Spain: Social Structure

Education

During my three weeks in Spain I was lucky enough to meet a handful of secondary school teachers. These teachers taught English as an elective and had much to say about the education system in Spain. The four teachers I met felt that the government is too involved in the education system.

The government is the one who hires the public school teachers and decides how much funding schools get for programing. Once a teacher is hired on full time, it is almost impossible to fire them. This creates teachers who are burnt out and slacking in the work place to stay at the position they are in because of extreme job security. As well, the government continuously is cutting funds to education, which is not a good thing.

As a result of this, the teachers feel as though students are not getting the quality education they deserve. One teacher said, “The government keeps saying there is no money, but where is all the money? I pay my taxes.” This lack of funding and burt out faculty with extreme job security, in the opinion of these teachers, is creating higher drop out rates.

In Spain, if a student makes it to their sophomore year of high school they are legally aloud to drop out and go to trade school, and many do. The teachers felt that this is a direct result of the government being overly involved in the school system because private schools aren’t experiencing the same phenomenon.

From a communication perspective, it is clear to me that there is a lack of communication happening between the government officials and the education system. There needs to be more open communication between these two organizations. If the government is failing its students, they have an obligation to the people of Spain to listen to these teachers, provide more money in education, and to also create new systems for evaluating staff members.

Family

Family values are strong in Spain. Just walking the streets one can see how obvious this is. Families are always out and in groups. It is easy to spot parents and children all doing their shopping together as a family or spending time together at a local event. Even parents with children that are all grown up will still be holding their mother or father’s hand in public and show affection towards them.

While is Spain I was able to spend one night at a home with my friend, her boyfriend, and his parents, who were all Spanish. The social dynamics of the household were not terribly different than those in the United States, except for the showing of affection. The parents greeted their son with a kiss on each cheek and a hug, even though he lives close by. His parents were not shy at all to greet myself and my friend with a kiss on each cheek as well.

In Spain one of the biggest non verbal communication differences I noticed, between family and friends, was their sings of affection. The country as a whole is much more attached during a conversation. People will put their hand on your shoulder when speaking to you or give you a kiss on each cheek as a good by or a hello, even if it’s the first time you’re meeting them. This observation was greatly enforced while spending time with the Spanish family.

ReligionImage

Catholicism is a huge part of Spanish culture.While visiting cathedrals, I learned that just under 90% of the total population identifies as catholic. This large percent clearly has an effect on the society and how the people act. The church is an important aspect in people’s day to day lives.

When communicating with people in Spain, one must take note that most of the people have a strong catholic belief. If someone from the U.S. were to try and do business with Spanish people they would have to keep in mind their various religious holidays that are associated with this strong religious belief. Not just the big holidays that the U.S. also respects, such as Christmas, but also much smaller holidays, such as, days for different Saints.

With all of that being said, it still appears as though the Spanish have an interest and a general respect for other religions. Muslims ruled Spain for many years before Catholicism took over. Because of this, there are many well respected and preserved ancient mosques that the Spanish are proud of and visit often.

-Kylie Torres

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