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

Is a professional training useful without the human aspects of work?

Wed, 27 Feb 2019 09:20:00 +0000 Published in El Confidencial Digital

We live in a society steeped in pragmatism. As a consequence, the technical dimension of work is often overvalued, to the detriment of its human dimension and its ethical significance. The professional training is thus often limited to preparing for the work as a survival resource related to economic profit, forgetting that it is an important means for the development staff .

We need to work for more than just earning money. When we do a work that asks us to give the best of ourselves, that is when we achieve self-fulfillment and moments of happiness. For Carl Rogers, eminent humanist psychologist, people are motivated by two great needs: to be part of a team and self-development staff; with the good work both objectives are achieved. In his work "The Good work", E. F. Schumacher points out that the main purpose of the human work is to use and perfect our natural talents and abilities and to serve others, thus freeing us from our innate egocentrism.

Educators (parents and teachers) are expected to promote this opportunity in the family and at school; a work carried out with freedom and responsibility, with high motives, with skill and an attitude of service towards the recipients of this work. But this is unrealizable from a pragmatic or utilitarian mentality, because it stifles the noblest values and generates educational reductionism.

A clear contrast to this utilitarian mentality is found in the thought of Benedict XVI, encouraging university students to acquire a complete training :

"It is said that the only thing that should be privileged at this juncture is the mere technical training . Certainly, this utilitarian vision of Education is widespread today. However, you feel the yearning for something higher that corresponds to all the dimensions that constitute man. The genuine idea of the University is precisely what preserves us from this reductionist and biased vision of the human.

 Many students today value only grades in and of themselves. They do not aspire to know. They have academic goals, but lack ideals. This approach is a serious obstacle to discovering and loving the truth.

John Paul II warned parents and teachers against a Education that offers only useful knowledge: "It is not enough to specialize young people for a official document; it is not enough to prepare technicians, but it is also necessary to form personalities. It is a matter of forming complete men and of presenting study and the professional work as means to find oneself and to realize the vocation that corresponds to each life."

Overcoming utilitarianism is only possible by considering the person as a whole, without reductionism. Students must be warned against the temptation to work mainly to have more, not to be better.

From the age of adolescence onwards, it is very formative for children to spend part of their time in some occasional professional work compatible with their studies. Parents and teachers should encourage young people to aspire to what Juan Ramón Jiménez called "el work gustoso", a concept inspired by a mechanic from Malaga and a gardener from Seville who loved their work:

"I have always been happy working and watching work at ease and with respect, and everywhere I have gone I have helped and exalted this poetic working at ease. I have also witnessed great beauties of the work by the work or by a relationship, a link, an escape between the work and another circumstance that accompanied it beautifully."

Another reference for the human work is the concept of "work well done" developed by Howard Gardner, professor at Harvard University. It was previously formulated by Víctor García Hoz, arguing that for the work to fulfill its educational function, it must be carried out as perfectly as possible following five stages: well thought out, well prepared, well done, well finished and well evaluated or assessed.

For Lucia Copello, work is an opportunity for a person to question where he/she wants to direct his/her actions. In the work , man makes and makes himself, makes it possible to overcome his own limits and to configure himself. It is also an opportunity for the unfolding of what Viktor Frankl called "self-transcendence".