Pedagogy–between Science and Knowledge

A discussion about science, technology and innovation should not be constrained to number of resources the current government allocates to meet this purpose. Then, it is required to discuss what kind of science should be promoted and what kind of technology and innovation our country is requiring today. Fortunately, there is a debate in agenda thanks to paper: “Sistema Nacional de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (SNCTI) para el buen vivir, el vivir sabroso y el ejercicio efectivo de una democracia multicolor” –National System of Science, Technology and Innovation (SNCTI) for good living, tasty living and the effective exercise of a multicolor democracy–, written by Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez during their campaign in May 2022, but considered a controversial article by Moisés Wasserman in his column in El Tiempo newspaper because he questioned their epistemic injustice issue raised therein. Since then, a lot of academics, opinion leaders and politicians have spoken for and against their position.

I am not going to deal with debate itself; I prefer to take advantage to introduce a component that regularly it is not considered in any of epistemological points at stake. This is a question of a relationship between pedagogy and sciences, and a relationship between pedagogy and knowledge.

Whether there is a rational field to think in depth about how knowledge is generated, a way to disseminate and its transformation it is indeed pedagogy since its task is to grasp its own and produce what socially and historically has been regard as pertinent to let new generations to access the world. I speak about a relationship between pedagogy and science in some areas of the curriculum because there’s not only scientific contents in the school but also other ways of knowledge expression, such as art, sports, sexuality, democracy, ethics, and increasingly ancestral knowledge and popular cultures. That is what I mean a relationship between pedagogy and knowledge.

In the above-mentioned debate, some people think that science is a means to know more, something which reaches an epistemological threshold, but it is not comparable with those features related to aesthetic, ethical or political thresholds. Pedagogy enters this exciting game where true, fair, or beautiful is challenged to take it to another field of battle, i.e., the school. In fact, that place is where teachers must have cleverness to decide what and how to teach, of course related to official curriculum guidelines today translated into standards, competencies, and more recently into the Basic Learning Rights. A relationship that produces a big conflict because each of these ways of regulating knowledge embodies a bet about what is valid and necessary to teach, and this is not only a technical or methodological issue but also a political one.

Such a task is overly complex. To let access of new generations to the world of knowledge and insights, travelling from a real world to a codified universe, supported by languages that in fact are weird to a close environment where children and young people grow up, that is indeed the task of teachers who everyday find themselves in an environment and a time called school, also controlled, and governed by a grammar built in the midst of affection, epistemological debates and the politics.

Such a debate about authenticity from one or another way of producing knowledge is welcome by those of us who work with pedagogy because it helps us to perceive intelligently the approach, we are going to do to offer the world to new generations. We teachers are amid these exciting questions, and we sort out them with tools provided by pedagogy considering different traditions, and didactics, which helps us to specify the methodological path that each type of insight students require to grasp.

Questioning the origin of such insights, the threshold where they are, and recreating them so they may be accessible to different ages and cultural contexts of their students, by dialoguing with their own imaginaries, interest, and cultures, in fact all of this is what we teachers do sometimes in the midst of very harsh realities, precarious and sometimes even violent conditions. The intelligence of our teaching work is deciphering what is necessary and apposite to teach, how and purposes for those contexts. This is not a small task.

Therefore, we hope that debate about science, technology and innovation policy will serve to assess a demanding intellectual work involved with profession of teachers. Unfortunately, our job is compared to a mechanical profession, which simplifies a message to spread friendly. That is why people talk about pedagogy related to traffic, Constitution, taxes, human rights, etcetera, as a mere translation exercise. If were, there would be no need a professional career.

Universidad Pedagógica Nacional has a chance of leading the Colombian System of Teachers’ Training to face the tough task of transforming those imaginaries; and there is indeed where such system becomes powerful and rich because it is concerned with nothing more and nothing less than training those intellectual people who will escort children during their journey towards complex and unknown worlds, so they could reach their status of citizens capable of decoding and acting on the world.

Rector, Universidad Pedagógica Nacional