Integral Education: Strategic Challenges & Road-Map ahead (XVI). Strategic Innovation in Education – It is the turn of Externado San José (Part L).
Today we will kick off with strategic innovation at secondary levels of school. Let´s define secondary school as the levels from seventh grade to 12th grade (sometimes 11th grade). It is also called high-school in Anglo-Saxon countries.
Before continuing, let me clarify something. I do not mean to show off my personal life, grades, and schools. This blog is read by an international audience, many of my followers are from the USA, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, France, UK, Spain, Southamerica and even Asian countries like China. So this tiny humble example of my life living in El Salvador is a simple methodology to share for other countries as a reference point of strategic innovation in education. I apologize to those who consider me arrogant or if I am using this blog to swanking about “me”. Not at all.
In addition, I am a firm believer we don´t need technology for doing strategic innovation. What we need is to connect the dots between the wants and needs of people, and our strategic holistic conceptual offer of solutions (products and services). Technology helps us to do our jobs efficiently and quick in relation to data gathering (if the data is correct) and processes, but it is a tool. And tools are designed to help not to replace the humanity of the human being.
Let´s start. I switched from the Colegio Sagrado Corazón to the Externado San Jose School when I finished my primary grades. My two brothers and sister were already accepted and studying at the Externado, and my parents thought it was a better move for all of us to study in the same place. By the year 1982, I was accepted to join seventh grade with the Jesuits based on merit.
Some history background about Externado San José as follows: The Jesuits founded the school in 1921. It started as a seminary school to prepare men for the priesthood. Years later, the seminary evolved to become a private school for secular catholic boys. In the 1940s four Jesuit brothers from the Basque area of Spain built the facilities where the school is still located. Originally Externado San José was only for boys, but in 1978 co-education was introduced. Girls started to be accepted.
The Jesuits in El Salvador have coined an education strategy of “academics excellence” and high-level admission standards. This is one of the most meticulous and academically selective schools in town, and I believe in all Latin America. Externado San José was long considered a school for the elites, but in the 1960s, the Jesuits determined to make education more accessible for smart kids, regardless of the social origin and opened it to the poor. The school is no longer seen as elitist, but it has maintained high academic performance standards. “For secondary students, low grades and/or demerits in personal conduct can lead to expulsion”.
Based on my personal experience, during secondary school, my schedule was 7:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. As a teenager, on top of our core academic courses, we received classes in Christian formation, sports (swimming, basketball, squash, soccer, volleyball, fitness, track, and field, etc). There were additional courses such as music, crafts, theater, English as a second language and chess. The infrastructure of this school is complete. The school campus occupies about 19 acres. It includes six blocks for classrooms plus laboratories for physics, chemistry, and biology, two computer rooms, two projection rooms, an auditorium, a chapel, and rooms for learning music, crafts, and chess. Sports facilities include a 25-meter swimming pool, and many fields and courts. It counts with a large school library too.
The school promotes cultural and social communication activities at every level. “A regular newsletter is produced by the same students. Student activities of a cultural, athletic, pastoral, or social nature are covered. Festivals and cultural contests discover, promote, and reward the creative and artistic talents of students, through writing (composition, poetry, and narrative), speaking (oratory and declamation), and performing (music, drawing, theater, and dance)”.
To be continued next week. We will do a reflection and critical analysis about my secondary school experience in El Salvador, the objectives and mission of the Jesuit education, connecting it with the relevant elements which trigger strategic innovation. Thank you.
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