20 de Julio de 2018
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Colección: La Educación
Número: (119) III
Año: 1994

1. In the conferences you have held in the United States and in Latin America, as well as in your books, you have maintained a pedagogical conception that has awakened great public interest in our Region, perhaps because of your unique and critical vision of diffuse functionalistic concepts. What can you tell us about this?
Personalism has been very successful not only in Latin America, but in Europe as well. It will also be successful in the United States in the near future. Why? I think the functionalistic position—even if it seems modern—is for those with little historic background or those with little consciousness of historical dimension, which is like returning to a pre-critical state of our science. What do I mean by the concept of a pre-critical period of our science? It was Immanuel Kant, the great Prussian philosopher, who distinguished a pre-critical and a critical state of an art or of a science. He said a pre-critical education is limited only to didactics and methodology and leaves the anthropological and the axiological (in other words, the teleological dimensions) to extra-pedagogical instances or organisms such as the church, the state, society, a political party, an ideology or something else that dominates education in a pre-critical state. And education is limited in that it only considers, researches, evaluates and ameliorates methods and instruments. According to Kant, if education is to become a critical science, it must be broadened to include three dimensions: the anthropological, the teleological and the methodological. If you envision education as an autonomous, critical science, it must be three dimensional and cannot leave the anthropological and teleological questions unanswered. The anthropological dimension asks “who is man?”, and any educational theory must respond to this question before further ideological exploration. The second question relates to the teleological dimension: “what is the aim of human life?”, “what is the sense of human life?”, “what should men be?, what should men become?”. This is an extremely educational question that must be discussed and clarified within pedagogy. Only after answering the questions “who is man?” and “what should man become?” can we discuss the third dimension: “what contributions can we make so that man not remain as what nature has made of him or what society has determined for him, but rather become what he should be? I firmly believe in this tri-dimensional or tri-dimensionality of education. What I say is not only valid for the philosophy of education and the theory of education, but is relevant for any practical question and in any practical situation. If you think about the future of your child, you know that it is possible for him to become any number of things. You must ask yourself: “what is my vision of the man that my child will become?”, “what is my concept of man (or child in this case)?”, “what should my child become?”, and only then may you ask yourself: “what contribution can I make so that my child becomes what he or she should become?”.
The error of the functionalist position is that it is limited to answering only the third question of the methodological dimension. Functionalism is not a new position; it was introduced at the beginning of this century and was especially popular in France where functional education was widely discussed. Supporters of the functional education position said that we should only be concerned with teaching the child to write. They maintained that they didn’t care what could happen or what could be the result of the writing the child was to do in the future—even if the child was to become the next Cervantes or an author of pornography. To use a modern-day example, the supporters of the functional position would teach children to use the computer without any concern for what future purpose they may have for the computer. The functionalist educator is not concerned with the fact that the child might someday use the computer to perform genealogical research in Utah or steal money from Wall Street. These two examples illustrate what I mean by saying a functionalist position is pre-critical, even pre-scientific.