Chapter III. Context Analysis
The Gimnasio Moderno is a school that is not afraid of changes. This is the realization of an educational idea that wanted from the beginning, in its philosophy and practices, to be in accordance with its time. With the arrival at the rectory of Víctor Alberto Gómez Cusnir, the school wanted to take advantage of this moment as an unbeatable opportunity to think about the school for the future. In 2012, on the brink of the centenary, the Rector, in agreement with the Superior Council, began the Flight to the Bicentennial project, an exercise without major antecedents in the recent history of the school.
The diagnosis of the Flight to the Bicentennial began by convening a group of teachers, alumni, students, and parents around two working tables: First Hundred Years and Global Trends in Education. The First Hundred Years team sought to rethink the fundamental concepts of the school in light of its first centenary. The Global Trends group, for its part, tried to measure the educational challenges that the school would surely face in its second century of life. The result of this exercise is a book that continues to guide discussions today.
The First Hundred Years table emphasized the importance of defining with more attention the fundamental principles of the school. From the beginning, the importance of continuing a school that fostered leadership and autonomy was recognized as its main purpose, but understanding leadership as not simply a matter of vocation, as it is often understood, but of true capacities to be able to work together with the others in the transformation of society.
In this sense, it was necessary to insist that academic excellence did not conflict with happiness: we are happy because we fulfill our goals with effort, because we have the criteria to decide, and because we have the capacities to be able to contribute to others. Also, in the need for the school to review its pedagogical practices. The Gimnasio Moderno, despite being a historical reference of the Active School, demonstrated in a good part of its classes, especially in the upper grades, a traditional pedagogy, focused on content and not on the development of each child through projects and of more differentiated practices. This was expressed in academic results with a tendency towards dispersion, a common feature of pedagogies that offer a single path of learning
In the other hand, the Global Trends table set out the following challenges, which in the opinion of the members of this group should guide the questions of the education of the future and which are currently practiced by the best schools in the world. 1. The challenge of language in opening the world. 2. Foreign languages, a journey through interculturality. 3. Connectivity and diversity. 4. Social relevance and country building. 5. Towards critical leadership. 6. Productivity and creativity. 7. The role of technology in the school environment. 8. The student as a contemporary spectator. 9. Global environmental crisis. 10. Ethics in times of danger. 11. Game, body and education. 12. Educating for uncertainty. 13. Intergenerational dialogue and memory possibility. 14. The teacher’s ethos and the recovery of pedagogical knowledge.
Both tables recognized the full validity of the foundations of the school, since they remain as modern as they did in 1914. The value of a human school where the person matters and where an atmosphere of freedom and humor, happiness and companionship is breathed, as well as the relevance of a school that through its Cultural Agenda or its Auditorium, its Church or its Swimming Pool, the Colegio Gimnasio Sabio Caldas (IED), its school in administration, has allowed a community much larger than that of its students take advantage of this educational idea.
However, both boards recognized the need for a change, especially in relation to bilingualism, but also in relation to the pedagogical strategies and their evaluation processes that were applied. It was essential for the school to formalize a continuous teacher training program, and they jointly proposed the creation of the School of Teachers. Additionally, as a fundamental part of the changes, the school had to initiate an in-depth discussion about the curriculum, since the current curriculum fostered a non-comprehensive vision of knowledge, separated into too many subjects, or even giving up some of them in the last grades, it favored the interests of students to the detriment of some of the skills necessary to enter university and have access to a complete development.
The conclusions of this exercise, which were presented to all the teachers in the plenaries of the Teachers’ School, where many of the experts who collaborated in the Flight to the Bicentennial passed to share their ideas, also gave rise to a second document, My Flight., where an improvement plan for the school was presented. Victor Alberto Gómez Cusnir wrote:
“It is my fundamental duty, with all the respect that my predecessors deserve, to locate the Gimnasio Moderno at the same height as its history and its future. I wanted to resume the history of the school that we started to build almost a century ago. The purpose is logical and legitimate. It is fundamental to my stewardship (and this I have transmitted to my team) that one of the fundamental purposes is to deliver within a few years a Gimnasio Moderno faithful to its surname, a Gimnasio Moderno rooted in its philosophy and tradition but competitive in the globalized world that we have to live in where the leadership of its graduates continues to write pages of honor in the history of the country and in the course of time“.
From this spirit, My Flight collected the main conclusions of the Flight to the Bicentennial. The school, from the perception of teachers and students, was not achieving that the academy motivated everyone, which was reflected in an increasingly important loss of prominence in the State exams and in academic results with a tendency towards dispersion and with alarming cases. This was reflected even in admissions, not only because the growth in applications was below expectations, but also because the false myth that the Gimnasio Moderno was a school where children came to be happy but not to study was reinforced. The school had to enter a dynamic of academic improvement, empowered by its teachers, but also by a change in discourse that emphasized the importance of habits and rigor, effort and commitment to knowledge, among others, such as fundamental part of a happy life and at the service of others.
Human education is the fundamental pillar of education in the Gimnasio Moderno because a school must, above all, educate good people. But as part of this comprehensiveness, it was required that our students understand that these efforts were insufficient if they did not also educate good students and good leaders; people committed to others, with the skills and tools to be able to work on transforming our societies. As part of this comprehensive training, the move towards bilingualism was necessary. If we wanted to educate capable students for an increasingly globalized world, that is, citizens of the world, these students had to have a good command of other languages, especially English, in order to be active interlocutors. The school, in turn, had to be a stage for pedagogy and culture, science and technology, on an international level.
In order to achieve these changes, constant training of teachers in the fundamentals and challenges of school, in active teaching and in new technologies, as well as in languages, was very important. In the same way; we had to move forward in the discussions for a different curriculum, which would allow other relationships with knowledge, much more differentiated and creative. These efforts also required administrative modernization that would give greater coherence to processes, support changes, and seek the most appropriate resources and people to make this transformation possible.
My flight was the origin of the strategic lines:
- Human education and Discipline of Trust.
- Teachers of the Gimnasio Moderno.
- Academic strengthening.
- Bilingualism and internationalization.
- School of leaders with social sense and environmental awareness.
- External projection and social impact.
- Curriculum of the XXI century (Pedagogical development).
- Administrative modernization and administrative management.
Additionally, the school’s management team, after several strategic planning sessions, supported by the participation of several experts who visited the School of Teachers, defined a final list of guiding principles and challenges for education in the 21st century, which we presented in the chapters of this IEP.
Given these changes, significant for the life of the school, the importance of a renewal of our Institutional Educational Project IEP was raised from the tables of the Flight to the Bicentennial. Faithful to our democratic spirit, the school, through the Teachers School and its various dependencies, convened its teachers and a significant group of parents and students, alumni and directors, who through focus group meetings discussed the multiple drafts of this IEP and contributed from their work to the writing of these pages that we now present. This document has gone through the review of the governing bodies and almost a hundred people, and has had the invaluable support of external evaluators, who with their unsuspecting gaze have helped us better understand the process, as well as the meaning of the process of the school for the country and for the city.
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