Fernando Reimers, Director of the Global Initiative for Educational Innovation at Harvard University, gave the closing address at the 6th Felipe Segovia Symposium, which was held online this year. During his address, Reimers welcomed the opportunity to participate in the Symposium, and recalled his visit to SEK-El Castillo and his participation with several teachers from the school in various activities related to the Global Citizenship curriculum.
“I am glad to see that the trajectory of this Symposium, which began in 2015, shows how SEK has matured, formulating a different and unique teaching identity to prepare students to change the future,” said the Harvard professor.
After reviewing the themes on which previous editions of the Felipe Segovia Symposium were built, Reimers emphasised how the SEK Future Learning Model and the new UCJC Teaching-Learning Model enable teachers to design their own educational pathways, and are very focused on professional development. “It seems to me a very beautiful evolution, an example also for the students who see in this meeting that teaching is not just a profession, it is a passion, a way of life.”
Educating for a Renaissance
Reimers went on to refer to the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically regarding the acquisition of the knowledge and skills necessary to promote sustainable development, human rights, gender equality, peace, global citizenship and cultural diversity.
He also outlined how the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the global economic crisis and how the impact it has caused will stay with us for a long time. How its social impact could have disrupted education in a very serious way for students around the world, but how thanks to the work and innovations of educational institutions it has not been the case. All as part of a presentation entitled ‘Educating for a Renaissance’.
‘The pandemic has aggravated many challenges in education that already existed previously,’ warns Reimers, who pointed to an OECD study indicating that 26% of 15-year-olds in Spain are dissatisfied with their lives. In addition, in several surveys conducted as part of the same study, the Harvard University professor found signs that in many countries teachers are the fulcrum for teaching in schools, and very few teachers transfer control over learning to their students. “That is why this innovation of creating design laboratories at Camilo José Cela University and SEK Schools is so important as it is putting students to work on projects and focussing education on solving problems”.
Forced to innovate during the pandemic
The advent of the pandemic could have brought about an abrupt end to the education of young people around the world, but nothing is further from reality, said Reimers. “To my surprise, educational institutions did what they could to teach as best they could. Everyone did their best to continue teaching”, he recalled. From lessons recorded on mobile phones by Nigerian teachers who sent them to their students by WhatsApp, to classes and lessons that were broadcast on the radio in Chile.
“Innovation can come from anywhere, and I am glad that at this Felipe Segovia Symposium you have opted to develop professional inquiries, giving teachers the possibility to identify problems they want to solve and to build an itinerary to solve it, which is what happened in the world during the pandemic”, said Reimers about the advances in education advances implemented by SEK during lockdown.
“For all this, I believe that this 6th Symposium on the future of learning, will go down in the history of SEK Group as the moment in which the institution as a whole took time to think about what we have learned and what this means for the future”, added Fernando Reimers, who concluded with a premonitory phrase about the importance of education in the future of humanity: “I believe that educators have an extraordinary opportunity, in this long night that is this pandemic engulfing us, to do what is in our power, and more, to prepare our students to build a better world, a world that has a place for us all”.