The Modern School of Francisco Ferrer i Guārdia (1859–1909), an International and Current Figure

by Carme Garcia-Yeste, Gisela Redondo-Sama, Maria Padrķs & Patricia Melgar - 2016

Background/Context: Throughout history, a country’s economic and military strength has influenced its times of cultural splendor and the rise of famous intellectuals and artists. Spain has been an exception to this. At the turn of the 20th century, a surprising series of events that no one could have predicted occurred. At the time, Spain had recently lost the last of its overseas colonies. A few years later, the Moroccan War was also a failure. All these events sent Spain into a state of confusion and provoked strong political tensions within the country: popular uprisings, street fights, and a general state of economic, political, and military weakness. Simultaneously, the cultural and intellectual scene developed a fascinating degree of momentum. Spain became the cradle of some of the world’s foremost painters, poets, writers, and intellectuals, such as Picasso, Machado, Lorca, and Buņuel. Among them, the Catalan pedagogue Ferrer i Guārdia (1859–1909), who was important in the libertarian tradition of popular culture, became a world figure with his educational project, the Modern School. This project was specifically aimed at the lowest social classes so that they would have access to a scientific, democratic, quality education, thereby developing their skills in a society where education was limited to the upper classes and contributing educational development to improve social conditions. Both his project and Ferrer i Guārdia himself were persecuted and attacked until he was finally sentenced to death in October 1909.

Purpose: This goal of this study was to analyze Ferrer i Guārdia’s indefatigable fight for an egalitarian, high-quality pedagogical project. Specifically, the figure of Ferrer i Guārdia was analyzed in the context of a socially and militarily decadent country, which led to his defamation, persecution, and death—in contrast with the international impact and prestige he achieved.

Research Design: This research was based on historical methods, specifically drawing on analyses of literature review, historical documents, books, and articles (both scientific articles and newspaper articles from the time) regarding the life and work of Ferrer i Guārdia and the historical context in which he lived.

Findings/Conclusions: The article concludes with a summary of the great current value of Ferrer i Guārdia’s libertarian approach to education, which consisted of transforming education to provide high-quality learning for all regardless of socioeconomic class.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 4, 2016, p. 1-36 ID Number: 19360, Date Accessed: 4/15/2021 6:52:18 AM

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