A Different Education Model
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
George Bernard Shaw
I recently had the privilege of accompanying Plantel Azteca students in their graduation ceremony. Naturally, I took the opportunity to discuss one of the issues that most interests me, namely, education.
Unfortunately, today we see that Mexico’s education system is in disastrous straits and we do not perceive light at the end of the tunnel. On the contrary, in what is a perverse dynamic, some groups of so-called "teachers" have put the population at risk in states such as Oaxaca and Chiapas as children from the most vulnerable social strata, and whose future is most compromised, are in danger of losing the school year.
But I’m not only concerned about the current situation. Unfortunately, the educational model –which dates from the 19th century– is totally obsolete, because it places a priority on memorization and obedience as opposed to reason and creativity. In addition, in Mexico the educational system is a giant state-owned enterprise that is not working. It continues to be weighed down by a state-dominated, centralized, and bureaucratic structure, without transparency or accountability.
It is our duty to denounce this situation and demand a change, because Mexico’s youth are being robbed of their future and the country urgently needs a cultural change.
At the same time, we must recognize that teachers, who are a key factor in achieving a successful educational model, have been neglected. They need to function in a stable and predictable system and with clear rules.
Today more than ever, Mexico needs to transform its education model to make it less centralized, less bureaucratic, and a model in which the student and the teacher are at the center. We must invest much more in teachers, because even though they seek to do their job well, the system often does not allow them to do so.
The Plantel Azteca schools show that things can be done differently, because we know that education is the cornerstone of our future. It is the only way to move forward on both an individual level and as a country.
Our educational model at Plantel Azteca places a priority on reasoning over memorization, critical thinking over obedience, teamwork over individualism, and encourages discipline, the pursuit of excellence, and creativity. At Plantel Azteca, students really "learn to learn."
Furthermore, our students have access to the best technologies, techniques, and activities, such as our neuro-linguistic program, the Esperanza Azteca Orchestra, the Workshop for Entrepreneurs, or the team of young people that participates in international robotic competitions. There’s a good reason why half of our graduates typically have access to scholarships covering from 80% to 100% of expenses in the best private universities in Mexico, such as the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM), the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), the Iberoamerican University, the Center for Research and Economic Instruction (CIDE) and the Pan American University, among others.
At Plantel Azteca, we see that our money is well invested since it produces excellent results. The time and money spent on this project are creating enormous human capital that is transforming families and communities.
Human capital is the most important form of wealth that exists. Some students of our school may think, "I have no money, therefore, I have no capital," but they have the most valuable capital that exists: their ideas, knowledge, and creativity, which are extraordinary and their everyday performance demonstrates this.
We have been demonstrating that things can be done differently for almost two decades. In 1997 we decided to move from words to action and today we see the fruits of this effort. This year alone, 190 girls and boys began a new life no longer on campus; a life full of dreams, hopes, and opportunities.
In this blog I will soon share profiles of some of our most outstanding graduates who, despite facing serious financial problems and an adverse social environment, were able to make the most of the opportunities provided to them by Plantel Azteca.
I am convinced that our new graduates will write their stories of achievement, satisfaction, and pride, because young people can and should dream on a big scale. There’s a Chinese proverb that puts it well: "the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago." Today this tree has given shade and shelter to more than 10,500 graduates who have a bright present and future.