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Everyday Struggles against Franco's Authoritarian Legacy: Pedagogical Social Movements and Democracy in Spain



The historiography of the Spanish transition to democracy is going through exciting times. After years in which the importance of civic organizations has been relatively downplayed, we are witnessing a growing interest in their contribution to the process. The most important foci of social resistance to the dictatorship were the workers' organizations, the student and nationalist movements. They contributed to the regime's destabilization and pressured Franco's successors to move towards liberalization. Nevertheless, this article argues that examining everyday areas of cultural practices reveals that social mobilization in Spain in the 1970s was more extensive than currently believed and had interesting cultural consequences in important social sectors. By analyzing the movements for pedagogical renovation, the article shows the intensity of a cultural campaign to influence the country's future that was carried out in the workplace. Within a framework that sees democratization as a process of mutual transformation of state and society, this piece explores the channels through which these movements contributed to the transformation of Spain from an authoritarian society controlled by a dictatorial state to a pluralistic polity sustaining democratic procedures. The movements for pedagogical renovation initiated a quiet, yet determined endeavour to modify workplace practices and procedures in order to ensure the democratization of the everyday lives of citizens. If, from the outside, it seemed the Spanish public was not actively involved in bringing about Spanish democracy, entering the classrooms reveals the struggle was at its height.
Submitted version to the Journal of Social History.
Final version published in 2012. Tamar Groves, Everyday Struggles against Franco's
Authoritarian Legacy: Pedagogical Social Movements and Democracy in Spain,
The historiography of the Spanish transition to democracy is going through
exciting times. Its 30
anniversary has been accompanied by a wave of academic
conferences and publications. For many years the most salient characteristic of the studies
dedicated to the period was a celebration of its peaceful progression and successful
ending. Later, it became fashionable to criticise its shortcomings and emphasise the faults
of its outcome. In both cases most of the attention was dedicated to the newly-created
state institutions and the political leaders, considered the main protagonists of the process.
In fact the mere existence and the importance of social mobilisation during Spain’s
transition to democracy has been a source of extensive debate.
With the passage of time
the debate has intensified and recently it has become clear that the old dominant narrative
focusing on the political elite has gradually been replaced by a new one assigning more
importance to the activities of civic initiatives.
Thus, after years in which the importance
of civic organisations has been relatively downplayed, we are witnessing a growing
interest in their contribution to the process.
There are several explanations of the fact that, although Spanish society
experienced a relatively high level of collective action during the transition, this
phenomenon was left out of the mainstream narrative of the period. Firstly, the academic
prominence of the paradigm of elite negotiation marginalised any other kind of
explanation for a very long time.
Secondly, presenting the process as a great social
conciliation and reducing the importance of any kind of social struggle provided the new
political system with legitimacy and stability.
Thirdly, the sociological data gathered at
the time rendered an apparently peaceful image of Spanish society, emphasising that the
Spanish public preferred order and peace over democracy and liberty.
The majority of Spanish citizens were clearly not involved in an open or
revolutionary struggle against the Franco regime. As a result researchers naturally
focused on the most visible sectors of the civic opposition to the dictatorship: the workers’
organisations, the student and nationalist movements. Of these three, the labour
movement presented the Franco regime with the most serious threat to its stability.
Militants of the clandestine workers’ union Comisiones Obreras (Workers’
Commissions) infiltrated the state-controlled union and organised illicit collective
actions. Although the regime persecuted the militants of the Workers’ Commissions the
labour movement expanded from the beginning of the 1960s, providing other sectors with
models for resistance.
The protest also reached the universities, where middle-class
students succeeded in forcing the regime to renounce its students’ organisation. The
authorities reacted violently to the upheaval on the campuses but did not succeed in
curbing the genuine subculture of dissidence which characterised Spanish academic
institutions from the latter half of the 1960s.
Another source of contention under the
dictatorship was the regional movements. The dictatorship abolished the autonomous
political systems of Catalonia and the Basque Country and prohibited any public display
of signs of regional identity, mainly the use of local languages. However, from the 1950s
onwards, civic, artistic, educational and sporting organisations fomented Catalan culture
in different ambits of life.
In the Basque Country there was a similar, though weaker,
phenomenon, and the terrorist group ETA became the most salient characteristic of
regional nationalism.
These were the most important foci of social resistance to the dictatorship. They
contributed to its destabilisation and pressured Franco’s successors to move towards
liberalisation. Nevertheless, in this article I argue that examining everyday areas of
cultural practices (instead of focusing on the actions of politicians, the open declarations
of citizens, or the activities of the most emblematic opposition groups), reveals that social
mobilisation in Spain in the seventies was more extensive than currently believed and had
interesting cultural consequences in important social sectors. By analysing the
movements for pedagogical renovation, I would like to show the intensity of a cultural
campaign to influence the country’s future that was carried out in the workplace.
As we
will see, the movements for pedagogical renovation initiated a quiet, yet determined
endeavour to modify workplace practices and procedures in order to ensure the
democratisation of the everyday lives of citizens. These teachers, apparently belonging to
the docile sectors of the middle-class, strove to change the cultural practices which
governed schools during the long years of dictatorship, and substitute them with habits
they defined as liberating and democratic. If from the outside it seemed the Spanish public
was not actively involved in bringing about Spanish democracy, entering the classrooms
reveals the struggle was at its height.
State, Society, Civic Organisations and Democracy
Democracy describes a particular set of relationships between state and society.
However, traditionally, the main lines of investigation into democracy and
democratisation were dedicated to either state or society. Schumpeter’s minimalist
definition of democracy as a form of government and in particular as a mechanism for
the election of leaders has had an extensive influence on the field, focusing the attention
of researchers on state institutions and political elites.
On the other hand, Almond and
Verba’s concept of civic culture led to interest in the correlations between certain values
characterising different societies and democracy.
A recent tendency, which also
influenced the perception of the Spanish transition to democracy, has been to focus on
the realm of organised social life, that is, civil society. However, what is defined as civil
society and in which conditions it contributes to democracy are widely debated issues.
According to Diamond’s classic definition: Civil society is distinct from the society in
general in that it involves citizens acting in a public sphere to express their interests,
passions and ideas, exchange information, achieve mutual goals, make demands on the
state and hold state officials accountable.
More radical positions criticise the implicit
assumption that civil society is automatically inclusive. They point out how unequal
economic, social and cultural resources shape the contours of civil society. From this
perspective, civil society refers to a conflictive practice related to power that is, to a
struggle about who is entitled to a say in the process of defining common problems and
deciding how they will be faced”.
The fact that civil society gained such importance with respect to democracy and
democratisation is an expression of the growing interest in connecting questions of state
and society. Iris Marion Young, talking about the contribution of civil society to
democratisation, stresses that it is important not only because of its influence on political
leaders but also its direct effects on society. She highlights that civic associations open
the way to social innovation, as coordinated efforts enable people to experiment with
ways of living and doing things. This can lead to the development of alternative practices
that may be widely adopted.
In her holistic approach to democratisation, Mary Alice
Haddad shows the role that new and old every-day practices play in linking institutional
change (state) to value change (society). She builds her theory on the assumption that a
state is embedded in, rather than independent of, its society, and that democratisation is a
process involving mutual transformation of state and societal institutions, values and
practices. This approach highlights how grassroots organisations develop practices that
influence society and reinforce democratic values that penetrate the state’s institutions. It
allows the creation of an agency-driven model of democratisation as it takes into account
the actions of members of civic organisations and their relations to society and the state.
Within this framework that sees democratisation as a process of mutual
transformation of state and society, this article explores the channels through which the
movements for pedagogical renovation contributed to the transformation of Spain from
an authoritarian society controlled by a dictatorial state to a pluralistic polity sustaining
democratic procedures. This research therefore is not limited to the three years that passed
from the dictator’s death in 1975 to the proclamation of the new democratic constitution
in 1978, but tries to highlight these processes over more than a decade. It starts in 1970
with the regime’s final attempt to reform the education system and finishes in 1985 with
the educational reform initiated by the newly-elected socialist government.
The first movements for pedagogical renovation in the twilight of the Franco regime
Pedagogical movements and courses for professional improvement of teachers,
organised by teachers, themselves were a prominent feature of the Spanish education
system during the years of the transition to democracy. The phenomenon has its roots at
the end of the 19
century but it acquired a special significance as part of the struggle
against the dictatorship. Two pedagogical associations, Rosa Sensat and ACIES-
, played a key role in the augmentation of workshops for self-training of
teachers. The members of these organisations collaborated with local teachers’ groups to
organise Summer Schools (Escuelas de Verano). In many cases these Summer Schools
became the basis of new independent movements for pedagogical renovation. Thus by
the mid-1980s there were around 40 movements of this kind all over Spain.
The Rosa Sensat Institute from Barcelona was the biggest and most important
movement for pedagogical renovation in Spain during the last decade of the regime and
the years of the transition to democracy.
Barcelona, the capital of Cataluña, had an
especially rich tradition of pedagogical renovation which, due to the support of the
municipal and regional authorities, flourished under the second republic in the 1930s.
The arrival of the Franco regime was accompanied by ruthless reprisals against republican
teachers. This campaign put an end to pedagogical renovation in most parts of the country.
However in Cataluña, due to its vivid pedagogical tradition and its alliance with the
national project, alternative educational institutions recovered relatively early. Already in
the 1950s there were private schools working according to the ideas of the New School
These schools had to deal with the lack of adequate training of teachers
under the dictatorship and their ignorance of active educational methods. In order to
remedy this situation, several groups of educators organised classes and conferences for
professional improvement. The collaboration of these groups led in 1965 to the
foundation of the Rosa Sensat Association.
The name the Catalan militants chose for their pedagogical initiative, Rosa Sensat,
reflected their attachment to the region’s educational traditions. Rosa Sensat was a
teacher, who ran the first outdoor school in the municipality of Barcelona before the civil
war, and was famous for using innovative didactic methods. Their decision to carry out
their activities in Catalan manifested their commitment to disseminating the public use of
the vernacular language. In spite of the dictatorship’s campaign against Catalan, it
persisted in the private sphere. Re-introducing it into the classrooms, despite the official
prohibition, was seen as a crucial step in the revival of the local culture.
The first activity the new association offered was a winter course in which 15
teachers participated. Soon afterwards it started organising its Summer Schools, designed
to cover the needs of teachers who couldn’t attend the courses during the school year. The
number of participants in these summer courses grew quickly from 140 in the first year
to 1,250 in the third Summer School, organised in 1969. In the second half of the 1970s
the number of participants in these events reached 9,000.
Although Rosa Sensat
gradually became a bureaucratic institution which instigated ambitious research projects,
published numerous books and journals and was involved in many cultural and
educational initiatives, its Summer Schools continued to be its most famous activity
outside Cataluña.
Teachers from all over the country travelled to Barcelona to participate in the
Catalan Summer Schools and returned to their home towns with the Institute’s message
about the need for a scientific attitude to education, the importance of pedagogical
methods centred on the pupil, and the necessity of introducing new subjects into the
curriculum, such as sexual education and artistic expression. These ideas were perceived
as an efficient cure to the authoritarian heritage of the dictatorship and spread throughout
the teaching profession. Rosa Sensat’s early model of collective action was imitated by
many groups of teachers, which created local pedagogical movements and organised their
own Summer Schools. Thus although the Rosa Sensat institute emerged in Catalan
circles, it changed the face of education all over Spain.
Another movement which contributed to the spread of pedagogical movements
and their courses in the 1970s was ACIES-MCEP a Spanish association of followers of
the French educator Célestin Freinet.
Freinet worked at the beginning of the 20
century in southern France. His ideas were very popular in Spain during the second
republic, but as in the case of other pedagogical movements, the removal of republican
teachers after the civil war practically terminated its existence in Spain.
during the last years of the dictatorship he became an especially important source of
inspiration for teachers who wanted to change the Spanish education system. His ideas
about the importance of the school in the salvation of the working classes had a unique
appeal for teachers aspiring to overcome the class-ridden nature of the education system
under the Franco regime. His creative pedagogical techniques, assigning an important
role to the student, became a source of ideas for teachers who wanted to transform the
monotonous and authoritarian atmosphere they encountered in their classrooms.
At the beginning of the 1970s Freinet’s followers in Spain were already having
annual meetings, and their initiatives enjoyed the support of similar movements from
France and Italy as well as exiled Spanish teachers. Two publishers from Barcelona
printed Freinet’s works and contributed to the diffusion of his ideas.
The idea of
creating a Spanish organisation of teachers following Freinet’s pedagogy emerged
gradually and was finally crystallised in June 1973.
The name the militants chose for
their organisation, ACIES (Asociación para la Correspondencia y la Imprenta Escolar),
and its first constitution, were devoid of ideological connotations and referred to technical
aspects of its activities. However, its members were committed to the diffusion of
democratic education and to the salvation of the working classes.
Local branches of the Freinet movement were set up all over Spain.
local branch worked independently and had its own research teams investigating different
pedagogical theories and methods. The local branches were run by general assemblies
and their representatives attended the annual meetings of the national and international
Freinetian movements. In many places the local branches, in addition to offering their
own activities, cooperated with other entities in organising local Summer Schools for
Rosa Sensat and ACIES-MCEP collaborated in order to change the Spanish
education system, although they were ideologically very different. The militants of Rosa
Sensat came from the Catalan middle class and identified with its struggle to revive its
cultural traditions and political autonomy. They worked in private schools, mainly in
urban areas, and most of them held liberal or socialist views. Once the democratic
institutions had returned they collaborated with political parties and the local and national
authorities to institutionalise their activities. ACIES-MCEP, on the other hand, identified
with the needs of the working classes and strove for a just and egalitarian society. Most
of the movement’s militants worked in the public sector and many of them in a rural
context. Their political tendencies could be defined as communist or anarchist but they
rejected institutional politics and were ambivalent about collaborating with the
establishment even in the democratic era.
There were other educational institutions that, in spite of the dictatorship’s brutal
campaign against republican teachers, managed to survive or re-emerge. Spain had a rich
tradition of pedagogical experiments aspiring to modernize the country by innovating its
education services. The most emblematic initiative, which exercised great influence on
the educational policy of the second republic in the 1930s, was the “Institución Libre de
Enseñanza” (Free Institution of Education).
This movement was founded by a group
of followers of the German philosopher Karl Christian Friedrich Krause. They spoke out
against the reactionary tendencies which had spread in Spain in the late 19
especially with the domination of the education system by Catholic elements. The
institution was closed at the height of the Civil War, and the Franco regime demonised it
as a main cause of Spain’s ailments, from anarchy to secularism. Some of the ex-students
and teachers of the Madrid high school associated with the movement managed to open
and operate a private school, called Estudio. However, the school and its teachers did
not contribute actively to the emergence of the pedagogical movements in the second half
of the 1960s. The Institución Libre de Enseñanza was certainly a source of inspiration for
the emerging teachers’ movements, although it was labelled as bourgeois by some of the
more radical groups. Estudio conversely was perceived as a closed and elitist circle
preoccupied with its own pedagogical work and not particularly interested in changing
Spanish schools in general.
What distinguished Rosa Sensat and ACIES-MCEP was
their commitment to spreading educational renovation as part of a scheme to democratise
Spanish society. In order to replace the regime’s authoritarian, patriotic and Catholic
educational agenda they encouraged their colleagues to explore and share other
pedagogical methods by participating in and organising self-training workshops.
Self-training of teachers during the transition to democracy
The emergence of popular initiatives for professional perfection of teachers can
be divided into three stages. The first stage extended from the mid-1960s, when the first
pedagogical movements appeared, until the death of the dictator in 1975. At this stage it
was a semi-clandestine phenomenon, concentrated mainly around the initiatives of Rosa
Sensat in Barcelona and the few ACIES-MCEP groups, mostly in Valencia and the
Basque Country. The second stage of the expansion of the Summer Schools for teachers
coincided with the crucial years between Franco’s death and the proclamation of the
constitution in 1978. The pronounced political crisis and the growth of teachers’
mobilisation on issues related to working conditions and the freedom to unite gave a boost
to collective actions with a pedagogical-political agenda.
The influence of the Rosa Sensat Association, already famous for its pedagogical
ideas and training programs, extended during this stage along three main channels.
Firstly, teachers from all over the country were welcomed to take part in the association’s
activities. In 1976, for example, 15% of the 7,000 participants came from non-Catalan-
speaking areas.
Secondly, the members of Rosa Sensat participated actively in
organising pedagogical events. In fact, of the 154 teachers who participated in the first
Summer School in 1966, 105 were later involved in organising other schools.
a wave of new pedagogical journals gave ample coverage to the institute’s agenda and
activities. Rosa Sensat published its own journal, Perspectiva Escolar, in Catalan from
1974. However, Cuadernos de Pedagogía, also published in Barcelona, but in Spanish,
from its first edition in 1976 became the most important point of reference for pedagogical
renovation in Spain. Its reporters used to travel all over the country supplying coverage
to original pedagogical initiatives, thus contributing not only to the diffusion of the
phenomenon but also to its growing homogeneity.
The third stage of the expansion of the workshops for self-perfection of teachers
coincided with the consolidation of the democratic system between 1978 and 1982. The
constitution of 1978 reflected the delicate consensus between left and right in general and
particularly as regards education. In the following years the conservative government and
the progressive opposition struggled continuously over educational legislation. The
socialist victory in the elections of 1982 opened the way for the party’s far-reaching
educational reform of 1985. During this stage, the role of ACIES-MCEP in the expansion
of the phenomenon became especially pronounced. Its members had already collaborated
in the organisation of pedagogical events in Asturias, Valencia and the Basque Country
and in those years they also helped organise events in Castilla y León, Murcia, León,
Málaga, Jaén, La Mancha and Getafe.
Although it was a small movement its members
were very active in mobilising their colleagues. The number of pedagogical activities
grew steadily in this period, from 30 in 1979 to 52 in 1982.
The Summer Schools and the movements for pedagogical renovation emerged as
forms of opposition to the Franco regime and its authoritarian legacy in the education
system. They were rooted in the pre-civil war pedagogical tradition brutally repressed by
the dictatorship. At the same time they were part of a transnational wave of educational
innovation. The social rebellion of the 1960s inspired educational projects in both Europe
and the USA aimed at overcoming the capitalist and authoritarian characteristics of
education in liberal democracies. In the USA, we witness the rebirth of progressive
education as manifested by federal educational initiatives
on the one hand and the free
schools movement
on the other. In Europe, education systems such as England’s and
Germany’s saw teachers participation increase as a means to improve quality and enhance
This wave of international educational innovation was also nurtured by
the first texts by authors associated with what would later become known as critical
pedagogy, such as Paulo Freire and Ivan Illich. In Spain, after years of strict censorship,
from the second half of the 1960s the Franco regime relaxed the limitations on the
circulation of texts. The militants of the pedagogical movements were heavy consumers
of critical pedagogical texts.
They were exposed mainly to Latin American and
continental currents. Although their pedagogical approach was similar to the progressive
education tradition characterising English speaking countries, except in isolated cases,
they were not exposed to it directly.
Their contacts, first with English models and later
with American ideas, would become pronounced only from the mid-1980s.
Democratising classroom practices
The Summer Schools for teachers organised in Spain during the transition to
democracy had courses related to three main issues: educational policy, pedagogical
innovation and the professional improvement of teachers. Democratisation and education
were intertwined in these events, which tried to encourage teachers to adopt a critical and
active approach in order to contribute to the transformation of Spanish society. Learning
innovative methods and improving their work in the classroom were the main reasons
that brought teachers to attend these Summer Schools.
The Summer Schools became
spheres in which teachers shared what they perceived as democratising classroom
practices with their colleagues and developed new ones that were then applied by the
participants in classrooms all over the country.
The classroom practices of two important local pedagogical movements of the
time: Acción Educativa from Madrid and ACIES-MCEP from Salamanca, will serve in
order to illuminate how teachers took steps to liberate their classrooms. The story of
Acción Educativa is a typical example of how the model of Rosa Sensat spread outside
Cataluña. A group of teachers from Madrid decided to try to create a similar initiative in
their own city in order to change the teaching culture in the schools.
They maintained
a close relationship with the Catalan institute, which provided them practical support from
the very start.
In 1975-1976 Acción Educativa offered its first winter and summer
courses for teachers. In view of their success, its militants hired an office and appointed
a secretary, and thus took the first steps to establish their movement. Although Acción
Educativa was open to newcomers the founding group enjoyed a privileged position and
ensured that its summer and winter courses focused mainly on the active participation of
students in the educational process, on artistic expression in the classroom and on
scientific management of schools.
Among the founders of Acción Educativa, most of them women, there was a
majority of educators working for a chain of private schools belonging to El Hogar del
El Hogar del Empleado was a lay association inspired by the Jesuit order.
At the beginning of the 1970s the association had seven primary schools, nine secondary
schools and a nursery school.
Similar to other religious movements, in the 1960s, El
Hogar del Empleado adopted a critical attitude towards the regime and its policies. One
of the consequences of this ideological shift was a coordinated campaign to change the
conservative atmosphere in the association’s schools. This was done by hiring teachers
with a political and social commitment and encouraging them to introduce innovative
educational methods in their classrooms.
Although Acción Educativa emerged from
the private sector, its Summer Schools attracted many young teachers from both the
private and public education systems in Madrid.
The founders of the ACIES-MCEP branch in Salamanca also admired the
initiatives of Rosa Sensat, but unlike Acción Educativa they did not imitate its
organisational style. Instead they decided to join Freinet’s movement, whose ideas about
a social revolution were also manifested by the organisation’s flexible and egalitarian
structure. In a small and conservative place such as Salamanca, militants from very
different backgrounds found themselves collaborating in order to carry out collective
actions. Among the founders of the ACIES-MCEP branch we can identify four kinds of
militants: teachers who were members of or collaborated with the religious lay movement
the HOAC (Hermandad Obrera de Acción Católica), students of pedagogy, students at
the local school for teachers and members of the communist party.
They decided to
found a local branch of ACIES as a means of improving their own work in the classrooms
and create a solid group of militants, capable of changing the teaching culture in the
schools of the province. The group started holding meetings in 1973 and officially
founded the local branch in 1975.
The ACIES-MCEP of Salamanca grew to be an important factor in the national
movement of followers of Freinet and organised its annual meeting in 1976. In addition,
it became the centre of various activities in the province. First and foremost, it held regular
meetings in order to support its militants’ work in the classrooms. In addition it arranged
workshops aimed at diffusing Freinet’s techniques and in 1978 it participated in the
organisation of the first Summer School in Castilla y León.
Furthermore it was involved
in trade union activities of teachers, and its members played an important role in the
recovery of the teachers’ unions in Salamanca.
The members of ACIES-MCEP in
Salamanca also edited a column in a local newspaper in which they published pedagogical
and social articles and gave information about their work and initiatives.
For the members of Acción Educativa in Madrid and ACIES-MCEP in
Salamanca, classroom management became a tool in the struggle for democratising
In order to abolish the authoritarian relationship that governed the classrooms
many ACIES-MCEP militants chose to have their pupils sit in a circle or in a U shape.
The objective was to eliminate the special status of the teacher with respect to his pupils
and to convey a message of equality. Ex-students who attended the rural school in the
village of Pedroso de la Armuña in the province of Salamanca remembered clearly that
until the new teacher arrived at the school at the beginning of the seventies, boys and girls
used to sit in separate rows. Not only did the new teacher rearrange the chairs in a circle,
but also mixed boys and girls, an action which caused upheaval among the children.
another village in the province, Villares de Yeltes, the pupils often changed their seating
arrangements according to the varied activities they carried out and were aware of the fact
that sometimes they were put in a circle so as to be able to see each other during the
Also, in the case of Madrid, ex-pupils mentioned an unusual approach to
classroom management used especially among older students. During some of the classes
they were allowed to sit as they chose, even on the tables or on the floor. They were also
given the possibility to engage in private activities like reading during the lessons if they
did not want to participate in the lesson. Arranging the tables for working in small groups
was typical at both lower and higher levels in order to encourage collaboration and avoid
an authoritarian setup of the class.
In both educational contexts the authoritarian model was replaced by practices
seen as advancing democratic values. In Salamanca there was more emphasis on the
equality between the teacher and the student, who collaborated during the learning
process. In Madrid the message focused more on the importance of the freedom of the
student in the context of the classroom. Abandoning corporal punishment was another
important amendment these teachers introduced to their classrooms and which made a
lasting impression on their students, especially in rural areas.
“Although this year school changed and we enjoyed more freedom and the fear
of the cane and of exams was gone, we want to get rid of egoism and to be united,
something we haven’t achieved yet, although we have tried and we want to
achieve it before the end of the year. We have a friend who helped us to attain full
liberty and he taught us to understand the problems of life, helped us to get rid of
our fear and shyness… Although we are children we also feel and understand. We
want to prepare ourselves for a better future outside the school… although our
friend is leaving; we want the person who is going to substitute him to be the
same. We don’t want everything that was so difficult to achieve this year to be
destroyed. We don’t want to go back to punishments and the old grading system
but we want to be evaluated according to our work and participation in classes
(The children of Castellanos de Villiquera).
Naturally, when interpreting this text as well as others written by children in the
schools, one wonders to what extent the teacher was involved in its writing. In some cases
the participation of the teacher can be clearly seen from the texts. This shows that some
teachers used school texts to transmit messages to the community. In these cases it is
more difficult to treat the texts as genuine reflections of the children’s experiences.
However, the large quantity of oral testimonies I have gathered supports the interpretation
that these texts reflect, at least partly, the children’s perceptions. With respect to the
specific teacher mentioned in the text above I heard the following testimony.
“With Doña Feli we sat next to our desks and she explained things… With Don
Eduardo we sat around his desk and he explained singing, and if he asked you
something and you didn’t know the answer he hit you on your fingers… With
Don Santiago we had fun, he was very friendly and he took us to many places to
see things… to a dairy, to the cathedral, to a power station… every day he taught
something different; unlike with other teachers, you got up in the morning and
you wanted to go to school and find out what you were doing today…”
The ex-student mentions that the teacher was sociable and developed a close relationship
with his students. In addition it is clear that his way of teaching, taking his students to
visit different places, left a particularly vivid memory. This practice was not only intended
to vary the routine but was part of a rich pedagogical approach, infused with political and
social aspirations.
Part of the campaign to reduce the rigid atmosphere in the classroom and make
the children into autonomous human beings was to assign them an active role in the
educational process. An important method used both in Madrid and Salamanca was to
take the children out of the classroom to see different places, institutions, and situations
for themselves. On these trips the children were asked to describe and analyse what they
had seen. The aim was to ensure that the process of learning would be based on the pupils’
natural curiosity aroused by their immediate surroundings. Thus the didactic materials
used in the classroom were made by the pupils (with the help of the teachers) and there
was no need to use pre-written text books.
The children who attended the Hogar del Empleado schools in Madrid were taken
to different institutions such as the city hall, the fire station, different factories, the local
museums etc. Days in the countryside and film screenings were also organised on a
regular basis. These activities not only complemented the work done in the classroom,
but were an essential part of the obligatory curriculum and were accompanied by clear
“It was always interesting because when we participated in activities outside the
school, I remember that we had to do some kind of work, work related to the
activity. [T.G.: What kind of work?] Well, usually it was expressing our opinion
about what we had seen, got to know, or the films we went to, or the explanations
we got at a museum… it wasn’t just about whether we liked it or not but about
why, it was always why this and why that, we had to think, we had to form
opinions and not limit ourselves only to describing, we had to explain, to explain
things, and it was always positively rewarded, yes, and we also added drawings
and photos we took in different places.”
The children in the Hogar del Empleado schools were taught to distinguish between three
kinds of descriptions: the first was an objective-collective one, in which all the pupils
took part together, the second was an individual description in which each child gave his
opinion about the activity, and a third was a creative description, which meant the children
had to express their sentiments in poems, drawings etc.
The pupils were also sent outside the classroom to study subjects traditionally
given in the classrooms such as history, geography, maths and natural and social science.
In the case of Madrid the teachers put a special emphasis on providing a globalised
experience of learning. As a result every activity was used in the framework of several
“This book is dedicated to the city of Madrid. This work was done by all the
children from the fourth grade and written by me. I am Ágata. In order to write
this book we went a few times for a walk in the neighbourhood of Tetuán, and we
visited four other neighbourhoods: Mirasierra, Ciudad de los Periodistas, Barrio
del Pilar and Peña Chica. We also went to the municipal museum and to the city
hall. We also wanted to visit a rubbish dump but they never answered our
request… To understand other things we conducted polls and interviews. We also
read articles from newspapers, especially from the “Villa de Madrid”. I liked
making this book because we learnt many things. Ágata.”
The book mentioned in the quotation is 140 pages long and consists of the results of
Ágata’s work during the whole year. It has essays and stories she wrote about real events
such as car accidents and imagined ones like the disappearance of dustbins. It also
includes a variety of poems by different writers about the city accompanied by
grammatical and content analysis done by the pupil. A large part of the book is based on
her field work and includes lists of shops, means of transport, maps of different parts of
the city and descriptions of squares, markets and streets accompanied by drawings. The
children’s investigation of their city also included questionnaires given to the inhabitants
about their origin and occupation, thus dealing with questions related to population,
immigration and work. Moreover the children had to use their calculation skills to analyse
the data and then present it in graphs. With respect to the history of the city the children
conducted an interview with one of their grandparents and complemented it with
information they gathered during their visits to museums in the city. The globalised
approach to education comes out clearly when one goes through the book, as does the
effort to avoid frontal lectures and allow the pupils to work independently.
In the case of Salamanca the teachers used three techniques inspired by the work
of Freinet to ensure the pupils’ active participation in the learning process. The first
method was investigatory tasks where, similarly to Madrid, the children assumed the
responsibility for collecting data about specific topics, leaving the classroom frequently
in order to do so. The second one was Free Texts, whereby the pupils were encouraged
to write about whatever they found interesting. The result, according to Freinet’s
philosophy, reflected their world and was used in the classroom to instigate discussions
about different topics. The children’s texts were also used for teaching grammar and
writing. The third method was, perhaps, Freinet’s most famous pedagogical tool: the
printing of a school newspaper. This was aimed at encouraging the children to work
together in a common activity which blurred the boundaries between intellectual and
physical activity. The distribution of the newspapers among parents, neighbors and other
schools was intended to prompt communication between the school and its close social
Many of the texts published in the school newspapers reflected the teachers’
effort to foment awareness in their students of the social and economic realities
determining their lives. The following text from a school newspaper sent to Salamanca
from Extremadura illustrates this tendency.
In our village, Madrigal, there are many problems, almost the same problems as
in the rest of the region; one of them is that the young people have to emigrate
because there is no work, only agricultureHere in Madrigal we need sources of
amusement to enjoy ourselves for example the cinema that was taken away,
parks, refurbishing the schools. This is something that should be discussed. Our
classrooms are totally neglected.
The effort to liberate the students from the authoritarian atmosphere surrounding
them and transform them into creative and free-spirited people led the teachers of the
pedagogical movements to make extensive use of different artistic forms in the
classrooms. Plastic arts aimed at stimulating the pupils’ senses, allowing them to express
their creativity and encouraging them to communicate their feelings were part of the
routine in their classes. Many ex-students mentioned a variety of artistic and handiwork
activities carried out in the schools, like making plaster dolls, drawing using different
techniques, collages etc. An ex-student from the village Palacios del Arzobispo
mentioned that “With E.G. we took care of the garden, we decorated the walls; it was
very unusual.”
In most rural classrooms at the time, the portraits of Franco and Primo
de Rivera and the image of Christ were the only decoration. The village teacher mentioned
in the interview that she was even called to the village mayor’s office and was
reprimanded for sullying the walls with the children’s drawings.
Also in the case of
Madrid the widespread use of art in the classrooms was mentioned by ex-students, and
from the extensive collections of artefacts that parents kept from those years, one can
appreciate that drawing, writing poetry and other artistic activities were regular practices
in the classrooms.
Singing nights, dancing events and theatre shows were other kinds of artistic
initiatives that characterised the schools of ACIES teachers in Salamanca. Many of them
used the schools to revive local folkloric traditions in collaboration with the village
people. They compiled old songs for the students to perform, playing traditional
instruments, and also staged plays on special occasions.
Theatre was also an essential
part of the pedagogical work in the Hogar del Empleado schools in Madrid at the time.
The chain of schools participated in a local initiative of exposing children to the theatre
and organised its own theatre shows under the title Theatre for Children, by Children”.
An ex-student of one of the schools in Madrid recalled these events:
“We participated a lot in playsI remember it as a weekly activity, maybe it
wasn’t that frequent, but I remember that every Thursday we had to put on a play.
[T.G. What type of plays?] Whatever we wanted, we were divided into groups
and we had to decide everything: the topic, the script, everythingwe had total
freedom; that is what I remember, I remember it as a very creative process, and
then we acted in front of the classthe truth is that it was something really fun,
and I remember it as part of our routine, not as a one-off thingI don’t remember
if we had it for a year or even for longerit was a very open and creative activity
and we enjoyed it a lot...”
For some of the students, however, these activities were unpleasant. M.J., who studied in
her village Pedroso de la Armuña, mentioned that the theatre shows organised by the
teacher were stressful for her because she was ashamed to speak in public.
In fact, these
kinds of activities were designed not only to develop the students’ creativity but also to
build their confidence and encourage them to express themselves in front of others.
Encouraging the children to be active in the process of learning, to express
themselves freely and to articulate their opinions in the classroom was perceived as an
essential ingredient in a democratic political agenda for the school. In the guidelines of
the Hogar del Empleado educational centres it was declared that the education given to
the children should prepare them to:
“Change society: [education] has to create critical consciousness and creative
thinking towards social and technical things that ought to be improved.
Continuous development of the individual: as a physically and emotionally
healthy person, free and responsible for his community.”
The following testimony from Madrid shows how this agenda was translated to everyday
“I remember one thing that was lovely … we had an assignment which was, well,
it wasn’t an assignment … but anyway, it was to read newspapers and summarise
the news of the day, so we suddenly went from an education where we didn’t
know what was going on around us, to a school where … you had to be informed
about the world, you had to know if there were conflicts out there or not at
home, like I was saying before, my home wasn’t very politicised we had to
revolutionise that. I mean, we suddenly became active social agents, I came from
a school which wasn’t like that, where all you could do was learn, have few or
fewer opinions, do your exams well and dress up all nice and neat and lovely. And
suddenly I was in a school where your opinion mattered, where it was a good thing
to be informed, where creativity was valued. I suddenly found myself able to ask
questions, it was great…”
What the ex-pupil calls being an active social agent was an important message that was
disseminated in the schools in which members of the movements for pedagogical
renovation worked. The ex-pupil mentions three perceptions of the way the teachers’
treated their students which are related to this message. They gave them the feeling that
they were intelligent people, they encouraged them to express their opinions and they
pressed them to get involved in the surrounding society. When ex-students were asked to
give concrete examples of this attitude of their teachers they mentioned the fact that their
independent initiatives were usually received in a positive way, like when they organised
strikes or came up with an original research plan. They also mentioned that their opinions
were taken into account, as manifested by the fact that their representatives participated
in the evaluation meetings of students held by the teaching staff and that they enjoyed
different areas of responsibility such as running the school library.
Many of them spoke
of the fact that solidarity was an important value in their schools.
Texts from the period also reflect that different activities were designed to
strengthen social ties and to get the children to take an active part in their communities.
The following essay from Salamanca illustrates this phenomenon:
“We are a group of girls and boys from various villages doing many things. In the
meetings and the camps we spend a day or two together. We go in order to
introduce ourselves saying our names, to talk about some topics, to play together,
to chat so we will become friends. It is also done so all the villages will participate
in all the things we do… The idea is to get to know each other better, to become
friends, to care for each other, to really have fun, especially among the villages
which are close to ours, to become more responsible and do something in the
village so in the future we will all be friends and a day will come when there will
be no wars or any other bad things people do.”
Even if the children did quote their teachers without fully understanding their intentions,
this is after all a natural step in the process of learning, often followed by an adoption of
the message. In addition to the importance of taking an active part in social affairs, in this
text, we see another important message originating from the schools, especially in the
case of the ACIES-MCEP teachers: the importance of collective actions in order to better
the situation. Following Freinet, the ACIES-MCEP teachers saw in the school an
important tool for instigating collective action in rural areas both among children and the
ACIES-MCEP teachers initiated many projects to improve conditions in the
school by getting the children and the parents to collaborate with them. In the village El
Maillo, the children made paper dolls and sold them. With the money they bought books
for the school library.
The children of Palacios del Arzobispo used a sum of money
they obtained in a similar way to buy materials for the school.
The message was that
by collaborating the children could improve the situation.
This process of making the children aware of the problems of their school and
village and getting them to take action to remedy them was part of what the ACIES-
MCEP teachers called democratic education.
“…Democracy is not something that you improvise: that is why we think that in
many of our classes democratic management which is based on the analysis of
the student’s reality and context can be the right method. By having this as the
starting point, you provide the child with concrete situations of learning which
are socially efficient while you encourage his gradual participation in taking
decisions which have social and individual value…”
Following this theory, the teachers used a method called the Class Assembly. In the
assembly, held once a week, the teacher and students discussed a variety of issues. They
decided on a weekly working plan and talked about the previous week. In some cases,
during the week the children filled in a chart that was hung on a wall. The chart had three
columns: I suggest; I criticise; I praise. The children could refer in the chart to any topic
they wanted, like events that happened in the village, subjects studied in the classroom
and the behaviour of their classmates. The assembly dealt with these topics, their
significance and ways of coping with them. The discussions of the children’s behaviour
made the assembly a means for regulating social relationships in the classroom.
One of the ACIES-MCEP teachers working in 1973-1974 with children from nursery
to year three started a discussion with the pupils about what was going on in the school.
The description of the assembly was published in the local newspaper.
“From this day on the children started to think about how to reward those who
behaved well, and punish those who didn’t. They also decided to choose a
representative from each age group to be responsible for his peers and guide them
about what they should do and how they should do it… At the beginning of this
year they proposed to divide the class into four groups of children of different
ages and that these groups would change every term… On 10 February they
offered to cancel the assembly because it required the children to do things outside
the school, and also to cancel the groups. After much thought and discussion it
was agreed that the assemblies will serve to organise the weekly work of the class.
They will be held on Mondays and on this day there will be no classes, only
From the description one can sense the dynamics of what was going on in the classroom
and that it was decided largely by the children. Different initiatives did not always come
out the way the teachers had expected. In this case the pupils even proposed to cancel the
assembly. In the end they continued with it, probably due to the teacher’s encouragement.
Using the assembly directly affected everyday life in the classroom. One of the
pupils who studied in the rural school of Pedroso de la Armuña complained about the fact
that girls had to wear a sort of uniform to school while boys were exempt. This topic was
discussed in the class assembly, and it was decided to release the girls from this
obligation. Two other topics, also related to gender roles, were dealt with in a similar
way: the girls’ right to play football and the boys obligation to take part in cleaning the
This second topic was also mentioned by an ex-student from
Cantalapiedra who recalled that because at school boys and girls did everything together,
she protested to her parents about the fact that at home her brother was free from any
domestic chores.
It is interesting how gender-related questions became a recurrent
topic of discussion in the class and outside it. This is a clear example of how the school
became a place where the village’s conservative values were challenged by the
progressive views of the teacher.
In Hogar del Empleado schools in Madrid the assembly was not used as a
pedagogical tool but it was still part of everyday life in the schools, especially at later
stages. Some teachers encouraged the children to organise assemblies and showed them
how to do it. These assemblies were presented as a collective way to confront common
challenges. The pupils discussed different issues and possibilities of action.
In some
cases the solution was declaring a students’ strike.
“When I was in my first year of middle school, when I was about fourteen or
fifteen we organised a strike in order to protest against the dismissal of one of the
teachers, or maybe they wanted to fire her… in the end she came back to work…
I remember the strike, I remember we were in the class room without studying
and being rowdy, we were 14, the truth is that although we were politically
conscious we were also “wildly conscious” [T.G. Who declared the strike?] I
think that the children did, but it is difficult to know if there wasn’t somebody
behind stirring things up.”
Political practices common in Spanish society at the time, especially in the big
cities, were hence reflected in the Hogar del Empleado schools. The policy was not only
to allow the struggle for democracy to penetrate the schools, but to actively expose the
children to it. This attitude of the Hogar del Empleado schools made them an important
institution in the circles of the opposition to the regime and children from all over the city
were sent to them. At the same time they still served families from the local
neighbourhoods, providing a type of education that often clashed with the political culture
these children experienced at home. The ex-pupil quoted above mentioned that his mother
told him years later that she regrets sending him to one of these schools.
The case of Salamanca was naturally different. Here the villages were small and
isolated and their society conservative and politically passive. The ACIES-MCEP
teachers thus used the schools to encourage collective actions among the village
community. A clear example is their campaign against the plan for the unification of
schools. The educational reform of 1970 tried to advance a model of a school with 8
grades and at least 240 students. This model was a long way from reality in rural areas
where every village had its own school in which children of different ages studied
together. It was claimed that the new schools would provide better education because they
would have more resources and offer a variety of teachers specialising in different
subjects. However, in some of the villages, this program met with opposition. The parents
maintained that the new plan would force the children to travel long distances and spend
most of the day outside the village. There were also protests against the fact that the
villages would be left without the younger generation and in many cases without their
only cultural institution.
Many teachers also felt dissatisfaction with the new plan and it thus came up for
discussion in a general meeting of the teachers of the province held on 23 September
1977. At the meeting it was decided to appoint a committee which would provide
information about the plan and try to initiate a public debate about it with the participation
of the villagers.
Members of the ACIES-MCEP branch of Salamanca stood behind
this initiative, although they did not identify themselves as such.
The committee
started its work by contacting the local education administration demanding more
information about the plan, and it developed a set of standards for evaluating it.
“Our working plan, in spite of being complex, is not complicated committees in
all the villages, an examination of the plan area by area and a common
development of an alternative. Maybe this way we will get over the bad feeling
over the unification plan and provide a solution coming from the people, a solution
that could not be provided by high ranking officials. This is also education.”
The intention was clear. In addition to an attempt to find a solution which served the
needs of the village community, it was seen as an opportunity to encourage the rural
society to assume responsibility for decisions affecting its future. The effort to instigate
and coordinate the mobilisation of the villagers was quite successful, as at least 127 rural
communities responded to the committee’s call.
This initiative was, perhaps, more
ambitious than the pedagogical ones discussed so far, as it involved a direct clash with
the educational administration; nevertheless it still stemmed from the teachers’
professional lives. ACIES-MCEP teachers tended to collaborate with village
communities to achieve different social goals all over the country, as can be appreciated
from their periodical Colaboración.
Teaching in the late Franco period and during the transition to democracy
These practices were developed under the dictatorship and carried out during the
last years of Franco’s life and the uncertain period that followed his death. Several factors
contributed to teachers ability to use these methods and even disseminate their usage
among their colleagues. The expansion of the cycle of protest from the mid-1960s obliged
the regime to alternate between progressive legislation that relaxed the strict control on
civil society and violent repression of any clear signs of direct opposition. Primary and
secondary schools were not perceived as potential sites of resistance and consequently
were not intensively monitored. Teachers working at the time testified that the inspectors
visits were rare and limited to beaurocratic issues. The relative independence and
freedom of Spanish teachers also impressed a foreign visitor who carried out a study on
educational reform at the time.
Secondly, the educational authorities were actually involved in a far-reaching
attempt to modernise the education system, which culminated in the 1970 General Law
of Education. In the framework of the reform teachers were encouraged to adopt
innovative pedagogical projects, some inspired directly by progressive education trends,
neutralising, of course, their political significance and implications. Due to its apparent
liberal tone the law did not receive the support of the regime, which cancelled the
economic reform intended to finance it. Nevertheless it did eventually pass as part of the
dictatorship’s effort to adopt a more liberalised facade. Teachers influenced by the
pedagogical movements could thus carry out innovative projects in the framework of the
law without drawing too much attention, as long as they dissimilated their social and
political agenda.
Thirdly, teachers social standing has to be taken into account in order to explain
their capacity to change the education system from below. Spain was in the midst of its
transformation from traditional to industrialised society. Due to their knowledge and
training, teachers still enjoyed a relatively high social position, especially in rural and
semi-urban areas.
As was mentioned in many interviews, although unconventional
methods were used in the schools, parents did not tend to interfere due to the teacher’s
status in the community. Lastly, in many places such as Catalonia or Madrid the most
ambitious pedagogical projects were carried out in educational centres connected to
religious institutions. This gave them a certain level of immunity, as the church, in spite
of its growing criticism towards the regime, was still considered its ally.
The innovative pedagogical projects varied substantially in extent. In the private
sector in addition to isolated schools we can find chains of schools or associations of
educational centres such as El Hogar del Empleado or the schools of the Coordinadora
Escolar connected to Rosa Sensat. In the public sector we mostly find small groups of
teachers trying to carry out their projects in collaboration with their colleagues, sometimes
managing to change the orientation of a whole school. From the mid-1960s, due to
infrastructure problems the Ministry of Education collaborated with initiatives of groups
of parents and teachers to establish public schools. This arrangement opened the way for
public schools with a specific pedagogical agenda. Two famous examples from Madrid
are “Colegio Trabenco and Colegio Siglo XXI, which followed Freinet’s ideas, but
there were also schools of this kind in other regions. In rural areas many schools were
small and had one or two teachers. In these cases an active teacher could change not only
the lives of his students but of the whole rural community, while other villages were left
out of the influence of the local pedagogical movements.
Generally speaking, from the mid-1960s, innovative pedagogical work in the
classrooms did not bring the teachers into direct conflict with the authorities. However
the situation was far more complicated with regard to their efforts to disseminate their
pedagogical agenda through the training sessions. The spread of the pedagogical activities
aroused suspicion in local authorities, who on more than one occasion imposed
limitations on them. The I Xornadas do Ensino de Galicia (First Teaching Days of
Galicia) were interrupted during the second day by the local governor of Orense and the
600 participants were sent home. The organisers of the Summer School in Valencia also
came up against difficulties when they tried to obtain permission to hold it, and in 1975
it was prohibited by the local governor three days before its opening. The Summer School
was first able to be held in the region in 1976 with 1,000 people in attendance.
the dictator’s death and with the advancement of the negotiations between his successors
and the representatives of the opposition it became easier to organise these kinds of
events, although in some cases the local authorities continued to interfere.
From the classrooms to official practices
Analysing the everyday experiences of teachers related to Acción Educativa from Madrid
and ACIES-MCEP from Salamanca reveals how teachers became agents of democratic
culture in their workplace. Assessing the presence of this trend in the education system
during Spain’s transformation from a dictatorship to a consolidated democracy is a
complicated task. Up to the end of the 1960s these were isolated educational projects
(though sometimes extensive ones) carried out semi-clandestinely. However, from the
first half of the 1970s, due to the expansion of the movements for pedagogical renovation
and the changing political circumstances, these projects become a visible social
phenomenon with a clear presence in educational circles. This process was initiated by
small local groups of committed militants that emerged all over the country. There were
differences among regions with regard to the popularity of the pedagogical
Yet even in places where the number of activists was relatively low, due
to their high level of activity and social contacts with parents, the municipal authorities
and other social movements, they gained enough visibility to make their projects part of
the educational panorama at the time.
The fact that the annual number of participants in the training sessions in the end
of the late 1970s and early 1980s reached 25,000 is an indication of the popularity of
pedagogical renovation, but it by no means gives the whole picture.
It is difficult to
know how many participants were repeating and how many new teachers were exposed
to these ideas each year. More importantly, these participants went back to their schools
and communities disseminating what they had learnt in wider circles. For a new
generation of teachers that aspired to liberate their country from the legacy of the
dictatorship the movements became pedagogical fashion icons that illuminated the
democratic future of Spain. This process eventually changed the panorama of teachers
training in Spain during the transition to democracy and had clear consequences for
educative legislation in the 1980s.
For many years the dictatorship gave importance mainly to the initial preparation
of teachers and to their political loyalty. The first time the regime took serious steps to
improve teachers’ continuous training was in the framework of its great reform to
modernise the education system in 1970.
The authorities set up Institutes of Education
(Institutos de Ciencias de la Educación) in all Spanish universities in order to prepare
teachers to carry out the new educational reform. However the courses offered by these
institutions were harshly criticised for not covering teachers’ practical needs. They were
contrasted with the activities of the movements for pedagogical renovation which were
better suited to respond to the professional needs of teachers, faced with the rapid change
in Spanish society. Even the Ministry of Education treated the pedagogical movements
as the main suppliers of teacher training in Spain in that period. In a survey carried out
by the educational authorities in 1985 state teachers had to assess different aspects of
their work. When asked to evaluate their on-the-job training the teachers were requested
to compare three kinds of organisations: The Institutes of Education, the movements for
pedagogical renovation and the pedagogical movements’ summer schools.
activities of the movements for pedagogical renovation were assigned an equivalent
status to those offered by the state. Between the mid-1970s and the mid-1980s they
became an integral part of teachers’ training and were evaluated more positively than the
official Institutes of Education.
The important status acquired by the movements for pedagogical renovation and
the social projection they have reached was also manifested by the growing number of
projects they carried out in collaboration with local authorities. Once the democratic
institutions were reinstated, the newly elected municipal and regional authorities relied
on the local movements for pedagogical renovation to provide them with both content
and manpower for their educational initiatives. The case of Acción Educativa illustrates
this tendency. In the academic year 1980-1981, the association participated in
pedagogical workshops in a couple of neighbourhoods in the capital such as Carabanchel,
in a course for teachers about using theatre in the classroom (organised by the city council
of Valladolid) and in a research project financed by the Ministry of Culture with the
collaboration of two museums in the capital. The following year the association
collaborated with the provincial government on a series of projects, among them an
investigation into science teaching, a campaign for advancing the pedagogical uses of
images and artistic activities for children and teachers. It also collaborated with Madrid
city council in an initiative called “Madrid para los Niños” (Madrid for Kids).
the local authorities of Madrid created the Madrid Centre for Pedagogical Research
(Centro Madrileño de Investigaciones Pedagógicas). Its objectives were directly based
on the agenda of the pedagogical renovation movements: updating Madrid’s educational
centres, providing training to members of the educative community (teachers, students,
and parents) and increasing social awareness about questions of education and society.
In addition to supplying much of the content to the local educational entities, the
movements for pedagogical renovation also provided them with experienced
professionals with a clear vision of the role of education in a democratic society. Many
of the members of Acción Educativa, for example, were recruited by the educational
entities both at the municipal and regional levels.
In their new posts all over the
country, the members of the pedagogical movements advanced projects inspired by their
experiences in the classrooms and in the training sessions for teachers. They also aimed
to further reinforce the working relationship between the establishment and the
pedagogical movements. Marta Mata was perhaps the most famous figure related to the
movements for pedagogical renovation at national level. She was one of the founding
members of the Rosa Sensat Institute in Barcelona and with the transition to democracy
she became a political figure. Her political career started when in 1976 she joined
Convergencia Socialista, which became the Partido Socialista de Cataluña (PSC-PSOE).
She was a member of the Parliament of Cataluña in the 1980s and also represented
Cataluña in the national senate. Later she was a member and then the president of the
state Consejo Escolar (Educational Committee). From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s
she was also the head of the education department of the municipality of Barcelona.
Marta Mata was the most salient example of the penetration of the members of
the pedagogical movements into the establishment. She used her public prestige and
political influence to guarantee continuous co-operation between the Ministry of
Education and the pedagogical movements. In March 1983 the new minister of education,
José María Maravall, participated in the fifth assembly of the movements and announced
the creation of a ministerial commission that would examine possible paths for
collaboration. The same year, participation in the pedagogical movements’ summer
schools was subsidised by the state and the first national congress for pedagogical
movements was also sponsored by public funds.
However, the official collaboration between the establishment and the
pedagogical movements ran into difficulties. First, the gap between the dynamics that
characterise an alternative social movement on the one hand and an elected government
on the other burdened the working relationship. For political, economic and bureaucratic
reasons the establishment fell short of the demands of the movements for the
democratisation of educative processes. Second, the movements themselves never
reached an agreement on the nature of their relationship with the establishment. There
was a clear difference between associations such as Acción Educativa and Rosa Sensat,
which saw their collaboration with the establishment as a natural development, and
movements such as ACIES-MCEP which did not want to jeopardise their autonomy.
Therefore the movements never became a united social actor with a consolidated strategy.
Third, the new socialist government appropriated many of the movements’ ideas and
practices, thus reducing their social presence.
The most salient example of this process was the creation of the Teachers Centres
(Centros de Profesores).
The ministry of education sought to synthesise the teacher
training provided by the Education Institutes and the courses of the pedagogical
movements. The Teachers Centres were designed with the help of the pedagogical
movements in order to dynamise teachers’ continuous training. Their aims were to
involve teachers in the planning and development of continuous training, to promote
pedagogical research and innovation, and to advise the centres about the usage of new
didactic materials. The centres, similarly to the pedagogical movements, sought to
become forums for the development, discussion and diffusion of pedagogical methods
based on the teachers’ experiences in the classrooms. Thus, in many respects, Teachers
Centres substituted the functions of the pedagogical movements and recruited many of
their members. This process meant that the pedagogical movements lost part of their
justification and consequently their professional appeal and social projection.
The Teachers Centres were part of an effort to democratise the education system
which was later extended by the socialist law of education of 1985.
building upon the educative declarations of the 1978 constitution, integrated the
pedagogical movements demands to include teachers, students and other social forces in
the running of the education system. It thus ordered that each school would have at least
two managing bodies, an Educative Committee (Consejo Escolar, including
representatives of the teachers, the auxiliary staff, the students, the parents and the local
authorities) and a Claustro (the teaching staff). According to the LODE the Educative
Committee and the headmaster shared responsibility for running the school. The
Educative Committee was also the body that elected the headmaster. In addition,
Educative Committees were constituted on the municipal, provincial, regional and
national levels, opening the education system to civic participation.
The movements for pedagogical renovation were ambivalent toward many aspects
of this model. While some of them saw these arrangements as a clear commitment to
democratisation of the education system, others declared that their representative nature
prevented any real distribution of authority.
However, even the fiercest critics could
not deny that the LODE, based on the socialist educational tradition and inspired by
pedagogical practices of the years of the transition, opened the way to including more
social actors in the functioning of the education system, starting with the schools, through
the regional authorities and up to the level of national policy-making.
The pedagogical movements’ democratising efforts were disseminated by their
work in the schools, their training activities and their collaboration with the local and later
national educational authorities. Their influence was exercised mainly through the
diffusion of their practices and values, which also reached the state’s institutions. The
traces of their projects can be detected in many spheres of the education system, mainly
with regard to teachers’ training and procedures of participation, but also in specific areas
such as pre-school education, rural educational centres, compensatory programs etc. A
radical change of the education system in order to incorporate their experimental spirit
and civic commitment was more complicated, as it clashed with powerful conservative
currents as well as with bureaucratic traditions. Although the innovative trend was very
popular in the 1970s and 1980s it gradually faded and currently it is kept alive by small
nuclei of militants. These processes combined with the fact that the pedagogical
movements never managed to set themselves up as an efficient social actor might explain
why, although they were a well-known social and educational phenomenon at the time,
they are not included in the narrative of the transition even by authors that deal with the
recuperation of Spanish civil society. The members of the pedagogical movements
aspired to change the political culture of their country and influence its future by
transforming their workplace. The boundary between their professional lives and political
aspirations was clearly blurred. Their case demonstrates the strategies used by Spanish
citizens to actively overcome their country’s authoritarian past. The practices developed
by the movements and the values they embodied had consequences not only on their own
students and colleagues but also on the political culture of the Spanish educational
For publications questioning the existence of large-scale social mobilisations, or at least their importance,
see: Charles Powell, El piloto del cambio. El rey, la monarquía y la transición a la democracia (Barcelona,
1991); Richard Gunther, Spain: The Very Model of the Modern Elite Settlement, in John Highley and
Richard Gunther, eds., Elites and Democratic Consolidation in Latin America and Southern Europe (New
York, 1992);Cayo Sastre García, Transición y Desmovilización Política (Valladolid, 1997). For authors
who focused on civil society’s initiatives and claimed they fulfilled a significant role in the unfolding of
the process see: José Maravall, Dictatorship and Political Dissent: Workers and Students in Franco’s Spain
(London, 1978); Joe Foweraker, Making Democracy in Spain: Grass-roots Struggle in the south, 1955-
1975 (Cambridge, 1989); Carme Molinero y Pere Ysàs, Movimientos sociales y actitudes políticas en la
crisis del franquismo, Historia Contemporánea 8 (1992): 269-279; Víctor Pérez Díaz, The Return of Civil
Society: The Emergence of Democratic Spain (London, 1993).
The following publications based on conferences from the last few years illustrate this new tendency:
Carme Molinero, ed., La transición, treinta años después (Barcelona, 2006); Rafal Quirosa-Cheyrouze,
coord., Historia de la Transición en España (Madrid, 2007); Damián A. González Madrid, coord., El
Franquismo y la Transición en España. desmitificación y reconstrucción de la memoria de una época
(Madrid, 2008).
For an analysis of this phenomenon see: Monica Threlfull, Reassessing the Role of Civil Society
organizations in the Transition to Democracy in Spain, Democratization 15:5 (2008): 930-951.
Xavier Domenech Sampre, El cambio político (1962-1976). Materiales para una perspectiva desde
abajo, Historia del Presente 1 (2002): 46-67.
References to this sociological data regarding Spain and its capital can be found in: Santos Julía, Area
metropolitan, capital industrial,” in Santos Julía, David Ringrose and Cristina Segura, Madrid. Historia de
una capital (Madrid, 1994).
Carme Molinero y Pere Ysás, Productores disciplinados y minorías subversivas. Clase obrera y
conflictividad laboral en la España franquista (Madrid, 1998); Sebastián Balfour, La dictadura, los
trabajadores y la ciudad. El movimiento obrero en el área metropolitana de Barcelona (1939-1988)
(Valencia, 1994).
José María Maravall, Dictadura y Disentimiento Político (Madrid, 1978); José Álvarez Cobelas,
Envenenados de Cuerpo y Alma: La oposición universitaria en Madrid (1939-1970) (Madrid, 2004);
Eduardo González Calleja, Rebelión en las aulas. Movilización y protesta estudiantil en la España
Contemporánea 1865-2008 (Madrid, 2009).
Elena Hernández Sandioca, Miguel Ángel Ruiz Carnicer y Marc Baldó Lacomba, Estudiantes contra
Franco (1939-1975) oposición política y movilización juvenil (Madrid, 2007).
Three main phenomena marked the emergence of Catalan nationalism as a mass movement: The Nova
Cancó Catalana (The New Catalan Folk Song) that became a symbol of resistance not only in Catalonia but
all over Spain; The Assembly of Cataluña (Asamblea de Catalonia), a unitary movement founded in 1971;
and the emergence of solidarity collective actions. Montserrat Guibernau, “Nationalism and Intellectuals in
Nations without States: The Catalan Case,” Political Studies 42 (2000): 989-1005. For publications on the
political opposition to Franco in Cataluña see: Albert Balcells y Josep Maria Solé i Sabate, Aproximación
a la historia de la oposición al régimen franquista en Cataluña, en Tusell et al. coord., La oposición al
régimen de Franco, (Madrid, 1990), 275-301. Andrew Dowling, The Reconstitution of Political
Catalanism 193975, International Journal of Iberian Studies, 14:1 (2001): 17-25. Some research has
been also done about women’s and neighbours’ organisations see for example: Manuel Castells, Ciudad,
democracia y socialism: la experiencia de las asociaciones vecinales madrilñás (Madrid, 1977); Pamela
Radcliff, Citizens and Housewives: The Problem of Female Citizenship in Spains Transition to
Democracy,” Journal of Social History, 36:1 (2002): 77-98.
For an interesting comparison between the Catalan and Basque national movements see: Daniel Conversi,
The Basques, the Catalans and Spain: Alternative routes to National Mobilization (London, 1997).
Similar initiatives of qualified workers to change the characteristics of their profession as part of a
campaign to culturally transform their country appeared also among doctors, psychologists and lawyers.
Jean Grugel, Democratization. A Critical Introduction (New York, 2002), 17-20.
Gabriel A. Almond and Sidney Verba, The Civic Culture (Princeton, 1963).
Larry Jay Diamond, “Toward Democratic Consolidation,” Journal of Democracy, 5:3 (1994): 5.
Elizabeth Jelin, “Citizenship Revisited: Solidarity, Responsibility and Rights”, in E. Jelin and
E.Hersberg, eds., Contructing Democracy: Human Rights, Citizenship and Society in Latin America
(Boulder, CO, 1996), 104. Quoted in Jean Grugel, op. cit., 95.
Iris Marion Young, Inclusion and Democracy (Oxford, 2002), 166.
Haddad develops her theory about democratisation using the State in Society approach of Joel Midgal
presented in Joel Migdal, State in Society: Studying How States and Societies Transform and Constitute
One Another (New York, 2001). Mary Alice Haddad, The state-in-society approach to the study of
democratization with examples from Japan,” Democratization 17: 5 (2010): 997 - 1023.
ACIES (Asociación para la Correspondencia y la Imprenta Escolar) was the original name of the
association, which after Franco’s death was changed to MCEP (Movimiento Cooperativo de Escuela
Relatively little research has been done about this important movement. Jordi Monés i Pujol-Basquets,
Els Primers Quinze Anys de Rosa Sensat (Barcelona, 1981).
Jaume Carbonell, Journey through a Century of Primary School in Barcelona, Ajuntament de
Barcelona, Institut d’Educació, Un segle D’escola a Barcelona Acció municipal i popular 1900-2003
(Barcelona, 2003); Marta Mata, A Century of the Relationship between City, the Educational
Administration and Barcelona City Council, Ibid.
The most influential educators in Catalonia at the time were Maria Montessori, Jean-Ovide Decroly and
Célestin Freinet. Jaume Carbonell, De la ley general de educación a la alternativa de escuela pública-
Algunas notas introductorias sobre los movimientos sociales en el sector de la enseñanza, Revista de
Educación, extraordinario (1992): 237-255. The methods of Maria Montessori were especially popular
in Barcelona in the first third of the 20
century and schools following her methods were among the first
to recuperate the Dictatorship’s brutal repression. Teachers applying her methods played a crucial role in
the foundation of Rosa Sensat. See: Àngel Alsina i Joan Soler (coord.), M. Antònia Canals: El compromís
amb la renovació de l’escola (Vic, 2004).
Conversando con Marta Mata, Cuadernos de Pedagógia 49 (January, 1979).
Marta Mata i Garriga, La escuela de Maestros Rosa Sensat de Barcelona, Perspectivas. Revista
trimestral de educación, 15:1 (1985):129-135; Monés, op. cit., 81.
About Freinet see: Victor Acker, Célestin Freinet (Westport, CT, 2000).
For information about Freinets influence in Spain during this period see: Fernando Jiménez Mier y
Terán, “La revista “Colaboración” - Órgano del movimiento Freinet en España,” Historia de Educación,
14-15 (1995-1996): 541-557; Movimiento Cooperativo de Escuela Popular, La escuela moderna en España
(Madrid, 1979); idem, Freinet en España (Barcelona, 1996); Jose María Hernández Díaz y Jose Luis
Hernández Huerta, Bosquejo histórico del movimiento Freinet en España. 1926-1939,” Foro de Educación
9 (2007): 169-202.
These publications included, among many others, the following titles: C. Freinet, Las invariantes
pedagógicas (Barcelona, 1972); Idem, La formación de la infancia y la de la juventud (Barcelona, 1972);
Idem, La enseñanza de las ciencias (Barcelona, 1973); Idem, La lectura en la escuela por medio de la
imprenta (Barcelona 1973); Idem, El diario escolar (Barcelona, 1974).
Ferran Zurriaga, Intinerario de la Escuela Moderna, Cuadernos de pedagogía 54 (1979).
In the congress held in 1977, more than 700 teachers participated from local branches in Ávila,
Alicante, Asturias, Barcelona, Cáceres, Cádiz, Córdoba, A-Coruña, Ciudad Real, Granada, Islas Canarias,
Guipúzcoa, Gerona, Huesca, León, Lugo, Madrid, Málaga, Murcia, Orense, Palencia, Mallorca,
Pontevedra, Segovia, Salamanca, Sevilla, Soria, Teruel, Tenerife, Toledo, Valencia, Zaragoza and Vizcaya.
Although the militants of ACIES-MCEP were very active, their movement was not as well-known as
Rosa Sensat. Information about their participation in the organisation of pedagogical events can be found
in the annual reports about the Escuelas de Verano published by the journal Cuadernos de Pedagogía in
the 1970s.
For studies about the Institución Libre de Enseñanza see, for example: Antonio Jiménez-Landi, La
Institución Libre de Enseñanza y su ambiente (Madrid, 1973); Antonio Molero Pintado, La Institución
Libre de Enseñanza: Un proyecto de reforma pedagógica (Madrid, 2000).
The founders of Acción Educativa, the most important movement for pedagogical renovation which
operated in Madrid, declared openly that in their effort to change the teaching culture in their city they
could not find any local allies and had to turn to Rosa Sensat for help and support. Acción Educativa, X
Escuela de Verano (Madrid, 1985), 7-8.
Data from el Boletín del Instituto Rosa Sensat, November 1976, quoted in: Elejabeitia, Carmen, et al.,
El maestro. Análisis de las escuelas de verano (Madrid, 1983), 304.
Marta Mata i Garriga, op. cit., 129-135.
“Movimientos de renovación pedagógica - Castilla La Mancha Asociación para la cooperacn
investigación y difusión educativa,” Vida Escolar 223 (1983): 53-55; “Movimientos de renovación
pedagógica - La Rioja,” Vida Escolar 223 (1983): 136 139; “Movimientos de renovación pedagógica -
Andalucía - Los grupos pedagógicos MCEP de Jaén,” Vida Escolar 223 (1983): 22-25.
Elejabeitia, op.cit., 308-309.
William Hayas, The Progressive Education Movement (Lanham, Maryland 2007), 35-55.
Ron Miller, Free Schools Free People. Education and Democracy after the the 1960s (Albany, New
York, 2002).
Torsten Husen and T. Neville Postlethwaite, Enciclopedia Internacional de la Educación (Barcelona,
1989), 1165.
For a study of Paulo Freire’s impact on teachers in Spain in the 1970s see: Tamar Groves, Looking
up to Paulo Freire: education and political culture during the Spanish transition to democracy,
Paedagogica Historica 47:5(2011): 701-717.
The most important exception was A.S. Neill book about Summerhill which circulated in Spain in the
1970s. For example: A.S. Neill, Summerhill: un punto de vista radical sobre la educación de los niños
(Mexico, 1976). Neill was also a crucial source of inspiration of the free schools movement in the USA.
I wish to thank Prof. Anton Costa and Prof. Joan Soler for discussing with me at length the foreign
influence on the movements for pedagogical renovation in the 1970s and for providing me with relevant
Elejabeitia, op. cit., 349-351.
A letter from February 1976. Can be found in the private archive of Dolores Requena.
Acción Educativa, X Escuela de Verano (Madrid, 1985).
Documents from the private archive of Dolores Requena: Acta-resumen reunión de coordinadores
ciencias sociales 1 escuela de verano Madrid 25 de junio de 1976; Resumen reunión ciencias sociales 8
de mayo de 1976; Buletín informativo noviembre 1976; “I escuela de verano en Madrid del 6 al 11 de
Five of the eight founders of Acción Educativa spoke of the close relationship between the pedagogical
movement and El Hogar del Empleado. L.R., E.L., A.P., C.E., and M.M. in interviews with the author,
Madrid 2007-2008.
Fundación Hogar del Empleado, Actividad Educativa de la Fundación Hogar del Empleado. Memoria
de la sección de Enseñanza curso 1973-1974; Actividad Educativa de la Fundación Hogar del Empleado.
Memoria de la sección de Enseñanza curso 1976-1977; Actividad Educativa. Memoria 1977-1978.
J.A.C., who was the president of El Hogar del Empleado in those years, in an interview with the author,
Madrid, May 2008.
A document from the private archive of Dolores Requena: Evaluaciones generales de las tres últimas
Escuelas de Verano.”
The personal information about the founders of the ACIES-MCEP branch in Salamanca comes from
interviews held with them in Salamanca in 2001-2002: A.C., D.T., E.G., M.G., A.I., P.M., J.M., L.M.,
J.L.S. and J.M.H.
From the private archive of Antón Costa: Encuentro Freinet, Salamanca 2-3 junio 1973;Salamanca-
Reunión de enseñantes, November 4, 1974.” From the private archive of the MCEP Salamanca: document
with no title (Autumn 1975).
Propuesta de estrucción del regalmento de régimen interno de ACIES 24-6-1974;Reunión del grupo
territorial de ACIES en Salamanca 1-2-1975;Asamblea del grupo territorial de ACIES 27-4-1975; I
Encuentri Regional de Enseñantes: Castilla-León. Ponencias y conclusiones. Documents from the private
archive of the MCEP in Salamanca. Information about their activities also appeared in the local newspaper:
“Cursillo del MCEP” El Adelanto April 4, 1978; “De ACIES a MCEP, El Adelanto March 2, 1978;
“Enseñanza y Región, El Adelanto February 2, 1977; “Presentación: Encuentro y Escuela de Verano, El
Adelanto March 2, 1978.
Before workers’ unions were legalised in Spain the syndical struggle of the teachers in Salamanca in the
1970s was coordinated in the ACIES-MCEP’s office in the city.
The column edited by the ACIES-MCEP was published for the first time in the local paper El Adelanto
in April 1975 and continued appearing, first every two weeks and later every week, until the late 1980s.
Interestingly enough, in addition to the columns dealing with internal and external affairs the paper
dedicated space on a regular basis to three other topics: sports, bullfighting and education.
In the case of Salamanca, because the rural schools were very small, I investigated pedagogical practices
in seven villages (Pedroso de la Armuña, Villares de Yeltes, Castellanos de Villiquera, El Maillo, Palacios
del Arzobispo, Cantalapiedra and Valdunciel). In the case of Madrid I worked on two of the eight schools
run by El Hogar del Empleado (Guadalope and Montserrat). Altogether I interviewed thirty-seven militants
from Acción Educativa and ACIES-MCEP and thirty-three ex-students and parents from Madrid and
M.J. in an interview with the author, Pedroso de la Armuña, March 2002; D.T. in an interview with the
author, Salamanca, July 2001. In order to recuperate the dynamics in the classrooms I used many texts
written as part of the educational process. I have also used oral testimonies of both teachers and ex-students.
In evaluating them I compared the conceptions of teachers on the one hand, and of students on the other,
as regards the same methods. Where I found discrepancies I integrated them into my narrative as they
highlight the gap between the teachers’ intentions and the students’ perceptions. However I must stress that
generally speaking the subjective perceptions of the students of their school years confirm the interpretation
that these methods radically changed the atmosphere in the classrooms, introducing autonomy, freedom
and social awareness into the educative process.
C. in an interview with the author, Salamanca, August 2002; P.M. in an interview with the author,
Villares de Yeltes, May 2002.
C.U., O.M. and B.A. in interviews with the author, Madrid, May-June 2008.
The children from three villages, Valduncial, Valdelosa and Castellanos de Villiquera published a school
newspaper called Armuñes together in 1978-1979. The text is taken from an editorial which appeared in the
fourth edition (no date). From the private archive of Carmen Mateos.
M.J. during an interview with the author, Castellanos de Villiquera, April 2004.
L.M.C. during an interview with the author, Madrid, June 2008.
L.L. during an interview with the author, Madrid, May 2008. In the childrens materials I have consulted
from those years, I could appreciate these three kinds of descriptions.
Madrid, from the private archive of Juan Manuel Roiz.
The making of books of this kind was not limited to the children’s immediate environment but extended
to many other topics as becomes clear from the many books made by pupils I have located and which deal
with the human body, water, elections, means of transport, animals etc.
The results of these techniques can be appreciated in the school newspapers the children published.
Among the most interesting ones I consulted are: Voz de la Sierra, Campo de Ledesma, and Armuñes.
Private archive of Carmen Mateos.
El Chasco April 4, 1983. A school newspaper from the private archive of Carmen Mateos.
R. in an interview with the author, Palacios del Arzobispo, May 2002.
E.G. in an interview with the author, Salamanca, June 2002.
For a detailed report on the effort to recuperate local traditions by one of the members of the ACIES
group in Salamanca, see Luis Blanco, desde lagunilla con amor..., Colaboración 37 (1982): 10-13.
O.M. in an interview with the author, Madrid, May 2008.
M.J. in an interview with the author, Pedroso de la Armuña, March 2002.
Fundación Hogar del Empleado, Actividad Educativa de la Fundación Hogar del empleado. Memoria
de la sección de Enseñanza curso 1976-1977, 14-16.
P.T. in an interview with the author, Madrid, June 2008.
Convivencias interescolares- Hablan los muchachos, El Adelanto June 26, 1975.
R.D., M.C., F. in an interview with the author, El Maillio, April 2002.
E.G. and C.C. in interviews with the author, Salamanca, May 2002.
Pedagogía: el maestro y el grupo-clase, El Adelanto May 1, 1975.
Transformando la escuela-la asamblea en una escuela unitaria, El Adelanto November 11, 1977.
M.J. in an interview with the author, Pedroso de la Armuña, March 2002; D.T. in an interview with
the author, Salamanca, July 2001.
M.P. in an interview with the author, Salamanca April 2002.
R.D. in an interview with the author, Madrid, July 2008.
J.M.S. in an interview with the author, Madrid, May 2008.
Asamblea del profesorado de E.G.B. de Salamanca, El Adelanto October 14, 1977.
La comisión de concentraciones informa, El Adelanto November 25, 1977.
La comisión de concentraciones informa, El Adelanto November 10, 1977.
Educación como Tema, El Adelanto January 6, 1978. In the long run the fight against the big schools
was successful and an alternative solution for the small rural schools was found.
John McNair, Education for a Changing Spain (Manchester, 1984), 56.
Carlos Lerena, El oficio de maestro. La posición y papel del profesorado de primera enseñanza en
España, Sistema 50 (1982): 79-102.
Escuelas de Verano, Cuadernos de Pedagogía 23 (1976).
Catalonia was always to the forefront with regard to the number of movements. In a list published in
1983 there are 20 movements for pedagogical renovation in the region. Cataluña, Vida Escolar 223
(1983): 79.
As the events were organised all over the country, sometimes by spontaneous initiatives it is difficult to
know the exact number of participants. Most of the estimations speak of 25,000 annual participants, most
of them pre-school and primary education teachers. The number of pre-school and primary education
teachers in Spain was 218,244 in 1976-1977. Joaquin Tena Artigas et al., La educación en España. Analisis
de unos datos (Madrid, 1978), 15, so this represents around 10% annual participation at the end of the 1970s
and the beginning of the 1980s.
Ley 14/1970, de 4 de agosto, General de Educación y Financiamiento de la Reforma Educativa.
CIDE, Encuesta a profesores no universitarios de la enseñanza pública, Revista de Educación 277
(1985): 207-236.
Document from the private archive of Acción Educativa: “Nuestra Historia, 1983.” Document from the
private archive of Dolores Requena: “Memoria de actividades, Acción Educativa 1980-1981.”
Document from the private archive of Dolores Requena: Reflexiones sobre la asociación no date.
Despite this list of positions, there are those who protest because she was never given the headship of
the Education Department of The Region of Catalonia.
Real Decreto 21 12/1984, de 14 de noviembre.
Ley Orgánica 8/1985, de 3 de julio, Reguladora del Derecho a la Educación.
The tensions surrounding the LODE project from its first drafts in the circles of the pedagogical
movements can be appreciated in the papers presented in the 1
congress of pedagogical movements held
in Barcelona in 1983. Primer congreso de movimientos de renovación pedagógica Barcelona, 5 a 10
desembre 1983, Dipotació de Barcelona.
... Later, in the 1960s and 1970s, we see a certain connection of the teachers with the original most forward-looking pedagogical ideas of the first three decades of the 20 th Century, reflected in the professional didactic press, in legal texts and in the culture at school. Finally, the MRPs, from the beginning of the political transition until 1983 (when their campaign began to lose momentum), played a protagonistic and active role in the processes of technical modernisation of the schooling system, in the democratisation of the educational structures, in the expansion and increasing of the quality of public, pluralistic and egalitarian education, and in the social and cultural dynamisation of broad sectors of the population; those aspirations in education and the rejection of the dictatorship were the unifying aspects for these movements, which, furthermore, displayed a wide range of political, ideological and trade-unionist outlooks, and strategies to influence reality (Caride Gómez, 2011;Codina, 2002;Groves, 2014aGroves, , 2014bHernández Díaz, 2011Hernández Díaz & Hernández Huerta, 2007;López Martín, 2002;Pozo Andrés & Braster, 2006, 2012. ...
... At the same time, the idea of teaching was gradually replaced by that of education, which was broader, richer in meaning and more versatile and which, in turn, took on a new dimension and underwent a metamorphosis, due mainly to the revival of the principles of liberty, equality, social fairness and solidarity in the efforts of the Escuela Nueva. Ultimately, these principles resulted in the democratisation of day-to-day life for wide sectors of the population (Groves, 2012(Groves, , 2014a. ...
Full-text available
In the mid-1960s, the Freinet movement took on new life - first with the name Association for Correspondence and the School Printing Press - Acies -, and later as the Popular School Cooperative Movement - MCEP. In a short space of time, the organisation grew to contain over a hundred members and supporters, who, along with the process of the Transition to democracy, laid the foundations for many of Acies/MCEP’s projects - both pedagogical and political projects. Of greatest importance amongst these were conferences, teacher-training seminars and the bulletin Colaboración (1976-1985), which was the organ of expression and communication for Spanish teachers following Freinet’s principles. During the period of political transition to democracy, Acies/MCEP was one of the most active and dynamic Educational Renewal Movements in Spain. The present article explores the contributions of the Freinet movement to the democratisation of education in Spain - in particular, the political-pedagogical discussion on the principles and purposes of public education, how to understand it, the problems posed by the existence of privately-subsidised education, and the role of the school as a tool for community development and an arena for civic participation. For these reasons, as a documentary source to be explored in depth, the bulletin Colaboración has been chosen; it offers an example of the pedagogical press for teachers in the Spain of 1970s and 1980s, as it helped shape the educational mindset in place during this period and in the following years.
... En este sentido, los Movimientos de Renovación Pedagógica y la preocupación por la mejora de la formación y la práctica profesional del profesorado, fueron temas recurrentes en España de modo general, y en Extremadura de manera particular. Este fenómeno de innovación educativa tiene su origen a finales del siglo XIX, pero fue especialmente activo como parte de la resistencia y lucha contra la dictadura del general Franco con un fuerte impacto en la transformación social, cultural y educativa de España durante la transición democrática que tuvo lugar a partir de la muerte del dictador en 1975 (Groves, 2012), corriente que se observa muy activa en la prensa pedagógica extremeña del momento, y en especial con las publicaciones de las técnicas y prácticas escolares freinetianas, que tan relevantes fueron en la España de la transición (Hernández Huerta y Gómez Sánchez, 2016) con un importante impacto educativo y social en las escuelas de la Extremadura postdictadura; una auténtica renovación pedagógica con un importante impacto social en España en general, y en Extremadura en particular (Fernández, 2015). ...
... Schools may be conduits for resistance (Mohamed et al. 2016). Discussing Spain under Franco, Groves (2012Groves ( , 2014 argues that teachers used the classroom to fight cultural practices they associated with dictatorship and to nurture democratic habits. For example, they abandoned corporal punishment, gave children an active role in the learning process, and encouraged them to express their opinions freely as part of a long-term struggle for liberation. ...
... No obstante, el impacto en sus círculos sociales, políticos y profesionales fue considerablemente más amplio. 11 El sistema educativo en los años 70 se convirtió, por tanto, en una esfera vibrante de redes de asociaciones cívicas y movimientos sociales que revindicaron una variedad de objetivos económicos, sociales y culturales. Las observaciones sociológicas acerca del profesorado español han ocultado en cierto modo esta fase en la historia de los docentes de este país. ...
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Los maestros y el mundo rural en la transición española." La transición desde otra perspectiva: Democratización y mundo rural. Sílex, 2019. Los Maestros y el Mundo Rural en la Transición Española 1 Tamar Groves y Mariano González Delgado El papel que han jugado los diferentes grupos profesionales durante la transición española es un tema conocido, pero relativamente poco estudiado hasta la fecha. Cada vez más, se pueden encontrar investigaciones que mencionan las actividades e iniciativas de abogados, médicos, psicólogos u otros grupos como el magisterio. Sin embargo, no existen suficientes análisis de conjunto dedicados a las acciones colectivas de estos agentes sociales para poder entender la naturaleza de su acción colectiva, ni el impacto social sobre las comunidades en las que desarrollaron su trabajo. En el caso de los maestros, existen algunos trabajos que iluminan la extensión de la movilización social, su relación con identidades profesionales y sus contactos dentro de los espacios políticos. 2 En este capítulo queremos indagar acerca del papel que desempeñaron los maestros en relación a su movilización docente en el ámbito rural durante la transición. Por ello, este trabajo pretende demostrar que en algunos casos, por su trayectoria formativa y profesional, los maestros rurales tuvieron un destacado papel en el marco de la movilización social y educativa al final del franquismo y durante la transición. Empezaremos el capítulo con la contextualización de la movilización social en el ámbito educativo durante la transición. Se analizan sus relaciones con las acciones colectivas que caracterizaron a la sociedad española en aquellos años. A continuación, miraremos el ámbito profesional en el cual los maestros desarrollaron su trabajo, el sistema educativo bajo el franquismo y, en especial, las escuelas rurales. Para ilustrar la relación entre el magisterio, la escuela y los espacios rurales nos basaremos en el caso de la provincia de Salamanca. Se intentará demostrar el amplio dinamismo del movimiento, su capacidad de amoldarse a las políticas del régimen en el ámbito rural y a su agenda cultural y política, así como a su lucha por la educación rural como manifestación de resistencia al proyecto desarrollista del régimen y su control político sobre la sociedad.
... 5 2 A literature review and critical state of the art about the influence and reception of Freinet in Spain during the Second Republic and the long years of the Transition to democracy can be found in Hernández Huerta (2017). Recently, a number of other relevant works have been published: Cid Fernández, Carrera Fernández, Diéguez Sans, and Cid Rodríguez (2017); Ferraz Lorenzo (2017) 3 Groundbreaking work on this avenue of investigation, though focusing on the second stage of the Freinet movement, has been done by Tamar Groves (2002Groves ( , 2009Groves ( , 2010Groves ( , 2012Groves ( , 2014aGroves ( , 2014bGroves ( , 2017. 4 The term "extensions" of the school refers, firstly, to an elementary and extended version of the schooling system, as a social projection of the school and the expansion of its space and time beyond the four walls of the classroom; secondly, the term relates to the metaphor coined by McLuhan (1996), to those primarily technological elementsin this case, the school printing pressthat were initially alien to something (the schooling system), which gradually came to form part of the very fabric of that thing, affecting its view of itself, and establishing new relationships and synergies with the rest of the elements with which it interacted. 5 ...
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This article highlights the social nature of the Freinet movement in Spain during the period of the Second Republic (1931-1936) and the Civil War (1936-1939), and investigates the community-based aspect of its schooling practices. To begin with, we examine a number of aspects of Spain’s Freinet movement which help to see it as a social movement as well as a pedagogical one. Then, we study a) the main strategies employed by teachers to facilitate the social building of democracy through the schooling system, and b) the most significant extensions of the school into the local community, which helped break down the physical and symbolic barriers separating schooling institutions from the framework of ordinary citizens’ daily existence.
... Mayor atención han atraído, sin embargo, los intentos de modernizar los principios pedagógicos «a pesar» del régimen franquista. El movimiento Rosa Sensat de Cataluña (Codina, 2002), la labor desarrollada por las ikastolas vascas en este mismo sentido (Fernández, 2003;Dávila, 2005a) o los movimientos freinetianos de Madrid y Salamanca (Groves, 2012) son algunos ejemplos de este tipo de estudios. ...
This book explores the role of popular forms of social mobilization during Spain's process of transition to democracy. It focuses on the nature of citizenship that was forged during the period of conflict and mobilisation that characterised Spain from the late 1950s until the late 1980s. It offers a two-pronged exploration of social movements at the time. On the one hand, it provides a detailed analysis of four very different cases of social mobilisation: among Catholics, residents, farmers and teachers. It discerns processes of organisation, repertoires of action, collective meaning, and interactions with communities and local political actors. On the other hand, it reflects on how the fight over specific issues and the use of similar tactics generated shared interpretations of what it meant to be a citizen in a democracy.
This chapter analyzes two key issues related to the interaction between local mobilization and national change. First, it deals with what was happening in most Spanish towns and villages while the main (national) treaties were being signed in Madrid. Second, it deals with what life was like in these towns and villages during the period when there was a democratic government at the national level (since April 1977), but local democratic elections had not yet been held. Focusing on these issues, the chapter provides an analysis of the process of democratization in Southern Spain, paying attention to the building process of Social Citizenship. Three towns serve as case studies for this chapter: Osuna (Sevilla), Montefrío (Granada) and Carcabuey (Córdoba).
This paper analyses the processes of association and free trade unionism emergency teachers in Spain leaving Franco's dictatorship and enters democracy and freedom. It has provided a broad concept of political transition, based on the educational reform of 1970 to the beginning of the socialist government in 1983 and their educational proposals for change. Associations, unions and educational reform movements shaping the fields of construction of professional identity and democratic broad section of teachers, teachers in Spain in a key decade in its modern history, as is that of the seventies of the century XX.
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Spain's democratization process has mainly been described as a settlement between political elites in which civil society organizations played little part. Yet the literature on Eastern European democratization sets great store by the role of civil society, both for transition and consolidation. Does this different treatment reflect the approach adopted by analysts or the actual contrasting presence of civil society organizations in the relevant periods? The question prompts this re-examination of the role of civil society organizations in the Spanish transition. It finds that the answer depends in part on definitions of civil society, but mainly on the approach taken by authors in presenting their accounts. It finds that the elite settlement perspective silences or removes agency from the Spanish civil society organizations active in the transition. An alternative view is developed through an in-depth review of the events following the death of the dictator General Franco in 1975 and a textual analysis of Spain's actual definitive settlement, the 1978 Constitution. The research demonstrates that civil society organizations were responsible for disrupting the dictatorship's intention to maintain an authoritarian regime, leaving it no option but to negotiate with civil society organizations such as political parties and trade unions, which were pursuing their own strategic goals towards co-construction of a socially advanced democracy. The article's approach bridges the gulf between top-down and bottom-up accounts of political change in Spain at the end of the Franco regime.
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How does an undemocratic country create democratic institutions and transform its polity in such a way that democratic values and practices become integral parts of its political culture? This article uses the case of Japan to advocate for a new theoretical approach to the study of democratization. In particular, it examines how theoretical models based on the European and North American experiences have difficulty explaining the process of democratization in Japan, and argues that a state-in-society approach is better suited to explaining the democratization process' diverse cultural contexts. Taking a bottom-up view of recent developments in Japanese civil society through the close examination of two cases – one traditional organization dating from the pre-war era (neighbourhood associations) and one new-style group formed in 2000 (Association of New Elder Citizens) – this article illustrates how Japanese citizens have democratized their political culture at the grassroots. The state-in-society approach to democratization is particularly useful for the study of democratization processes in non-Western countries where the development of democracy requires not only the modification of a traditional political culture but also the development of new, indigenous, democratic ideas and practices.
Deals withteh transitions fromAuthoritarian rule inLatin America,andthe development of citizenship intheis context, with particular attention to Human Rights. Suggests Citizenship as not only rights-based but also duty/responsibility based. Asks the role of sociual movements and other institutions in creating this sense of duty. ie: oversight of corruption; protection of certainbranches of government form the executive.
"Citizens and Housewives" explores the contradictions surrounding the emergence of new forms of democratic citizenship for women during Spain's most recent transition to democracy in the 1970s. Most Spaniards probably agreed that the traditionalist image of Francoist womanhood was anachronistic, but creating a new "democratic female citizen" proved to be a conflictive and ultimately unresolved process. In order to explore the dynamic space where female citizenship was being reconstructed, this article examines the role of women's housewife associations in the 1970s, both as protagonists and as discursive subjects. On the one hand, these associations provided an arena in which new citizenship practices could be forged. In particular, their members acted out a new model of the activist housewife citizen who defended consumer rights in the public sphere. However, as a discursive category, the housewife-citizen of these associations could not find a place in the transition. While women's "different" roles as mothers, housewives and neighbors provided an acceptable path into civil society under the Franco regime, the democratic discourse ignored the housewives' associations as relics, not vanguards. For the many Spanish women who were housewives, this discursive paradox offered no path into the new democracy. Instead of a clear entry to a democratic citizenship there were only contradictions and confusing messages.
Rethinking Civil Society TOWARD DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION Larry Diamond Larry Diamond is coeditor of the Journal of Democracy, codirector of the International Forum for Democratic Studies, and a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Among his recent edited works on democracy are Political Culture and Democracy in Developing Countries (1993) and (with Marc F. Plattner) Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Democracy (forthcoming, 1994). In this third wave of global democratization, no phenomenon has more vividly captured the imagination of democratic scholars, observers, and activists alike than "civil society." What could be more moving than the stories of brave bands of students, writers, artists, pastors, teachers, laborers, and mothers challenging the duplicity, corruption, and brutal domination of authoritarian states? Could any sight be more awe- inspiring to democrats than the one they saw in Manila in 1986, when hundreds of thousands of organized and peaceful citizens surged into the streets to reclaim their stolen election and force Ferdinand Marcos out through nonviolent "people power"? In fact, however, the overthrow of authoritarian regimes through popularly based and massively mobilized democratic opposition has not been the norm. Most democratic transitions have been protracted and negotiated (if not largely controlled from above by the exiting authoritarians). Yet even in such negotiated and controlled transitions, the stimulus for democratization, and particularly the pressure to complete the process, have typically come from the "resurrection of civil society," the restructuring of public space, and the mobilization of all manner of independent groups and grassroots movements. 1 If the renewed interest in civil society can trace its theoretical origins to Alexis de Tocqueville, it seems emotionally and spiritually indebted to Jean-Jacques Rousseau for its romanticization of "the people" as a force for collective good, rising up to assert the democratic will against a narrow and evil autocracy. Such images of popular Journal of Democracy Vol. 5, No. 3 July 1994 Larry Diamond 5 mobilization suffuse contemporary thinking about democratic change throughout Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa -- and not without reason. In South Korea, Taiwan, Chile, Poland, China, Czechoslovakia, South Africa, Nigeria, and Benin (to give only a partial list), extensive mobilization of civil society was a crucial source of pressure for democratic change. Citizens pressed their challenge to autocracy not merely as individuals, but as members of student movements, churches, professional associations, women's groups, trade unions, human rights organizations, producer groups, the press, civic associations, and the like. It is now clear that to comprehend democratic change around the world, one must study civil society. Yet such study often provides a one-dimensional and dangerously misleading view. Understanding civil society's role in the construction of democracy requires more complex conceptualization and nuanced theory. The simplistic antinomy between state and civil society, locked in a zero-sum struggle, will not do. We need to specify more precisely what civil society is and is not, and to identify its wide variations in form and character. We need to comprehend not only the multiple ways it can serve democracy, but also the tensions and contradictions it generates and may encompass. We need to think about the features of civil society that are most likely to serve the development and consolidation of democracy. And, not least, we need to form a more realistic picture of the limits of civil society's potential contributions to democracy, and thus of the relative emphasis that democrats should place on building civil society among the various challenges of democratic consolidation. What Civil Society Is and Is Not Civil society is conceived here as the realm of organized social life that is voluntary, self-generating, (largely) self-supporting, autonomous from the state, and bound by a legal order or set of shared rules. It is distinct from "society" in general in that it involves citizens acting collectively in a public sphere to express their interests, passions, and ideas, exchange information, achieve mutual goals, make demands on the state, and hold state officials accountable. Civil society is an intermediary entity, standing between the private sphere and the state. Thus it excludes individual and family life, inward-looking group activity (e.g., for recreation, entertainment, or spirituality), the profit-making enterprise of individual business firms...