will be successful. The rhetoric of neoliberal discourse employs several traps in order to convince anyone within the education-training community who desires an established career—including those who function as “active” educators (teachers)—that they should follow the customary steps to achieve success in their career, although in so doing their actions go against the very essence of what it means to teach and/or to educate.

In this article we analyze a problem based on the idiosyncrasies of the Spanish state, but it could very well apply to any other European or international nation in a similar situation regarding immigration or to the implementation of neoliberal educational policies. As we can see in the study by Zapata (2004).

Commercial Obstacles to the Educational System

For neoliberalism, competition is the defining characteristic of social relations. It affirms that “the market” produces benefits that could not be achieved through planning, and transforms citizens into consumers whose democratic choices are wholly reduced to buying and selling, a process that supposedly rewards achievement and punishes inefficiency. . . . Inequality is a virtue: a reward for effort and a producer of wealth that benefits everyone. The aspiration to create a more equitable society is [seen as] counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone one gets what they deserve. (Monbiot, 2016, s/p, par.5)

Exacerbated neoliberal individualism, grounded in ideas such as: “if you want to, you can,” “you have the power within you,” “you have to show that mediocrity is for everyone else” or “the only way out is excellence,” has managed to dismantle the social imaginary in favor of the efficient, the productive, and the profitable. It minimizes the importance of everything that does not rely on the individual as a self-sufficient being, and undervalues the individual as an active agent of change, who is capable of mobilizing in support of struggles on behalf of groups suffering from social injustice such as discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status. An individual (who may assume that they will never be in such a situation) may conclude that oppressed communities are a lost cause, that no one can do anything to help them, and that this only happens to those who do not do everything within their power to change their situation. This perception usually changes only when the system excludes or degrades them in turn. To give a prescient contemporary example, who can really be sure that their employment situation is stable, or at least that it is not becoming increasingly precarious?

In neoliberal regimes, where the capitalism mentality has colonized all understanding of social life and of human subjects, the mechanisms of power have strengthened certain governmental apparatuses, primarily those that can be tied to processes of regulating subjectivities, and whose nature is not directly authoritarian (Amigot & Martínez, 2013).

Clearly, in order for this to happen, and for us not to react in a unified, decisive, and counter-hegemonic way, it is necessary to promote a discourse as well argued as it is subtle, so that citizens perceive it as something new, positive, and directed toward change that will undoubtedly produce social benefits.

This appeal to the common good in order to justify processes that, in reality, only benefit certain power groups, is possible because: (a) it does not explicitly address the preservation of the social order, and instead prioritizes as a permanent slogan of sorts, change, novelty, mobilizing, and innovating, as if innovation were a virtue in and of itself, thereby obscuring the unequal effects it has; (b) because neoliberal logic shifts the weight of limitations imposed at the collective level to the responsibility of the individual; for example, everyone is a potential entrepreneur, although some prefer to be passive and unmotivated—selfish—thereby moralizing “effort” as the true contribution to society; and (c) because transformations arise from need. Change is a social reality and need, and for this reason it is understandable to want to anticipate and facilitate change” (Boltanski, 2008, cited in Amigot & Martínez, 2013, s/p).

If we extrapolate this approach to the different levels of the educational system, we can see why it is a perfect environment to naturalize this neoliberal ideology as something positive and an ideal of always striving to be better. It has become routine and has been internalized by different members of the educational community to focus on skills-based training and criteria for evaluation, as just two examples, as if it had always been that way. And in many cases without reflecting on the implicit commodification underlying such an approach: not in terms of discourse, but rather regarding its implementation in relation to equal opportunities for students and/or with curricular justice.

This is evident at various levels within the university environment: educators are required to teach more classes for the same wages, part-time teachers are paid less while being contracted for the same number of hours as teachers with a “fixed” position, there is an insistence on the educator–researcher model with the abhorrent yet clear goal of commodifying knowledge production, and especially in the “cutthroat struggle” to accreditize programs, research programs, and training at all levels. This not only homogenizes educational processes, but it also converts them into efficient commodities that everyone (institutions and people) must acquire if they want to continue subsisting. In this way, university professors have become the new oppressed: their ultimate goal is to demonstrate that they are competent in a system that has been engineered to acknowledge individualism and quantifiable output as the only metrics for personal, social, and professional achievement.

The assertion that universal competition depends on a process of quantification and universal comparisons is another paradox of neoliberalism. It causes workers, job seekers, and public services to submit themselves to an oppressive regimen of evaluation and surveillance, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers (Monbiot, 2016).

It is important to note that the root of the problem is that the university has always been a hegemonic cultural entity, and therefore a mechanism of reproduction for the dominant social system. The difference now is that currently, the potential to create knowledge, understanding, and culture within universities is increasingly being driven by commercial interests (Galcerán, 2010a), a shift that encourages universities to embrace greater inequality in opportunities as well as an obvious lack of democracy.

All of this is part of so-called “intellectual capitalism,” a process evolving on several different fronts, in which neoliberal forces co-opt emerging forms of production, especially those focused on intellectual, intangible, and/or cognitive work, for their own benefit (Galcerán, 2010b).

In a country such as Spain, those who govern take advantage of the times we live in to champion and enact, including at the legislative level, austerity measures regarding social life (profoundly burdening the most vulnerable sectors) which negatively impact public health, for example, in closing public hospitals by arguing they are bankrupt, only to be privatized later and managed by private companies with ties to our government officials in one way or another. It is worth mapping out a detailed analysis of the economic and educational management model they promote (Government officials) and that is implemented throughout the country in national training centers (although these practices are enacted in different contexts throughout most of the world).

Simply by initiating this analysis, we become aware that under the “umbrella” of the skills-based approach and the defense of an “assumed constructivism,” there is a strong commitment on the part of these powerful entities, to “educate” people and professionals that will abide by and view these guidelines as natural, as if they were a law of physics. At the same time, these workers who are positioned as “great” operators are not at all critical of the companies that will hire them in the future, therein naturalizing a conformity that does not, in any sense, question the established sociohierarchical order.

This article seeks to evaluate the motivations that underlie neoliberal discourses—skill-based teaching, the categorizing rankings of educational research, teaching assessment, and standardized testing—in order to promote an alternative model as a mode of resistance at the sociopedagogical level, a model based on (of course) personalized intercultural education.

“Oppressive Commodified Pedagogy” Versus Personalized Intercultural Education

The synergy between the university and business is not an exchange between two distinct institutions, but rather the subordination of the university dynamic to the economic imperative of commodifying the acquisition of knowledge, selling it to interested parties, and prioritizing the interests of companies active in relevant fields. (Galcerán, 2010a, p. 16)

The social imaginary built around the importance of training for employment in the near future sharpens acutely when purchasing power rests in a few privileged hands. This occurs in such a way that university students tend to go into debt (when there is no other alternative) in order to acquire the necessary knowledge to get a job that will allow them to support themselves. However, the discourses that encourage this financial–educational cycle often (intentionally) neglect to mention that the labor market fluctuates and depends on many factors beyond the control of those who have staked everything on their efforts toward future personal socioeconomic stability.

Obviously, education should be connected to the workforce; what is questionable is establishing goals and evaluating the educational impact based on those criteria alone—a practice which transforms the educational process into a purely technical task. To do so negates the inherent social and ethical nature of educational practice which involves conflicts of interest, values, and ideals. Thus, mutilation cuts the educational community off from active and democratic participation in the educational process (Díez, 2010).

For some time now, has been verified that different levels of the educational training system (such as lesson plans, curricula, and teaching guides) have been reconfigured toward training through and for the acquisition of specific skills (Díez, 2010). Under the umbrella of its core tenets: knowing, knowing how to do, and knowing how to be, skill-based learning has produced a totalizing new paradigm that turns every conversation into a discussion of how, what, and when to teach and evaluate. Through this process, the student who acquires a set of specific skills will not just pass a specific subject, they will also be able to function efficiently in their personal and professional life. Although in order to do so they will have to forget or renounce their beliefs, principles, or ideologies in order to ensure, at the socioeconomic level, a stable present and future. Submission to commercial imperatives, and thus, a necessary and unquestioning adaptability to working conditions are “added values” that are not listed in any educational program of any institution within the educational system (elementary, secondary, or university education).

It is not at all clear that these skills are part of an education oriented toward developing skills that will help the students grow their ability to apply their acquired knowledge. Rather, it is an education that works to build a flexible and self-programmable subjectivity that alternates between creativity and submission (Galcerán, 2010b).

Moreover, it will never be possible to perfectly verify whether or not students have acquired the assigned skills (at whatever level), because the teaching context is never identical to the various context in which students interact and where their mastery of the assigned skills is assessed.

Within the context of higher education, there are a multitude of examples that demonstrate how the laws of the market have enabled a transformation both for the role of educators as well as in the scope of their work. The classic professor had a broad understanding of their field, and this did not get in the way of their pursuing leisure activities in their free time: traveling, going to the theater, reading for pleasure. We have transitioned to professors who have to know about everything so that even in their leisure time they must be making connections to their work, as their teaching and research load (publications, conferences, reviews, class prep) is so large that it is nearly impossible to have any “guilty pleasures.” Along these lines, a tool such as the internet has become, in many cases, a medium at the service of this professor–slave who must continue to demonstrate to the system that he is worthy. Thus, we can say that mobile technologies coincide perfectly with the mindset and psychological habitus of the neoliberal academic subject: verify, monitor, download (Gill, 2015).

Neoliberalism found fertile ground in academics, whose predisposition to working hard and doing things well corresponded perfectly to the neoliberal demand for autonomous, self-motivated, and responsible subjects. The absence of resistance to the penetration of neoliberalism in universities is in part the result of these individualizing and atomizing practices, the silences surrounding them, and the fact that people are too exhausted to resist, in addition to not knowing what specifically to resist or how to do it (Gill, 2015).

Even more cutthroat, if possible, are the metrics used to rank research-focused university professors. Scientific journals (whose publications make up one of the most important criteria in ranking professors) engage in a fierce battle of status and impact, fighting for greater visibility and recognition. Hand in hand, university professors enter into the game of trying to publish as much as they possibly can in the best possible journals. Their research does not (in most cases) document findings that would make any real sociopolitical or education impact. In addition to the prestige among their colleagues that comes with publishing in internationally recognized journals, there is another determining factor that motivates professors to market their ideas in this way: it is none other than the salary increases the accompanies being classified as a researcher. Accordingly, the people who are excluded will be those who deviate from or who do not share the research agendas legitimized by various powerful entities as the only path to becoming a true researcher.

The different arbiters of quality and evaluation of academic research (those who determine the investigative quality of the faculty) prioritize the publication of articles in scientific journals included in databases prepared by two private companies as the definitive evaluative criteria: Thomson Reuters and Elsevier (proprietaries of the databases WoS and Scopus respectively), to the detriment of other formats and channels for investigative research. These evaluative criteria reproduce a colonial logic; they are the result of geopolitical power relations that marginalize and discount non-English language scientific journals, and impose, without debate, English as a neutral language. Despite the mounting criticism of all sorts they have garnered, they maintain their ability to determine what counts and what does not (Indocentia, 2016, cited in Fernández, 2016).

Likewise, beyond the question of salary, having a research agenda that is recognized and accredited by the different evaluation agencies has become a requirement to teach in a university, in Spain (in both public and private universities), to direct doctoral theses, or to be part of a thesis committee (Gómez & Jódar, 2013).

This closed, recurring cycle is enabled by the conscientious, biased, and self-interested standardization of the education process: from the evaluation and ranking of professors, to the measurement of each one of the actions they take in the classroom (either more or less implicit), to the evaluation of the programs themselves, with the ultimate goal of achieving that record of quality and excellence that is valued so highly by the scientific–academic community.

Standardized tests embody the legitimation of and link between three inseparable knowledge–power configurations: knowledge relations, disciplinary and normalizing power, and regulation and biopower. The legitimation of knowledge relations is perpetuated through specific knowledge, measured via standardized evaluations designed to create a predetermined kind of individual. The measurement of such knowledge responds to a normalizing, disciplinary power exercised directly to produce docile subjects, divided into two categories: normal and abnormal. Regulatory biopower is exercised at a global level through standardized metrics that sort subjects into population groups, as a regulatory component of these knowledge–power relations (Saura & Luengo, 2015).

The legitimation of processes to standardize performance data, although not unique, have a lot to do with the perpetuation of economism as a means of dominating educational systems. PISA (Programme for International Student Assessmen) is a comparative international metric for human capital of the regions in the world and is used to indicate potential for global economic competition (Rizvi & Lingard, 2009).

This commodification of knowledge enables our educational systems to determine the potential for a genuinely inclusive education. University faculty are not asked to innovate in order to transform the social model, but rather are ordered to reproduce, step by step, the criteria that this system of evaluation and training considers to be the only legitimate barometer for measuring the quality of teaching and investigative work at all levels (from childhood to university, from elementary education to secondary and university training).

Everything analyzed up to this point corresponds to a model “designed” and “built” by political and economic elites, who have learned to recognize that one of the most effective environments to perpetuate the system is no other than the early training of future professionals, and above all, those professionals who are going to dedicate their lives to training future citizens in schools and classrooms. Obviously, this process will ensure that the most vulnerable groups have increasingly fewer rights to participate at the sociopolitical level. The equation is completed through the legitimation of different states, which, under a theoretical democracy, give free reign to discriminatory practices that produce an ever-increasing amount of social injustice.

When we add to this the different policies addressing cultural diversity implemented throughout different states in Europe, and more specifically by the Spanish state, we can compare how different minority groups are at a total disadvantage when it comes to sharing public spaces of interest and of academic–educational–research decisions.

Assimilationist politics seek to absorb diverse ethnic groups into a supposedly relatively hegemonic society, imposing the culture of the dominant group. They assume that advanced societies tend toward universalism over particularism, and that strong ethnic ties produce divisions, separations, and “balkanization.” Ethic, racial, and cultural diversity are treated as a problem that threatens social integrity and cohesion (Muñoz, 2001). Under this model, in order to participate fully in the national culture, students who are ethnic minorities are guided to liberate themselves from their ethnic identity, otherwise they are delayed in their academic career. They also risk tension with other groups and ethnic “balkanization” (Muñoz, 2001).

The multicultural movement is, above all, a political and social movement that reaffirms the human and civil rights of all the groups who have felt discriminated against or marginalized from democratic participation as citizens. It is a struggle against the cultural and social groups with political and economic power, for equal opportunities. Since these marginalized groups have used these struggles to articulate concrete demands, the political and social spheres have reacted over the past few decades. Neutrality in the face of this movement is practically impossible because even the political posture of indifference denotes a certain ideological inclination toward multiculturality (Muñoz, 2001). For this reason, the multicultural movement is in and of itself a counter-hegemonic movement insofar as it advocates for challenging the academic–educational approaches that stem from neoliberalism.

When faced with this sea of contradictions and volatile rhetoric whose ultimate goal is the subjugation of professors to neoliberal legacies, how can we not succumb to its claims? How can we educate for autonomy and difference, when we are urged to follow a single path (and if you do not, you are thrown out)? How can we educate for diversity within a monolithic training system?

Although there does not exist, in any sense, a guidebook to follow (nor is this what we intend in this article), it can be instructive to reflect on basic aspects that can help us recalibrate our everyday practices as teachers (independent of the level we reach in our profession). If we stop to reflect on the process, we will see that unlike in other eras, change itself has become the paradigm. Change is constant and dizzying, and it is not easy to prepare oneself to adapt to constant change. Changes occur in multicultural, multilingual, and multiethnic contexts. Epistemological changes occur in different fields of knowledge. Changes occur in methods of thinking and learning and technology uses. All of this entails a new professional socialization and for this reason many things have to be rebuilt (training, incentive structures, work situations, new educational professions, etc.). Without a doubt, one of the most important aspects to consider in order to understand all this complexity will be, within the teaching profession, to develop a greater capacity for relationships, for communication, and for collaboration; to pass on emotions and attitudes; and to work together with colleagues to address the original problem of the relationship between what happens and what happens to “me” (Imbernón, 2005). This is a problem that, without a doubt, corresponds to the personalized education paradigm of García-Hoz (1988), who presented this idea to use as a comprehensive education, not in the vulgar sense of the word, but rather its deeper meaning, as an enrichment and unification of the self and of human life.

Conclusions

The central problem is this: how can the oppressed, as divided, inauthentic beings who “host” the oppressor himself, participate in the development of a pedagogy for their own liberation. Only as they discover that they “host” the oppressor will they be able to contribute to the pedagogy of their liberation. (Freire, 2003, p. 34)

The way out of this tangled situation will not be easy, insofar as the system itself has taken care to close any possible “fissures” resulting from disagreements arising from the present situation as we have described it up to this point.

It is worth noting that all (or almost all) of us have been “educated” according to a banking model of education (Freire, 2003), in which any alternative that we as students proposed to the established way of doing things was undervalued, suppressed, and dismissed in order for the status quo to continue. What comes into even clearer relief, if possible, is the commercialized education-training system that we have been analyzing, although in a slightly more subtle manner, as professors themselves are often convinced of the pedagogical good of this system. The same thing occurs within a large portion of the students who do not possess the necessary critical tools to question either the quality of the training they receive or the system that supports the skill-based training.

Dividing different sectors of the educational community is an implicit goal that the neoliberal educational system has more than achieved. Individualism, isolation, increasing professional demands (and thus exacerbating competition between professors), and demanding increased “efficiency” in order to meet the requisite “academic” standards has worn out the almost nonexistent resistance on the part of professors.

In many cases the fear of losing one’s job, in an already present economic and professional instability, is another main reason (as is the case in most social sectors) that there has not been an uprising of professors that enacts genuine change and a movement toward working conditions that provide greater professional and personal dignity. As it stands, it is a minority of voices that denounce this “formative” nonsense through publications or other actions.

The ethical, humanistic, social dimension, inherent in every training or educational setting, and embodied within a personalized, multicultural education, should force us to continuously question this commercial model and offer a sociopolitical pedagogical alternative that stems from a rejection of neoliberal legacies that is grounded in a true universalization of knowledge as opposed to a corrupted globalization, biased on behalf of the former elites of intellectual capitalism who depend on the production of dependent, submissive citizens.

Within the dynamic of “organizational therapy,” which constitutes the social responsibilities of the university, it is not possible to avoid reflecting on the social, ethical, and political meaning of a university education, the production of scientific knowledge, and the political role of science in the real world. This reflection falls under the category we call “cognitive and epistemological impacts,” together with three other kinds of university impacts (organizational impacts within the university, including both the work and the environmental aspects, educational impacts with students, and social impacts on the external actors with ties to the university; Vallaeys, 2014).

If we are truly dedicated to this profession out of an innate passion to educate as well as a strong conviction that another more just and equitable social reality is possible (even as this system continues to strip this profession of its vocational characteristics), it would be advisable to unify our efforts to deconstruct these dehumanizing “values” that move us farther away from true education, through actions of joint resistance to commercial imperatives. It will be critical that we build meeting spaces that do not silence our rights as educators and workers—spaces that allow us to overcome the fear of retaliation and to build a culture of resistance that encourages necessary and sustained debate about what we are doing and why.

The production of other spaces for thought and resistance will involve producing other strategies for the collective recognition of our work, different from the recognition offered by the Thomson Reuters company; for valuing relationships beyond the instrumentalization of the other; for not restricting research to profitable research agendas; for working to construct shared spaces despite our fragmentation and hierarchization; and for not abandoning teaching and protecting interaction and exchange within the classroom (Indocentia, 2016, cited in Fernández, 2016).

Necessarily, we will have to make these meeting spaces open to the entire educational community, for the sake of building an alternative social pedagogy “from the ground up.” In order to do so, we will have to begin with a decisive and overwhelming rejection of the ego that we have acquired as a result of the social or workplace “rewards,” according to what the system accepts or rejects. “Education requires doubt, disidentification, unlearning, loosing, relinquishing surplus, shedding a layer, reducing, and letting go, in order to be less selfish and more aware. Sometimes, previous knowledge is the greatest obstacle to education” (Herrán, 2012, p. 182).

By way of example (by no means a prescriptive recipe), it will be useful to build spaces that help fight against the evils of working as a university professor according to Barnés (2014). In such a way that:

1.

Professional relationships are established which do not value hierarchy more than the work itself, with a shared purpose and built from critical, democratic judgment, resisting the feudalistic practices that have continued since time immemorial within universities. For this, it will be important to foster a culture of open exchange and to encourage strong, radical actions to eliminate, for example, harassment between colleagues.

2.

We demonstrate an insubordinate attitude toward the administrative role that we have been assigned, and instead dedicate more time to preparing classes or to genuine research inspired by concrete community needs, rather than to filling out standardized documents that, on many occasions, rather than assisting the educational process actually hinder a professor whose profession is already under constant attack from several different fronts.

3.

We mount a united and collaborative fight against the loss of prestige that plagues the teaching profession (even more so in times of socioeconomic crisis).

4.

We encourage the struggle and demand for the creation of criteria that champion transparency in the allocation of opportunities and resources (e.g., research grants).

5.

We continue to push for socioworking conditions that value instructional labor, resulting in less salary disparity between titled professors and adjuncts.

Currently, university students function as an outfit of cognitive service, available all around the world, making up a specialized, sophisticated workforce, capable of taking advantage of the biggest talents in the world, and especially being responsive to the demands of international elites with access to certain resources. The promotion of English as a universal language reinforces this tendency and enables certain universities—those at the top of the hierarchy—to enjoy a position of dominance on a global scale, therein attracting scholars from all over the world (Galcerán, 2010a).

This globalized commodification of knowledge goes hand in hand with the appropriation of knowledge by individuals and the limitation of its “use value” (Galcerán, 2010a), as the only knowledge deemed fundamental will be that which affirms the codes of conduct set forth by the companies that future professionals will belong to. And even more serious, this process corrupts the goal every educator should strive for (independent of academic level), which is no other than to promote equal opportunities within their classroom, acknowledging cultural, evaluative, and personal diversity which is a constant daily challenge of reinvention and struggle for achieving a more just world.

Throughout this article we have tried to reflect on the possibility of enacting alternative educational and training practices with a more humanistic focus and less reprehensible ethics. It is not hard to see that considering everything we have addressed here, neither the present nor the future of educational training has a promising outlook. Above all, if we intend to sustain this struggle at the ethical and political–pedagogical level, we will have to do so in accordance with the humanistic–pedagogical principles on which true intercultural, personalized education is based, which are no other than: education for and empowerment of the human values of equality, respect, tolerance, pluralism, cooperation, and shared social responsibility within schools, universities, and societies; recognition of the personal right of each student to receive the best possible education tailored to their needs with special attention to the formation of their personal identity; positive acknowledgement of diverse cultures and languages and an affirmation of the necessity of their presence and active cultivation within schools and universities; attention to diversity and respect for differences, without labeling or defining anyone by them; not segregating students into separate groups; the active rejection of all manifestations of racism or discrimination; efforts to overcome prejudice and stereotypes; improving scholastic and university-level achievement within ethnic groups; and active involvement of the school and university within the local community (Muñoz, 2001). Regarding this last point, the end goal is to implement research and teaching processes that promote continuous social–political debate between the different social actors involved, for the betterment of the local community.

To conclude this article, we echo a reflection from Rodríguez-Martínez (2017), which concisely summarizes much of what we have argued:

Knowledge is a process of reflection on the past and the construction and deconstruction of social, hegemonic, and hierarchical interests, in order to transform society. Globalization and commodification position education as an institution wholly shaped by the labor market and the economy, hindering the development of conscientious, caring people. (p. 56)

Acknowledgment

Translated from Spanish by Kate Cronin.

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