LEAD THE CHANGE SERIES Q & A with Fernando Hernández-Hernández

Fernando Hernández-Hernández is the chair of the national and international research projects at Esbrina: Subjectivities, Visualities and Contemporary Learning Environments—an interdisciplinary research group associated with the Universitat de Barcelona, Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona, Universitat Internacional de Catalnya and Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and is aimed at exploring current and emerging learning environments.

Professor Hernández-Hernández’ bio:
There are several epiphanic episodes in my work trajectory. When I finished my degree in Psychology, a colleague asked me a question that I considered as epiphany: “How do you want toproject your social commitment professionally?” He emphasized the idea of considering others and what is beneficial for the common good in my future agenda. This question has resonated with me throughout my career. My first work was as an educational psychologist, working in a small town close to Barcelona, where I was surrounded by like-minded people who believed that school should be considered as part of a network, where social agents generate alternatives to social problems in a collaborative manner.

Later, I was critically involved in the process of transformation of schooling promoted by the educational reform of 1990, fostered by the Spanish government and run by the Socialist Party. At that time, I was collaborating with the Institute of Sciences Education of the University of Barcelona. One day, during one of the conversation sessions we had, a group of four teachers from an elementary school asked me a question that generated my second epiphanic movement: “Are we helping children to learn in an integrated manner?” Answering this question took us five years of action research processes, classroom observations, multiple conversations, and over all, experimenting a way of teaching and learning to promote children’s processes of inquiry based on their involvement on what they learn (Hernández & Ventura, 2009). Since then, learning has been the focus of my interest with colleagues of the research group Esbrina (http://esbrina.eu/en/home/). During these years we have explored how primary-school children (Hernández , 2010), primary-school teachers in their first five years of profession (Sancho-Gil & Hernández, 2016), high school students (Hernández-Hernández, 2017), and now, secondary school teachers learn. In parallel, I try to promote meaningful experiences of learning through inquiry and to integrate projects, which bring life to the schools and promote learning as a lived and embodied experience.

Dr. Fernando Hernández-Hernández can be reached at: fdohernandez@ub.edu


In this interview, part of the Lead the Change Series of the American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group, Hernández-Hernández discusses his work in learning in and out of school as well as issues of inclusion and exclusion from school. As he puts it:

One of the students participating in this project shared an insight that we have put forward for debate with teachers, families, and administrators: “I pay attention to what teachers say in the classroom, I study for the exams, I answer the questions, and pass the exams, but two weeks later I am not able to remember what I studied.” The student’s statement is revealing as it questions what schools expect learning to look like. It has led us to propose alternatives to what may be the role of schools in a society that deals with competing ideas such as market preparedness, critical thinking, or facilitating experiences and ways of relating.

The Living and learning with new literacies in and outside school research also allowed us to understand that ‘real learning’—the very experience that affects youth (and teachers) and helps them to change their point of views about themselves, others, and the world—escapes, as Atkinson would say, the pedagogical norm. Because learning goes beyond cognitive and pedagogical dimensions and confronts us with the unknown. Learning is not only what occurs in the space/time between an input (teaching) and an output (assessment). Learning is a complex matter connected with life and biographical experiences, dialogical conversations, inquiry processes, or the way the (new) unconscious operates. Therefore, learning embodies new and significant challenges for educational systems.

This Lead the Change interview appears as part of a series that features experts from around the globe, highlights promising research and practice, and offers expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change. Recently Lead the Change has also interviewed Kristin Kew and Kirsi Pyhältö.

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