«Schools Are Responsible for Ensuring Young People Become Citizens of the World»
Dr. José Luis González, the Headmaster of the British School of Barcelona, gave the opening address at the "Edu_aldia" conference cycle organized by the UIC's Faculty of Education in collaboration with former students. In his address, which took place on Wednesday, 15 January 2014, Dr. González spoke about the concept of multilingualism and dubbed it a "moral imperative".
At the conference, which took place in the auditorium of the Faculty of Education, it was argued that educators have an obligation to drive education towards multilingualism. The participants analysed various models of schooling from a linguistic point of view, in order to develop ideas on the scholastic model Catalonia should adopt. “Schools are responsible for ensuring young people become citizens of the world, and as such they should be aware that multilingualism gives students more choice in terms of higher education: they can study here, or anywhere else in the world”, affirmed Dr. González.
He then gave an overview of the different models of schooling that are found around the world, and highlighted the importance of flexibility in order to adapt studies to the demands of a truly multilingual model. “Small changes to the design of curricula can promote the learning of languages within the same school”, he argued. “For example, the changes we made at Eton College, where I was the Head of Studies, enabled us to increase the number of students learning up to four languages at GCSE level from 30% to 80%”. Dr. González then went on to argue that learning languages is easier for students in Catalonia: “Catalan equips us with key techniques that provide a very sound basis for learning the major European languages”, he contended.
The Headmaster of the British School also spoke at length on the need for a country-level strategy. “Multilingualism is not only necessary and desirable, but it is also a moral imperative. At present, knowledge of foreign languages is very weak”, Dr. González asserted.
His talk served as the opener to the “Edu_aldia” conference cycle organized by the Faculty of Education as part of its continuing education activities for its alumni. The next conference, which is scheduled for Wednesday, 12 February 2014, will include a talk from guest speaker Professor Gregorio Luri, who holds a PhD in philosophy and is the author of the book La escuela contra el mundo (The School against the World).