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León Trahtemberg

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Imagine you are parents who have 30 minutes to visit a school and choose, define, feel a school and decide "this is for my children, this is not". What would you ask? What would you find out? I've visited schools, more than once, as a consultant, as an advisor, also as a parent and... there are three things that I see as key. It is not the school curriculum, it is not the brochure, nor the infrastructure, nor the diplomas of the teachers I take note of three things, first: bathrooms. Is there anything more private? That shows more respect for people's need, than the students' bathroom? The teachers' bathroom or the workers' bathroom? This gives a very good idea of what importance the owners or sponsors of the school have towards the most private aspect of people which is the one that happens when people need to take care of their personal hygiene. The second thing is: wheres is the school principal's office? Is it there, on the third floor? in the Olympus? For nobody to bother him, for nobody to distract him. So as not to be involved with day-to-day things. Or is he next to the playground, next to the parents, next to the students. to be able to see with his own eyes the whole time what is happening around him and for the distance between student and principal to be one or two meters whatever it takes to reach the door and enter. And in third place: how is the admission test? Is this exam a test by which the school takes psychological, academic and other tests to students to be able to see from the start, who has a problem and not accept him? To see who has a mind below the privileged and not accept him? The message that is being sent with this is: “We do not want children with problems”. "And we are going to discard them immediately. And if they appear later" "we are going to discard them then". On the other hand, there are schools that choose students randomly or because they are children of alumni or because they are brothers of students that are already there and do not judge children to decide if they accept them or not. It is only the background that makes them choose some and to discard others. But it is not because the child has some problem or because the child has some structural flaw or because their brain is not as privileged. Because what they are telling us, in a few words, is: "we do not want children with any difficulty". In other words: the children that need the best school are rejected by those who call themselves "the best schools". The second thing that we need to think of when talking of today's education is the topic of evaluation. There is a lot of discussion about multiple intelligence. Some of you have probably heard of that people do not only have the logical-mathematical intelligence. But have also naturalist, interpersonal, social, corporal, kinestetic, musical... spatial. Thanks to Howard Gardner, a Harvard phychologist that proposed this as a consequence of a long study more than 30 years ago. Nevertheless, we still see today that, for example, if a student gets his report card with, for example, a 20 (over 20) in arts, 18 in literature, 11 in math and 11 in biology, a response of a typical parent or a typical teacher is: "hey, what's wrong? You're doing bad in math, you're doing bad in biology, why won't you try harder?" Rare are the parents or guardians or advisers that would say: "I am very pleased with you getting a 20 in arts, I hope you keep doing very good work in arts". "And if you need anything else, I will give you more art classes as reinforcement". "Because your success will be constructed over your strong points, not over your weak ones". To ask someone to dedicate all his work to study math when he or she has learning limitations or doesn't enjoy studying math, will result in a waste of time, instead of cultivating his or her strengths. Success in life is played by one's strengths. And not by the cultivation of weaknesses. Of course, one has to learn some minimum, enough to be able to pass, to become an adapted person, someone that reaches to the common knowledge expected for a certain level. But going from there to discard student's talents, strengths, virtues, because he has to do better at math is absolutely ridiculous and retrograde. When we talk about students' talents, capacities and virtues and strengths. There is a university that wants to offer a scholarship to a student that has the most potential to have success in life. A potential to become a leader, to succeed in life, etc. And we have two students. One is a regular student, meticulous, dedicated, focused on his books. He gets normally 16, 17, he is not very sociable. He does not do much more other than study. He gets an average of 16 and a half or 17. He belongs to the upper third of his class On the other hand, there is another student: a sociable kid, he tells jokes, plays music, has a guitar. He can organize group activities. He can get a 20 in computing, 11 in math. His average is 13. Who gets the scholarship? The one with a 17. Who has the most chances of having success as an entrepreneur, leader of his generation? The other one, the one with a 13. The only thing is he did not find enough stimulus in school or enough motivation to exploit all his potential. But the data is there. It's just a matter of it to "click" and he will become a very successful person. But we will give the scholarship to the other one and we will leave out the one who actually has the greatest potential. What you see here is a shoe. This is similar to the intelligence of many parents and many teachers. (Laughter) And I will explain why. Look, when you ... say you are parents. And you want to donate shoes to students in first grade. And then what do you do? A traditional teacher, a traditional parent what they do is ask your pediatrician or teacher "What is the standard shoe size in first grade?" Then they are told "26". Then they go to the store, buy 30 pairs of shoes size 26 and take them to the classroom. And then when they get into the classroom, some children are found to fit 28. They will have to cut their foot, then, to fit. And there are children who fit 24 that will have to fill their shoes with cotton or something because "the standard is 26". And if the student does not meet the standard, he has to deform himself physically to meet the standard. That is the test, the task, or the style of learning. The rate of progress in books, and more. Something as simple as understanding that all children are different. And it is quite evident when we talk about shoes. It is not evident when one speaks of non-visible, non-tangible capabilities. Such as intelligence, maturity, intellectual functional ability in certain areas, motivation, learning processes. Because we can't see it. This we can, and that is why we laugh. Because it's stupid to say: I will put a shoe size 26 to someone that fits 28. Or I am going to put a shoe size 26 to someone that fits 24. It's so stupid that you laugh. But when we say that the same happens in the minds of children. That they are all different and think differently and move differently capture and understand information differently and are motivated differently and have different intellectual processing speed and have different interests and so on. We say "no, this is the standard and everyone has to learn" "the same, at the same time, with the same program, with the same book, with the same task" "with the same exercise, evaluated with the same tests". Because the standard is what matters. Next. We are told that cheating is immoral. Immoral to copy? Because they say that students must show their ability, talent, wisdom, their study... through school exams, that are, of course, a complete antithesis of what happens in the real working world. Anyone would think, for example, that if the marketing manager has to solve... a problem, he couldn't talk to the finance manager or with the one from human resources? Or that he doesn't talk with the guy from the bank? Or that he doesn't even see what the competition is doing? That would be the expected, reasonable, right thing to do for a person who wants to have the right answer to a problem. In the real world, in the business world, the family world. In school that is a sin. Pity the student who consults the time in the exam. That must also be individual. You cannot talk. And it must be the same for everyone. Everyone has to solve the same problem. And everyone has to find the same solution. I remember that as a result of the circulation of news. Of north-american students who confessed, 60% of them, That they had copied during their university studies in order to pass and get their grades, their titles and the rest. The news reached Lima and in Lima people also started to talk of students who copied at school, in college, and to copy was perceived as if it were a sin, as if it were something bad, a sort of juvenile delinquency. And then there were several shows to discuss about students that copy. I remember that I participated in a program. In Radio Programas del Peru. Where, as usual, they invited- -at that time I was not yet an interviewer- They invited a parent, a psychologist, a lawyer, a teacher. And me. And then the first four started with this topic that we should be more careful, we must control, we must not allow students to copy. because if they copy now, they learn to transgress, learn to get away with it. "That is immoral, tomorrow they will be corrupt and will learn to transgress" "And little more and they are going to be criminals." All this moralizing that is sometimes used to designate students as responsible of all the ills of society. And then when my turn came. What I said was: "It seems to me that the student who copies proves more audacity, more efficiency", "more capacity to take risks, more initiative" "than the student who does not copy". Because if what the teacher wants to see on the sheet of the exam is exactly what's in the notebook or the book, Isn't it more efficient to copy directly? Even with the semi-colons, colors, underlines, and drawings made by the teacher. the teacher who will see this exam is going to get excited we are doing a favor to the teacher. We are raising their self esteem. The teacher will feel that he succeeded, because to the question he put the student answered just the same as would have answered the teacher. Is there a better "rub for the soul" of the teacher (Laughter) than something like that? The truth of the things I told them is: if you do not want students to copy then do not make questions that can be answered copying. Because students copy in self-defense. because students who refuse to accept that their brain is an empty box that cannot think, or reason, or produce is being offended by the teacher. Who is saying, "I do not trust in you being able to think" "reason, or understand" "I do not trust you, do not trust your brain, do not trust your reasoning" "so limit yourself to study and to repeat what I've taught". That student copies in self-defense. And with good reason. You don't want them to copy? Ask questions for him to think, to analyze, to compare to discuss, to confront. He will not be able to copy and also, facing the same problem, you will have 30 different responses and all can be correct. Of course, you can't correct them with a template. But the immoral is then the teacher inducing students to copy. Not the student who, like in a football match, Has someone ever told the defender that stops a forward and gets a foul, have someone called that defense as immoral? Because he put his body to stop the forward? He knows that if he puts his body, he stops the forward, and he will be charged a foul there is a free kick, as are part of the rules. But the defense uses the rules to avoid getting a goal and the student knows that if he gets caught he gets 0 "okay then, I get 0" but that does not make the student immoral. And finally, ending with the issue of values, we say that we want to teach in values. I had a student who was great. He had 20, 19 in all subjects. Absolutely brilliant. In his intelligence, in his brain in various fields. But he was introverted, inhibited, uncooperative. He had no great social vocation. He was not a, say, very correct schoolmate. He did not help the others. His privileged intelligence was for himself only. And not for others. But he got 20 in everything. The end of the year came and then this student, with his average, obviously deserved the first place which implies the gold medal. and in my conscience I said "how can I give the gold medal to this guy?" Because I'm saying that, in some way, if he is the best student when we all know that this is the student who gets the best grades but that does not mean he is the best student, that does not mean that he is the example for his year and for the school or for the community. That does not mean he has reached the fullness of his development and deserves a tribute and a prize. On the other hand, law says the student with the best grades, the best average has the first place. And is entitled to the prizes and admission to the university and more that result of having the first place. And then I kept thinking: "How can I be right with god and with the devil?" That is, "how do I do to, without denying his first place, because according to" "the rules he deserves it, but still make him feel that this is not everything". And then it occurred to me to call him into my office And tell him "you know what? you deserve, you've earned, because of the points that you have" "the gold medal and I'm going to give it to you". "What you have not earned is my respect". He stayed thinking, as so often happens with students who have good material, He smiled and said "look for me in 5 years". Thank God all went well for him. Thank you.

Video Details

Duration: 17 minutes and 56 seconds
Country: Peru
Language: Spanish (Spain)
License: All rights reserved
Genre: None
Views: 429
Posted by: michaelb on Oct 27, 2011

¿Cómo elegir el colegio para nuestros hijos? En la educación no debemos olvidar

que cada alumno es distinto y que la educación debe tratar de ser


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