Touriñán López, J. M. (2016). Pedagogía General. Principios de educación y principios de intervención pedagógica [General Pedagogy. Principles of education and principles of pedagogical intervention]. (Juan García Gutiérrez)

Touriñán López, J. M. (2016).
Pedagogía General. Principios de educación y principios de intervención pedagógica [General Pedagogy. Principles of education and principles of pedagogical intervention].
La Coruña: Bello y Martínez. 1012 pp.

In the era of 140 characters, setting out to write a work like the one discussed here is a statement of principles. Knowledge is not fluid, and so writing this type of book
is relevant and necessary for knowledge of education. One detail: the work is over 1000 pages long, 49 of which are the reference list containing classic and contemporary
works supporting the arguments raised in each chapter. It is without question a reference point for anyone studying or working in the field of education.
The book comprises eleven chapters, which can be read individually. However, the order the author proposes provides a coherent and well-ordered discourse. Thanks to this «route map» planned by professor Touriñán, the reader can access the different elements that comprise knowledge of education, setting out its raison d’être, with a clear didactic dimension.
Each chapter is preceded by a brief introduction  with the dual roles of linking it to the previous chapter and setting out what is to come. The first chapter focusses on defining education. The work then moves on to the development of the educational intervention: knowledge of education, pedagogical function, the educational profession, educational relationships, agents of education, and educational processes, products, and media, with each of the following eight chapters being dedicated to one of these topics. Finally, the work covers the complex topic of pedagogy as an autonomous scientific discipline and general pedagogy as an academic discipline that considers the theory, technology, and practice of pedagogical interventions. The internal structure of the chapters (introduction, development, and conclusion) also has an important didactic function that facilitates their reading, even, as mentioned above, independently.


As it is not possible in this review to comment on everything in this work, we feel it is best to focus on a few chapters that, owing to their subject matter, are especially appropriate for critically considering certain pedagogical situations.


One current topic of interest for pedagogical reflection is the use of the education slogan (whether as an element for making demands and protesting or in its commercial facet). In the first chapter on the clarification of the conceptual term «education», these topics are covered when considering pedagogical antinomies. There is currently a need to reflect on this type of statement, especially when the education sector is so influenced by the mass media, which simplify educational theories, statements, and problems. Furthermore, in an era so strongly shaped by marketing and facile slogans, professor Touriñán’s observations when reviewing the notion of «pedagogical  ntinomies » (pp. 27 et seq.) are very interesting. As the author notes.


Slogans are statements that are isolated but are uttered with certainty and vehemence. They act as symbols that combine in a single expression key ideas and approaches from theories. Slogans appear as a propagandistic symbol of a theory. They contain what can most directly have an impact on people. From this perspective, slogans are not prejudicial, as they fulfil a specific mission: to attract attention and simplify a theory. The risks appear when they are seen as doctrines or the literal arguments of a theory (p. 31).


Furthermore, the development of faceto- face and online educational settings is another important topic, and is covered in depth in chapter nine. In reality, digital
technologies are not just «media» but are also real educational settings that must be evaluated and (re)constructed pedagogically, something that involves reflecting
on their normativity. To put it another way, we are obliged to think about and identify the features that define and classify an intervention in cyberspace as educational,
whether promoted by humans or by technological developments based on artificial intelligence.


In effect, educational processes aim to be ever more innovative and interactive. Educational spaces stretch and times shrink. The space between what happens inside and outside the classroom, between face-to-face and virtual education, the synchronic and the ubiquitous, etc. is becoming ever more blurred. It is undoubtedly important to bear in mind that the media are not neutral and so must be consistent with the proposed educational aims. Technologies always contain a particular philosophy, although, owing to their complexity, most of the population is often unaware of this. Technology has such an impact on the social that processes of change are global and  nvironmental, while access to them continues to be individual. Pedagogical reflection on these processes is necessary, above all, when we consider that the new media are
also spheres where education unfolds its full density.


It is also worth recommending a digital reading of these sections in particular, especially to comprehend the need for ethical-civic training not just as «receptors-agents» of  the digital processes involved but also as researchers involved in processes of technological innovation (technoethics). As professor Touriñán observes, insofar as it is a general sphere of education, «electronic education» is also values education, in other words, «virtual experience and digital and media expression are a value, they teach values and make it possible to accomplish one’s own values in the concept of education» (p. 787). Pedagogically, we should not lose sight of the axiological density of the  virtual sphere, running the risk of also eliminating the humanistic and humanising potential of technologies.


Professor Touriñán concludes the book by stating that we now have enough knowledge of education to decide on the foundations of pedagogical aims and actions individually. All education depends on our common activity, which must specifically be directed at the educational aim (intentionality). With this intention we  construct areas of education and integrate their aims within the temporal training focus for the individual and social human condition. In consequence, curriculum architecture is designed to develop, through activities and with the structural elements of the intervention, the competences, etc. that prepare us to be agents —actors and authors— in our own life projects.
Juan García Gutiérrez ■