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A new education is possible:

A new mindset demands new skills from schools. That's the purpose of Escola da Ponte, in Portugal. Students there are not divided in classes but in dynamic groups, and they choose what to study having as the main criteria, what they want to learn.

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I am constantly inspired by this example whenever I think about education for a new mindset. This school has proved that, more important than having great teachers and a good method for teaching, giving thier students the autonomy to learn and a big sense of collaboartion builds better individuals.

Escola da Ponte (The Bridge School) is a public school located in Portugal, and created by the educator, music specialist and writer, Mr. Jose Pacheco.Since the 70's it has been developing whole new apporach on edutation:

Students, from 5 to 13 years, are not divided by classes or age. People with disabilities share the same room with other students and the library is the main location of the school. Each student and most educational supervisors are responsible for some aspect of the functioning of the school besides helping all students to work on achieving their autonomy.

Children ansd either study in dynamic groups or also individually and in pairs, and the only criteria are what they ant to learn.
There is also a box of secrets, where students leave messages, requests for help, outbursts.

For evaluation, carried out continuously, there are several instruments, including self-assessment. Class plans (what you want and know how to), reports of student'd findings and a newspaper, with that publishes and the students discoveries. There is also a weekly meeting - with students, parents, education professionals and other educational agents to solve school problems together.

Students are dvided in 3 centers of development: The Center of Initiation, where they focus on being punctual, diligent and zealous for their materials and colleagues to fulfill their tasks, here the teacher is requested for help only when needed, develop their creativity and participation, relevant interventions; develop and update their study plan, recognizing its failures and successes in their assessments, research, resolve conflicts and communicate - orally and in writing - in a clear and coherent.

The Center of Consolidation, secnod cycle, focus on trying to fulfill the national curriculum of basic education autonomously, consolidating their skills developed in the first phase. In the third and final cycle, they have full autonomy of their time in school, but must participate in physical education classes and laboratory and may be part of extension projects and pre-professional.

The results are amazing: Students from Escola da Ponte are not only some of the best rated for universities in Portugal,but are better individuals too.


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Photo of Lluis Ripoll

Improving education is an interesting space. I've also heard about the 'Montessori' educational method which is purely based on collaboration between students (students learn on their own and then teach the other students) as opposed to the traditional teacher-student relationship. Certainly the labour space does not resemble the teacher-student frame ...

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