Dangerous Education

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For some people all changes in our educational systems bring the inherent danger of loss of control. We love it when an alternative program results showcasing talent, or what we recognize as talent, in our children. We are willing to invest time, energy and resources into extracurricular activities and even the odd “unconventional” digression some teachers are permitted to employ.

But what happens when our children begin to think for themselves? Not the cute parroting of preconceived opinions, but creating their own world view. What happens when our children suddenly become more knowledgeable in some areas than we, those charged with their upbringing? At what point do we feel threatened by our children´s achievements, views and positions? “Nonsense,” you may say, “I would never feel that way about my child.”

But when superiority in a child starts to become apparent in emotional maturity, in life vision and belief systems, watch out. That is the real test of commitment to building an educational model that frees the human spirit rather than clipping wings. Now that is a dangerous education.

This is just one of the real-world challenges in building an educational model designed to change the status quo in Morazán. The area has been traditionally marginalized, suffered complete destruction of infrastructure and displacement of the civil population during the Civil War (1981-1992) and currently holds the dubious honor of maintaining both the highest poverty levels and the lowest academic achievement in all of El Salvador.

The socioeconomic conditions in Morazán create a fertile setting for implementing alternative solutions, as it is very clear to all that current programs are not making a dent in poverty indicators or academic standards. At the same time, this does establish a fairly low threshold in expectations and skills required to maintain status quo.

At Amún Shéa, we are seeing a process, starting about the fifth grade where our students begin to surpass teachers and parents in analysis, synthesis and establishing goals. By the eighth grade, the maturing process has entered the emotional turf, making for some very interesting and dramatic situations.

As we expand by one grade per year, we are looking forward to ninth through twelfth grades as a tremendous challenge and a fantastic opportunity to deal with this issue, not just in theory but in real life.

Amún Shéa, Center for Integrated Development is a project of Perkin Educational Opportunities Foundation, located in the northeast corner of El Salvador, in Central America.

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