Home Institution

University of California Riverside

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Spain: Language, Community, and Social Change


As I have been more immersed in Spanish culture during my time abroad, the history of Spain has fascinated me. In addition, my community service volunteering at a local public elementary school has prompted my increased interest in the field of education, with contrast to that of the educational system in the United States. Moreover, as a policy major at the University of California, Riverside, I chose to research how the political priorities of education in Spain have transformed over time since the infamous dictatorship of Francisco Franco (1936-1975) until now, since the recent November 2011 elections and the return to a more conservative government. I analyze the educational laws from 1857 until 2006 and from this, conclude what reforms have yet to be seen and discuss the direction education is headed. As I plan to be further immersed in the field of education policy this upcoming January, I would like to compare the differences between that of the policies in Spain versus those of that in the state of California, particularly.

I have carried out my study through in depth research of the laws of Spain as well as through the history and political section of the SIT Community and Social Change Seminar to strengthen my understanding of the periods of change in the democratic transition of this country. I had the opportunity to observe manners of teaching and fields of study in the Spanish public school system as a volunteer throughout the semester at Colegio Gómez Moreno in the neighborhood of the Albaícin in Granada, Spain. This has assisted in my personal analysis of the educational system over time. In addition, I spent time with a man who was a teacher of philosophy during the period after Franco and discussed his thoughts and experiences. I also spoke with my Spanish professor, who was a young student in the 1970’s, and is incredibly knowledgeable about the educational system. Through these interchanges, I was able to better grasp the content of my study and link the information altogether as the paths of change intertwined.

I organized my paper beginning with a history of education, in particular the laws associated with education at all levels in Spain, beginning in 1857 with the Moyano law. Then, I analyzed the sequence of the laws and how the time in which they occurred prompted each policy change, with connections to the political parties that reigned. I concentrated more on the changes after Franco and how Spain has developed its educational system to what we can see today.

After looking back on this experience, I believe the sole fact that I was able to successfully complete and research in Spanish has been an accomplishment for me. Coming to Spain with only a year and a half of university language courses, I have become a more confident and refined in my foreign language skills. As a whole, my experience abroad has opened my eyes to a whole different world and to some place far away in which I will always have a connection. Not only have I been exposed to a foreign language and immensely improved my confidence and knowledge of communication, but I have also been able to understand the culture more through increased assimilation into the Spanish world and living with a Spanish family. I will admit, as through any novel experience, I had my fair share of struggles, but in the end I have accomplished something in and of itself. Whether it was writing this research paper, having to constantly look up new words or having to act as the “criada,” or maid on stage in my Spanish theater class, I can proudly say that I have grown from this.


Education | Law and Politics