30 de junho de 2014

Quase 90% dos professores brasileiros se sentem desvalorizados, diz estudo

A pesquisa da OCDE ouviu 100 mil professores e diretores escolares em 34 países 

Quase 90% dos professores brasileiros acreditam que a profissão não é valorizada na sociedade. Mesmo assim, a maioria está satisfeita com o emprego. O resultado foi apresentado semana passada pela Pesquisa Internacional sobre Ensino e Aprendizagem (Talis) da Organização para a Cooperação e Desenvolvimento Econômico (OCDE) que ouviu 100 mil professores e diretores escolares em 34 países.

De acordo com o levantamento, somente 12,6% dos professores brasileiros consideram-se valorizados. A proporção está abaixo da média internacional, de 30,9%. No entanto, 87% dos professores brasileiros consideram-se realizados no emprego, próximo da média global de 91,1%.

Apesar de não se sentirem valorizados, os professores brasileiros estão entre os que mais trabalham, com 25 horas de ensino por semana, seis horas a mais do que a média internacional. Em relação ao tempo em sala de aula, os professores brasileiros ficam atrás apenas da província de Alberta, no Canadá, com 26,4 horas trabalhadas por semana, e do Chile, com 26,7 horas.

Mesmo trabalhando mais que a média, os professores brasileiros gastam mais tempo para manter a ordem em sala de aula. Segundo o levantamento, 20% do tempo em sala é usado para controlar o comportamento dos alunos, contra 13% na média internacional.

Todos os entrevistados na pesquisa dão aula para a faixa etária de 11 a 16 anos. A publicação também mostra que nos países em que os professores se sentem valorizados, os resultados no Programa Internacional de Avaliação de Alunos (Pisa) tendem a ser melhores.

Quanto à formação, mais de 90% dos professores brasileiros dos anos finais do ensino fundamental concluíram o ensino superior, mas cerca de 25% não fizeram curso de formação de professores. Segundo a falta de especialização reflete-se no ensino. Professores com conhecimento de pedagogia e de práticas das disciplinas que lecionam relataram se sentir mais preparados do que aqueles cuja educação formal não continha esses elementos.

Segundo o Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisas Educacionais Anísio Teixeira (Inep), os dados serão incorporados aos dados do Censo Escolar e das avaliações nacionais, para que se possam criar descrições ainda mais detalhadas da situação educacional brasileira.

(Mariana Tokarnia / Agência Brasil)

Math Under Common Core Has Even Parents Stumbling

From left, Jarrett Nelams, 7, and his brother Jadon, 9, with their mother, Rebekah, at home in Greenwell Springs, La.CreditEdmund D. Fountain for The New York Times
Continue reading the main storyShare This Page
Continue reading the main story
GREENWELL SPRINGS, La. — Rebekah and Kevin Nelams moved to their modest brick home in this suburb of Baton Rouge seven years ago because it has one of the top-performing public school districts in the state. But starting this fall, Ms. Nelams plans to home-school the couple’s four elementary-age children.
The main reason: the methods that are being used for teaching math under the Common Core, a set of academic standards adopted by more than 40 states.
Ms. Nelams said she did not recognize the approaches her children, ages 7 to 10, were being asked to use on math work sheets. They were frustrated by the pictures, dots and sheer number of steps needed to solve some problems. Her husband, who is a pipe designer for petroleum products at an engineering firm, once had to watch a YouTube video before he could help their fifth-grade son with his division homework.
“They say this is rigorous because it teaches them higher thinking,” Ms. Nelams said. “But it just looks tedious.”
Across the country, parents who once conceded that their homework expertise petered out by high school trigonometry are now feeling helpless when confronted with first-grade work sheets. Stoked by viral postings online that ridicule math homework in which students are asked to critique a phantom child’s thinking or engage in numerous steps, along with mockery from comedians including Louis C. K. and Stephen Colbert, these parents are adding to an increasingly fierce political debate about whether the Common Core is another way in which Washington is taking over people’s lives.
A second-grade math work sheet.CreditEdmund D. Fountain for The New York Times
In Louisiana, the dispute intensified this month when Gov. Bobby Jindal said he wanted to withdraw the state from the Common Core, although others questioned his authority to do so. Already, the legislatures in Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina have repealed the Common Core standards, and for many candidates running for political office, their views on the standards have become crucial election issues.
The new instructional approach in math seeks to help children understand and use it as a problem-solving tool instead of teaching them merely to repeat formulas over and over. They are also being asked to apply concepts to real-life situations and explain their reasoning.
This is partly because employers are increasingly asking for workers who can think critically and partly because traditional ways of teaching math have yielded lackluster results. In global tests, American students lag behindchildren in several Asian countries and some European nations, and the proportion of students achieving advanced levels is low. Common Core slims down curriculums so that students can spend more time grasping specific mathematical concepts.
The guidelines are based on research that shows that students taught conceptually retain the math they learn.And many longtime math teachers, including those in organizations like the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, have championed the standards.
“I taught math very much like the Common Core for many years,” said Linda M. Gojak, president of the National Council of Teachers of Math. “When parents would question it, my response was ‘Just hang in there with me,’ and at the end of the year they would come and say this was the best year their kids had in math.”
But for parents, the transition has been hard. Moreover, textbooks and other materials have not yet caught up with the new standards, and educators unaccustomed to learning or teaching more conceptually are sometimes getting tongue-tied when explaining new methodologies.
“It is incredibly easy for these new instructional approaches to look good on paper or to work well in pilot classrooms in the hands of highly skilled experts,” said Frederick M. Hess, the director of education policy studies for the American Enterprise Institute, “and then to turn into mushy, lazy confusing goop as it spreads out to classrooms and textbooks.”
Even supporters of the Common Core say changes are being pushed too quickly. Rushing to institute a new math curriculum does not make sense if you are “planning to get the job done in a rational way,” said Phil Daro, one of three principal writers of the Common Core math standards.
Tensions over the Common Core have been heightened because the standards are tied to new standardized tests being introduced in many states. Teachers are fretting that their performance ratings will increasingly depend on how their students perform on these tests.
While several states have postponed the consequences of test results on teacher evaluations, many educators feel the pressure.
“Imagine, if you will, if the state government came down to Detroit and said in six weeks you have to be 100 percent metric,” said Jonathan Marceau, a fourth-grade teacher in Shelby Township, Mich., a northern suburb of Detroit, who is worried that some algebraic and geometric concepts are now being introduced too early for children to absorb.
Jadon, Jarrett and their brother John, 10. Come fall, Ms. Nelams plans to educate her children at home, mainly because of Common Core math.CreditEdmund D. Fountain for The New York Times
“Detroit says, ‘Great, we can do that, but we have to retool, retrain and make sure people have gone through the growth curve on this thing, and it will probably take more than six weeks,’ ” he said. “The government says, ‘Tough, we’re not going to give you any manual or tools for this transition, but if anybody makes a car with a defect, they are going to get fired.’ ”
Some educators said that with the Common Core’s focus on questioning lines of reasoning and explaining answers, the new methods were particularly challenging for students with learning disabilities, or those who struggle orally or with writing.
“To make a student feel like they’re not good at math because they can’t explain something that to them seems incredibly obvious clearly isn’t good for the student,” said W. Stephen Wilson, a math professor at Johns Hopkins University.
Some parents of children who have typically excelled at math find the curriculum laboriously slow.
In Slidell, an affluent suburb of New Orleans, Jane Stenstrom is concerned that her daughter, who was assigned to a class for gifted students as a third grader last year, did not progress quickly enough. “For the advanced classes, it’s restricting them from being able to move forward,” Ms. Stenstrom said one recent afternoon.
Her daughter, Anna Grace, 9, said she grew frustrated “having to draw all those little tiny dots.”
“Sometimes I had to draw 42 or 32 little dots, sometimes more,” she said, adding that being asked to provide multiple solutions to a problem could be confusing. “I wanted to know which way was right and which way was wrong.”
Math experts say learning different approaches helps students develop problem-solving skills beyond math. Employers “want a generation of people who can think and reason and can construct an argument,” said Steven Leinwand, a researcher for the American Institutes of Research.
In Louisiana, John White, state superintendent of education, said that politics aside, applying the Common Core math standards would take time.

“This is a shift for an entire society,” he said. “No one should be under any illusion that it’s going to take just a year or two to rethink the way that we teach mathematics, because it is really challenging.” The State Education Department has said it will not use scores from Common Core tests in teacher evaluations for the next two years.
Laci Maniscalco, a third-grade teacher in Lafayette, La., who said that sometimes her students cried during the past year when working on problems under the new curriculum, said she had seen genuine progress in their understanding — and in her own, as well.
“I have told my students countless times that I wish I had been taught the way you are having the opportunity to learn,” she said.

Inequality Is Not Inevitable By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ


AN insidious trend has developed over this past third of a century. A country that experienced shared growth after World War II began to tear apart, so much so that when the Great Recession hit in late 2007, one could no longer ignore the fissures that had come to define the American economic landscape. How did this “shining city on a hill” become the advanced country with the greatest level of inequality?
One stream of the extraordinary discussion set in motion by Thomas Piketty’s timely, important book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” has settled on the idea that violent extremes of wealth and income are inherent to capitalism. In this scheme, we should view the decades after World War II — a period of rapidly falling inequality — as an aberration.
This is actually a superficial reading of Mr. Piketty’s work, which provides an institutional context for understanding the deepening of inequality over time. Unfortunately, that part of his analysis received somewhat less attention than the more fatalistic-seeming aspects.
Javier Jaén
Over the past year and a half,The Great Divide, a series in The New York Times for which I have served as moderator, has also presented a wide range of examples that undermine the notion that there are any truly fundamental laws of capitalism. The dynamics of the imperial capitalism of the 19th century needn’t apply in the democracies of the 21st. We don’t need to have this much inequality in America.
Our current brand of capitalism is an ersatz capitalism. For proof of this go back to our response to the Great Recession, where we socialized losses, even as we privatized gains. Perfect competition should drive profits to zero, at least theoretically, but we have monopolies and oligopolies making persistently high profits. C.E.O.s enjoy incomesthat are on average 295 times that of the typical worker, a much higher ratio than in the past, without any evidence of a proportionate increase in productivity.
If it is not the inexorable laws of economics that have led to America’s great divide, what is it? The straightforward answer: our policies and our politics. People get tired of hearing about Scandinavian success stories, but the fact of the matter is that Sweden, Finland and Norway have all succeeded in having about as much or faster growth in per capita incomes than the United States and with far greater equality.
So why has America chosen these inequality-enhancing policies? Part of the answer is that as World War II faded into memory, so too did the solidarity it had engendered. As America triumphed in the Cold War, there didn’t seem to be a viable competitor to our economic model. Without this international competition, we no longer had to show that our system could deliver for most of our citizens.
Ideology and interests combined nefariously. Some drew the wrong lesson from the collapse of the Soviet system. The pendulum swung from much too much government there to much too little here. Corporate interests argued for getting rid of regulations, even when those regulations had done so much to protect and improve our environment, our safety, our health and the economy itself.
But this ideology was hypocritical. The bankers, among the strongest advocates of laissez-faire economics, were only too willing to accept hundreds of billions of dollars from the government in the bailouts that have been a recurring feature of the global economy since the beginning of the Thatcher-Reagan era of “free” markets and deregulation.
The American political system is overrun by money. Economic inequality translates into political inequality, and political inequality yields increasing economic inequality. In fact, as he recognizes, Mr. Piketty’s argument rests on the ability of wealth-holders to keep their after-tax rate of return high relative to economic growth. How do they do this? By designing the rules of the game to ensure this outcome; that is, through politics.
So corporate welfare increases as we curtail welfare for the poor. Congress maintains subsidies for rich farmers as we cut back on nutritional support for the needy. Drug companies have been given hundreds of billions of dollars as we limit Medicaid benefits. The banks that brought on the global financial crisis got billions while a pittance went to the homeowners and victims of the same banks’ predatory lending practices. This last decision was particularly foolish. There were alternatives to throwing money at the banks and hoping it would circulate through increased lending. We could have helped underwater homeowners and the victims of predatory behavior directly. This would not only have helped the economy, it would have put us on the path to robust recovery.
OUR divisions are deep. Economic and geographic segregation have immunized those at the top from the problems of those down below. Like the kings of yore, they have come to perceive their privileged positions essentially as a natural right. How else to explain the recent comments of the venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who suggested that criticism of the 1 percent was akin to Nazi fascism, or those coming from the private equity titan Stephen A. Schwarzman, who compared asking financiers to pay taxes at the same rate as those who work for a living to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.
Our economy, our democracy and our society have paid for these gross inequities. The true test of an economy is not how much wealth its princes can accumulate in tax havens, but how well off the typical citizen is — even more so in America where our self-image is rooted in our claim to be the great middle-class society. But median incomes are lower than they were a quarter-century ago. Growth has gone to the very, very top, whose share has almost quadrupled since 1980. Money that was meant to have trickled down has instead evaporated in the balmy climate of the Cayman Islands.
With almost a quarter of American children younger than 5 living in poverty, and with America doing so little for its poor, the deprivations of one generation are being visited upon the next. Of course, no country has ever come close to providing complete equality of opportunity. But why is America one of the advanced countries where the life prospects of the young are most sharply determined by the income and education of their parents?
Among the most poignant stories in The Great Divide were those that portrayed the frustrations of the young, who yearn to enter our shrinking middle class. Soaring tuitions and declining incomes have resulted in larger debt burdens. Those with only a high school diploma have seen their incomes decline by 13 percent over the past 35 years.
Where justice is concerned, there is also a yawning divide. In the eyes of the rest of the world and a significant part of its own population, mass incarceration has come to define America — a country, it bears repeating, with about 5 percent of the world’s population but around a fourth of the world’s prisoners.
Justice has become a commodity, affordable to only a few. While Wall Street executives used their high-retainer lawyers to ensure that their ranks were not held accountable for the misdeeds that the crisis in 2008 so graphically revealed, the banks abused our legal system to foreclose on mortgages and evict people, some of whom did not even owe money.
More than a half-century ago, America led the way in advocating for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948. Today, access to health care is among the most universally accepted rights, at least in the advanced countries. America, despite the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, is the exception. It has become a country with great divides in access to health care, life expectancy and health status.
In the relief that many felt when the Supreme Court did not overturn the Affordable Care Act, the implications of the decision for Medicaid were not fully appreciated. Obamacare’s objective — to ensure that all Americans have access to health care — has been stymied: 24 states have not implemented the expanded Medicaid program, which was the means by which Obamacare was supposed to deliver on its promise to some of the poorest.
We need not just a new war on poverty but a war to protect the middle class. Solutions to these problems do not have to be newfangled. Far from it. Making markets act like markets would be a good place to start. We must end the rent-seeking society we have gravitated toward, in which the wealthy obtain profits by manipulating the system.
The problem of inequality is not so much a matter of technical economics. It’s really a problem of practical politics. Ensuring that those at the top pay their fair share of taxes — ending the special privileges of speculators, corporations and the rich — is both pragmatic and fair. We are not embracing a politics of envy if we reverse a politics of greed. Inequality is not just about the top marginal tax rate but also about our children’s access to food and the right to justice for all. If we spent more on education, health and infrastructure, we would strengthen our economy, now and in the future. Just because you’ve heard it before doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it again.
We have located the underlying source of the problem: political inequities and policies that have commodified and corrupted our democracy. It is only engaged citizens who can fight to restore a fairer America, and they can do so only if they understand the depths and dimensions of the challenge. It is not too late to restore our position in the world and recapture our sense of who we are as a nation. Widening and deepening inequality is not driven by immutable economic laws, but by laws we have written ourselves.

29 de junho de 2014

Who Is Setting the Sectarian Fires in the Middle East?, Thomas L. Friedman

A scene from Aleppo, Syria, after airstrikes by government forces in March. Some argue that the sectarian violence in the region isn’t necessarily inevitable. CreditBaraa Al-Halabi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, The New York Times
Continue reading the main storyShare This Page
Continue reading the main story
WHAT’S the real fight in the Middle East today? Is it just sectarian (Sunnis versus Shiites) and national (Israelis versusPalestinians and Arabs versus Persians)? Or is it something deeper? I was discussing this core question with Nader Mousavizadeh, a former senior United Nations official and the co-founder of Macro Advisory Partners, a geopolitical advisory firm, and he offered another framework: “The real struggle in the region,” he said, “is between arsonists and firefighters.”
There is a lot of truth in that. The sectarian and nationalist fires you see burning around the Middle East are not as natural and inevitable as you may think.
“These are deliberate acts of arson,” argues Mousavizadeh, “set by different leaders to advance their narrow and shortsighted political, economic and security objectives.” In the West, he warns, “a mix of fatigue and fatalism is in danger of creating a narrative of irreversible Sunni-Shia conflict. This is historically false and releases the region’s leaders from their responsibility to wield power in a legitimate and accountable way.” 
To be sure, he added, the sectarian divides are real, but it is “not inevitable” that the region erupt in sectarian conflagration. It takes arsonists to really get these sectarian fires blazing, and, “unless they set them and fan them and give them fuel,” they will more often than not die out. 
How so? Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, is an arsonist. When confronted with a nonviolent, grass-roots protest against his tyrannical rule, he opened fire on the demonstrators, hoping that would provoke Syria’s Sunni majority to respond with violence against his Alawite/Shiite minority regime. It worked, and now Assad presents himself as the defender of a secular Syria against Sunni fanatics.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is an arsonist. The minute America left Iraq, he deliberately arrested Sunni leaders, deprived them of budgets and stopped paying the Sunni tribesmen who rose up against Al Qaeda. When this eventually triggered a Sunni response, Maliki ran in the last election as the defender of the Shiite majority against Sunni “terrorists.” It worked.
Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt launched a violent crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood, killing, wounding and arresting many hundreds, and then he ran for president as the defender of Egypt against Muslim Brotherhood “terrorists.”
The Palestinian extremists who recently kidnapped three Israeli youths were arsonists, aiming to blow up any hope of restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to embarrass Palestinian moderates. But they had help. Radical Jewish settler supporters in the Israeli cabinet, like Naftali Bennett and housing minister Uri Ariel, are arsonists. Ariel deliberately announced plans to build 700 new housing units for Jews in Arab East Jerusalem — timed to torpedo Secretary of State John Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy. And they did.
There are firefighters in all these places — people like Tzipi Livni and Shimon Peres in Israel, former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Mohammad Javad Zarif in Iran and Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Iraq — but they are now overwhelmed by the passions set loose by the arsonists.
It is hard for people who have not lived in the Arab world to appreciate that Shiites and Sunnis in places like Iraq, Lebanon or Bahrain often intermarry. Those that do are jokingly called “Sushi.” Sectarian massacres are not the norm. A poll just released by Zogby Research Services, conducted in seven Arab countries, found that “strong majorities in every country favor U.S. policies that support a negotiated solution to the conflict [in Syria], coupled with more support for Syrian refugees. Majorities in all countries oppose any form of U.S. military engagement” or arming of opposition groups.
I recently gave the commencement address at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, in Kurdistan. Its student body is 70 percent Kurdish, and the rest are mostly Shiites and Sunnis from across Iraq. With the right leadership, people in the region can and do get along. It is why for all the talk of breaking Iraq into three parts, it is has never been the preferred choice of most Iraqis.

As one of my Kurdish hosts remarked to me, “The Shiites of Basra still long for the famous yoghurt of Erbil,” Kurdistan’s largest city. “When Ramadan comes, the Kurds will feel deprived if they cannot break the daily fast with the famous dates of Basra.” And Kurds have come to enjoy “shisha,” smoking water pipes, which are a tradition they got from the Arabs. There are more ties that bind than don’t. You actually have to work at burning them up.
To be sure, harmony between different sects requires order, but it does not have to be iron-fisted. Iraqis just last April held fair elections on their own. They can do it. These societies need to go from being governed by iron fists “to iron institutions that are legitimate, inclusive and accountable, and strong enough to hold the frame of society together,” argued Mousavizadeh.
That requires the right leadership. “So when the region’s leaders come to Washington to plead for engagement and intervention, ask for money or ask for arms,” he added, “Let them first answer the question: Are you an arsonist or are you a firefighter?”

Mario Vargas Llosa: El fracaso de Ortega y Gasset

El filósofo quiso democratizar España, volverla europea mediante la persuasión; en eso consistía su liberalismo. Pero la desilusión con la República y la sublevacion fascista enterraron su proyecto

 Me hubiera gustado escuchar una conferencia de Ortega y Gasset, o, mejor todavía, seguir alguno de sus cursos. Todos quienes lo oyeron dicen que hablaba con la misma elegancia e inteligencia que escribía, en un español rico y fluido, muy seguro de sí mismo, con ciertos desplantes vanidosos que no ofendían a nadie por la enorme cultura que exhibía y la claridad con que era capaz de desarrollar los temas más complejos. La doctora Margot Arce, que fue su alumna, me contaba en Puerto Rico, medio siglo después de haberlo oído, el silencio reverencial y extático que su palabra imponía a su auditorio. Me lo imagino muy bien; incluso cuando uno lo lee —y yo lo he leído bastante, siempre con placer— tiene la sensación de estarlo oyendo, porque en su prosa clara y frondosa hay siempre algo de oral.
La biografía que acaba de publicar Jordi Gracia (Taurus), muestra un Ortega y Gasset mucho menos recio y firme en sus ideas y convicciones de lo que se creía, un intelectual que de tanto en tanto experimenta crisis profundas de desánimo que paralizan esa energía que, en otras épocas, parece inagotable, y lo lleva a escribir, estudiar y meditar sin tregua, durante semanas y meses, produciendo artículos, ensayos, una correspondencia ingente, dando clases y conferencias y desarrollando al mismo tiempo una labor editorial que dejaba una huella importante en la cultura de su tiempo. Muestra, también, que ese trabajador infatigable era, como un Isaiah Berlin, prácticamente incapaz de planear y terminar un libro orgánico, pese a tener la intuición premonitoria de tantos, que nunca llegaría a escribir, porque la dispersión lo ganaba. Por eso fue, sobre todo, un escritor de artículos y pequeños ensayos, y, sus libros, todos ellos con excepción del primero —las Meditaciones del Quijote— recopilaciones o inconclusos. Nada de eso empobrece ni resta originalidad a su pensamiento; por el contrario, como ocurre con los textos casi siempre breves de Isaiah Berlin, los artículos de Ortega son generalmente algo mucho más rico y profundo que lo que suele ser un artículo periodístico, planteamientos, exposiciones o críticas que a menudo abordan temas de muy alto nivel intelectual y cargados de sugestiones a veces deslumbrantes y, sin embargo, siempre asequibles al lector no especializado.

La impotencia lo condujo al silencio, pero nunca traicionó su propio ideal de coexistencia ilustrada
Por eso ha hecho muy bien Jordi Gracia rastreando como un sabueso toda la trayectoria de los artículos de Ortega y Gasset ; es la más segura manera de acercarse a su intimidad de pensador y de escritor, de averiguar cómo discurría en él su vocación de filósofo y de literato. Todo comenzaba por una idea o una intuición que volcaba en un artículo (a veces en varios). De allí, ese embrión pasaba la prueba de una clase o una charla pública y, enriquecido, cuajaba en un ensayo. Aunque muchas veces tenía la idea de prolongarlo en un libro, por lo general no pasaba de allí, porque otra intuición, hallazgo o invención genial lo desviaba a otro artículo, que, luego, siguiendo el mismo itinerario, terminaba desembocando en uno de esos ensayos —con frecuencia excelentes y a menudo soberbios— que son la columna vertebral de su obra y que ocuparon gran parte de su vida.
Jordi Gracia muestra también que la vocación política fue tan importante en Ortega como la intelectual. En su juventud, en su temprana y media madurez, ambas vocaciones se fundían en una sola ; quería ser un gran pensador y un gran escritor para cambiar a España de raíz, volverla europea, modernizarla, democratizarla, lo que para él —como para los intelectuales que atrajo a la Agrupación al Servicio de la República— significaba llevar a gobernar el país a sus hijos más cultos, inteligentes y decentes, en vez de esa clase política que desprecia por mediocre, falta de ideas y de creatividad, acomodaticia y cínica. A tratar de formar un movimiento que materialice ese proyecto dedica buena parte de su tiempo, pues él está convencido que se trata de una acción cultural, de diseminación de ideas nuevas y fértiles, y eso explica que se vuelque de ese modo a una tarea periodística, en diarios y revistas, convencido de que esa es la mejor manera de cambiar la política en uso, contagiando entusiasmo por unas ideas y unos valores que deben llegar al gran público de la misma manera que llegaban a sus estudiantes: a través de la persuasión. En eso consistía lo que él llamaba su “liberalismo”, aunque, muchas veces, le añadiera la palabra socialismo, para indicar que aquella revolución cultural de la vida política no estaría exenta de un fuerte contenido social. La República le pareció que era el régimen más propicio para aquella transformación política de España.
Sin embargo, aquellos no eran tiempos para la sana controversia de las ideas como quería Ortega, sino la de los fanatismos encontrados en la que los insultos y las pistolas reemplazaban rápidamente los debates y los diálogos entre los adversarios. Este será el gran fracaso de Ortega, la absoluta inoperancia de aquella pacífica revolución cultural que proponía y que, primero la violenta experiencia republicana y luego la sublevación fascista y la guerra enterrarían por más de medio siglo.

Fue un gran error de su parte volver en plena dictadura creyendo que el régimen se abriría
El libro de Jordi Gracia da cuenta pormenorizada y con admirable objetividad de la traumática experiencia que significó para Ortega el desmoronamiento de todos sus anhelos políticos. Primero, la desilusión que tuvo con la República que no se parecía en nada a aquella ilustrada coexistencia en la diversidad que había previsto, y, luego, la sublevación militar y la Guerra Civil. La impotencia lo condujo al silencio. Pero nunca traicionó su propio ideal, aunque admitiera que, en esa circunstancia, era simplemente impracticable, desprovisto de toda realidad. El silencio que guardó en tantos años de exilio, en Francia, en Portugal, en Argentina, desprestigió a Ortega a los ojos de muchos. Yo creo que fue un acto de gran coraje tratar de mantenerse al margen, sin tomar partido, por dos opciones que le parecían igualmente inaceptables: el fascismo y una república muy poco democrática, dominada por los extremismos sectarios.
Creo que fue un gran error de su parte volver a España en plena dictadura, creyendo ingenuamente que con la posguerra el régimen se abriría; y la verdad es que lo pagó caro, pues, como muestra con lujo de detalles Jordi Gracia, a la vez que seguía siendo atacado (y silenciado) con ferocidad por el nacional catolicismo, ciertos sectores falangistas trataban de apropiárselo, sembrando la confusión en torno de él, al extremo de que seguidores suyos tan fieles como María Zambrano llegaran a creer que había traicionado sus viejos ideales. Nunca los traicionó; hasta el fin de sus días fue laico y ateo y defensor de una democracia liberal signada por la tolerancia. Al mismo tiempo, pese a la incomodidad política permanente en la que pasó sus últimos años, su vitalidad intelectual nunca cesó de manifestarse, en ensayos y artículos que recobraban a veces el vigor expresivo y la riqueza creativa de antaño. El reconocimiento que tuvo en los últimos años fue en el extranjero, en Alemania sobre todo, pero también en Inglaterra y en Estados Unidos. En España, en cambio, y hasta hoy día, nunca se le ha reivindicado del todo, porque, para unos, es una figura ambigua y reticente, que mantuvo durante la Guerra Civil y la inmediata posguerra un silencio cobarde que constituía una discreta complicidad con los fascistas, o un conservador de viejo cuño, inadaptado e irremisiblemente enemistado con la modernidad.
Uno de los grandes méritos del libro de Jordi Gracia es que, sin excusarle ninguna de sus equivocaciones y errores políticos, ni dejar de señalar cómo a veces la vanidad lo cegaba y lo llevaba a exagerar sus exabruptos, hecho el balance, Ortega y Gasset es uno de los grandes pensadores de nuestra época, y que, precisamente en el tiempo en que vivimos —no en el que él vivió— sus ideas políticas han sido en buena medida confirmadas por la realidad. Leerlo ahora no es un quehacer arqueológico, sino una inmersión en un pensamiento candente, muy provechoso para encarar la problemática actual, a la vez que disfrutar del placer exquisito que produce un escritor que pensaba con gran libertad y originalidad y expresaba sus ideas con la belleza y la precisión de los mejores prosistas de nuestra lengua.