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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, Professor of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

Is there a pedagogical formula to prevent school failure?

Mon, 18 Mar 2019 09:19:00 +0000 Published in Diario de Navarra and Diario Montañés

Spain is the second country in the European Union in school failure, with a rate of 19% of young people who have left the system prematurely educational, having completed, at most, first cycle of teaching secondary school. These are data from the latest PISA reports.

The expression "school failure" has been questioned, considering that those who do not achieve a degree scroll are becoming failures.

By school failure, the Spanish laws of Education have been referring to the status of those students who do not reach the objectives set by the system educational. I consider it a mistake not to value the learning of those who obtain a satisfactory performance (typical of students who, with effort, perform according to their capacity, even if for the moment they do not reach the expected objectives). Nor is it usually taken into account that when a student student fails, he/she never fails alone.

School failure does not only refer to personal factors of the student, but also to the lack of adaptation of the system, the school, the teachers and the families to the status of each student.

The case of scholars and geniuses who, according to their teachers, were "bad students"-which is why they were asked to leave school-is not uncommon. These students were marked with the stigma of "school failure": those who suffered from it were discriminated against. This was the case with Edison, Hitchcok and Jobs. Later it would be known that the supposed "bad students" were bored by a teaching limited to the transmission of canned knowledge. Their healthy nonconformity and broad intellectual curiosity were not being attended to in the classroom, which moved them to seek answers outside the school walls.

Together with the personal limitations of a student, there is a factor core topic of failure: "the deficient school structure, in which the methods and contents are not designed in a way that increases the expectations of most of the students, being those who are less adapted to the system educational those who have more possibilities of failing. Depending on the proximity or remoteness of a subject and its social group with respect to the dominant ideologies that the school reflects, the school will favor or not a certain student". (Isabel Cuadrado, 2015).

The responsibility for failure should not be attributed exclusively to student; both the educational community and the family environment have a great deal of influence.

School failure can be avoided, in many cases, with a preventive teaching . To prevent is to take precautions or measures in advance to avoid harm or danger. The pedagogical formula that I advise is based on taking advantage of each assessment of student for something more useful and educational than grading: periodically reorienting their way of learning. Teachers should resort more to the formative assessment than to the summative one.

The latter is limited to measuring what has been learned and reporting at the end of a stage of teaching; therefore, it does not allow for subsequent orientation. To evaluate is not to measure, but to compare. The formative assessment is carried out throughout the learning process in order to be able to know in time how the student learns student, so that he/she can rectify and improve. In this way, the teacher encourages formative feedback in his students, comparing what was planned with what was learned. As a consequence, the student learns to self-regulate his learning, which, in turn, will be source of permanent motivation.

With this method, students stop justifying their poor results by attributing them to bad luck: "the teacher can teach students to take responsibility for their successes and failures, attributing the latter to lack of effort, to employment of ineffective strategies or to other controllable factors (...) Early detection of learning difficulties and their correction can avoid many later learning and motivation problems, specifically the development of many negative academic self-concepts, which will undoubtedly condition later learning" (M.C. Gonzalez and J. Touron, "Autoconcept and school performance"). (M.C. González and J. Touron, "Self-concept and school performance").

It is very convenient that the teachers share with the parents the learning process detected in the formative assessment . This will prevent the latter from polarizing on the summative assessment and grades, without assessing the difficulties encountered by their children. A typical case is that of dyslexic students, with their difficulties in learning to read and write. When parents are unaware that their child has such a learning disorder, they may blame their slow progress simply on lack of effort.

Some parents talk to teachers only when a child fails and not to expand their information and offer financial aid, but to ask for responsibilities. This does not contribute to prevent school failure, but rather to encourage it.