The New School

The conventional school is a dictatorship. Students enter their classrooms, sit in their assigned seats, obey the teacher, memorize a bunch of facts, and take exams testing their knowledge of those facts. This model of schooling has been used for centuries now. This model produces children who are capable of following and obeying rules; however, the children do not develop sufficient creativity and problem-solving skills to make the world a better place. True democracy can only exist when the people are active, collaborative, confident, and creative citizens. The conventional model does not offer that; however, Escuela Nueva may provide a better schooling model.

The Escuela Nueva (New School) model, first adopted in rural Colombia, employs a different approach to education. Students actively shape their own curriculum, work on their own projects, gain hands-on experience, and participate in class-wide discussions. In Escuela Nueva, students are no longer passive learners. They become active learners applying the concepts they learn in the real world. In his NY Times article Make School a Democracy, David Kirp argues that the Escuela Nueva model of schooling can help foster democracy in a country. This is because kids are taught to become active and participating students. These attributes are necessary for the success of democracy. Studies have shown that students who go through the Escuela Nueva model are more likely to be active members of their communities.

In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues that experience is extremely important in the education process. Escuela Nueva takes that into account. Students do not just learn abstract concepts; they apply them in their everyday lives. Students learn to write short stories, grow and garden plants, run their own experiments to explore their early scientific enquiries. This way school appears to be more relevant rather than a tedious and forced process. The conventional model for schooling is ancient; it is time for a drastic reform that adopts the Escuela Nueva style.


Here is the link to the article.


2 responses to “The New School

  1. The idea of Escuela Nueva is a very interesting concept which, according to the article, has had very positive results. I understand it allows children, parents, and teachers to have some say in how the school is run, but I don’t fully understand how curriculum is developed. The article did little to clear my confusion on this point, but your post seems to suggest to me that the children (and parents?) get to decide what they want to do each day. If this is the case, I don’t believe that this model would be as effective in the U.S. as it has been in rural Columbia.

    Part of my apprehension about this comes from the fact that schooling in Columbia is relevant when they learn how to do things they will likely be doing later in life. Escuela Nueva was initiated in a primarily coffee-growing region. Many of the students and their families would presumably want gardening to be a part of the curriculum so that it becomes relevant to their lives and future. In the U.S., this situation is less common which is why most schools’ curriculums are created to provide a liberal education at least through high school and often through college.

    I do believe some of the aspects of this new type of school should be and are incorporated into American schools. For example, many classrooms attempt to provide hands-on learning opportunities such as lab experiments, story-writing, and art projects. Many schools also have a students council or a PTSA (parent, teacher, student association) in which student officials are elected to represent the students in making school-wide decisions.

    Although this model has proven very effective in primary schooling in these rural areas, I believe it would have to be adapted if it was introduced in other locations around the world.

  2. I like what you said about school currently being like a dictatorship and that students don’t gain any problem solving skills. According to the article. the Nueva Escuela fixes this by making students apply the knowledge that they learned to the real world. One factor that I think you should take into consideration is the fact that, in current schools, students can choose to continue to follow the dictatorial methods of schooling, or they can take initiative and decide f0r themselves whether they want to apply knowledge they learned to the real world. They can do this by joining clubs, like debate club or robotics club,or they could do internships. Students have a lot of options; they just don’t chose to take the initiative, and it just seems like this new school is eliminating the option of not taking the initiative.

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