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Post Education and Brainwashing in Catalonia
Created by John Eipper on 02/15/19 3:33 AM

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Education and Brainwashing in Catalonia (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 02/15/19 3:33 am)

I appreciate Jordi Molins's recent WAIS posts, because I am learning a lot about Catalonia--its language, politics, etc. Even though it is hard for me to agree with Jordi on most issues, I am thankful to him.

In his latest post (Feburary 11th), Jordi presents new arguments for what he calls the "dehumanization of Catalonians," together with his interesting interpretation of a poll he mentioned on the perceptions of Francoisim by the Catalonians. Further, he provided a linguistic argument to demonstrate that Catalonians are not influenced by their educational system, which I had earlier called a "brainwashing" process. I will try to address these aspects in an orderly fashion.

Regarding "dehumanization," Jordi wrote that "apart from the theoretical work of Martha Nussbaum on objectification," there are some Spanish politicians who consider Catalonian independentists some kind of disease.

If I am correct, Nussbaum's concept of objectification is a feminist notion. It can briefly defined as seeing or treating a woman as an object, and Nussbaum's focus is primarily on sexual objectification. It seems clear that the use of this concept in connection to the dehumanization of the Catalonian nation is rather hyperbolic. Also, the political declarations are clearly metaphors to refer to independentist ideology and not to the Catalonians themselves, their territory or the "Catalonian nation." It is seriously hard to take this political rhetoric as examples of dehumanization. It seems that Jordi again is using these overstatements to dramatize the "victimismo" of Catalonian nationalistic propaganda.

Secondly, Jordi mentions what apparently seems to be the desegregated data results of the poll into age cohorts to interpret that young people have not been influenced by educational brainwashing. Rather, he tries to demonstrate that the "brainwashing" process of young Catalonians was impossible, because the current educational system began only in 1992, and consequently only young people under 35 years were candidates for this process.

Let's first address the second argument. To start with, I must clarify that when I said "I bet [young people's] perceptions are more influenced by years of educational brainwashing in Catalonia against a so-called 'Spanish Nationalism,'" I was obviously not referring exclusively to the formal educational system. A person's educational process is also based on family, society, the media, radio, TV, and all kinds of cultural, or in this case nationalistic, messages.

However, disregarding these important if not more crucial aspects of education, and also disregarding when the formal educational system started in Catalonia, Jordi should be aware that what is called the formal educational system of "linguistic immersion" in Catalonia really started in the 1980s. It actually started with decree 2092 in 1978, which approved the compulsory study of Catalan in Catalonian schools and continued with the linguistic standardization law of 1983. Within ten years, almost 80% of the schools fully adopted this model. Essentially the linguistic immersion model demands that all the educational processes in Catalonia must be in the Catalonian language, and only 25% of the subjects given in Spanish, a percentage that by the way is unfulfilled.

There is plenty of evidence that the independentist politicians have been using this model to promote nationalism and supremacist ideas in young people. It should be obvious that language and culture as educational vehicles can be very useful for transmitting nationalistic or patriotic ideals, as part of the strategy implemented since the Jordi Pujol presidency in the 1980s.

Getting back now to the demographics of the poll quoted by Jordi, if we accept that the "linguistic immersion" really started in the 1980s and the consequent brainwashing I pointed out started soon after that, it impacted the people not just under 35 but also the people under 40 or 50, at the time too young to directly perceive the effects of Francoism. It must be concluded that their "negative perception" is the product of education, in its general sense and in the formal educational system. Then according to the numbers Jordi quotes, it is logical that more than 70% of the people consulted in those age segments (25-34, 35-49) perceived it negatively. I am not going to go deeper in this subject, only to comment that only 60% of people aged under 24 perceive Francoism negatively.  This could be interpreted in many other ways, but not necessarily in the way Jordi suggest.

Maybe this last argument could be considered inconclusive and cumbersome, but probably it is as much as any other. It all depends on the hypothesis used. Statistics can serve any good or bad purpose.

One final comment. Jordi stated that "magically, the average results in Spanish language by Catalan children are above the average results in Spanish language by Spanish-not-Catalan children." I would assume that he is referring to the result of the PISA test in 2017, which apparently is true.  However, he forgot to mention that all subjects in the linguistic immersion system are taught in Catalan and the test itself was also in this language.

I am not aware how this last fact could affect the results for Castilian-speaking children, but I suppose there might be some negative influences. In fact there are strong critical judgments among educational specialists regarding this educational system, because it produces the highest rate in Spain of failure caused by linguistic marginalization on Castilian-speaking students. Evidently in a system mostly taught in one language, students of different languages are at a clear disadvantage and they have added challenges to learning.

On this issue John E commented, "Catalonian children score higher on Spanish-language tests than their non-Catalonian compatriots. Might this be an argument in favor of bilingualism? I'd like to think so, but it may also be the result of Catalonia being generally more wealthy." I would also like to be true that bilingualism is the cause of this apparent "linguistic superiority," but I doubt it is a problem of being wealthy or not. It is my guess the effect is more related to a "marginalization" process of the Spanish in the Catalonian schools.

JE comments: Wasn't Jordi Molins referring specifically to Castilian-language tests? My understanding from Jordi was that Catalonian children score higher. I hope he will tell us which specific test he was referring to.  I'm still going to believe in the "bilingual advantage."  Catalan speakers who learn Castilian as a foreign language arguably acquire a greater analytical command of the grammar.

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