That the world has changed in the last 30 years is a no-brainer. It has done so in many aspects and, among them, if there is something that does not escape this evolution, it is education. How has it changed in these decades? And most importantly: on what issues? Recently, a video made by tiktoker Nuria Casas —who has 1.2 million followers on this platform and others 430,000 on Instagram— went viral for its parody on one of the issues that most affects parents, teachers and students: evaluations.
As in any cartoon, the influencer, who is also a mother and previously worked as a child educator, exaggerated both positions. In the role of her teacher from back in the day she would fail students for everything. For example, half a point less for each misspelling, including accents. On the other hand, in her role as a teacher today, she even began to have doubts about the color she should use to correct, discarding, for example, red for being too aggressive and offensive and going so far as to give a student a 10 for leaving the page on white, something with which, according to her, “she wanted to express her disagreement with the world in this way.”
With these hilarious situations, Casas intended, through humor, to draw attention to the excess of permissiveness that currently exists, according to her, in teaching. The video was posted on October 27 and had thousands of comments and more than three million views. After that delivery, she has continued with the subject. For example, in a November 11 post, she focuses on the excuses that students they put before and they put now when a class work is not done.
The child psychologist Carmen Romero He believes that these parodies humorously extol the two extremes in education: “It is clear that it is important to find a balance where respect for the student is combined and, at the same time, their shortcomings can be identified to promote their development.” The expert emphasizes that it makes no sense to humiliate a young child hoping that this is how they learn and evolve. But “it is impossible for it to progress if we do not identify the difficulties and accompany them towards improvement,” she adds.
For Romero, what the video about teachers achieves is to make adults reflect on what happened before and what can happen today in schools: “However, what really interests us is to be able to reach a balance that It allows us to promote the development of the minor, improve their self-esteem, while they are acquiring knowledge and developing at a cognitive level in a more complete way”.
Mercedes Gil, director of the school British Montessori of Murcia, is of the opinion that in the video the two approaches, how it is evaluated now and before, speak of the same thing: “The need to rate the student against standards as if it were an industrial product. A judge’s job that rewards and punishes. Deep down, for someone to continue correcting exams like this in the 21st century is quite sad”.
For the educator, this form of evaluation serves only to classify in a competitive scheme and select those who best perform a predetermined task. “Rewards and punishments temporarily manage to control behavior, but without reflection, without explanation, without understanding why we have failed and how to do it better, productive learning will never take place,” she says. “During the British Empire, the overseas colonies had to collect taxes and organize imports to send them to London,” Gil continues. “The Crown took care of training its officials, whose basic education was in the four arithmetic operations (accounting books), reading and writing (reports and censuses), to which other subjects such as Geography and History (for move through the physical and mental world), languages… From that time we have inherited the type of school that still survives today”.
However, and as he relates, “as soon as you move through the current professional environment, it becomes clear that what is needed are very different skills: the so-called soft skills (teamwork, resilience, flexibility, leadership…), communication skills, problem solving, initiative… In other words, diametrically opposed to the type of traditional evaluation sanction, which reduces people to a number on a list”. “We have official exams that award a degree and we prepare very conscientiously for them, but they are not the center of learning.” Gil assures that other things that educate for life could be done in the classroom, and points out, for example, discussing, investigating or solving problems by collaborating. “Another example: students can evaluate each other and, by doing so, they learn a lot, not only about the subject, but also about how to treat other people. How not to label them. How to respect them”.
Alberto Royo, music teacher at an institute in Estella (Navarra) and author of books such as Against the new education, believes that, in general, if one thinks of the etymology of the word exam referred to the needle of a scale: “Examining oneself would therefore be something similar to weighing or measuring oneself. If this is done with six-year-old children, I don’t see the problem in measuring their evolution, not only physical but also intellectual. Obviously, age must be taken into account. But any activity that is done in class can be used to examine, analyze, investigate or observe the student, whether he is six years old or 30″.
Going into the question of the exams of yesterday and today, Royo continues, the first thing that should be done is to stop considering the strategies, educational measures or pedagogical tools depending on whether they are old or recent: “We must seek efficiency with respect to what we want to achieve . Just as there are books, movies or songs that do not stand the test of time, there are others that have become classics. And this has happened because they are appreciable in any context. In teaching, this must be the premise”. For the expert, the exam has never ceased to be a magnificent medium: “It is used to assess the level of knowledge acquired by a student; to detect her difficulties, a step prior to the search for solutions to them; to contribute to their training through the analysis of the mistakes made or to promote their motivation ”, he analyzes. In addition, he continues, “there is evidence that shows that this is linked to achievement, to exercising intellectually.”
Royo adds that if there is a poorly planned or designed exam, that does not adjust to the content studied or the level, it will not be effective, as it usually is not if the student is in a stressful situation: “But in this case, what has to be solved is the situation and not eliminate the test that evaluates it”.