Call for submissions for a monographic issue of the Revista Española de Pedagogía on: “Controlling time and personal and social development”.

 

In the collective imagination of the liberal mindset, the myth of progressing from functional autonomy to total autonomy – in other words, the aspiration to become the legislators of our destiny, nature, and lives – has recently become especially strong.

Experience soon shows us that this desire to have complete control is utopian or even Faustian. However, it is one thing to attempt to control our whole life and another to stop struggling to control numerous areas of our existence, which can be directed in accordance with our desires and which we must make an effort to dominate, without allowing ourselves to be subjugated by anything or anyone.

Clearly, we can control some areas of our existence to a greater or lesser extent, inasmuch as we are able to control them. Here we find something that is as old as humankind and is so very difficult to control: the question of how we use our time.

At first sight, we might believe that nothing more specifically belongs to the individual or is more egalitarian than time; we all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, unlike the personal gifts or social capital we are born with, where there are many differences between individuals.

However, complaints about the time we have are very common. On this matter, it is very interesting to turn to Seneca’s work, On the Shortness of Life, which is deeply rooted in Spanish culture and which starts by saying:

Most mortals complain with one voice of the malice of nature as we are born for but a brief period, for the time we are given passes so rapidly, so quickly that, with the exception of a few people, almost all others find that their lives end just as they are preparing to live them. …. We do not have a short space of time, but we waste much of the time we do have. Life is long enough and is given to us generously so that we may do the most important things, if we use it well. But if we waste it in ostentation and laziness, when we do not use it for anything good, when in the end the unavoidable final moments draw near, we realise that a life has gone by that we did not realise was passing. It is thus: we do not have a short life but rather we make it short; we are not lacking it but rather we waste it.

These ideas suggest that while current studies into time management might help us solve certain problems, it is more important to examine the meaning of our existence, as Socrates said, so that we can spend our time in the quest to attain this full life, the characteristics of which we have uncovered.

Furthermore, in former eras, the time people spent earning a living was so great that it was hard for them to do other things. But our present society of plenty means more of our time is available to us, and so it is more important than ever to ensure “we do not use it for anything good”, as Seneca said.

Therefore, part of the mission of educators is to teach people to control the 24 hours in each day correctly and not waste them. Furthermore, opportunities for mistakes have increased enormously, both because of the passion that certain activities inspire that drives us to do them to excess, and because of the large number of misguided activities that can be done, many of which subjugate us so that we effectively cease to be the masters of our own behaviour.

Work, for example, certainly favours a full life. But working to excess, becoming a workaholic who ignores everything that is not an occupational task and ends up with weekend melancholy is no small error. Of course, there are greater mistakes at present, such as becoming a drug addict or an alcoholic, or becoming addicted to video games, gambling, fitness, sex or pornography, social networks, or television series.

In short, educators must concern themselves with teaching us how to use our time so that at the end of the day we can feel that we have looked after all aspects of our personality and have always tried to control our behaviour. Educators are not like sociologists who limit themselves to provide statistics about misguided behaviour, but instead are a lighthouse, making it possible to follow the paths that lead to personal and social development.

The aim of this monographic issue is to bring together studies with this focus, revealing the errors present in contemporary society and showing how to counteract them, as well as showing positive opportunities to achieve the plenitude to which we aspire. In other words, its aim is to examine how we approach work, professional relationships, friendships with people and God, the family, education and caring for children, reading and pastimes, and so on. Seneca said life is not short; we must know how to spend the appropriate amount of time on each thing, in accordance with the meaning of a full life, without letting ourselves be led by other motivations.

Submissions can be sent until 10 May and after the blind review process, successful ones will be published in a monographic issue in September 2020. The Guest Editors will be Prof. Ana María Ponce de León Elizondo and Prof. María Ángeles Valdemoros San Emeterio. Submissions should follow the Instructions for authors of the revista española de pedagogía and be sent to the email addresses: ana.ponce@unirioja.es and director.rep@unir.net