Chapter II. Principles that guide the educational project of the school
The main objective: Becoming educated for the service towards others
In the Gimnasio Moderno we educate ourselves based on our life projects, but above all, we educate ourselves for service towards others and for the construction of a better society. We want to bring critical and self-critical people to the country and universities, citizens of the world with a social and environmental conscience, with a sense of justice and respect for diversity. The word “Modern” has many definitions. For us, it is the will of human beings to understand the possibilities and challenges of their own time, to create new alternatives based on dialogue and knowledge, freedom and empathy towards others. For this reason, our main purpose is to awaken innovation in students, educate them from a very young age in environments of freedom and active construction of democracy, where honesty and trust are fostered.
By leadership, we understand the ability of our graduates, whatever roles they occupy, to work together with others in transforming the world and specifically, Colombia. We think that this leadership is built through self-awareness, understanding of one’s own being, their limitations and scope, the particularities that differentiate it. This way, through self-discovery, that is, from authenticity and acceptance, it is possible to better understand the environment, and thus respond to its needs. We do not know the challenges that the future may hold for our students. However, we fully trust that these challenges, difficult as they may be, can be overcome with joy and effort, with rigorous capacities and ethical principles that guide actions. We think that the words of Tomás Rueda Vargas, in the Statutes of the school, have a greater validity every day, even when the societies are not exactly the same:
It has been said that the Gimnasio is concerned with the education of the so-called ruling classes. It is true, and that is precisely where its merit lies, and that is the sum of its difficulties. As long as the education of people who for any reason occupy advantageous positions in society is not dine with all the care it deserves, it is useless to pretend that they beneficially influence the well-understood progress of the country …
To educate honest leaders, defenders of freedom and democracy, the formative and the academic are essential aspects of a comprehensive education. We seek to educate comprehensive students, capable of reconciling, in their lives and at work, ethics and knowledge, love for Colombia and commitment to a world that goes beyond borders. However, it is very important that what we understand by each of these categories means, so that in practice, they cannot be separated.
Agustín Nieto Caballero and the Samper Brush brothers, founders of the Gimnasio Moderno, wanted to create a school where children were happy, felt valued and respected, enjoyed rights and had the possibility to disagree. Their basic idea was that children were not empty containers to be filled, but sparks to be lit and fed. They also believed that the purpose of the school is to allow students to develop character from what they learn in class, in their life experiences, in their relationships with other classmates and teachers, and in self-awareness.
For this, the Active School was the pedagogical model that best suited their purposes: children learn and develop more easily though interaction, experience and a favorable environment than with discourse or theoretical classes. It was also important to create a school of more horizontal relations between teachers and students, so that admiration and not fear was the binding factor between one another.
The success of these efforts that we believe in today has as its best indicator the character of children and adolescents. Our students are happy, they make friends for life, they have identity and a sense of belonging, they love their school and their country, they develop leadership and autonomy, they know how to disagree and they make friends with their teachers who transcend the classroom.
In education, the essential thing is to allow students to get in touch with their inner world and their inner voice, through reflection. That they generate knowledge and learning from the habit of questioning and dialogue, and not from imposition. Students must educate themselves, inspired by the guidance and dynamics of their teachers.
In recent decades, research from Positive Psychology, Neuroscience and Educare Pedagogy have confirmed the need to pursue these purposes. We know today that what generates human development and ethical education are the example of parents and teachers, the environment and the culture of the school (which educate more than discourse), putting students in contact with their inner world (the reflection on life experiences and self-knowledge), the cultivation of positive emotions, the search for meaning and purpose and the development of character. The school’s human education project is currently working intensively on these dimensions.
Educating is, in an important way, developing character by identifying and developing the strengths of our students. It is also instilling in them virtues such as effort, perseverance, dedication and vigorous and sustained work. In the Gimnasio Moderno, coherence between what is felt, thought, said and done is possible, to the extent that dissent is allowed. On the other hand, we are also concerned with identifying the weaknesses of the character of the students so that, once they are made aware, they try to mitigate and correct them.
This has been called the Discipline of Trust in the Gimnasio Moderno. In this school we believe and trust our students. We trust their word, their actions and their abilities. We believe that we should educate with reasons, not with impositions from the authority, because we educate so that they learn to dissent. In the Gimnasio Moderno, students have rights, especially that of expressing their objections, a challenge that aims so that every decision of the teacher, student or directive is reasonable. With this way of understanding relationships and authority, we try to cultivate assertive students who think for themselves: autonomous people.
When we talk about the role of the teacher (“What the teacher is, the School will be”), a leading figure in our school, we say that this implies a huge challenge because our example educates more than discourse, as John Dewey, the main motivator of the Active School stated. Therefore, teachers must work every day in their own human education to be able to set an example and be consistent.
The questions we seek to answer when we talk about academic strengthening respond to questions such as the following: how do we generate passion for knowledge? How do we generate a culture of effort, work ethics and dedication? How do we transform our climate in the classroom? How do we give the students tools to improve every day? According to the Active School, we must change our practices to generate more passion and involvement. What do we think should happen in the classroom?
First, it is essential to connect what is being studied with the lives of students. With their needs and interests, with their reality, with their ages, with their concerns. It is also essential to create bridges between knowledge and a connection between disciplines. It is essential to always start with questions and problems, and not content. It is essential to generate possible challenges with adequate levels of difficulty in our classes, which allow us to create involvement. It is essential to relate to our students from their strengths, not from their shortcomings. See the good in each one of them. It is essential to value effort, work, sacrifice, process and dedication, not only the result, talent or intelligence. Finally, it is essential to teach in a context, and explain the reason and why what you are studying is being learned. For these reasons, classroom projects are so valuable, as they integrate several of these guidelines.
All of the aforementioned connects with our pedagogical model, the Active School. In the Gimnasio Moderno we learn best when what we study is related to our life, with our problems and interests. We learn best by example. We learn best by doing. We learn better through experiences. We learn with the environment we live in. We learn by reflecting. We learn in discussion with others. We learn by working on projects. We learn by solving problems. We learn from our mistakes. We learn when we have context about what we study. We learn through teamwork. We learn when we relate areas of knowledge. We learn by playing. And we learn in an environment of emotional security and joy.
Academic strengthening in the Gimnasio has to do with modifying the institutional culture, the climate in the classroom and the relationships between teachers and students, in addition to establishing very clear evaluation parameters, which allow us to transmit the progress of their learning and their own development. Also, with making the education received meaningful for children and adolescents, which, incidentally, almost always contributes to better results for all students. And it has to do, above all, with honoring our hymn: “We love perseverance and effort.” By teaching our youth that there is nothing in life more important than effort, dedication and hard work, together with the importance of having purposes and goals, and working from strengths, talents and passions. The seed of the reward will almost always be in effort; It is to be hoped that from an adequate follow-up, attentive to the difficulties, but enhancing the strengths above all, the best results will flourish.
The Guiding Principles
If we want to search for the guiding principles of the Gimnasio Moderno, we would hardly find a closed formula. The Gimansio was named “Modern” because it always wanted to be in keeping with the mobility of times, reflecting in its philosophy, even in its physical spaces, the dynamic spirit of children and young people. Instead, there are some common principles, which generation after generation have guided us over the years. Without them, we would stop being what we are…
“Educate, not only instruct”
This phrase, which has accompanied students from the Gimnasio for so many generations, appeared for the first time in an article by Agustín Nieto Caballero about the events of April 9, 1948, a date that for many is the beginning of violence in Colombia. Changing the country required people who not only preached but who actively lived the fundamentals they learned at school. As stated in our Chair of Peace document, in the Gimnasio Moderno we educate for peace, not because we provide new data to students, we educate for peace because we constantly care about the person and their relationships, their interests and their difficulties, for their talents and frustrations.
In the Gimnasio Moderno we educate for the comprehensive development of each student; the academic and the formative do not quarrel or oppose, both aspects are necessary for a happy life. Human excellence requires moral development as well as solid physical, emotional, and intellectual education. If people are educated while being informed, they leave school with sufficient criteria to critically assume what they live or receive from the media and can continue learning for the rest of their lives.
“The discipline of trust”
The Discipline of Trust, as understood by the founders, is a way of educating and relating to students, teachers and other members of the community through mutual trust, never fear. It starts from the idea that children and young people have rights and not only duties and, above all, the right to present their objections and that the sanctions imposed on them are fair and reasonable. It seeks to educate with reasons, so that students learn from their mistakes. Educate autonomous and critical people. The essence of the Discipline of Trust lies in the foundation of authority. In the Gimnasio Moderno, what legitimizes authority is not power or hierarchy, but reasonableness.
The Discipline of Trust seeks to create in the students habits of action, that is, that they understand for themselves the limits and consequences of their actions. In this sense, mistakes are an enormous source of learning that is reflected in the daily life of the school, because the student is a valid interlocutor: he talks to his teachers in a relationship of trust and mutual respect, to contribute to their learning process from their opinions and experiences (error is a source of learning in the Gimnasio Moderno: we say that what is bad is not making a mistake but not repairing it and not learning from it. You can learn a lot from any mistake). This exercise of autonomy translates into discussion groups organized by the students, in the existence of committees coordinated by themselves such as the Cultural and the Sports Committee, the Band, the magazines El Pichón and El Huevito in Primary, and El Aguilucho, the oldest uninterrupted edition school magazine in Colombia, where students express their thoughts and opinions without any censorship, just as they do through the microphones of Radio Gimnasio Moderno, the School’s Radio Project.
“Whay the teacher is, the school will be”
The good Gimnasio Moderno teacher inspires and educates through example, works as a team with other teachers to “make the difficult, easy”, as Professor Bein said. Listen and carefully observe each one of their students, accepting the possibilities or difficulties with joy. “Whoever does not harbor joy in his heart, should not become a teacher,” said Agustín Nieto Caballero. Essential to the educational process is the quality of teacher-student relationships, as well as the ability of teachers through classes and activities, readings or labs, field trips and discussions, to connect the interests of the students with the problems of their country and the world.
These great masters have been the heart of the Gimnasio Moderno: Tomás Rueda Vargas and Lleras Codazzi “Papá Rico”, Ernesto Bein, Henry Yerly and Arturo Camargo, Pompilio Iriarte and Guillermo Quiroga, Isabelita Holguín de Gómez, to name just a few. All of them were educated in the best universities in the country and abroad but, above all, they were educated in the Gimnasio Moderno, in experience, in a human context as unique as autonomous. Currently the school has a group of teachers of the best academic and human qualities. It is they who transmit to their students, through work and their own example, an ethic of life and personal effort, as well as the skills that we think will be fundamental to face the challenges of the 21st century. We believe with Agustín Nieto Caballero that the best teacher is the one who never stops being a student. For this reason, the Teachers School was created in 2013, where teachers are permanentlyreceiving education and exchanging successful experiences.
The Active School
The Gimnasio Moderno adopted this educational philosophy practically from its foundation, being the first school of its kind in Latin America. It was its way of responding to a “traditional school” or content transmission, articulating the teachings of Maria Montessori and Ovidio Decroly, John Dewey and Rabindranath Tagore, among others. A teaching tailored to the person was sought, that was as dynamic as children and adolescents. That is, to return to the child as the center of the school, to the student as manager of his own learning process and valid interlocutor of his teachers. The Active School educates in an environment of freedom and horizontal relationships in preparation for living and working in a democracy. This educational model, one of the most important pedagogical revolutions of the 20th century, has been behind the education of many of the minds that have changed the world of science and technology
Gimnasio Moderno students learn more easily through experience than through speech. Hence the importance of field trips, of the open spirit of its campus, of educating in an environment of joy, affection, brotherhood and happiness, which generates the emotional conditions for better learning and comprehensive development. Part of our challenge for the future is summarized in making daily education in school an example in accordance with the dynamics of children and adolescents.
Humanistic and scientific education
By humanist we understand a school that educates for democracy, which cares about the person behind each member of the community, their actions, their emotions and their relationships with others. Fellowship and friendship are essential in the Gimnasio Moderno. The leadership that we want to promote is that of people capable of generating empathy with their environment, contributing from particular qualities and working together with others in the transformation or care of their environments, with a critical and self-critical awareness. This reality is evidenced in the Gimnasio through a humane treatment between parents, teachers, students, managers and employees. There are no vertical relationships from scholarship or privilege, office or experience. So, the language of our students and alumni is clear and direct, they are not afraid of humor, much less the debate of opinions.
For this purpose, the school has always thought that academic education is essential. We cannot educate good people without clear criteria and without opinions enriched by careful reading and accurate and sustained evidence. A scientific and humanistic education is essential; it has even always been considered that the two are a priority and cannot be understood separately: the world needs precise analysis and observations, but also a more sensitive approach at the problems of the others. The method of scientific research and environmental awareness, the careful observation of phenomena, the skills in mathematics and the capacity for analysis, is essential to educate citizens with criteria and a critical spirit, who can be driving changes for societies, wherever that they are, The Active School is a perfect synthesis of this. We continue to think, with Dewey, that the best way for children to develop their emotions and knowledge is in environments that promote free research, observation and cooperative work, building bridges between knowledge and human beings.
The Gimnasio Moderno is a school inspired by the ideas of freedom and tolerance, typical of the liberal thought of the 18th century. The school promotes freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of worship, among others, always in an environment of respect for the other.
Which are our Profiles?
We cannot speak of a single student profile, because in the variety and originality is the essence of the Gimnasio Moderno studente. Even so, they have a stamp on their character, the result of their passage through the different sections of the school. Our students love their school. They’re happy. They make friends for life. They make deep friendships with their teachers. They have identity and a sense of belonging. They are creative and achieve the goals they set for themselves. They demonstrate leadership in their actions. They are passionate and have confidence in themselves. They know how to disagree and defend freedom.
Profile Of The Graduated Students
Graduated students of the Gimnasio Moderno have the following strengths:
- Ethical values.
- Socio-emotional intelligence.
- Social and environmental sensitivity.
- Citizenship of the world.
Our Society Model
- In peace.
- With human values
The teacher of the Gimnasio Moderno is an inspiring teacher: Someone who teaches to the students by example, is someone who is in constant training and learning. A person who knows the students and dialogues with them. Someone who works with the skills that has and recognizes his/her personal effort. Someone who accompanies and encourages the students with kindness and enthusiasm, educates with reason instead of applying authoritarianism.
An active teacher: An individual who puts into practice different strategies and resources, prepares the classes and carries out research, a person that knows how to work from a project perspective. When evaluating, promotes the development of each of his/her students, understands mistakes as a source of learning, and provides feedback on the different human dimensions.
Is an integrating teacher: capable of working together with other teachers for a common purpose. Has a lot of knowledge of his/her field and of the relationship with other knowledge, but above all, is a person who is concerned about the connection of what he/she teaches with the life of the students and the development of fundamental skills.
A trainer educator of world citizens: critical and self-critical, interested in diversity and other languages, a person concerned with the situation of others and with global challenges.
Someone who is committed to the transformation of his/her country, peace, democracy and the preservation of the environment.
Is a happy teacher: an individual who has found in school a place to grow as a person and as a teacher, someone who assumes his/her vocation as a life purpose. A person who trusts in the students and coworkers. Promotes gratitude and joy for learning, hope and cultivates character to take on the challenges of the future.
The parents of the Gimnasio Moderno participate in the activities of the school, they know that they are indispensable in the formative process of their children. They respect the Discipline of Trust and in their homes, they educate their children in effort and autonomy, that is, they give reasons, they do not necessarily educate with rewards or punishments. They respect the teachers of the school and, in general, they honor the role of the teachers in society, they have cordial relationships with other parents and teachers, with school officials and their employees, where people prevail and not their interests and urgencies. They fulfill the commitments made with the school, and in their homes, they preserve a peaceful and democratic environment, of love for knowledge, care for the environment and social responsibility.
The administrative staff of the Gimnasio Moderno has a greater commitment to the destiny of the school, he is aware that the Gimnasio is a project that goes beyond individual aspirations. It honors the role of teachers in society, is concerned with the results of the institution but, above all, with serving members of the community and promoting in the school the necessary areas for the free development of people. Knows the foundations, the challenges, the profiles of the Gimnasio Moderno and its history, understand the pedagogical model. Aware of its functions, it respects the commitments and takes care of the assigned resources. He is an autonomous person, capable of making decisions, but also of working together with others in a common purpose. Organized, respectful, monitors processes, worries about improving every day and never loses joy.
In the Gimnasio Moderno we promote the culture of recognition of actions and character of the students. Since its early years, the Gimnasio has awarded prizes for personal effort, beautiful character, hiking and fellowship, through discussions between administrative staff, group directors and teachers who, at the end of each school year, study the virtues and merits of each candidate.
Cup for Personal Effort
With the Cup for Personal Effort, the Gimnasio recognizes the student that, through the full fulfillment of his duties, perseverance, discipline and the achievement of academic and personal achievement, has achieved important advances in his academic and education process. The fact that the student has shared his achievements and rectified his mistakes generously, and that he projects himself before his classmates as an example of self-improvement and humility is also taken into account.
Beautiful Character Badge
The Beautiful Character Badge recognizes the student who is distinguished for his respect for human dignity reflected in their feelings, in their thoughts and in their actions. This conviction is the result of self-knowledge and the firm formation of their autonomy. The nobility of character leads the student to live with chivalry and simplicity, but with frankness and without hypocrisy. With a desire to serve, but without falling into servility. With tolerance, but never giving up on leadership. With a sense of companionship, but away from all complicity. With a multifaceted spirit in their vocations, but clear in their principles. Detached from all eagerness for prominence and ostentation, but proud of himself.
Field Trip Spirit Badge
With this award, the teachers of the Gimnasio Moderno seek to highlight the right balance between the physical qualities of the student and the spirit that should distinguish a good hiker. It is a joyous, enthusiastic, supportive and adventurous spirit, a revelation that manifests itself in the close dialogue that the student manages to establish with the environment, with the new cultural conditions that he is facing, with relationships with his peers and with their teachers.
All these qualities of the student flourish in the pines of the Gimnasio and come to life, particularly on field trips, when the student faces situations that require from him, with the greatest care, the highest responsibility, the best sense of respect, and that only a character formed in temperance and nobility can prudently circumvent.
Cup for Fellowship
This award is the recognition of the grade that best represents the school spirit and its collective values such as healthy union, sense of coexistence, belonging and loyalty. These values should have been built by virtue of tolerance of differences with others, solidarity with the problems of others, respect for unbreakable principles and commitment to common causes. The scale of values of this course must have led its members to forge strong bonds of friendship, to achieve joint and individual school achievements and to develop fair mechanisms to settle their conflicts.
In addition to these four traditional awards, academic excellence is also rewarded through our recognition of the Best Research Projects in grade Eleven and a distinction is awarded to the students who have obtained the best results in the State tests. In the future, this same recognition will be given to the most outstanding students in our international tests, since we want to educate leaders committed to their country, but also citizens of the world.
This post is also available in: Spanish