Friday, January 30, 2009

Spanish Tempest over English Instruction

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How does the English language get mixed up in a citizenship class polémica in Spain?

When Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero initiated Educación para la Ciudadanía (EpC) in 2007 based on a Council of Europe measure, opposition was almost immediate. The Catholic Church saw its philosophical classes thrown out in place of more secular citizenship classes.

Conservative forces led by the Church quickly reacted. In Valencia, a novel approach in teaching these Spanish citizenship classes in English sparked a wider political protest between Madrid and the provinces.

Since most philosophy teachers could not teach the subject in English, an interpreter would attend the class. English teachers refused to enter the classroom.

Teaching Spanish citizenship in English became the way the Popular Party-led (opposition) Valencia government built resentment among the people (see Flikr photos). It worked.

Students began the protests which were soon joined in the streets. The political firestorm reaches a crescendo today when the Spanish Supreme Court is set to rule on parental objections to the entire project.

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