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Karol Cardenal de Cracovia School


Implementing institution: Colegio Karol Cardenal de Cracovia

Country: Chile

Source: OCDE

Execution period: 1978 - en curso

Plataforma de Prácticas Efectivas: Collaborative learning Metacognition and self-regulation

Challenges

To create an environment of strong and supportive relationships, and to help all students discover their own potential.

Solution

A democratic school model based on a system of micro-democracy where each of those involved plays an active role.

Results

Communication between school members has improved considerably, creating a conductive learning environment.

Karol Cardenal de Cracovia School functions as a small republic: A Constitution governs the behaviour of each one while encouraging the participation of the students through different instances (president, communities, ministry of justice). “Cracovia” (Krakow) refers to John Paul II who was the Cardinal of Krakow before he became Pope. The idea of Juan Carlos Navarrete, developer of the project, was that the promotion of close interpersonal relationships based on discussion and collaboration could enable children to develop skills for their future life as citizens. That is why the political constitution of the Karol Government (approved by all involved) emphasizes people; their proactive capacities, their free expression and non-discrimination.

In the first place, each class represents a commune of Santiago (the group of grade 3-A represents Ñuñoa, for example). It has its own administration with two departments (education and health) headed by an elected mayor. Each commune also has a judicial authority as well as a local police force. Secondly, the president of the republic is chosen from among the students who have presented their candidacy. Voting is organized according to the rules in force in real life in Chile. If no candidate achieves an absolute majority of the votes in the first round, a second round is organized. The supervision of individual behaviour is the responsibility of a Ministry of Justice whose members ensure respect for the Constitution in all circumstances and may impose sanctions against them.

A “communications school board” promotes and encourages recreational activities during free time at school. Finally, the Karol Merit Bank distributes to each class its own share of money to the school (“Karol merits”) which allows for the exchange of services among students. The whole process is moderated by the pedagogical team made up of teachers and childhood professionals (psychologist and linguists). The highest authority is represented by the headmaster of the school, who acts as “the moral authority on Earth”. It is worth mentioning that the participation of families in the Karol Republic is very encouraged: each of the parents can receive Karol nationality and participate in internal discussions.

One of the characteristics of the Chilean education system —as in many other countries, even developed ones— is the excessive attachment to traditional teaching-learning methodologies. In order to reverse the conditions of inequality and respond to the social and local context in which schools are inserted, schools such as Karol Cardenal de Cracovia School have sought alternative and innovative work models. Its aim is to reduce social gaps from childhood, focusing on both technical and soft skills, enabling equitable and holistic development among students.

The opinions of the participants of the Karol Cardenal de Cracovia School are very favourable in that they show an effective increase in communication among all those involved. Such improvement generates very fruitful collaboration with respect to the introduction of responsible behaviour among children. Given the low costs of the program, the management model of Karol Cardenal de Cracovia School represents an interesting innovation for replicability in other social contexts.

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