Grupo SI(e)TE Educación (2021). La calidad en la educación [Quality in education] (José Antonio Jordán)

Grupo SI(e)TE Educación (2021).
La calidad en la educación [Quality in education].
Horsori. 166 pp.


In this era of standardisation and im­provement in all areas of personal and collective life, it is especially necessary to discuss the topic of quality in relation to education, just like quality is demanded in the fields of health, food, communication, transportation, etc. This is even more important, if possible, when it comes to education, given that the aim is to opti­mise the possibilities of human develop­ment and communal living. Therefore, we are pleased to welcome a work that seriously addresses the topic of quality and offers specific proposals to education professionals. In this book, each chapter is penned by a different author, analysing important aspects of the complex struc­ture that is quality education.

The first, signed by Professor Antonio Colom, provides a historical overview of the main authors and ideas that have un­doubtedly influenced today’s conception of quality education, noting how concepts that have actually been in use for a long time often seem to be revived as if they were novelties. For example, within the New School movement, the methodologi­cal proposal by Montessori, which arose in the slums of San Lorenzo (Rome), is now “the latest pedagogical trend in the most exclusive settings of Manhattan or Califor­nia”, among other places. At the end of his text, Professor Colom perceptively notes that today “Pedagogy seems to be devoid of its own model of educational quality”. Without falling into useless pessimism — because the scholarly institutions of our time do indeed fulfil their purpose and, “they apparently don’t do such a bad job” — it is also true that “the commerciali­sation of knowledge cannot be considered educational quality, despite what interna­tional organisations would have us think, given that a quality educational system should not focus exclusively on STEM (sci­ence, technology, engineering and mathe­matics), as certain generations of techno­crats seem to be demanding […]. And the reason for this is quite simply that their fundamental commitment should contin­ue to be educating with a focus on values and the moral development of people.

The second chapter, by Professor Gon­zalo Vázquez, focuses on the concept of deep learning, which includes distinguish­ing between action and activity, noting that the former is of a prior, more pro­found, nature because it exceeds mere ac­tivism in learning, for example. Thus, deep learning, defined as “authentic learning of higher-order cognitive processes”, can be achieved. It also enables the learner to think for him or herself and to gradually obtain wisdom, which goes beyond mere knowledge to become the “most elaborate fruit of education”. The chapter goes on to discuss numerous other highly topical is­sues: the role of technology, the selection of valuable learning, the evaluation of learn­ing from a competency perspective, etc., revealing the complexity of these times and the need to reflect on the fundamental issues of so-called quality education.

Chapter three of this book brings back an old topic of debate and updates it: the role of learning objectives in a quality edu­cational process. With remarkable clarity, Professor Sarramona outlines the back­ground of the debate about behavioural objectives, going so far as to precisely de­tail the current conception of competency objectives as the integrating feature of the trio composed of knowledge, skills and at­titudes. This chapter also sheds light on a fundamental topic: justification of the pro­posed objectives, which is sought in more personal needs as well as in social needs. The chapter offers detailed theoretical re­flections as well as practical guidance, fol­lowing this author’s sensible custom.

In turn, the fourth chapter, by Profes­sor Petra María Pérez, focuses on an aspect that is no less relevant in quality education: the “comprehensive well-being of the stu­ dents”, which is a key matter both for their own good and for their academic success. Her contribution mainly relies on data aris­ing from analyses of the PISA tests. How­ever, other equally important issues arise from the criteria argued by this author and others about the positive effects of student participation seen at diverse levels of the educational institution, given that institu­tionalised education aims to prepare stu­dents to actively participate in democratic, and therefore participative, society.

In his chapter, Professor Touriñán dis­cusses the need to distinguish the concept of quality of education from other similar concepts, such as quality in education, em­phasising the expert status to be given to education professionals, who are clearly involved in the educational processes, and this involvement represents an activity that is shared with the learner. The chap­ter outlines numerous pedagogical criteria put forward by the author in other publi­cations, as can be seen in the bibliographi­cal references, which converge in this text about the concept of quality.

Chapter six focuses on quality in re­lation to university institutions. Here, Professor Alfredo Jiménez starts with the legislative framework from the 1990s and continues to provide a detailed account up to the present time with a view to reveal­ing initiatives and ways of putting into practice very specific proposals for improv­ing quality at university level, focusing on the European framework that Spain is part of. In this regard, special empha­sis is placed on the evaluation system in our universities, detailing regulations and aspects that are linked to this evaluation. On the whole, the author recognises that there are benefits to accreditation process­es for university institutions but he warns that certain critical aspects have not yet been considered, particularly as regards teaching activities themselves, both inside and out of the classroom.

The high point of the book is found in the appendix that Professor T. R. Neira devotes to José Gaos. The text was orig­inally presented at a conference given at the Ateneo de Gijón in early November 2020, the last academic act performed by the author before he died. The author was quite familiar with Gaos and, on this occa­sion, focused his attention on the concept of individuality as the basis for present­ing his own views in this regard. The text is an example of Professor T. R. Neira’s unique way of expressing himself, always using quotes from relevant contemporary authors on the subject matter at hand for support, while at the same time present­ing his own views clearly and in a bold manner. Here, the topic that he touched on the most was the reaffirmation of the substantially individual dimension of the person, which we know was one of his pri­mary concerns in recent years. This text affords added value to the book by contrib­uting one last demonstration of the strong analytical capacity and worth of Professor Teófilo Rodríguez Neira, who will always be remembered.

Besides the contents mentioned above, the book also contains an introduction ex­pressing the authors’ desire to pay tribute to Dr. Teófilo Rodríguez Neira, who sad­ ly died from COVID in November 2020 and was an active member of the SI(e) TE academic group, which is composed of highly reputable professors of Spanish universities working in the field of Theory and History of Education, most of them having earned emeritus status for their age, even though they have all made nu­merous significant contributions to Ped­agogy today. The preface offers a perfect description of the group’s motivations and characteristics, in addition to showing heartfelt appreciation for the fondly re­membered Professor Teófilo, as everyone affectionately called him.

José Antonio Jordán