No classrooms. No teachers. No blackboards. No exams.
To celebrate five years of Daily Edventures, we’re sharing some of our favorite posts. This Daily Edventure was originally published on January 10, 2012.
At first glance it’s pretty obvious: Colegio Fontán is different. No classrooms.
No teachers. No blackboards. No exams. Technology supports everything they do.
“Everyone knows the ‘what’ to do in education. We’ve built the ‘how’ instead,” says Julio Fontán, school President.
Colegio Fontan video
Fontán’s parents – both educators – brought their unique brand of education to Colombia from Spain 54 years ago. It was evident that their method was innovative, and the government asked Fontán to help transform education in Colombia’s underserved areas, including the areas dominated by guerillas.
“The only person that could come in to those areas without being killed was Julio. He went through some interesting experiences…” said Erika Twani, CEO of Learning One to One
Foundation and co-founding board member with Fontán.
In 1999, Julio won the Democracy Order in the Degree of Commander award for this work.
When the former Colombian President Belisario Betancourt learned about Fontán’s system of education, he said: “This is not a road, this is the road.”
What exactly is so revolutionary about the Fontán pedagogy?
“We focus on the inside of each student – what’s in his heart and in his mind throughout the education years,” says Fontán. Technology is a tool, but it’s not the ultimate answer. “Our system teaches kids to make decisions. They are planning all the time – they have a big sense of responsibility to not only plan, but to execute and be responsibile for what they learn and accomplish. They achieve self-confidence, which everyone needs to be a productive and successful person in the world.”
In fact, Fontán sees the state of education in our world today as an opportunity –
because “everyone is clear that the traditional educational system is not getting the students ready for the current world and the coming future.”
A systemic transformation is what Fontán envisions. Moving from a system based on mere
teaching to a new system based on students who give meaning to their work, set goals to learn and put in the discipline to achieve them. As Fontán says,“We see a miracle in each and every kid.”
About Julio Fontán
Julio Fontan, along with his parents, pioneered and invented the Sistema Educativo Relacional Fontán (SERF) pedagogy, a student-centered, innovative learning system in Colombia.
Website I check every day: www.cnn.com
Person who inspires me most: My father, Ventura Fontán. While he was alive, we used to spend around four hours every day discussing changes on the education process of our school, its implementation and results.
Favorite childhood memory: I used to work for my parents at their Psychology Center after school, on an off-set printing machine. My friends from school used to come and visit me and while I was working, we’re all chatting and talking about many interesting things. It was our place for “teen meetings.”
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): London (work) and then Santiago de Chile (work)
Favorite book: La Sombra del Angel (The Angel’s Shadow), by Carlos Ruiz Zafón