The Great Challenge of Social Projection of Gimnasio Moderno
One of the founders’ reasons for creating the Gimnasio Moderno was to offer Colombia a new educational institution, which would be at the forefront of social transformation, based on the principles of the Active School and a vision of autonomy that, a few years later, would be called the “Discipline of Trust”. The path chosen by the founders was that of critical thinking, through which students would be allowed to reflect freely on their lives and their future, but also on their enormous responsibility to others. The founders of the school, as José María Samper Brush expressed it at the time, thought that education was the key to building another country, one that was much more supportive and innovative.
In that sense, among the many reflections elaborated by Mister Agustín Nieto Caballero, we find his hope that in the example, through word and action, the teacher inspires his students. When Mister Agustin said “what the teacher is, the school will be ” (phrase found on Mister Agustin’s bust in The Raqueta), he did so with the conviction that there is no other way to educate for democracy than by educating children democratically. Action thus becomes a fundamental element of the philosophy of the School, since it is not enough to learn the theory, but it is necessary to apply the books and ideas in daily practice. After the events of the Bogotazo, in 1948, the founder already warned about the danger of a society that simply informed its children, saving himself the trouble of educating them in an integral way. It is useless for values to be preached in the classroom if people do not live by them.
With these same purposes, the field trips became the ultimate crystallization of the Active School. The aim was to take the knowledge to the different corners of Colombia. Learning in context. To get to know first-hand the complexity of realities that, although somewhat distant from the campus, demanded from the students all their creativity and commitment. Almost a decade later, the American philosopher John Rawls would give us good reason to say: “Freedom is not possible without equality”. It is hardly understandable that a person who can develop fully in relationships of trust and autonomy, who can pursue his passions with effort, will work more intensely so that everyone, not just a privileged group, can find in education the possibility of a happier life. On this solidarity depend not only democracies themselves, but also an idea of human sensitivity that has always accompanied the school. Even in the school’s statutes, and in all the educational projects that followed, this vision of leadership towards the service of others is considered to be the fundamental purpose of the Gimnasio Moderno.
Supported by these founding pillars of our institution, the issue of social projection has been a fundamental line of action for the school, and has even determined the nature of the educational project and the world view of students, teachers and other employees of Gimnasio Moderno. Mister Agustín in his book “Una Escuela” (1966) already says this, referring to our ideals. The same purpose of our foundation is the improvement of the educational systems in the country, precisely those systems directed to those who enjoy more comfort, since on this will depend that “the goods placed in their hands are instruments of progress and social welfare”.
This reveals to us that the social projection of education is one of the most relevant foundational purposes of our exercise, since this guarantees greater influence and great capacity to help the collective advancement of the country. In all cases, it is a matter of building opportunities. Creating shared values. To try to overcome, through education, the wall of mistrust and suspicion that divides cities and countries, so as to understand the difficulty of this undertaking. That is why, within the school spirit, there is action of social welfare, which does not deny help to those who need it. Our history flourishes with wonderful examples, which in their time were an inspiration to many others. Today, the leadership of alumni is evident in every corner of the world. Of course, it cannot be claimed that this is due to the school alone, without highlighting the merit and special qualities of each individual.
In the year 2000 our north was born in the south. The formerly called Colegio Distrital Arborizadora Alta, today our Colegio Gimnasio Sabio Caldas (IED), was given in concession for 15 years to the Gimnasio Moderno, in the first instance, and then, for 10 years in administration, to take to another part of the city the great creative and innovative capacity of the teachers and the pedagogical model of a school that accompanies, that seduces, amazes and invites to a path, a school that educates, before instructing.
Inequality, poverty, environmental degradation, resource scarcity and overpopulation are just some of the major challenges humankind is facing, the resolution of which necessarily leads to productivity. We will not only have more inhabitants per square meter, more mouths to feed, but also the imperative obligation to design more balanced systems to guarantee the so longed-for quality of life. It is important to emphasize the reciprocal importance of this alliance. Its benefits go both ways. At the same time that the children of the Sabio Caldas receive the full spirit of an education of our kind, which broadens their horizons, the students of the Moderno broaden theirs significantly, selling the mistrust of a city divided in two, but above all having the opportunity to share first-hand with people who belong to other realities, to build with them common projects and enriched by the difference.
For the Gimnasio Moderno it is a priority to maintain the support and administration of our brother school in Arborizadora Alta. Its reality means the possibility of an integral education. The Gimnasio has expressed to the competent authorities, to the Secretary of Education, to high officials of the Mayor’s Office of Bogotá, its interest and willingness to collaborate in whatever is necessary in order to maintain the concession or the administration of the school. For the Gimnasio, it is part of its spirit and mission to try to close the gap between the north and south of the city, in order to continue contributing to the construction of a more just and equitable society. Our presence went beyond a welfare issue: it was always a challenge to provide the best opportunities for a quality education for students from a town with so many economic and social difficulties.
Two hundred years ago Francisco José de Caldas, one of the most illustrious Colombians, was shot and we always have a lot to learn from him. A master in all the true essence of the word, he was an astronomer, geographer, botanist, journalist, military man and martyr of our country. This is not simply a name to identify a school in the world. For many years it was part of the School’s coat of arms, because it synthesizes all the academic knowledge that today’s young people must appropriate in order to be better human beings and better Colombians.
Beyond our social commitment and our fidelity to the dreams of Mister Agustín and Mister Tomás, to think of a fairer country with better citizens, the Colegio Gimnasio Sabio Caldas (IED) is already part of our essence and our skin. It is the clearest way of looking at ourselves and recognizing ourselves in a society.
In 2017, the Gimnasio Sabio Caldas School (IED) contract with the District went from being a concession to an administration for ten years. Now, more than ever, the Gimnasio Moderno will continue to work intensively on this beautiful project, which delves into the Gimnasio ideals of solidarity and enables it to fulfill its dream of transferring its pedagogical model.
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