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

The mantra that "more pedagogy is needed".

Sat, 21 Oct 2017 10:59:00 +0000 Published in The Confidential

The term "mantra" is currently used in a derogatory way, to disqualify reiterative and implausible arguments: "That's a mantra; you repeat it like a mantra".

Historically it was a very short prayer, of Hindu and Buddhist origin, used in meditation and yoga. It was recited orally many times in succession until it reached goal. Its main function was to free the mind from all material things in order to raise the consciousness to a spiritual plane.

Therefore, the original meaning does not correspond to the present one; the repetition of now is only a technique to present a fallacy as true. Göebbels stated that "a lie repeated a thousand times becomes a truth".  

One of the mantras that has become fashionable lately and is repeated without pause is a short phrase: "We must do more pedagogy". A political party that fails in an election does not usually admit that its proposals have been rejected because of their irrelevance; it chooses, instead, to lament that people did not understand them, so that in the future "more education must be done".

This mantra is not only an attempt to hide a failure; it also undervalues people, discards self-criticism and, with it, the improvement of proposals. Sometimes it simply seeks to make the message more seductive, even at the cost of disguising it.

Is this whole process of concealment pedagogy or manipulation?

Manipulation has ends and methods opposite to those of Education. It is a covert dictatorship that instrumentalizes people in the service of ideology or profit, thus preventing critical and divergent behavior.

In contrast, the educational action promoted by authentic pedagogy (not its caricature used as an alibi for occasional political errors) is a service of improvement staff. It does not seek to "mold" the learner as the potter does with clay, nor to indoctrinate; it aspires, on the contrary, to liberate, to develop the potential capacities that the learner possesses, to be himself, to become more and better, to acquire his own criteria and a growing autonomy manager.

It is surprising that pedagogues have not (to my knowledge) publicly expressed their disagreement with the spurious meaning of the term pedagogy and its indiscriminate use.

The problem of the alleged lack of voter understanding is often justified with another mantra: "we have not been able to convey the message well". The goal will not be achieved simply by improving the technique of the rally (anglicism of meeting).

The rally is an informative and persuasive electoral claim aimed at gaining followers by means of an indoctrination that appeals not to reason, but to the emotional. Moreover, it does not admit the discussion of its ideas. From its origins it has a radical approach, as can be seen in several historical revolutions.

It is not enough to know how to inform; it is essential to know how to communicate. Information is limited to the transmission of ideas and knowledge, while communication involves exchange, thus originating a "feedback" from each receiver of the message. That is why it is core topic to listen empathetically and actively, which denotes sincere interest in the person who is responding.

To communicate is to make common what is one's own by means of dialogue. "All authentic human activity is dialogue: dialogue with the world, which is poetry; dialogue with others, which is love; dialogue with God, which is prayer". (J. Lacroix, The Meaning of Dialogue).

Two-way communication and dialogue come naturally when there is authentic leadership. Leadership is a process of persuasion by which a leader induces the members of a group to voluntarily and enthusiastically pursue common goals.

Authentic leadership is closely related to moral authority. For the Roman thought what justified that certain people were given the responsibilities of command was their exemplary life. Authority was based on trust and on the credit that is granted to a person when we recognize a moral superiority in him/her.

I suggest that today's politicians discard the mantra of "doing more pedagogy" to deal with something much more relevant and operative: frequently looking at themselves in the mirror of moral leadership.