Basque Country, discovering what the students want

After a few hours of travelling we finally arrived at Matriku, a small town in the Basque Country. There we would spend an intense, productive and funny day with the teaching team of the school, very predisposed to participate in the workshop.

One of the most significant parts of the process, in this school, was that one in which the teachers reflected and debated about the interests of the student. In this case, through the activity of the traffic light,  some ideas emerged, and then the teachers classified them into three groups using post-its of three different colors: the items pointed out in green post-its corresponded to the positive aspects, everything that students like or are interested in; those written in pink post-its talked about the negative aspects, what topics students have no interest in or what is more difficult for them to understand; and finally, in yellow post-its, they had to write ideas about what students are more disinterested and the techniques for which they feel more attracted to learn.

We found that practical projects, team-working and out-of-school trips are a great attraction for the students. Explanations accompanied by real examples or involving a manual work are also valued. Regarding what roses student’s interest, we can find genetics, radioactivity and nuclear power plants, atmosphere and curiosities of science.

As non-curricular aspects that teachers want to work on day to day with students we have: caring for the emotional aspects of the student, the good atmosphere in the classroom, the appreciation of the work well done and making them the focus of the lesson, inviting them to explain a topic or make some corrections.

On the other hand, students perceive as negative aspects the exams and homework, all that entails an effort is still rejected by the students. In the same box we can find theoretical explanations that last more than ten minutes, as well as mathematical formulas, vectors and formulation. These subjects are also the ones that teachers find harder in teaching to the student.

Something interesting and appearing for the first time is the interest in teaching the student how to express himself correctly and properly.

As a conclusion we can also see the absolute indifference for everything related to science. It doesn’t matter if it is through history, videos, outings, contents or trying to make them reason a concept. “… they do not care.”

The most outstanding ideas of Brain Writing were the following:

  • Oral explanation to your classmates.
  • Respect and trust.
  • Real practices.
  • Consistent, simple and realistic schedules agreed with colleagues.
  • The light and its nature.
  • Energy.
  • Laboratory practices: sea urchins.

Passion for experimenting at San José school (Almansa)

Following our route we arrived at Almansa and more specifically at San José School. There we discovered something common among all the centers we visit, the interest that rouses everything related to experiments. In addition, in this center, they like working by projects and live science from experience, outings and manipulating different textures.

What specially caught our attention in this workshop was how passionate they are about animal world and everything related to planets and universe.

Every day we are more sure that uniting science and clown will be a revulsive, using performing arts as means of learning. Teachers and students love storytelling, music and everything that has to do with play and movement. We are on the road.

We found a problem with student behavior, which muddied the work of the teaching staff. The lack of respect for rules, both games and education, the lack of cooperation in their relationships and when it’s time of collecting materials, not keeping silence or disobeying the teacher hinder the educational work.

Being very concrete, we came to the conclusion that students don’t like reading textbooks, they don’t want to know anything about something they can’t see or demonstrate, especially in what has to do with phase changes and matter properties. And of course, the student “hates” examining himself.

Likewise, teachers demand training, they don’t feel safe to face certain issues or the use of new technologies. They confront science without resources and appreciate the existence of Internet.

They are tired of repeating always the same thing, explaining outdated theories and they find difficulties to explain the properties of light, hours, units and machines.

In this section we find a variety of unconnected things that do not affect the education in different subjects.

To mention a few that have attracted our attention, personal hygiene appears as something indifferent to students, computers, norms (here they appear again) and textbooks. They are some examples of things that are not considered transcendental by students in some cases and by teachers in others.

The most outstanding ideas of Brain Writing were the following:

  • More experimental and based on projects working.
  • Using recycling materials.
  • Working plants in a vegetable patch.
  • Machines. Bikes workshop.
  • Healthy cooking in the classroom.
  • The environment as a resource, as a scenario in which to learn.
  • Schools open to the environment, “no fences”.
  • Project: “respect giving example”.
  • Knowledge of different cultures through scientific development of these.
  • Storytelling about science.
  • Workshops of specialists (because we are only teachers): architects, engineers, historians,…

We visited la Marquesa School at Jerez de la Frontera

It was the turn of the IES La Marquesa de Jerez de la Frontera. This time, a primary school, like the Tàber School in Barcelona.

When we arrived at the center everything was rushed and a coming and going of teachers who finalized reports and projects for the next course. We knew that it was not the best date to visit a school and propose a participatory workshop based on tools of Desing Thinking and the performing arts. It was June 26 and it was also Monday.

In this case 15 teachers, went to the classroom that had enabled us on the first floor, around 10 o’clock in the morning. They came to participate in our proposal.

Desks, electronic whiteboard and another blackboard with white and colored chalk, air conditioning (this is the south) and we start with the presentations. We started with the story of Nani the wild flower and the silence fell. Everything was ready and we had to go into matter.

Throughout the morning we learned about the difficulties faced by teachers in their day-to-day work and how they empathized with their students.

Experiencing, manipulating through play and group work is what most arouses interest and motivation in the students of this center. We have some teachers who are especially interested in creative processes and who encourage their motivation to live the subjects.

We detect that they are constantly searching for new ways to capture the students’ attention, reach the same point but in less orthodox ways.

Neither the bureaucratic processes, nor the curriculum, nor the classroom or its distribution are elements that affect the day to day of the center. Nor does it seem that reading or doing class work is relevant to the student.

On this occasion I am going to distinguish between professors and students since we detected that each group had markedly different needs:

On the one hand the teachers claim that they lack time, due to the extensive documentation they have to fill in, to prepare novel experiences. They also lack practical training and material resources.

On the other hand, we detect in students a strong apathy before everything that involves an effort or an obligation. Thinking, writing, doing any repetitive work are rejected by these, which leads us to conclude that teachers and students are looking for and demanding the same, new ways of teaching.

The most outstanding ideas of the written brainstorming, the Brainwriting, were the following:

  • I worked in class to amplify it outside the classroom.
  • Encourage work with associations and organizations near the center.
  • Greater coordination between teachers and the exchange of ideas with other centers.
  • Remove all documentation that is not necessary.
  • Greater respect of families for teaching.
  • Begin the unit by discussing experiences of what they know.