Concha Roldan is the new president of the Spanish Philosophical Network, created 10 years ago by dozens of philosophical organizations during a conference called “The Position of Philosophy in the Spanish Education System.” A decade later, the place of philosophy in school content has returned to the fore, thanks to the mobilization of philosophers in favor of their discipline and the opposition’s announcement that the subject will disappear from the classroom with the application of the new educational law, Lomlo. In fact, not only will philosophy not disappear from the institutions, but the number of compulsory subjects in the discipline will increase from one to three. All communities will continue to offer philosophy as an elective in compulsory secondary education (ESO), and all students will be required to learn civic and ethical values at this stage. At the undergraduate level, in addition to philosophy in the first year, it will also be mandatory to study the history of philosophy in the second year.
Born 63 years ago in the Usera district of Madrid, Roldan leads the CSIC Institute of Philosophy and is a Leibniz specialist. He responds to a video-link interview from the German city of Regensburg, where he spends several days, and asks for a mention of his “dedication to building bridges between high school, university and research.”
Ask. How, in your opinion, did the regulation of the discipline “Philosophy” finally take shape in a comprehensive school?
Answer. It turned out well, in quotation marks, but not as we would like. The issue we demanded is that there should not be so much leeway on the minimum requirements that autonomies will be taught. And another problem is ethics. Calling the subject Civil and Ethical Values, it seems to us that the emphasis is not on what the foundations and methodology of ethics should be. We also wanted to have at least two hours of classes per week in this subject.
P. But the balance is by no means dramatic for the discipline, as was said a few weeks ago.
R. No, but if you look closely, then according to the Werth law, against which I protested, we did not win so much. We wanted to take another step forward in the national curriculum minimum. In the secondary school there should be teaching of ethics and philosophical problems for all. Because undergraduate students will never see them again.
P. For the first time, several women in high school are included in the content of the discipline. What do you think?
R. I studied philosophy without meeting a single author, and I like that some of them appear in the school curriculum. As a feminist and president of the GENET (Transversal Network for Gender Studies in the Humanities, Social and Legal Sciences) association, we have been fighting against the invisibility of women for some time now. But I think much more radical changes should be made. If the teaching of philosophy were approached in terms of problems, contexts, I think it would be necessary to go further.
P. Some philosophy teachers criticize the new subject “Civil and Ethical Values”, considering that ethics is diluted with other content, such as sustainability and equality. Are they not important either?
R. I am not afraid of content like equality or climate change. I think that from an ethical point of view, they can be treated very well. The question is what other issues are included and what is the burden of the civil. That is to include things that have more to do with morality. Civics can lead to decisions, such as how citizens should express their opinions in a democracy. These are things that I think need to be sorted out, but let’s put different topics. And let’s take into account the hours that are allotted for them. Because if you devote one hour a week to the subject of Ethical and Civic Values, what kind of knowledge will high school students gain? We must talk not only about values, which can be subjective, but also about ethical responsibility.
P. Do you think Vox presented itself as a philosophy-advocating party?
R. I find more and more philosophy professionals from Vox. To be honest, I don’t know how they are going to teach, in Ethical and Civic Values, the value of gender equality, for example. Or if they are interested in ecology, because it seems to me that all this is connected with ethics. In ethics, one must teach responsibility, which has both an individual aspect, and also a collective one and for the whole planet. It seems to me that there is a contradiction here, if one understands philosophy broadly. This is my way of thinking. It seems to me that she is using the false name of philosophy to go against the government.
Roldan, this Friday.Jaime Villanueva Sanchez
P. Why is it important to study philosophy in high school?
R. The history of philosophy is linked to where we come from, to the history of thought in our European culture. In the case of Spain, we are also the Arab philosophy and the Jewish world. It is very important that what is taught be done from a critical point of view. And philosophy also helps us not to break each other’s heads trying to defend what we think; it teaches us to argue and persuade. Knowledge, criticism, and reasoning are the three foundations we should teach in high school.
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