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Palma García Hormigo: Schools Must Get Kids Out of their Chairs

Rosario Pérez | Photos: ©Fran Montes, ReachExtra

Algeciras teacher, Palma García Hormigo, is a title-holder and ambassador of the prestigious “Global Teacher Award”, which officially recognised her as being “one of the best teachers in the world” for her long-standing commitment to her innovative teaching methods, which are motivation and curiosity based.

Palma García Hormigo Global Teacher Award Algeciras
Palma García Hormigo

“The schooling system in Spain needs to change… the future is using technology more and in a better way, but it also means getting children out of their chairs while working on their motivation, curiosity and their desire to investigate and discover the way things work.”

Teacher from Algeciras, Palma García Hormigo, was recognised in 2019 as “one of the best teachers in the world”, and says that the current education system needs to move towards a more participatory system which focuses on subjects students are really interested in, esepcially in the face of school failure rates.

She is an enthusiastic, bilingual nursery and primary school teacher who is currently working at the La Inmaculada school, and this year she has been chosen to be an ambassador for the Global Teacher Award. Although the annual gala could not proceed this year and will instead take place virtually, she described the December 2019 gala in New Delhi, India as a “great experience”.

Palma García Hormigo

Specialising in “English, Hearing and Language” as well as being a member of the Scientix and Diverciencia associations, Palma García Hormigo says that the most important thing in the profession developing children’s critical thinking skills; to question everything, even things which may seem impossible.

“We need to teach children from an early age to question things – to bring questions from different perspectives, because the less critical thought we have as humans, the more easily manipulated we become”, she warned.

The Argument Against “Bulimic Memorization”

Carolina Santos Apres Art School

Palma García Hormigo, who has participated in various forums, including at the Andalusian Parliament, insists that the traditional teaching model which emphasises memorisation of exams and notes, needs to be reviewed:

“Obviously, children need to be able to use their memory, but what must be avoided is ‘Bulimic memorisation’, which is only useful for taking exams; the act of throwing up everything you have memorised and then forgetting it two days later”.

In the age of the internet and new technology, this teacher argues that it is essential that students learn to “seek knowledge for themselves, and to know where to find it… don’t give them all the answers, but stimulate their ability to know where to look for them and prepare them for the world that they will one day go out into.”

Immersive Language Teaching and Outdoor Classes

The ambassador of the Global Teachers Award also advocates for more emphasis on public speaking; that they “learn to use oral communication and language”, and argues for a change in the language classes system, which she believes is stuck in the past:

“You learn English by listening to English first; by internalising vocabulary, then speaking it and so on … and only later do we start to learn writing and grammar, and it’s the same process as with any other language which you would learn alongside studying your own language. No two-year-old child knows about grammar in their native language, nor do they know how to write, but they know how to speak because they’ve been hearing it since they were born.”

Taking inspiration from other European countries, in addition to the custom of dubbing cinema and television, Palma García Hormigo advocates for setting up facilities for educational projects and classes in the open air; in full contact with nature, with which she has already had positive experiences with in the United Kingdom and Finland:

“Here in Spain, there are very few schools which offer this as an option, and are recognised as regulated education, it is still somewhat anecdotal… however, even in colder countries, and with much worse climates than what we have here, it’s no longer a novel thing.”

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