This is how we promote education in excellence at Agora International School Madrid
We are what we do every day. So excellence is not an act but a habit.
In the exciting task of education, parents and teachers play a crucial role, since the motivation of children to develop their intellectual interests depends to a large extent on them. If, in addition to a love of learning, we are looking for excellence in education, it is essential to follow a basic approach to family education, to teachers, to teaching programmes, to learning and its methods, to motivation and to all educational teaching activities.
Educating children who are responsible, respectful, aware and with values is educating free children. We are not talking about a libertinism, we are talking about coherence and common sense. Educating children who obey at the drop of a hat, without giving them the space to reflect and contribute, is to educate them to be demanding. At Agora International School Madrid we look more for shared rules and agreed limits to encourage their self-esteem and create in them the habit of excellence. We are in favour of freedom as opposed to training. Education in freedom prepares the child to find someone to discover what love is, in a situation of being loved. Freedom has to grow and develop as it progresses and this will be achieved, in part, through personal interest and motivation.
Keys to educate in excellence
- The art of listening
In order to educate, we must listen to those who are to be educated. The reason is simple: they are not furniture, but human beings, intelligent and free, protagonists of their own education.
Listening is an art because sometimes it is not easy to know when and how to do it, or how to proceed afterwards. As a general criterion, we can admit that educational dialogue must presuppose always seeking and accepting the truth. Hence, the need to listen is not the same as education by consensus, because mutual agreement does not create the good or the truth.
That said, there are issues that cannot be discussed and agreed upon, i.e. they are non-negotiable. A teacher has to listen to his or her students, but the content of his or her subject is not decided by all of them.
- Moral conscience
The education of conscience is a fundamental ingredient of good education, since education is essentially teaching to distinguish right from wrong. Animals do not have a conscience, but human beings are rational animals, and this characteristic gives them the capacity to make technical, aesthetic and moral judgements… The moral conscience is precisely that which judges the goodness of one’s own or other people’s actions: not the good or the bad that allows us to say that you are a good drawer or a bad tennis player, but a good person or a bad person.
- Clear values
They need to be clear and defined, they need to be known and practised, they need to be visible whenever possible. Do we know what the values are in our family and in our school? Let’s look for them and practice them. A good dynamic to do as a family could be to choose from a list of values the ones we like the most and want to put into practice.
- The effort required
The need to make an effort spares no one. For the philosopher José Antonio Marina, “the sulky face of a newborn baby shows his strangeness at suddenly finding himself in the world. He has been expelled from a comfortable bubble, from the small, warm sea where he has floated for nine months, and now he has to take on a harsh world without protective filters”.
To manage in real life, this weak and clumsy being will need the constant effort of learning: many months to walk, to learn how to dress himself, to tie his shoes? Fortunately, his imprecise fumbling will remain engraved in his memory, and each new movement will be corrected and fine-tuned from the last position gained. Ten years later, this clumsy creature will be able to master several languages and even win an Olympic medal in rhythmic gymnastics.
No teacher is unaware of the educational impact of habits. That is why it has been said that he who sows habits reaps habits, and he who sows habits reaps his own character.
- Common sense
Common sense is a kind of practical wisdom, capable of embracing and integrating values, effort, conscience…
- An optimistic attitude
Education in excellence must be based on hope. Hope “expands the heart” and gives us a more pleasant and happy life. Negative events are not permanent, but circumstantial. Therefore, it is important to have and to forge an optimistic attitude in children.
Educating in freedom also implies a series of demands: dialogue, the promotion of one’s own criteria, reflection, being orderly, and all of this in order to forge responsible people. “Society needs responsible and mature people who make decisions, which is why education in freedom is what best enables people to be that way”, explains Julio Gallego Codes, educational psychologist and school counsellor, in his book En busca de la excelencia (ed. Palabra, 2016).
Educating for excellence is only possible if we have excellent educators, mainly parents and teachers who encourage children and adolescents to dream and to make those dreams come true. On the one hand, families must be stable and pleasant homes, where character is formed, values are transmitted and the best possible emotional education is provided for children. On the other hand, in school and academic life, all teaching activity must focus on a commitment to a job well done and on trying to get the best out of each pupil. This is our aim as educators at Agora International School Madrid.