En este post traemos al debate una serie de consideraciones (y testimonios) acerca de la crisis que cruza la categoría "relevancia" sobre todo en el mundo de las producciones intelectuales de las universidades de por aquí, por allá y por acullá.
In this post we bring to the debate a series of considerations (and testimonies) about the crisis that crosses the category "relevance" especially in the world of the intellectual productions of the universities here, there and there.
The criterion is usual that in the university environment, the intellectual productions that in the heat of the daily activities interpenetrated with it must register relevance, significance, importance. Although the antiquated traditions that exist on the point (and in some cases, unfortunately they exist), circumscribe scientific research as "the natural and unique matter" that in such a medium should prevail, today - nevertheless - it is obvious that not only this aspect is the competence of university work, but also technology and the humanities. Fortunately, there are not a few nations that already establish such a criterion at a legal level. The university world must therefore generate scientific relevance, technological relevance and humanistic relevance.
On this occasion we are going to make a relative preponderance to relevance in the context of scientific research, then make some considerations that will tend to make the connection with the technological issue (linked, for example, to careers such as engineering, medicine ... .) and with the humanistic issue (linked, for example, to careers such as letters, anthropology, history, philosophy ...).
The first thing that throughout my career of half a century of university teaching * occurs to me here to say bluntly, is that on a global level there is a chiaroscuro on the terms on which such "relevance" should be based. The notion of "relevance" in the university environment in general, is like the notion of "virtue" in churches in general ... That is to say, they carry with them a broad, diffuse, relative mantle, sometimes even "to the taste of the consumer. ". Nobody in the temple x, ye or zeta, can happen to propose that "virtue" is a subordinate thing. Nor in the university does it occur to someone that "relevance" (in science, technology and the humanities) is a marginal thing. Even so, the element in reference regularly traces a deficit of clarity, thus remaining in the connotative; but not in the denotative.
In the heat of careers (that is, in undergraduate activities), for example, it is common to see that the subject "Research Methods" appears in the study plans (which has not been anything other than the rules of the game general of the specific hypothetico-deductive method **). Yes. Such matter appears even in those careers, like many of the humanistic ones, which are subject to thinking that they carry ideals other than those of scientific research! Worth the case ... An art student is more interested in the beautiful than the truthful (that is, the objectively true).
Here are some testimonies (for the debate, of course) ... Yes. Some testimonies inscribed in the wise advice "Don't tell me stories because I know stories." They have to do with the subject in question. At some point (perhaps of the "final" demystification of the subject, by the students), both the medical and pedagogical students came to tell me, respectively and vehemently: "already the issue of generalized diarrhea in the population as Which, or the issue of the generalized low academic performance in this or that population, seems annoying to us, nothing that seems scientifically impressive! ". Allow me to add ... In 1974, together with some colleagues, I started the everlasting subject "Research Methodology" in a Venezuelan university specialized in training teachers, and enrolled in it we appealed to the fertile didactic resource of figurative cases, All of which allowed us to play probability games (thus using the word virtuality correctly - not because we had electronic computers but because, without further ado, we used intelligence, our ability to make representations). Suddenly one of the teachers on the team comes up with the idea that there is no better way to teach scientific research than by going to reality, to the schools, to "breathe in an experiential way the smell of the sweat of the students and teachers" . Well, with such an approach (which fell in love with everyone given the populist stamp it embodied), the development of the subject was strangled to the point that the students themselves said what we just referred to ... the eternal underperformance ". Well. More here or beyond what has been said, the question arises ... What is relevant in the work that students develop in this perennial subject "Research Methods"? Do they really learn to use the scientific method (even if it is the one that deals with hypotheses, measuring variables, testing or rejecting those hypotheses)? I notice diffusion in a good part of it ...
On some occasion, the students of the teaching career in mathematics (in Venezuela), asked me ... Is it not more logical that in this subject that assumes the hypothetical-deductive method, we would rather delve into the method of the mathematical (i.e. the abstract-deductive)? On another occasion, while I was working at a university in a country that embraced the state-centric socialist model, the students of the social sciences career asked me that if it was not more useful for them, they should be trained in the Marxist method of research social (the dialectical-concrete), instead of that "simplistic method of hypotheses" ...
If we go to graduate school, it is curious how diverse the skein of criteria about the differences in "relevance" between specialties, masters and doctorates is ...
Well ... We still have a lot of skein to cut on this topic ... We will continue ...
NOTAS AL PIE (FOOTNOTES):
( * ) En países de América Latina y Asia. (In Latin American and Asian countries).
( ** ) Es decir, el de las hipótesis, variables, comprobación fáctica... (That is to say, that of the hypotheses, variables, factual verification ...).