“Often, the omnipresence of audiovisual in our civilization is seen as a negative by those, especially in the education system, who consider the word, rather than the image, the way to facilitate thinking and reflection.” – William Caldera Pantoja, Colombia
“Let’s go to the cinema.” It’s an enticing invitation in any language, but it was also the title of William Caldera Pantoja’s Partners in Learning Global Forum project, shared in Prague late last year. The project, a runner-up award winner, was designed to teach English as a second language. It worked by engaging students in learning through cinema, via Microsoft Movie Maker.
According to Caldera Pantoja, the project was inspired “because cinema, with its enormous ability to communicate, conditions, impresses and touches people most exposed to people who accept its significance.” Caldera Pantoja goes on to say that, “Often, the omnipresence of audiovisual in our civilization is seen as a negative by those, especially in the education system, who consider the word, rather than the image, the way to facilitate thinking and reflection.”
In today’s Daily Edventure, Caldera Pantoja shares his teaching philosophy and why he values visual imagery so much as a teaching tool. As he so insightfully said when describing the project, “Film offers a chance to overcome the isolation and limitations under which many people operate, opening a window into other worlds real or imagined.”
What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?
I have two sisters who work as teachers — maybe it’s one of the reasons, and the other is that when I was studying architecture, my Spanish teacher told me I was good at writing. I think education is very important because it´s the mother of all other occupations.
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?
A professor who came to my city in order to teach Spanish. He used to ask us to read some books and write analysis about them. That’s how I learned to use a typewriter. It made blisters on my index fingers!
Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education. What has changed as a result of your work?
Now the Secretary of Education has asked me to share my experience with all the teachers in my city in order to motivate them to do different things in their classes using technology. Teachers are now thinking about how they can change their classes.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
When our government began to send technology to our public schools I began to think how to do, it especially because our students like computers. Since I began using my idea of teaching English through movies and technology, my classes are funnier.
In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?
How the students can learn without teachers and share their ideas with students from all over the world. Another important thing is how teachers can share their works through global events and through the net.
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
CREATIVITY! Because it’s the mother of the other 21st century skills. I used to tell this to my students. I think it’s so important that I asked the government to build a statue in front of the cinema they are going to build in my school. That monument will be called “Tivi” because of “CreaTIVIty”. The idea is to remember that a teacher without creativity is dead.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
A computer will be our best ally, because students like them too much!
What is your country doing well currently to support education?
We have a national program called “Todos a Aprender,” which means “Everyone Learning.” The Ministry of Education has selected many teachers to accompany all teachers from Colombia, and together we improve the quality of our education. The government is supporting national and international events which invite teachers to share their projects. Next is “Virtual Educa” in the most innovative city in the world: Medellin.
How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?
Definitely the best work should be done with teachers because when we improve, our students improve, too.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?
The time I spend with students in the classroom is not enough to teach English! Most of the students don’t have computers at home, some parents can’t help us, some schools don’t have good classrooms, there are too many students in class (almost 48), there’s no technology!
How can teachers or school leaders facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
One word: will!
About William Caldera Pantoja,
- Birthplace: Sahagún, Córdoba, Colombia
- Current residence: Sahagún; Córdoba, Colombia
- Education: Universidad del Sinú
- Website I check every day: http://www.colombiaaprende.edu.co/html/home/1592/w3-channel.html
- Person who inspires me most: My oldest sister.
- Favorite childhood memory: When I learned to ride a bike.
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Bogotá (Reading National Congress)
- When was the last time you laughed? Why? A night when I was sleeping and I fell out of bed; I woke up when I felt I was falling out!
- Favorite book: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
- Favorite music: Pop and Andean music
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Save some money (my father used to tell me).
- Your favorite quote or motto: “Many small people, in many small places, do many small things, that can alter the face of the world.”
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