Education that limits is education that frees

La educación que limita es la que libera

David Reyero, Fernando Gil Cantero

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22550/REP77-2-2019-01

Today it is more common to find the concept of education linked to terms such as emancipation, autonomy, or freedom, than to norms, discipline, authority, submission or boundaries. This article sets out to show that limits, norms, rules, and even physical limitations are fundamental in education because they are an essential part of human reality and the human condition. Its main thesis is that rules not only regulate human activities from outside, but they also operate from the root of the activity itself as an expression of the peculiar rationality of human beings and their way of being in the world. The article firstly demonstrates this thesis by examining certain physical limitations that are approached educationally, and then in various other human areas, such as language, play, ecology, the Internet, and sexuality. It also shows how rules, by limiting the possibilities for how certain actions will develop, allow us to intuit or glimpse other types of limits and other possibilities —not always better ones— for human development and its standards. From an anthropological perspective, this has led us to suggest how an individual’s future possibilities expand, increase, and develop if her family, school and social settings for growth are spaces bounded by limits and norms. These allow her to feel safe enough to begin a process of critical assimilation of her received inheritance. The subject better understands reality, and the different possibilities for evaluating that reality, when the process of evaluation starts from a relatively enclosed perspective (with limits and norms) on the received tradition.


This is the English version of an article originally printed in Spanish in issue 273 of the revista española de pedagogía. For this reason, the abbreviation EV has been added to the page numbers. Please, cite this article as follows: Reyero, D., & Gil Cantero, F. (2019). La educación que limita es la que libera | Education that limits is education that frees. Revista Española de Pedagogía, 77 (273), 213-228. doi: https://doi.org/10.22550/REP77-2-2019-01

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David Reyero has a PhD in Pedagogy from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Deputy Head and Associate Professor of Theory of Education in the Department of Educational Studies in the Faculty of Education (Teacher Training Centre) of this university, Codirector of the Anthropology and Philosophy of Education Research Group (GIAFE) at the UCM, and Associate Editor of the Revista de Educación of the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte between 2012 and 2018.

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9047-532X

Fernando Gil Cantero is a Professor of Theory of Education in the Department of Educational Studies in the Faculty of Education (Teacher Training Centre) of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Codirector with David Reyero of the Anthropology and Philosophy of Education Research Group (GIAFE) at this university and Representative of the UCM at Centro Universitario de Villanueva (area of Education). He won the second Esteve Prize, 2012. Editor of the journal Teoría de la Educación. Revista Interuniversitaria.

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6636-7601