Sunday, April 3, 2011

Educating for the future

For some time I believe that many of our educational leaders have promoted reforms in our educational systems thinking in a logic of "enhancements" to a system designed centuries ago, without asking whether it remains an appropriate response to the needs of the XXI century.

With the best intentions, our reformers have focused on "patching"the educational system, to return to deliver the level of quality that supposedly once had. But it is not the system (managers, teachers, school time, computers, books), but of education. Be returning to the fundamental question: For what world are we preparing students today?

Education should always be a bet for the future. Virtually all areas of society have changed dramatically over the last thirty years, driven by technology and other factors. We all realize this.

I remember as a young child, each of my medical checks were made ​​by Dr. Patricio Middleton. In your office or my home, almost no differences between appointments, just relied on a thermometer, a little hammer on my knees and a light to check my throat, eyes and ears. Three questions about the symptoms, and we already had a diagnosis and treatment. Did not trouble the doctor, if I'm still here, alive and healthy. But I do not see anyone saying we should renounce the huge changes and advances that technology has offered for the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Being a doctor is radically different today than thirty years ago. Being an engineer, lawyer, journalist, designer and almost any profession, too. To do mention the many labor activities thirty years ago did not even exist. Being a teacher, however, is more or less the same. Dramatically, to be a student is not very different.

Even seemingly successful experience in educational achievement in some schools, foundations and municipalities are under the metric of the past. Or did anyone really think that education ends at the results of PISA, TIMMS or any standardized test?

It is easier to blame the teachers, universities, lack of economic resources, parents, or the context that made ​​the basic question. It seems particularly unfair global judgment that has on teachers. Of course there are some who never had to study teaching or arrive at a school, but I'm sure that most try a heroic job. I've seen so many of them frustrated, trapped in a system that forces them to comply with a curriculum and a sequence that they realize it does not work and yet can not change substantially.

Does it make sense in the context of much greater diversity, the educational system grouping the students follow the simple criterion of age? Does it explain all of them continue to offer the same curriculum, in the same sequence and with the same methodology, without considering the characteristics and interests of each student? Will we still ranking and punishing schools and teachers by results on standardized tests of language and mathematics, without considering other variables that enhance the quality of educational provision? Will we still fretting in the discussion on the institutionalization of education rather than asking what skills and competencies that should be developing our students and teach them how to measure them?

As the must-see "Fable of the Roasted Pig" is a shame that, caught up in correcting the past, we do not move forward in creating the future.

Think again from essentially force us to think of a more personalized and flexible educational offer, focusing on developing skills and competencies (creativity and innovation, critical thinking, collaboration and communication, among others) and more connected to the society in which it is located.

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