Category: basque education (page 1 of 3)

“Europe, Barandiaran and Values” series

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the notable Basque anthropologist, ethnographer, archeologist, and priest José Miguel de Barandiaran’s death. The Barandiaran Foundation has organized a series of five roundtable discussions in his honor entitled “Europe, Barandiaran and Values,” being held in various Basque capitals from October 20 to December 15.

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Last Thursday, November 17, our professor and colleague Xabier Irujo participated in the event that took place in Donostia-San Sebastián at the Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea. Professor Irujo spoke about Barandiaran and exile via Skype, and members of the CBS and UNR attended, making it an international affair. He was joined by a panel composed of Asier Barandiaran, Argitxu Camus Etchecopar, Gaspar Martinez, and Ixone Fernandez de Labastida, who spoke about various topics including Barandiaran and Europe; Barandiaran’s values in contemporary society; Barandiaran, science, and faith; and lastly Barandiaran and Basque society. This group of scholars have participated in all of the events and are at the heart of this discussion series, traveling from city to city to present to and answer questions from the wider community.

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The following are a series of quotes by the participants on what Barandiaran as a researcher represents in various fields:

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ASIER BARANDIARAN- Barandiaran’s values in contemporary society

“Barandiaran was rooted in Christian values. However, on the other hand, he offered different visions by being in touch with diverse cultures and was always committed to people. He would often say ‘I hope I will be remembered as a person who has loved love’. Kindness, sharpness, honesty, solidarity, truth, justice, work well done, and a long chain of values are what define Barandiaran.”

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ARGITXU CAMUS- Barandiaran and Europe

“José Miguel de Barandiaran was a convinced European. He learned French, German, and English on his own. When he was very young, he opened himself up to European science. He studied the most famous anthropologists, ethnologists, and linguists of the time. He went to the very sources of science in order to compare them to his own ideas. And since then, the Ataundarra took part in numerous courses in diverse universities throughout Europe, as a student and professor. The work of Barandiaran has contributed a great deal to European ethnology.”

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GASPAR MARTINEZ- Barandiaran: Science and faith

“Barandiaran was primarily a priest. In addition, he was also an archaeologist, anthropologist, ethnologist, historian…that is, a man of science. Even so, he was able to reconcile religion and science. A difficult exercise, considering the strict postulates of the Catholic Church of the time. Even though the studies carried out to clarify his doubts were based on research by people of faith, Barandiaran, in order to achieve absolute tranquility, wanted to place his ideas at the same level as other researchers of different beliefs.”

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IXONE FERNANDEZ DE LABASTIDA-Barandiaran and Basque society

“One of the most studied facets of José Miguel de Barandiaran is that of him as an anthropologist. However, with the passage of time and in light of the historical context in which he developed his work, Barandiaran could also be considered a social activist. Thanks to his particular methodology and its object of study, this anthropologist contributed not only to mitigation of the discourse on the race coming from Europe but also to the reconstruction of social ties and the feeling of shared cultural identity in Euskal Herria.”

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XABIER IRUJO- Barandiaran and Exile

“Joxe Migel Barandiaran lived for 17 years in exile in Iparralde, in Miarritze first and later in Sara. During these years, he collaborated and at times led the group of vascologos and euskaltzales who met in these early years of exile, and most fundamentally after the liberation, who then received the name ‘Los caballeritos de San Juan de Luz’. Among the most outstanding works of Barandiaran in exile are the creation of Ikuska, Eusko Jakintza and the ‘Jakin Bilerak’, which helped to consolidate the network of Basque scholars of the diaspora in America.”screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-2-57-52-pm

Overall, the event was a fantastic way to learn more about Barandiaran and his work, making it a fitting homage to the prolific and wide-ranging scholar who did so much for Basque culture and history.

 

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To learn more about the series, visit the Barandiaran Foundation’s website: http://www.barandiaranfundazioa.eus/index.php/es/

See, too, the Selected Writings of José Miguel de Barandiarán: Basque Prehistory and Ethnography, edited by Jesus Altuna.  This is a marvelous introduction, in English, to Barandiaran’s published work and the various fields in which he researched, from Basque prehistory and mythology to essays on the importance of the household and hunting in Basque culture.

Nafarroa Oinez 2016 video: Check it out!

A few weeks ago we posted the video for the ikastola fundraiser day in Gipuzkoa (click here to see that). This weekend, October 16, it’s the turn of Nafarroa to host its own fundraiser; this year, Nafarroa Oinez will be held in Viana and will be raising funds for the ikastolas of Viana and Lodosa.

The slogan for this year’s event is “Hartu, tenka, tira!” (Pick up the rope, take the strain, pull!) and refers to the referee’s commands in a tug-of-war contest. It was chosen to represent all the effort and commitment required in disseminating Basque-language education. So come on everyone, let’s all pull in favor of Basque! Check out the video!

 

 

UPV/EHU Museum of Education – a step into the past

The University of the Basque Country, at its Donostia-San Sebastián campus, houses the Museum of Education, which won the Manuel Bartolomé Cossío prize in 2015 for its work in maintaining educational heritage. The museum’s objective is to “recover, safeguard, and make the historical memory of education in the Basque Country public.” Walking through its 7 halls, one steps into the past, traveling through the different phases of education and Basque language teaching in the Basque Country.

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The museum has two recreations of classrooms, one from the 1950s-60s and the other from the 1970s. They are detailed to perfection, not only including furniture but also notebooks, backpacks, and other personal effects. The contrast is stark between the two and it helps to show the evolution of classrooms and education in general. Special attention is brought to the use of Basque in education, and much of the museum is dedicated to this. Educational materials are also on display and visitors are encouraged to visit the library, which is full of research on the subject of the history of education.

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Unless you’re living in the Basque Country, you might have a hard time trying to visit. However, you can check out the following article, which includes a video (in Spanish) of the museum: http://www.ehu.eus/es/web/guest/preview-campusa/-/asset_publisher/1O7v/content/n_20160916-museo-educacion

Also visit their website for more information:  http://www.ehu.eus/es/web/museoeducacion

If you’re interested in learning more about education in the Basque Country, check out Equality, Equity, and Diversity, published by the CBS and free to download here: https://basque.unr.edu/docs/CR1.pdf

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During the 1960s, when the first ikastolak (Basque language schools) subsequent to the Spanish Civil War were created after a long ban by the Francoist regime, some key people were essential to their success.

Imanol Urbieta was one of these pioneers. Ikastolak were in need of almost everything: a proper legal framework, economic support, and pedagogical materials in the Basque language. Parents navigated the legal system to make ikastolak legal, or at least to avoid being prosecuted; all kinds of organizations provided premises in which children would be comfortable; and teachers created materials to teach Basque and other topics.

Imanol Urbieta (c) during a popular tribute in 2014. Behind him, his spouse Kontxi Aizarna, who collaborated with Imanol. Picture CC-BY-ND by Urola Kostako Hitza

Imanol Urbieta (c) during a popular tribute in 2014. Behind him, his spouse Kontxi Aizarna, who collaborated with Imanol. Picture CC-BY-ND by Urola Kostako Hitza

Imanol, one of the first teachers at the Salbatore Mitxelena Ikastola in Zarautz, Gipuzkoa, did some wonderful work in renewing the pedagogy and in the use of an innovative teaching tool: music and songs. Imanol’s songs (Ran Roberran, John Brown, Txiki txiki txikia, and so on) are part of the soundtrack of our generation’s lives. And of our children’s lives too, not only because we as parents sing them to our sons and daughters, but also because Pirritx, Porrotx eta Marimotots, the most renowned Basque clowns, sing them prolifically.

Imanol Urbieta died in Zarautz on September 28th, 2016 at age 83.

 

Great new video to accompany this weekend’s Kilometroak fundraiser in Bergara

Every year, throughout the Basque Country, a special day is set aside to raise funds for a particular ikastola (a school in which instruction takes place predominantly in Basque) on which the main goal is to complete a walk (often sponsored) around a set circuit, with refreshment stands along the way and other associated activities, including concerts and the like, all in aid of raising money for Basque-language education: in Araba this is known as Araba Euskaraz (meaning “Araba in Basque”); in Bizkaia, Ibilialdia (the trek, hike, walk, etc.); in Iparralde, Herri Urats (“a people’s step”); in Nafarroa, Nafarroa Oinez (Nafarroa on foot); and in Gipuzkoa, Kilometroak (kilometers).

This year’s Kilometroak, which takes place on October 2, is being organized by the Aranzadi Ikastola in Bergara and its theme is demasa (tremendous, humongous), linked to the notion of aniztasuna (diversity). A great part of all these events in recent years has been the introduction of a specially composed song for the day with an accompanying video, and we’d like to share this year’s song with you. Enjoy!

 

August 20, 1915: Basque scholar Koldo Mitxelena born

On August 20, 1915, Koldo Mitxelena (Luis Michelena) was born in Errenteria, Gipuzkoa. His work is still unquestionably the central reference point for anyone interested in all aspects of the Basque language and his intellectual influence survives down to this day. Yet his own personal story is not that of the archetypal ivory-towered academic; throughout his fascinating life he knew war, imprisonment, and repression first-hand.

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Reproduction of a portrait of Koldo Mitxelena (an oil painting by A. Valverde). By Juan San Martib, derivative work by Xabier Armendaritz, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Mitxelena was born into a humble artisan family in the small Gipuzkoan town on the cusp of experiencing a dramatic social, economic and demographic change with the coming of industrialization in the early twentieth century. The young Mitxelena was raised in a Basque-speaking and Basque nationalist household. As a child he was bedridden for three years due to a tumor in his leg, and this forced confinement sparked an early interest in reading. On leaving school, he joined in the family artisan work, while at the same time taking an active interest in both the flowering of Basque literary movements and Basque nationalist politics in the 1930s; but when the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936 he immediately volunteered to fight Franco’s military rebels.

He was subsequently captured and sentenced to death in 1937, although the sentence was overturned and commuted to a thirty-year prison sentence instead. In Burgos prison he met several incarcerated Spanish intellectuals, professors, and students, and this contact led him to coming across his true vocation for the study of language. He was eventually released in 1943. He returned to Errenteria at the age of twenty-seven and in poor health. He accepted the offer of an accounting job in Madrid, from where he began engaging in clandestine activities against the Franco dictatorship. Yet this resulted in his arrest once more in 1946, for which he served a two-year sentence and was released in 1948.

Now thirty-two years old, he enrolled as part-time student of humanities at the University of Madrid, living modestly and funding his studies as best he could in the circumstances. In 1949, moreover, he married Matilde Martínez de Ilarduya and they would go on to have two children. Mitxelena carried on with his studies through the 1950s at the University of Salamanca, teaching courses in Basque language and literature, and eventually achieving a doctorate in 1959 with a dissertation on the topic of Basque historical phonetics (a text that is still relevant to this day).

Thereafter Mitxelena, perhaps making up for lost time, embarked on a prodigious research and publishing academic career. He continued in Salamanca, although was prevented from applying for many positions because of his prison record, but through much lobbying on the part of friends and colleagues,  a chair of Indo-European Linguistics was eventually created for him in the late 1960s. During this time, as well as attracting a number of Basque students around him who would ultimately go on to lead the study of Basque langue and linguistics, he also gained more international renown, teaching at the prestigious Sorbonne in Paris for example.

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Mitxelena, back row, far left, at the 1968 Arantzazu Congress. Photo by Juan San Martin, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

If that was all not enough, Mitxelena was one of the driving forces behind the move toward designing and implementing Euskara Batua, Unified or Standard Basque. He played a prominent role in the key Arantzazu Congress, held in 1968, which first set down the principles by which this unified version of the language–now the standard used in education, the media, and a variety of other fields–was first agreed on by Euskaltzaindia, the Royal Academy of the Basque Language.

Following Franco’s death in 1975 and the restructuring of the Spanish university system, Mitxelena was asked to come back to the Basque Country in the late 1970s and help in the design and implementation of a Basque language program at the nascent University of the Basque Country. And there he continued to teach for a few more years until his retirement. Shortly afterward, he died in 1987.

Today there is a chair named in his honor at the University of Chicago and the main library and cultural center in Donostia bears the name Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea.

In the words of Pello Salaburu, who compiled the the work Koldo Mitxelena: Selected Writings of a Basque Scholar cited below:

Thanks to Koldo Mitxelena, to his total dedication and vast intellectual contributions, Basque language studies eventually took a giant step forward and moved into their rightful place as a professional field of academic research. Mitxelena’s proposals were also crucial for the development of euskara batua, or unified literary Basque, which was to become the much-needed standard for this ancient language. These two contributions—his rigorous analysis and intellectual authorship of the standardization of the language—were vital not only for our knowledge and understanding of Basque, but also for bringing it to the forefront in education and the mass media in the Basque Country today . . . The debt that Basque linguistics owes him is unpayable. It is not just the fact that he was able to turn Basque philology into a science. That would have been merit enough. But on top of that, Koldo Mitxelena was graced with tremendous common sense, and this is what made it possible, following his death, for the Basque language to prosper. Thanks to him, it had the minimum resources necessary to survive and flourish in a modern, changing society. Koldo Mitxelena showed us all the road to knowledge, erudition, and critical thinking.

Check out the Center’s publication of some of Mitxelena’s key texts in Koldo Mitxelena: Selected Writings of a Basque Scholar, with chapters on (among many other things), the history and antiquity of Basque, its contact with Romanization, and Basque literature as well as his thoughts on the structure, phonetics, and orthography of the language.

See, too, Pello Salaburu’s survey of the how Basque came to be standardized, a process in which Mitxelena was front and center, in Writing Words: The Unique Case of the Standardization of Basque.

 

 

Basque Country mentioned in Washington Post report on European innovation

Rick Noack of the Washington Post recently reported on European innovation levels in his article “Where Europe is most and least innovative, in 6 maps.”  Citing the recent European Union Innovation Scoreboard,  Noack notes that, “the Basque country — an autonomous region in Spain — is the country’s only area that is more innovative than the E.U. average.”

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Check out the full report here.

See, too, Javier Echeverria’s fascinating study of innovation at the European level: Innovation and Values: A European Perspective.

Likewise, the Center has published two books specifically on innovation–in all its guises–in the Basque Country: Implications of Current Research on Social Innovation in the Basque Country, edited by Ander Gurrutxaga Abad and Antonio Rivera, free to download here; and Innovation: Economic, Social, and Cultural Aspects, edited by Mikel Gómez Uranga and Juan Carlos Miguel de Bustos, free to download here.

 

Basque Country achieves one of highest Human Development Index scores in world

Eustat, the Basque Statistics Institute, recently revealed that the Basque Country  is now in eighth place in a list of all countries according to the Human Development Index (HDI) ranking.

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UN HDI Rankings for 2014. The darker the blue, the higher the ranking. Image by Tomtom2732, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The HDI is a United Nations measure of well-being in a country, based on multiple factors such as life expectancy, education, and income per capita. Eustat calculated the Basque Country’s HDI for the period of 2010-2014, using the methodology of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It found that, with an HDI of 0.915, the Basque Country was ranked eighth overall in the world, behind Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, and Ireland, in joint position with the United States. and ahead of France (22nd, with an HDI of 0.888) and Spain (26th, with an HDI of 0.876).

Of special note is life expectancy in the Basque Country, which at 83.4 means that only the inhabitants of Hong Kong (84) and Japan (83.5) enjoy longer lives.

Read more at the Eustat website: The Basque Country has achieved one of the highest Human Development Index scores in the world

If you’re interested in this topic, check out The Basque Experience: Constructing Sustainable Human Development, by Juan Jose Ibarretxe. In this work, former lehendakari (Basque president) Ibarretxe explores just how the Basque Country has been able to rise so swiftly in the HDI rankings in the face of the multiple challenges it has faced in recent decades.

 

5,000-year-old Livestock Pens Found in Araba

117205_webA join research and exploration initiative between the University of Basque Country (UPV-EHU), the University of Barcelona, and the CSIC-National Research Council, led by UPV-EHU Professor of Prehistory Javier Fernández-Eraso, has discovered 5,000-year-old livestock pens in Araba.

The find demonstrates the use of rock-shelters as encloses for sheep and goats by agropastoral communities during the Chalcolothic period (also known as the Copper Age) in the Basque Country and across the northwestern Iberian Peninsula. The find also complements previous research conducted by the same team, which documented the presence of livestock enclosures dating back to the Neolithic Era, approximately 6,000 years ago.

arqueologia_700Ana Polo-Díaz, a researcher at the University of Basque Country’s Department of Geography, Prehistory, and Archeology added, “This is a piece of pioneering work in the studies on agropastoral communities on the Iberian Peninsula. We have evidence that the human groups that occupied San Cristóbal during the Chalcolithic used the shelter as a pen for goats and/or sheep and that this use, although repetitive throughout hundreds of years, was not ongoing but of a temporary nature linked to a seasonal exploitation of the rich natural resources available on the Sierra de Cantabria. We also know thanks to the microscopic study of the sediments that every now and again they used to burn the debris that had built up, probably to clean up the space that had been occupied and that this combustion process was carried out in line with some specific habits: they used to pile up the debris and on top of them pile up wood remains, perhaps to help to get the fire going before going on to burn the debris.”

See a report on the find here.

 

Glowing online review for Basque education system

Sean Coughlan, education correspondent for the online BBC news service, recently published an illuminating report on the Basque education system that I would encourage you all to read.

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Students at the Altzaga Ikastola in Leioa, Bizkaia, take part in the “Gure Ohiturak” (Our Customs) dance group. Photo by Gorkaazk, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The article rests on the fascinating premise that the singularity of the Basque education system “with a strong sense of identity and ambition, emerging from conflict and with a need to compete with much bigger neighbours” potentially makes it “the next rising star” in the world of innovative education.  And referring to the strong emphasis on investment in research and development, Coughlan observes that, “In many ways, the educational profile feels more like a pocket of Scandinavia rather than southern Europe.”

Indeed, the Basque government’s education minister, Cristina Uriarte, is quoted as saying: “Education is the key to keeping our culture.” We couldn’t agree more!

Read the full report here.

If you’re interested in this topic, check out the Center publication Equality, Equity, and Diversity: Educational Solutions in the Basque Country, edited by Alfonso Unceta and Concepción Medrano. This book is available free to download here.

You may also be interested in the following related works:

Implications of Current Research on Social Innovation in the Basque Country, edited by Ander Gurrutxaga Abad and Antonio Rivera. Free to download here

Innovation: Economic, Social, and Cultural Aspects, edited by Mikel Gómez Uranga and Juan Carlos Miguel de Bustos. Free to download here

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