Ethics in social pedagogy

As professionals regardless of performance area, perhaps one of the most difficult things is to ethically act and establish the coherence line between discourse and practice. We must be aware that this position is dynamic and that each situation or context can vary its result.

In teaching, given its nature and daily life, it is common that with or without intention, the actors who carry it out exercise a double standard or lack coherence between discourse and practice. Therefore, it is very important to evaluate every day, as teachers will always be, in one way or another, a figure or role model for many students. 

In social pedagogy, things happen very similarly. First of all, remember that this social science is characterized by a reflexive relationship between theory and practice in which the two develop among themselves. According to Schumacher (2008) the relationship with the other must be questioning and critical, to ensure the above, this discipline is conceptualized in other fields such as: education, psychology and social sciences, as well as macroeconomics, theology and philosophy (Böhnisch, Schröer and Thiersch , 2005)

Social pedagogy emerged in many countries as the educational response to specific problems, emphasizing the possibility of influencing circumstances from education in order to create a more equal and just society. This means that it aims to shape and influence social conditions in a way that addresses inequalities and ensures that different groups within society can preserve their diversity while still feeling part of the wider social fabric.

To illustrate the above, (Eichsteller & Holthoff, 2011) have suggested a protocol that they called: “the diamond model”. This must be seen as inseparable and seeks to improve well-being and happiness both individually and collectively and in the short and long term; provides holistic learning opportunities and positive experiences throughout the life course; develops strong, caring and authentic relationships so that people feel interconnected, supported and responsible for others; and allows individuals and communities to become empowered, taking responsibility and control of their own lives. 

When interacting with others, individuals often express their core beliefs or values through their posture or mindset, a concept known as “Haltung” in Social Pedagogy (derived from Germany). The above refers to the point at which a person guides his actions by his ethical guidelines and according to his values applied in daily living.

This can be understood as what Carl Rogers called core conditions: empathic understanding, congruence, and unconditional positive regard (Rogers, 1967, p. 304). Empathic understanding requires a genuine interest in the world and the life of the other person, in order to build a relationship that allows giving the necessary support to transform each experience in a positive and unconditional way. Keeping in mind that understanding will have limitations, since it will never be possible to understand the other in a comprehensive way and it is there, where ethics and impartiality play their best game.

The nature of social pedagogy is to create situations for learning through a unique process that cannot be achieved through the application of technical methods that lack reflection. It seeks to build relationships that seek to preserve the other in its uniqueness and creates the conditions for dialogue, exploring questions, possibilities and choices as equal partners in an uncertain, complex and unpredictable world..

Questions about morality, of what constitutes good and bad, right and wrong, lie at the heart of ethics without achieving universal standards. Bauman (1993), for example, suggests that in the postmodern world it is not possible to design a universal code of ethics that guides human actions or thoughts. He sees the plurality of human forms and ideals as a challenge, and the ambivalence of moral judgments as a morbid state that yearns to be “rectified.” Therefore, following or applying a code does not guarantee that it has been acted correct, then, it should be noted that our actions can have long-term scope to the point of touching or transforming lives. 

Gruber (2009) introduces five fundamental values to think and act ethically in social pedagogy: the human dignity of each person, which demands our highest respect; take responsibility for one’s own moral actions; tolerance when finding and respecting the difference; social justice regarding the fair distribution of participatory and life opportunities (Thiersch, 2009); and solidarity with disadvantaged members of society. These five values guide professionals to a greater or lesser scale and invite them to remain in constant reflection of practice. 

In the practice of social pedagogy, professionals must move in two dimensions: pedagogical and social. The first one revolves around humanity and the conceptualization of how children influence education; the second, does so around how individuals should relate to one another.

The core and perhaps the intangible is provided by the pedagogue. Well, it should be clarified that his job is carried out in short with people who have been vulnerated or who in one way or another have belonged to social problems. Therefore, these professionals are role models and their behaviors are tacitly considered and evaluated by young people, so it is suggested to frequently self-evaluate the behavior, the way of expressing and the way to solve the conflicts that are part of the daily pedagogue’s life.

Below is a real case that tried to apply the ethics described here and that in this scenario seeks to remember that children are not to blame for the problems of adults. 

Haste makes waste!

It was Saturday morning, the previous night several inches of rain were received, the day was gray and cold for the summer date. I woke up early to finish a master’s assignment, my phone rang and it was a message like this: “Hello, can you arrive earlier today? We had a difficulty and we would like to speed up the start of the day.” Unfortunately, it was not long before the actual start time and I could only reply that I would rush to arrive as soon as possible.

I finished the assignment, got dressed, and hit the road to make it in record time. I must admit that in the middle of the journey and confident by the darkness of the day, I exceeded a bit in speed. It was two kilometers to arrive, I looked in the mirror because I felt that someone was following me and so it was, a white car in excellent conditions turned on blue lights and indicated that I should park, it was the police to tell me that I was coming very fast and that a fine for speed should be put on me.

This is how my day started. The first learning revolved around patience and tolerance, because a fine for being carried away by emotional impulses causes discomfort to anyone. When the Garda told me that I could head on the road, the first thing I thought was that I had to get to the children’s house quietly, they were not to blame for what had happened and taking it out would not be a good option. I did some breathing exercises and by my arrival at the destination, the emotions were already controlled.

When I arrived I told the colleagues what had happened but as a joke, I received the children with the attitude they deserved and I was attentive to hear what had happened. One of them had a difficulty and let out his emotions with the pedagogue on duty, apparently things were more tense than expected and the youngest child was very scared. Mediation was the key for professionals, in a situation like these, it is vitally important not to take things personal, listen to young people when they need us the most and try to preserve calm in the environment.. 

The pedagogue who starred in the act knew how to manage tranquility and be very cautious with his oral expression, the one who mediated the conflict, knew how to handle the situation with the children not involved to keep calm at home. I knew how to control my emotions so as not to discharge the negativity of a fine that could have been avoided with the young people who were around and waiting for the plans of the day. In this way this case concluded, which only and thanks to good management led a few minutes of a day that would end up being unforgettable and transformed into empowerment and positivism for each of the young people who inhabit that place. Can you imagine if the adults had reacted differently?


Eichsteller , G., & Holthoff , S. (N/D). Social Pedagogy as an Ethical Orientation Towards Working With People — Historical Perspectives (Vol. 36). (A. A. Press, Ed.) ThemPra Social Pedagogy C.I.C .

Social Pedagogy: a little bit of history

Socrates and Plato addressed the social component of education during the classical period, since for them man learns better in community because personal production can be debated in common with others. This type of education was meant to form a full and integral man capable of fully developing himself in different spheres of his daily life.

In the Middle Ages the trend was humanism with a theocentric vision, the clergy was in charge of education centralizing the acquisition of knowledge for the upper social class during the Renaissance.

In the Renaissance the aesthetic vision of education left ethics second. While in the illustration everything led to science and reason (intellectualism) for the sake of human progress, although without leaving aside the former. However, the idealistic pedagogy of Kant and Pestalozzi had an idea that integrated intellectualism with humanism, the rational and the ethical.

Social Pedagogy in Germany

Kant saw education as the only tool for man to be man, it was this that differentiated him from the others.

“Behind education hides the great secret of human nature.”


Education was nothing more than that bridge that allowed the development of intellectual and moral capacities. For this reason, he divided it into discipline, culture (school training skills), civility and moralization (spiritual skills), clarifying that they could be addressed from school; he was looking for an institution that would complement religious education with extra-confessional intellectualism.

In addition; Pestalozzi, the founder of the popular primary school, considered that education was not exclusive to the upper class but was a human right and a social duty based on the idea of a spiritual and physical education of the child. It was hoped that the school would direct him from the social sphere and would provide him with upbringing, discipline, culture, prudence, civility and morality. This idealized education had a direct impact on the development of Social Pedagogy in Germany.

The starting point was given by two strands of specific thought. In the first place an open mind, social sensitivity and conceptual maturity in relation to Social Education. On the other hand, a social situation full of problems, shortcomings and conflicts that demanded urgent responses, given as a result of the needs and demands derived from the conflicts of Europe in the 20th century. Thus, the way for the evolution of this pedagogical trend was opened both in Germany and in the rest of the world.

Social Pedagogy in France

Also called the Francophone orientation of the rationalist tradition (intellectualists), it gave importance to the political, institutional and social environment of the school system. They believed in the democratization of education, passing first through popular education and second through Sociocultural Animation.

This orientation had some intellectuals who were determining for this pedagogy. Durkheim, with Education as Socialization, while Bordiey and Passeron, with Education as Social Reproduction.

For them, social pedagogy was an interdisciplinary task, since when analyzing education as a social phenomenon, the intervention of pedagogues, sociologists, doctors, psychologists, psycho-pedagogues and other professionals was necessary. They had to try to guide the practice in an education for life based on the political, sociological, ethical, historical and other factors that formed the social context of the population to intervene.

Social Pedagogy in Spain

In Spain, social pedagogy has had a great influence from Germany and France in the institutional, academic and professional environment. Also from the associative, economic and scientific communication dynamics given by the European Union. This is how they have been unifying the general conceptualization of the subject, without losing the style and identity of the sociocultural characteristics of their national context.

This trend began in Barcelona in the mid-sixties, these types of pedagogues were known as Specialized Educators, recognized as professionals since 1972, emerging with diplomas in social education, until today reaching degrees in Social Pedagogy or lectures in the curricula in faculties of education in different universities.

This trend began in Barcelona in the mid-sixties. These types of pedagogues were known as Specialized Educators, recognized as professionals since 1972, with diplomas in social education emerging, until today reaching degrees in Social Pedagogy or lectures in the study plans in faculties of education at different universities.

Books and articles on the subject have also been issued in different publishers, specialized magazines, seminars and national or international conferences, all endorsed since 2000 by the Iberoamerican Society of Social Pedagogy (SIPS).

The teachers of the department of history of education at the Complutense University of Madrid propose the following theories in the area of social pedagogy:

“It will deal with the theory and praxis of the improvement of man as a social being, that is, in everything that is related to his personality, his conduct, his attitude, his habits or behaviors that positively promote the values of the individual and the community , understood as educational social values “ (Arroyo, 1995)

Arroyo suggests an objective that lies in the intervention provided to people with certain social risk problems. Seeking to return respect, rights, problem solving and managing emotions to adapt again in the different contexts in which they will perform.

“I understand by Social Pedagogy the theory and technique of the social formation, being a normative science that is especially concerned with the pedagogical intervention on individuals and social groups that are in problematic or deficiency situations and need to be integrated into the community.” (Valencia, 1998)

Unlike Arroyo, whose objective is the individual, Valencia incorporates intervention in the social environment into this process, that is, moving from school to non-formal extra-curricular reality.

“The fundamental object of Social Pedagogy is to offer the necessary and sufficient help so that man, during all stages of his life, correctly and successfully develops his own socialization process. In short, that the primary function of Social Pedagogy is to research, design and execute the approriate social education to that purpose. ” (Merino, 1986)

Finally Merino invites to investigate from the educational and social research the different contexts and stages of life of the human being, to then design objectives and practices that are really effective for the purpose of this type of education.

Social Pedagogy in the United Kingdom

Here is an interesting and extensive history regarding social pedagogy. The first formal steps were taken in the 1960s, especially in Scotland when attempts were made to reform the juvenile justice system. However, only in the first decade of this century was the practice of Social Pedagogy formalized. One of the UK’s most significant contributions to this field has been the formation of the Social Pedagogy Professional Association, in addition to the first formal study programs in English.

Social Pedagogy in Denmark

The main role of social pedagogues is to work with people who have special needs or are marginalized. The idea is to incorporate them into society trying to lead them to a life in normal conditions. In this country there is the possibility of pursuing a professional career or a master’s, since the first time the profession was mentioned was in 1901 in order to treat vulnerable young people.

The Danes divide the profession into three phases; macro, micro and meso”. The first one refers to the impact that is sought to be created inside and outside the Danish society; the second refers to the development of the profession and the way in which pedagogues are formed; the third indicates the how and when to work towards the formation of leaders. Finally, they are the authors of the didactic and reflective tool called by its Danish acronym: “SMTTE”.

The SMTTE in English is a COAEE model (context, objective, action, evidence and evaluation). In short, it is a tool for pedagogues that seeks to facilitate the planning of activities with the community that urge them to work the context with a clear objective, putting it into action, resulting in evidence and subsequent reflection or evaluation of the process.

Social pedagogy in the Czech Republic

In this country the development of theory and practice was influenced after experiencing the communist regime for more than 40 years. Its history dates back to the 19th century with a gap between 1948 and 1989, since said regime denied the existence of social problems and played down the profession. After the end of communism, social pedagogy began to flourish again and has been creating significant impacts in terms of prevention in issues such as bullying, cyberbullying, drug use, racism, ethnic minorities, among others.

Social Pedagogy Across Europe

In this way, a general overview of social pedagogy in Europe has been given. It has been shown that although in school you learn to live together in society through behavior and disciplines, the latter occupy the highest percentage of school time, leaving to a lesser extent all those activities related to socialization, personality development and identity. In other words, the school lost its social component and began to carry out a simple transfer of content required by the ministries of education and available at the click of a button.

Therefore, social pedagogy becomes an important discipline as it provides additional tools that can nurture pedagogical practice and guide children not only in content but in growth as social beings, so that they can spontaneously and naturally function in any sphere of society, said in Steniner’s words:

“When a child can relate what he learns to his own experiences, his vital interest is awakened, his memory is activated and what has been learned becomes his own”

Finally, it is clear that this is a trending profession across Europe and that in countries such as Ireland, Hungary, Slovenia, and others, it is also the leading. Keeping in mind that its application approach varies according to the cultural differences of each nation.


Arroyo Simón, M.  (1995)¿Qué es la Pedagogía Social? Bordón, 257, p.201-215.

Mendizabal, M. R. L. (2016) La Pedagogía Social: Una Disciplina Básica En La Sociedad Actual Revista Holos, vol. 5, pp. 52-69 Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia do Rio Grande do Norte Natal, Brasil

Pérez Serrano, G. (2002). Origen y Evolución de la Pedagogía Social. Pedagogía Social. Revista Interuniversitaria, núm. 9, 193-231. España.

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. (01 de April de 2020). Social Pedagogy across Europe | Course. (U. A. Barcelona, Editor) Retrieved 04 de June de 2020 from Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/learn/social-pedagogy-europe/home/welcome

History of social pedagogy

Historically and through methodological and administrative transformations, the educational system has explored different stages. From the sages in the gyms of ancient Greece to the classical Catholic humanist period; from the latter to the modern liberal humanist period and then to the contemporary period. All of the above through a teacher guiding knowledge to their students in face-to-face and synchronous mode.

This orientation has been imparted to many generations and today it is permeated by new information and communication technologies, which are included or excluded depending on the teaching approach adopted by the education professional and the accessibility provided by the institution in where one works, allowing this to open a gap between the institutions in their teaching-learning dynamics.

In Colombia, the ICT ministry tried to reduce the gap by implementing training through the Computers to Educate program. The objective was to implement the use of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), TAC (Learning and Knowledge Technologies) and TEP (Technologies for empowerment and participation) in the public education system.

In the framework of the health emergency by COVID-19 the state decided as a prevention measure to determine preventive isolation in educational institutions, proceeding to decree the implementation of virtual education to continue the 2020 school year. For this, the calendar was modified advancing school holidays and giving two weeks of institutional development for institutions in the hands of their teachers to implement the means and strategies to teach their classes in this imposed and for many complex virtual mode. 

The imposition of the government has created disappointments, inviting us to reflect on the following question: to what extent are you prepared to teach in virtuality? If you practice teaching, you will surely be thinking that you have the adequate preparation or indeed, that the above is a meaningless question. Well, today a high percentage of professionals in education have at least basic aptitudes in computer science and office automation; However, I recommend that you continue reading and simultaneously evaluate your answer, this question cannot be cleared without taking a walk through virtuality.

What is virtual education?

Virtual education is one that makes time and coverage more flexible by providing a type of learning through the internet. This allows real-time updating, storage, retrieval, distribution of content and information and is received by the end user through a computer, tablet or smartphone. Another very important characteristic is that it breaks paradigms of traditional education. Lozano (2010) states:

“(…) That virtual education is possible, if the use of technological means is integrated as a communicational tool (asynchronous and synchronous resources) that facilitates the exchange of knowledge between the student and the teacher. In other words, the apprentice has the mediator 24 hours a day, to communicate with him at different times according to his availability ”.

This type of education allows the teacher to apply resources that generate interactive learning and motivate the construction of autonomous and independent student knowledge. It is executed through interaction (synchronous and asynchronous) and contributes to knowledge management, providing the following advantages:

  • Access to high-quality learning materials and activities, increasing interaction with teaching tools and adjusting to student times.
  • The possibility of interacting with this learning material at any time of the day and place.
  • Facilitating learning skills, problem solving, decision making, and critical thinking.
  • Interaction with teachers is done online, making access and communication times more flexible.
  • The type of communication facilitates globalized and multicultural group teaching, as well as interaction with teachers invited to classes.
  • Encourages the student to take responsibility for their own learning.
  • Provides alternatives for different types of learning or different depth levelt.
  • Improving skills in managing new technologies and accessing updated and indexed information.

Virtual education and the above advantages cease to be utopia to the extent that teachers generate quality material. Knowledge of the methods, techniques, strategies and means that facilitate interactivity is also necessary to promote in the student the role of protagonist of their learning, leaving aside the traditional instruction characteristic of face-to-face education.

On the other hand, it has been shown that when you do not have the skills for virtuality, it is imprecise to try to transfer face-to-face practice to digital media, guaranteeing failure in the teaching process. That is why it is necessary to take into account the basic elements for virtual education:

  1. The pedagogical model needs to project and argue all its programs and activities so that teachers and students can observe how technology can contribute to readjusting the learning process. (Attwel, 2007) So to structure a model it is necessary to reflect on the following questions:
  •  What characteristics should the students to whom the programs are directed have?
    • What pedagogical and technical preparation will the teachers in charge of imparting this type of education have?
    • What are the teaching objectives?
    • What technological means are available for the definition of didactic strategies and methodologies to be used?
    • How is the evaluation and monitoring process directed?

2. Availability of appropriate technology: as in face-to-face education, there are some basic minimums that in this case go towards a technological infrastructure equipped with tools, networks and resources.

  • Software infrastructure: virtual platforms and suitable programs for setting up the course or program.
  • Tools: blogs, wikis, google tools, electronic devices, dopbox, social media, among others.
  • Resources: e-Book, e-Libraries, YouTube, Powtoon, Scielo, Mediawiki, Dialnet, Redalyc, Psyinfo, Eduteka, among others.

3. Role of the Actors of the Educational System:

  • Teacher:
    • Ability to interact with designers and programmers for the assembly and commissioning of the course.
    • Knowledge and management of ICT
    • Apply methodological strategies to stimulate active student participation in their learning process.
    • Synchronous and asynchronous communication with students guaranteeing accompaniment and guidance.
    • Promote collaborative group work.
  • Student:
    • High level of autonomy and work discipline.
    • Have skills and knowledge in managing ICT
    • Ability to interact in collaborative work projects with their classmates.
    • Good time management to guarantee the educational objectives and the schedule assigned by the teacher.
    • Maintain a constant line of synchronous and asynchronous communication with the teacher.

Virtual education has metamorphosed practice by putting other characteristics and profiles of students and teachers on the table. It becomes evident that it has differential components with classroom attendance and that these force the teacher to choose one of these specialties. In this century and in virtuality, it is necessary to understand the difference between teacher, teacher, professor and tutor. One must also stop pretending that virtual education, e-learning and distance education are synonyms. Finally, the invitation can be extended to ICTs, but also to TACs and TEPs.

Finally, you are prepared to teach in virtuality to the extent that you are willing to update yourself, to talk about digital connectivism, collective thinking, personal learning environments, cyberculture, digital didactics, flexibility, asynchrony and from an endless list of terms that are part of the aforementioned metamorphosis. But above all; You are prepared when you understand that the roles of the teacher and the student have changed, that the former are no longer the carriers of knowledge and that the latter have ownership over learning. The exercise of virtual education is for specialists in this field, as is attendance and its challenges in terms of discipline, not to mention others.

Hernán Tena Cortés
Teacher working as Social Pedagogue

SANGRÀ, Albert. (2001) Enseñar y aprender en la virtualidad, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya asangra@campus.uoc.es. P. 117-131. Educar.
CABERO, July (2006.)Bases pedagógicas del e-learning. Revista Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento. Volumen 03 No 1.
BATES, T., & ESCOLÀ, R.F. (2001). Cómo gestionar el cambio tecnológico: estrategias para los responsables de centros universitarios.
SIERRA, Luis E. Reseña (2009)  “Cibercultura. La Cultura de la Sociedad Digital” de Pierre Levy. Revista Signo y Pensamiento. Vol. XXVIII, No 54. Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Bogotá          

To what extent do social pedagogy and emotional education converge?

Standardized tests, excessive grading, exaggerated contents and methodologies based on performance indicators have caused emotions and the subject as a social actor to be forgotten inside and outside the classroom. The educational system seems to have acquired the perfection of assigning numbers to students,  pretending that they are products, rather than human beings and obtaining unexpected results that increase levels of school demotivation.

On the flip side of the coin are students overwhelmed by having to respond, often from memory, to various subjects and teaching methodologies. They are also tired of spending long hours in uncomfortable chairs and having to simulate perfect lives because they simply cannot bring their personal problems to class. Often an advice on time or a few simple words of encouragement would be more useful than the explanation of exponential functions or the use of active and passive voice. 

World school dropout rates are getting higher. The number of students in homeschooling is not far behind, bullying rates are also increasing and virtual education is gaining more followers. This can be interpreted as a defeat for face-to-face education or at least for classroom methodologies. It could be inferred that if students prefer to change environments, it is because they do not find that differential that motivates them to stay in full-time class.

Reflections, assessments, reassessments and innovations are necessary in teaching practice. Julián de Zubiría, Colombian pedagogue exposes in one of his talks that current education is a trilogy of students of the XXI century, with teachers of the XX century and methodologies of the XIX century, perhaps that summarizes the previous paragraphs and comes close to providing an explanation of why the levels of motivation in students are getting lower, while the frequency of failure is getting higher.

Among the recent trends in education are two that seem to be bringing about great transformations in North America and Europe. And it is precisely that they are two aspects that have not forgotten the social and emotional importance of the subject, but at the same time they do not neglect the academic part and manage to form whole beings, balanced and prepared to face the contemporary world that increasingly brings more surprises and unexpected events. So, continue reading and review to what extent does social pedagogy converge with the competences of social and emotional learning?

What is Pedagogy?

An entire chapter or perhaps an entire book could be devoted to the definition and deepening of this science, which in synthesis studies education and the method for teaching. It belongs to the social sciences and humanities and maintains a close relationship with psychology, sociology and anthropology. The term is derived from the Greek “paidos” which means child and “agogos” which means leader; Thus, a pedagogue is the person who is dedicated to educating children, although with the evolution of the concept, today is used to educate in general.

The field of pedagogy is quite wide, authors such as Lev Vygotsky, María Montessori, John Dewey, John Locke, Julián de Zubiría and many more have influenced its development and history. In the same way there are different trends or currents such as behaviorism, constructivism, cognitivism, connectivism and others. On this occasion, the aim is to delve into a theory that is rarely heard and whose community impact has grown ostensibly, social pedagogy.

What is Social Pedagogy?

Paul Natorp, is a German philosopher known as the founding father of Social Pedagogy. His foundation formulates and applies pedagogic solutions to social practices, not limiting itself to problem-solving, but maintaining well-being and the standard of living. Furthermore, this discipline aims to nurture pro-social and co-operative relationships among young people to censor anti-social behavior and reward amiable interaction.  It is characterized as a discipline with three dimensions: practical, theoretical and professional.

Taking into account the essence of pedagogy, and remembering that the social according to sociology refers to a sense of a minimal degree of solidarity that links human beings together making it impossible to ignore each other; there is a strong relationship between these two terms which place together signify learning how to live cooperatively with society.  Therefore, social pedagogy seeks to preserve, or to reinvigorate social solidarity in a way that “predisposes us without difficulty to devotion and sacrifice” (Durkheim, 1994, p. 107) in our relationship with each other. 

This discipline is applicable or can easily converge in the teaching of other subjects. Since it is an ideal complement because the specific class involves the head and the social pedagogy the heart. Indeed, professionals in social pedagogy are interested in the head (educated or academic learning), in the heart (social and moral learning), and in the hands (practical learning). However, their speciality will always be, the heart.

From its foundation, Natorp (1904) established its main mission to serve the common good. This requires nothing less than a moral transformation and, according to Plato and Aristotle, while the intellectual is teachable, the moral is not. They argued that morality arises from conscience and not from the board, so the former is habituated instead of educated. In this sense, moral actions are the acceptance of social values, the latter varying from situation to situation. Hence the importance of involving the heart and the head or what is the same, reason and affect in practice, because while some things are learned, others like the moral or affective, are felt.

Social pedagogy in schools!

Social pedagogy in schools enhances the socialization experience for students through fostering altruism and alleviating self-centered behavior. In this sense, the mission in institutions is to help young people to transform self-centeredness by the moral principle of showing consideration for others. Thus, socialization and re-socialization are invited, being very cautious not to infringe on the human dignity of the other. Finally, positive interaction between different ethnic groups is promoted, as studies show that this interrelation cultivates tolerance (Allport, 1979) and reduces racism.

One of the main challenges of social pedagogy in schools and in general, in all settings, is the reduction or elimination of bullying. In this sense, it is important to mention two international anti-bullying programs. The first is the “Olweus Program Against Bullying and Antisocial Behavior”, developed by Dan Olweus (2001) at the Bergen University. And the second, the “Zero Program, developed by Erling Roland (Roland & Sorensen Vaaland, 2003) at Stavanger University.

Both programs are backed by the Norwegian government and based on the model of social pedagogy. Although they have different approaches, in both cases the developers place great value on concentrating the behavior of prosocial viewers. In other words, many external actors try not to get involved in incidents of bullying, since it is not their business or, what is worse, it is not a spectator sport. (cf. Smith and Shu, 2000; Salmivalli et al, 2004)

So what is the role of the social pedagogue or the audience in bullying incidents? It is to apply pedagogical solutions to social problems. In this case, they are persuaded to speak out against bullying and to believe that they can succeed in helping victims, avoiding to put themselves in danger. Here, two challenges outstand; first, to unlock the potential of helping behaviour; second, to increase perceived collective efficacy among the protectors. Olweus uses role-play and the viewing of staged bullying incidents (on video) in order to foster sympathetic understanding of the victim’s pain and predicament; whereas, the Zero Program, recommends the use of student patrol during the recess as an adjunct to adult supervision. Both programs have been found to reduce bullying problems in schools (Sephens, 2011a).

What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?

Social and emotional learning is a model that seeks to improve students’ ability to integrate skills, attitudes, and behaviors that help them effectively and ethically tackle daily tasks and challenges. This framework, through five competencies, promotes intrapersonal, interpersonal and cognitive competence. It is currently implemented in several institutions in the United States, the results so far have been positive and there you can find a collaborative group that supports educators and leaders in the implementation and improvement of results (Collaborative for Academic, Social, And Emotional Learning , 2020)

The first competence that supports this model is self-awareness. It is defined as the ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism. Some of its benefits are: the ability to identify emotions, to accurate self-perception, to recognizing strengths, self-confidence and self-efficacy. (Collaborative for Academic, Social, And Emotional Learning , 2020)

Second is self-management. This is the ability to successfully regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations — effectively managing stress, controlling impulses, and motivating oneself. This includes the capacity to set and work towards personal and academic goals. One that manages his or herself, can have impulse control, stress management, self-discipline, self-motivation, goal setting and organizational skills. (Collaborative for Academic, Social, And Emotional Learning , 2020)

Third is social awareness. This is the ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures. This includes the capacity to understand social and ethical norms for behavior and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports. it facilitates perspective-taking, empathy, appreciating diversity and respect for others. (Collaborative for Academic, Social, And Emotional Learning , 2020)

Fourth is relationship skills. This is the ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes the capacity to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed. Some benefits to mention here are communication, social engagement, relationship building and teamwork. (Collaborative for Academic, Social, And Emotional Learning , 2020)

Last but not least, is responsible decision making. This is the ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms. This includes the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and a consideration of the wellbeing of oneself and others. At this point, the importance of identifying problems, analyzing situations, solving problems, evaluating, reflecting and ethical responsibility should be mentioned. (Collaborative for Academic, Social, And Emotional Learning , 2020)

Like social pedagogy, the most effective social and emotional learning (SEL) requires a strategic and systemic approach that involves everyone from leaders to community partners and family members. Thus, it can be concluded that these two models complement and converge to the extent of being able to be implemented in the community with the possibility of obtaining very interesting results, since both understand the importance of the subject in society and the management of emotions in order to avoid community difficulties. Finally, in one way or another, the two extend the invitation to use the head, heart and hands in educational practice applying pedagogical solutions to social problems.

Hernán Tena Cortés
Teacher working as Social Pedagogue

Collaborative for Academic, Social, And Emotional Learning . (2020, 01 01). Retrieved 05 07, 2020, from CASEL: https://casel.org/
Stephens, P. (2013). Social Pedagogy: Heart and Head. Bremen: Social Comparison.

Teaching Large Classes, Reality Or Challenge?

“So many strategies may come up because honestly, there is no hope for the government to soon reduce the size of the classes. The invitation is for world teachers to share their experiences and ideas.”

Large classes are a reality in most public schools in Colombia and also in some private institutions. Most English Language Teachers see this as a problem and not as a challenge; they claim more time or fewer students in order to better productive skills. Grading and giving feedback turns almost impossible, and the government seems to care less. As a result, this topic was chosen to come up with some strategies in order to succeed in these kinds of classes.

It is difficult to keep good discipline in a class with more than 35 students, especially when they learn different things at different speeds and in different ways, making struggles to give each student individual attention. As a reflection, it is to mention that each human being is a different world, and when a teacher faces a class with 35 or more individuals, he must deal with many different stories. Just imagine a doctor with three dozens of patients at the same time, will he make it? same with an architect or professionals from any discipline.

Therefore, teachers have to come up with different strategies and even a bit of creativity to manage large classes. A good idea is pair or group work because students can help each other and learn from each other. However, teachers must organize them to suit their abilities. Also, mixed ability groups to have learners help others, and finally, it is recommended for the teacher to move around the classroom to see what progress pupils are making and what problems are coming up.

Group work has many advantages and if the teacher applies it cautiously, it is very possible to have positive classroom management results. This method can help manage with fewer resources, and students can work on their own pace and from individual interests, based on the main topic given by the tutor.

Discipline is another big concern in large classes. Therefore, it is recommended to establish a code of behavior that is created by the teacher and learners together. Also if is possible, the teacher can use the environment outside the classroom to reduce overcrowding, and finally, appoint responsible group leaders who can help maintain discipline

Last but not least, large classes also have advantages, not everything has to be against the teacher. Since students can share many different ideas and interesting life experiences. In case they are working on projects, they can learn to share responsibility and help each other. So many strategies may come up because honestly, there is no hope for the government to soon reduce the size of the classes. The invitation is for world teachers to share their experiences and ideas.

Hernán Tena Cortés
British Council – BBC. (N/D, N/D N/D). Teaching Large Classes. Retrieved September 21, 2019, from British Council – BBC: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/teaching-large-classes

A reflection from childhood. In times of quarantine

She is a 7 year old girl, whose name I will keep. I am a teacher who works as a social pedagogue and in synthesis, I must take care of her and contribute to her education for life. Like every human being, there is a story behind her, one of those that we do not believe is possible in children of her age.

From now on I will call her Kelly, as she reminds me of a student I had with a very similar profile. Society has included her in that social niche labeled “vulnerable children”; Yes, it’s a pity, all professionals in education want these stories to be that, stories.

I started working with her a month ago. Unsurprisingly, she put up a bit of resistance at first;  after all, it was natural to ask herself why to trust me? I persevered and I was able to break the ice, since then, little by little and from sharing, a relationship supported by affection has been built.

Today was a particular day, it motivated me to start writing, while I helped her sleep, I had a conversation with her that left me thinking. Before going into details, I want to tell you a little about my day at work. I started around five in the afternoon one more day of social pedagogy, to those who read me from Colombia, I will tell you what this is about, in the nearest future. 

The afternoon was Irish, I say this because the sky was decorated with gray clouds, they say it is normal. The temperature was not low, nor high, but it was perfect for my taste. When I entered my workplace, I greeted Kelly, she responded with that effusiveness that characterized her when she is in a good mood. Immediately afterwards she said to me: “Hernán, take me to the swings, I want to play.” I accepted, but that desire did not last more than three minutes, then she wanted to change his activity.

She said: “Wait for me here, I will bring something from my room.” When she came back, her hand was decorated by a “spray”, she filled it with soap and water, and asked me to accompany her around the place. Meanwhile she was saying to me: – you know, the virus is messed up, every day we have more cases and I know that it is in the environment. In this “spray” I made my own substance to combat it, accompany me to water our surroundings so that we are safe.-

That innocence that characterizes ALL children, is still there. Kelly, despite her history, maintains her creativity and carries within that spirit of wanting to save the planet. It was impossible not to make a mental break to compare with the behavior of children in other latitudes, the experience has allowed me to interact with creatures of different nationalities, and I again conclude that they are in essence all equal, all are potential geniuses.

After a while, we had dinner, chatted for other minutes, and I asked her to get ready for bed. She replied: “Okay, I’ll put on my pajamas and I’ll call you when I’m ready.” So she did, it took her about 15 minutes to call me. I entered her room and we performed that daily routine before sleeping. Basically; it is to play a game in an electronic device, then videos of her favorite series are watched and finally, a book is read. 

This is where I want to stop; for a moment she said to me: -Hernán, do you think it’s okay if I tell you a bit of my story, sometimes I need to have someone to talk to.- I replied: -of course, I’m here to listen to you. We all have stories, it is part of learning life.-

She replied: -very good. Look, I’ve had four dads, one passed away, there’s no point talking about him, he died in a car accident. However, another one of them makes me very sad. I loved him, but he treated me like garbage. Every day he came from the pub, smelled like perfume, and had lipstick. He did not treat my mom well, he never said good night to us before sleeping and he did not cook to us either. However, I loved him, but he left us.-

I listened to her, looked at her and internally thought that a girl of only 7 years old was speaking to me as if she were 15. I connected the dots and several questions raised. Well, I thought it was interesting to think in her head what did she mean when she said that she had four dads? Also, what was her ideal father figure like? because she cried out affection and manifested that the dad she loved treated her like garbage for not saying good night, not preparing food for her and not showing fondness.

She continued her narration and at one point wanting to cry, she said: -Hernán, thank you for listening to me, forgive me, I do not understand why we ended talking about negative things, I did not want mean to do that, let’s change the subject. I replied, “don’t worry, that’s why I’m here to listen to you.” She finished, “thank you, honestly, thank you very much.” Before arriving here, I had a foster family, they treated me like garbage, they believed that I was a slave, thank God they moved me here. I know that soon I will be able to be with my mom again, I really miss her a lot.-

The time passed by, and we kept the expressed routine, we finished reading and I asked her if she would like to do the Lord’s Prayer, but she said to me: -no Hernán, I only do church topics there, because they bring back bad memories and I don’t want that in my bed. But if you want, if you feel better, we can do it.- Mixed feelings I felt, for me it was still difficult to process that it was a 7-year-old girl expressing herself.

I have been able to work with children for several years, in fact, when she was born, I was already teaching and sharing experiences. I know that some add a little imagination to their stories and that many times, not everything they say is true. However, from a psychological point of view, it is known that there is creativity in their stories, that creation has a cause, the same one that I will try to find along the way.

So my dear readers, without knowing what percentage of her stories are true, I can conclude that it there is a lot to think about. Well, she only describes a very common home, and it is there, where we as adults could make a pause to evaluate what kind of nurture are we giving to our children? and to stop thinking that because they are kids; they don’t understand, they don’t listen or they don’t see.

Close your computer or lock your cell phone and take five minutes to reflect on your daily experience, and thus avoid Kelly’s story repeating itself close to your home, or worse, in yours. Soon I will be telling you more surprises of this childhood that surrounds me today. And how about you; do you have something to share?

In times of quarantine, let’s reflect together!

Hernán Tena Cortés