Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
Spain is near the bottom of the list of international rankings measuring the quality and effectiveness of its educational system. The PISA report, an evaluation run by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 44 countries, places Spanish students at the bottom of the ranking in subjects such as math, science or reading skills. It also shows that they are less prepared to face everyday life dilemmas than students from other countries. The failure of the educational system is a subject of ongoing debate in media, specialized forums and society in Spain. Teachers are frustrated. According to a survey conducted by the SM Editorial Foundation of 2,900 teachers across Spain, 87% concluded that the current education system does not prepare students for what is expected of them afterwards, and 86% believed that Spain’s current evaluation systems do not allow them to fully develop students’ capabilities.
There is an emerging consensus that the current school system, based on a “classic model” designed back in the eighteenth century and focused on exercising memory and developing basic language and mathematic skills, does not fit any more with Spanish society. The twenty-first century’s needs are radically different as education should be preparing students for a rapidly changing society and an unknown future.
Spain’s traditional education system only works with two out of the eight different types of intelligences identified by educational researchers (initially by the American educator and researcher, Howard Gardner): the logical-mathematical and the linguistic-verbal, missing 6 other critical areas of need. The Spanish system is furthermore based on the principle that everyone learns the same things at the same time at the same place, which results in large numbers of students exiting the system at an early age.
Although Spain has gone through several State reforms of the educational system in the last two decades, the results have not improved. Neither the evaluation system nor the curriculum has significantly changed. At the core of the problems perceived by the experts in the sector is the issue of teacher training: although it is compulsory (as it is linked with salary bonuses), it is outdated and inefficient.
Families are sometimes an obstacle for change. Parents themselves, as well as teachers, have been trained and taught in the same old system and tend to perpetuate it.
The result of this situation is dramatic, being Spain on of the European countries with higher dropout rates: the percentage of students not finishing compulsory education is 30% among boys and 20% among girls (according to an EU-Eurostat survey published in 2013).
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Montserrat is leading an educational reform movement that starts by changing how teachers see their roles, provides them the tools to play their new roles and creates the support system that enables them to carry out the needed transformations.
Through training, Montserrat provides teachers, on top of everything, the inspiration and security to lead the change. The first module of a well-structured 5 module training program for teachers focuses on motivation. It stats by telling teachers “Look at how the world looks like” by showing them inspiring movies or documentaries that speak about present and future challenges and show successful and inspiring examples from around the world to ask them right away if they believe that the educational system is prepared to face those challenges. This phase generates “the need for searching”. This part of the training is open to parents of the school as well.
Further on, the training given to teachers focuses on how to put students at the center of learning by placing their needs at the core of the curriculum and bringing out the best of each child. It shows teachers how to stimulate active learning, promote self-confidence among students and make students responsible pro-active players in their own education.
Once the mindset is changed, Montserrat offers schools and teachers in particular, a set of tools and proven methodologies that help them transform the curriculum, the teaching and evaluation methodologies, classroom and school organization, and teachers’ and students’ roles.
The techniques and principles that teachers embrace and adapt to their circumstances are numerous, but entail common threads such as the emphasis on critical thinking skills, project based learning and integrating service learning and social entrepreneurship in the curriculum in a well-structured manner that fits into the legal frame of compulsory education.
Teachers are exposed to tools, examples and tested methods that they are asked to adapt and apply right away (from the first session teachers are asked to implement pilot projects at their own classroom) and that serve as well as a tool to open their minds and expand their world of references by showing inspiring examples, talks and experiences from around the world.
Through guiding teachers, administrators and families to rethink the school system together, Montserrat is changing the way students learn and teachers teach.
With considerable success in transforming many schools in Spain, Montserrat is able to offer significant evidence of the success of her reform approach, through both her own school and numerous others that are already part of this movement, motivating in this way other schools, administrators and families to be part of it.