Back to school: educating in the eco-social in times of coronavirus

Education News

“The school, in addition to an educating role, has the mission of balancing and filling deficiencies; teaching is not simply transmitting knowledge, that is instructing, ” Miriam Leirós, Primary School teacher and coordinator of Teachers For Future , pointed out in this medium during the first days of the current covid-19 pandemic. The question now is: how do we educate children in this context? In the current crisis it is necessary to educate to understand the present and build another future.


The answer is not simple, but if what we have ahead are times of strong social and environmental upheavals, it makes perfect sense to approach an ecosocial education in the classroom.

What do we understand by eco-social education? Education, beyond being an individual service, is a collective service. Social improvement always has to be present. And in a context of a global pandemic, this need becomes even more urgent. “Education cannot be left alone in the transmission of knowledge or content, it must help to awaken the critical spirit to form active and responsible citizens, with a commitment to social reality and who seek to participate in it”, said the coordinator of Teachers For Future Spain in El Asombrario. That is the spirit of ecosocial education, an education that is not alien to reality or converts it into isolated knowledge, but into knowledge that makes ecology, democracy and social justice backbones of educational action.

Faced with a world full of uncertainty, continuing with the attitude that led us to disaster would be suicidal. As Luis González, coordinator of the Ecosocial Education project at FUHEM, says : “From my point of view, it is more important to rethink educational objectives. The classrooms must offer an ecosocial education that allows our students to know and become aware of the systemic crisis, in addition to acting as an agent of ecosocial change ”.

It cannot be that one of the main problems in our cities is air pollution, which causes more than 10,000 deaths a year in Spain, and, nevertheless, that the car and the plane appear enunciated, in the problems of the textbooks , as the best solution to all our mobility desires to go from point A to point B. A subject dedicated to climate change would also be absurd if this phenomenon is not addressed, analyzed and investigated from all subjects throughout all the stages that students go through.

“All of this cannot be taught once a term or with specific activities; changes and environmental awareness must be worked on in the day-to-day classroom ”, says Leirós. At a time when the loss of biodiversity causes a virus to pass from an animal to humans, this episode of zoonosis has stopped and changed our lives and has shown more than ever that we must teach how to care for the natural heritage, change habits and being aware that we are one more species, as vulnerable as the others if the balance is not respected.

How do we bring these essential lessons to the classroom? First of all, with ubiquitous words among teachers: objectives, content, method and evaluation. With the current legislative framework (LOMCE), an ecosocial perspective can be incorporated, as this proposal for an ecosocial curriculum demonstrates, which is nothing more than a guide to be able to incorporate all ecosocial issues with quality and rigor into teaching practice.

Once the framework is established, you have to land that initial spark of change in your classroom work. “Critical thinking should not be considered the content, as in some cases it has been formulated, of a new added subject that goes deeper into that endemic division of knowledge detached from reality, but rather a substantial component of the development of any area or curricular subject ”Pointed out Guadalupe Jover, Rosa Linares, Rodrigo J. García, Ángeles Bengoechea and Flora Rueda in the article“ Educate in the setback ”, published in El País during the confinement.

For this, educational institutions and social organizations sensitive to this reality, such as # EA26, have been giving a twist to content, methods and processes for some time, with the purpose of transferring this ecosocial perspective to the classroom. Taking advantage of this previous experience, at FUHEM they have designed and published a series of didactic units that go beyond the textbook and cover the work of all subjects, where the ecosocial glasses are always on. Thus, curricular content can be learned while discovering the main problems of our cities, the good and the bad that modernity or the current world brought with them, and approach the Gaia theory or the Mediterranean Sea with a different perspective.

Nor should we forget that the protagonist must always be the students. Through research processes, students must be able to shape the material, abandoning the traditional idea of ​​”what has to be learned”, but addressing the learning of each stage with solvency. In addition, the methodologies have to go hand in hand with the content that is offered. In this sense, active and cooperative learning have been shown to be much more effective than rote and individualized. Now the challenge is how to put these methodologies into operation in the current context, with hygiene and safety measures or in a digital context.

In the last months of the school year, with the context of the pandemic and the suspension of face-to-face activity, many teachers have incorporated what was happening into their syllabi, adapting them to the confinement situation.

In this video, Laura Brox, professor of Biology at CEM Hipatia FUHEM, and Carlos Díez, professor of Ethical Values ​​at Colegio Lourdes FUHEM, share some of their experiences. In Laura’s case, when explaining the cell, the cycle of matter or climate change, she recognizes herself with a greater openness when asking and solving questions, key to the scientific method, just like her students; while the concept of interrelation of species makes perfect sense. For her part, Carlos Díez turned her gaze to the neighborhood support networks for food distribution to raise issues such as dignity and needs, and the debate between the right to privacy and the right to information.

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