The Aragon Museum of Education

Travel back in time and discover the history of education in Spain.

By Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

A museum is much more than a collection of rare, curious, or unusual objects.

The Aragon Museum of Education (Museo Pedagógico de Aragón) is not just a museum—it is a laboratory and documentation hub, as well as a space for study, research, and thought.

It is a leading institution for discovering key points in the construction of educational institutions and for learning about the history of schools and education in Aragon.

Schools can shed light better than any other institution on a society's values at any given time, as they have always held an important place in society. In reality, examining a school is truly like examining a society.

Travel back in time and discover the history of education in Spain.

Tin Train (1960-1969) by MasudayaMuseo Pedagógico de Aragón

Children and Schoolteachers

Lottery game (1920-1930)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

Children are at the heart of the Aragon Museum of Education. Childhood is a recent social construct, and the 20th century is generally recognized as the century of the child.

Disciplines like Psychology, Medicine, Law, and, of course, Pedagogy are concerned with understanding the interests, needs, motivations, and principal characteristics involved in child development. Children gradually became the focus of learning.

Recommendations and exercises (1962) by Antonio Álvarez PérezMuseo Pedagógico de Aragón

In fact, the child is the measure of all things. Educational spaces and schooltimes, furniture, teaching materials, and other features are adapted according to children's needs.

Richly illustrated children's books, with child-friendly fonts, and an education based on children's games and spontaneous activities are clear examples of the importance attached to children.

Schoolteacher surrounded by students (1876-1900)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón


Near the end of the 1900s, schoolteachers had already started to create a certifiable professional body that was equivalent to other Spanish civil servants.

When the Spanish government started paying their salaries in 1902, schoolteachers fulfilled their long-awaited aim of becoming independent from local councils and getting their (oftentimes) meager salaries on time. From this moment on, the government trained, certified, and selected members for this professional body.

School copybook (1876)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

Teaching was king in the first few decades of the 20th century, and teachers saw their visibility in society increase through the local press, conferences, and publications.

During this period, schoolteachers published a large number of schoolbooks related to grammar, arithmetic, reading, and so on. However, between 1900 and 1936, some schoolteachers also published works aimed at the general public.

History award (1910)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

First Period of the 20th Century (1900–36)

The golden age of education in Spain.

Storybook box (1901-1925) by Saturnino CallejaMuseo Pedagógico de Aragón

The years from the start of the 20th century up to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 marked an important point in the development, spread, and modernization of education in Spain.

The educational awakening and pedagogical impetus of this period is largely due to the influence that the Free Institution for Education (Institución Libre de Enseñanza) had on all areas of school administration and educational practice.

School blackboard (1930-1940)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

In the first few decades of the 20th century, significant changes were made in terms of how schools were perceived. For example, the first attempts at grading teaching qualifications were made.

School Colonies (educational summer camps) and canteens also became widespread. They were aimed at the poorest of the poor and, in this way, they also served a social purpose. The first School Colonies were developed by the Free Institution for Education.

The Spanish School Illustrated Weekly Pedagogical Magazine (1912)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

In 1900, the Ministry of Public Instruction and Fine Arts (Ministerio de Instrucción Pública y Bellas Artes) was established. For the first time in Spain, education carried enough weight to merit its own ministry.

Mobile blackboard (1910)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

School During the Second Spanish Republic

The period of great enthusiasm.

Typewriter (1925-1930)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

In the first year of the Spanish Republic, work on public instruction was carried out at breakneck speed.

Although the Republican Government's efforts were focused on creating schools, those in charge of educational policy understood that creating more buildings was not enough. Schools had to be founded based on the educational principles established by the Free Institution for Education, the secular principles of liberalism, and the idea of one, secular, free school.

Zaragoza teacher training college (1933-1934) by Lit. Castro. ZaragozaMuseo Pedagógico de Aragón

Schoolteachers were essential in spreading the ideals of the Republic, as they were called to act as counselors and advisers not only to schoolchildren, but to adults as well.

Library loan card (1931- 1932) by Patronato de Misiones PedagógicasMuseo Pedagógico de Aragón

On May 29, 1931, the Decree creating the Trust of Pedagogical Missions was published, which sought to "bring to the people, especially those living in rural areas, the feeling of progress and means to participate in it, in its moral stimuli, and in the examples of universal progress, so that all the peoples of Spain, even those in remote areas, may share in the benefits and noble joys that today are reserved for urban centers."

School copybook (1936) by María Jesús MonclúsMuseo Pedagógico de Aragón

Given how important education and schools were to the Spanish Republic, it's no surprise that, despite the dire emergency of the Civil War, they were still committed to child education and adult literacy, even in the trenches.

The literacy campaigns that were offered to soldiers are an example of this.

School blackboard (1876-1920)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

War will always be an act of injustice.

The Spanish Civil War marked the destruction of thought—it put an end to education in Spain and destroyed many educators' dreams of freedom and enlightenment. The best of Spain's educators had to go into exile.

Domestic chores (1950-1960)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

The Spanish Civil War and General Franco's Dictatorship

Schools as an ideological instrument of the government.

Sewing kit (1950-1960)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

In the wake of the Spanish Civil War, schools conclusively became a powerful tool used to raise youths and children on the principles of the Franco regime.

Schools were first and foremost a means of legitimizing the dictatorship.

Declaration of clearance (1942)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

While the Republican lawmakers saw school as a means of gradually transforming society, members of the military uprising sought the exact opposite: they wanted to hold on to the old ways and maintain the longstanding established hierarchy.

This may explain the relentless process of cleansing and elimination that the militants subjected teachers to in the months and years that followed the military uprising.

Class journal (1950)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

The Schools of National Catholicism

The Law of Primary Education of July 17, 1945 was based on the supremacy of religion over all other things, as well as the need to place the superiority of the Spanish homeland at the forefront of children's minds and hearts.

From this combination of principles, the school of national Catholicism was born.

Together with the Catholic Church, schools—with schoolteachers as their principal agents—were an instrument of indoctrination that used hymns, prayers, symbols, celebrations, and other school rituals to highlight the esthetics and discourse of Francoism, as well as the humiliation and submission of anyone whose speech or thoughts ran contrary to the regime.

Test tubes (1960(ca))Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

Technocracy in Education

The 1950s marked a more liberal period of the Franco regime. In terms of education, the more extreme and aggressive discourse of national Catholicism was toned down, and more moderate pedagogical and technical features were introduced.

The economy also became more liberal, particularly after 1959, when a change in the government allowed technocrats to enter into government—many of them were associated with the group Opus Dei.

Enosa 300 projector (1960- 1980)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

These new decision makers had more confidence in values such as efficiency, productivity, and free press than they did in ideology. This view was visible in education in the years that followed.

In its mission to put efficiency before anything else, the technocracy of the 1960s made way for developmentalism, economic growth, labor migration to developed countries, and migration from rural to urban areas.

The Preschool Teacher Training University for General Basic Education (1982- 1985)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

The 1970 General Law of Education: a Silent and Peaceful Revolution?

The General Law of Education was drawn up based on certain technical criteria, following an interesting study of the Spanish education system. Unsurprisingly, public opinion was not taken into consideration when this law was created.

The great legacy of the General Law of Education was, undoubtedly, the General Basic Education, which saw the scope of free elementary education increased from 6 to 14 years of age for the entire population.

School bag (1950 (ca))Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

Five years after the General Law of Education had been approved, the dictator Francisco Franco died. This change in the political scene meant the law immediately became obsolete, and many of the principles that guided it lost their reason for being.

The Restoration of Freedoms

Monocular microscope (1960-1980)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

From the end of the 1960s, and certainly during the 1970s, public schools were a melting pot of anxieties and initiatives.

In the early 1970s, despite the failings and limitations that public schools endured, and despite the strict political and educational control that schoolteachers were under, efforts were made to bring schooling closer to Spain's social reality.

Map of Spain (1936)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

The Spanish Constitution of 1978 granted the autonomous communities of Spain the right to manage essential public services, with education among them.

The decentralization of the education system paved the way for diversity while the shared heritage of Spain as a whole was developing at the same time.

Magnetic tape (1970-1980)Museo Pedagógico de Aragón

This approach to understanding education sought to ensure that schools could acknowledge the differences and characteristics of each of the autonomous communities, while simultaneously guaranteeing a uniform education across them all.

To meet this challenge, the Organic Law for the General Organization of the Educational System (LOGSE) laid out a standard basic curriculum for all of Spain, but also made it open and flexible enough that the autonomous communities could adjust it according to their needs.

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