Andreas Schleicher is the person behind the PISA report, the biggest and most influential worldwide evaluation of schooling, organized by the Group for Financial Cooperation and Growth (OECD). Born in Germany 56 years in the past, Schleicher’s background is in physics, arithmetic and statistics, and it was he who first developed the scholar analysis system that’s nonetheless getting used twenty years later. As of late, Schleicher continues to coordinate PISA whereas heading the OECD’s Directorate for Training and Expertise.
PISA measures the mathematics, science and studying abilities of 15-year-old college students and offers an in depth comparative X-ray of assorted academic methods, with 79 international locations collaborating in 2018; the following evaluation will happen within the spring of 2022, having been postponed this 12 months as a result of coronavirus pandemic. Spanish college students typically underperform in this test, regardless of spending extra time within the classroom than their friends in lots of different international locations.
The schooling reform in Spain, which replaces a system based mostly on studying content material by coronary heart with one which requires college students to develop the capability to use their data, is one Schleicher has been following carefully. He lately spoke to EL PAÍS about these and different associated points in a video convention from the OECD’s headquarters in Paris.
Query. What do you consider Spain’s schooling reform?
Reply. The angle Spain is adopting could be very a lot consistent with what we’re seeing in lots of different elements of the world. These days, evaluation of younger folks isn’t about merely asking them to breed what they know, however to say to them: are you able to make sense of what you already know? Are you able to apply your knowledge?
Q. In Spain, the education reform implies an enormous change from the present curriculum, which is commonly described as encyclopedic, with a whole lot of very subject-specific gadgets for college students to study and lecturers to evaluate.
A. The present curriculum in Spain is, let’s say, a kilometer lengthy and a centimeter thick, and I believe it’s not good for college students. Sooner or later, Spain ought to educate fewer issues, however extra in-depth, producing extra understanding. Stacking up lots of physics and chemistry content material alone isn’t going that can assist you a lot. The query is: are you able to suppose like a scientist? Are you able to design an experiment? Do you perceive the idea of trigger and impact? These are a very powerful issues. And the identical goes for historical past. Remembering all of the names and locations doesn’t enable you to. The query is: are you able to suppose like a historian and perceive how the narrative of a society has emerged and advanced? Faculty’s biggest achievement is to present younger folks methods and attitudes that enable them to study day-after-day, but in addition to unlearn and relearn when the context modifications.
Q. There’s a component of society in Spain that fears that the reform will impoverish college students’ schooling.
A. Altering the curriculum all the time requires lots of braveness. All of us get very anxious when our kids cease studying what was vital to us. And we get much more anxious after they begin studying issues we now not perceive. It’s a typical phenomenon. However the world round us is altering. Issues that had been straightforward to show and assess are additionally easy to digitize, automate and outsource, and they’re disappearing from the environment.
Q. One of many criticisms of the reform is that it’s going to have a very adverse impression on college students from households with out the sources to supply them with further data exterior of faculty.
A. There are numerous folks in Spain who full advanced university degrees and have problem discovering a superb job. And on the similar time, Spanish employers say they’ll’t discover folks with the talents they want. That’s the basic drawback. You’ve got an schooling system making ready for a world that now not exists and never making ready for the world we’re seeing emerge. It’s exhausting for fogeys to simply accept that our kids’s world is completely different from our personal. However that’s what schooling is all about. Making ready college students for his or her future, not our previous.
Q. There are lecturers which have additionally objected to the brand new schooling mannequin.
A. If in case you have all the time taught in a sure approach, altering your habits, approaches and beliefs is tough. I believe it is vitally vital to assist lecturers correctly throughout the modifications. You may’t simply say: we modified the curriculum, you work it out. The system should put money into serving to them and making ready them. In any other case, the modifications received’t develop deep roots.
When the college closures passed off, the nation was additionally very fast to determine a digital different. The authorities have accomplished nicely
Q. Some Spanish areas [which have devolved powers over education] have launched into studying in keeping with areas of information and mixing topics: for instance, language and historical past or arithmetic and expertise, to make studying much less compartmentalized and extra utilized. How does that strike you?
A. It is vitally vital for college students to have the ability to suppose past topic boundaries. Innovation right this moment isn’t about being extraordinarily good at a really slender facet of a topic. It’s about with the ability to join the dots. So it appears to be like very promising to me. But it surely’s very exhausting to get it proper. If you’d like college students to suppose throughout disciplinary boundaries, lecturers need to collaborate throughout these boundaries. The historical past trainer and the language trainer need to work collectively to verify it’s correctly applied. It’s a easy thought and a superb one, however getting it proper takes lots of talent.
Q. There was an enormous distinction in how lengthy colleges have been closed throughout the pandemic, even amongst developed international locations. In Spain, schools have stayed open all through the entire of this tutorial 12 months, however elsewhere, closures have lasted greater than a 12 months. Why is that?
A. Spain has been very spectacular on this respect. When the college closures passed off, the nation was additionally very fast to determine a digital different. The authorities have accomplished nicely. The variations between international locations need to do with the precedence given to schooling by every society. Do you shut purchasing malls first or colleges? Sweden by no means closed major colleges. Even when the scenario with the pandemic was very critical, they thought of them a precedence. In addition they had the capability to take action. It relies upon rather a lot on having lecturers who can deal with the pandemic appropriately throughout the faculty.
Q. Do you count on the impression of the pandemic to be mirrored within the subsequent version of PISA?
A. Sure. For college students from deprived backgrounds, who haven’t been able to benefit much from digital learning, who don’t get lots of assist at dwelling or don’t have lecturers ready to attach with them, I’m afraid it might be fairly dramatic. However it can depend upon the context; it’s exhausting to generalize. For some college students, the expertise could have had an fascinating spin-off, pushing them to study extra on their very own, develop self-discipline and use new sources. I believe it can differ relying on the scholars’ prior preparation. And it’ll exacerbate inequality.
Q. In Spain, the regional governments plan to let go of a big variety of the 35,000 lecturers employed throughout the pandemic. However the schooling group and the Training Ministry need them to be stored on to enhance the standard of the system. Do you agree that they need to keep on?
A. That’s a troublesome one. It was a measure taken in response to the disaster and sooner or later, we now have to readjust. I don’t suppose the standard of schooling relies upon a lot on the variety of folks. If I had been in Spain, I might not merely rent extra folks, I might additionally make investments extra of their coaching and within the atmosphere wherein college students study. The standard of studying has extra to do with how nicely lecturers are ready, what sort of assist they obtain, how nicely they collaborate and the relevance of the curriculum.
English model by Heather Galloway.