The importance of education

Aprender para nós é construir, reconstruir, constatar para mudar, o que não se faz sem abertura ao risco e à aventura do espírito.

(Paulo Freire, Pedagogia da Autonomia)

Have you ever thought about your childhood, your school time and your education? How much is it important a good education? We learn how to face the world, to understand, to be a citizen, to think, hence to live through the school.

Everybody has the right to have a good education. Nowadays it can be unexacting to think that we have a high quality education system in the major part of the world because often it is not true. In some schools we can find many children who had to follow the lesson without say anything, stay still properly for hours and hours, study only the issue that the teacher says and repeat; the creativity, the curiosity, the autonomy disappear gradually.

Thus the result is: an adult ready for the “working life” and to be shape and flexible as the boss wants.

It is necessary to change this system where we have the teacher who “give” the lesson and a student who “memorize” it. As Freire said: Ensinar não é transferir conhecimento. O educando va sendo o artefice da sua formacao com a ajuda necessaria de o educador. 

Nowadays it is possible find several schools that try to use original approach, different from the traditional system. One of these school is “Escola da Ponte”, a project started in 1976, situated 30 km from Porto city. The school is public and the students are from 5 to 17 years old.

One of the first characteristics is the absence of the normal school desk, the students sit together in group of 4 or 5 and they work often in cooperation.

There is no teacher explain the lesson or yell to the students, no classes, texts or manuals, but the students decide about their work with their tutor they organize a Individual plan and every month roughly they have a test that verify their knowledge. There is the traditional curriculum  as the other public school but the students can choose when and how to learn each matter. There is more autonomy and at the same time the scholars has more responsibility.

There are several useful tools used by this school, for example: “Eu já sei” e “Eu preciso de ajuda” are sheets where the students can write the issue who they already learnt or others can put down a need of help for a topic. 

The management of the school is made by teacher and student working together, there are divided in group of responsibility and they take care about every aspects of the school. Every week there is a meeting where participate every students, teacher and also the parents. During this assembly each person can express his/her problem and try to find a solution together. With this system the student can feel their autonomy, they experience their maturity to make decisions and they are aware of to be part of the school.

Its maxim is : “Na escola da Ponte todos trabalham com todos. Nenhum aluno é aluno de um professor só, nem um professor é professor só de alguns alunos“. This is the fundamental and it is really a pleasure to see this girls and boys study together, help each other and grow up with curiosity, ability to choose and to have teachers who doesn’t want to give them the lesson but just help to find their path.

It is possible to plan a visit writing an email to the school.  Two students will you bring to discover the classes and they will explain how the school works! If you are in Portugal have a look at this extraordinary school!

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