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Integral Education: Strategic Challenges & Road-Map ahead (XVII). Strategic Innovation in Education – My Jesuit Secondary School (Part M).

Good morning to all. We have to continue with this saga: Integral education: Strategic Challenges and Road-map ahead. Today is the turn of strategic Innovation for secondary school. I will try to give you a brief summary of my “academic life” in secondary school.  On the next post, I will add the importance of Christian Formation or ethical reverence for life.

perico externadistaSecondary School is maybe one of the most reassuring phases for the human being. For those who did not drop school, and decided to continue studying, the secondary school is like the gate of the airport for their career choices. It is the stage where parents start to leave the kids alone to make decisions for their own. Kids evolve to become teenagers.

In terms of the appropriation of the human being own character, this stage has its own particularities in relation to brain development. For neuroscientists, they have taught us that biologically the person is all set in their primary brain functions.


Your house is only as strong as your foundations.

Nevertheless, I don´t believe in that. The brain will continue evolving as much as you train it. I am a believer that the brain doesn´t stop to be developed.   It is a lie to believe that brain development is done with primary school. Primary School is the foundation for our brain skills. It is like the foundation of the house: everything that will be built on top of the foundations will be strong and awesome if the primary school is excellent.  In my personal case, I am thankful to the Sacred Heart society education. Thanks to the oblates plan of studies, I was able to be successful at the Jesuit School.

Let me show you two slides: The first one (the blue sky color) belongs to the academic plan of studies and grades of my seventh level at Externado San José. And the second is a mélange or mix of the plan of studies of 10th, 11th and 12th years of high school. At the time I studied high school, there were two options or major concentrations: Physical-Mathematics for those inclined to study engineering or similar careers, and Chemistry-Biology for those inclined to choose for the Medicine and health-life sciences careers.

I chose the option of Physical-Mathematics. See the list of subjects (in Spanish) below.

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Physics resnickAs you can see in my report cards, the plan of studies for the first three years of secondary school, called Junior High-school (7th to 9th levels), it was very similar to the primary school. But every year there was a deeper understanding of the material in quantity and quality for each course. For example in math; in Junior High-school years, we studied arithmetic and algebra based on Baldor traditional book as the rest of the national entities, louis-leithold-el-calculo-con-geometria-analitica-editoria-D_NQ_NP_727131-MLM26413160878_112017-Fbut we were also exploring university math books. Once we passed to senior high school years (10th to 12th levels), we studied math using material from the Calculus and Analytic Geometry of Leithold. We were taught derivatives and integers, and vector mechanics for engineers (statics and dynamics). In relation to Physics, we studied using the two core Physics books of Halliday-Resnick (which were utilized during the first two years of the University).


Chemistry lab. Externado San José. San Salvador

In addition, we had rigorous excellent professors who were teachers of Math at the Engineering Faculty of the Universidad Centro Americana-UCA (the local Jesuit university). This gave us a competitive advantage. When we joined the university, we already were prepared to do well in physics and math, because we were trained beforehand during high-school. The same happened with other subjects as Chemistry, Biology, Statistics, Philosophy, and Psychology. Our brains were developed to give answers by thinking (from the general to the particular, and from the particular to the general) not by memorizing, but by applying the theory with examples.


New Externado San José Facilities, built after the Earthquake of 1986.

Our professors were also Spanish priests who studied in super-duper rigorous Spanish universities, with a very good education background. In addition, if we wanted to pursue the choice of studying in the USA or other foreign countries, we were prepared with better academics standards than the American typical standards. This is a fact.


Technology Lab. Externado San Jose.

You won´t see technology or ICT in my plan of studies, simply because at that time it was not a core component of our life. We received typewriting (mecanografía) with Professor Zoilita, who taught us to type quickly without looking at the keyboard!. Nowadays, I have checked with the Externado sources, and they include technology courses.

My secondary education was extremely hard and competitive. All my classmates and anyone who has studied at the Externado are faithful prove of what I am writing here. For junior high-school Each year was divided into 5 periods. For senior high-school years, it was divided into trimesters. atay in school.jpgThe minimum score grade to approve was 5.0/10.0. Nevertheless, to get a 5 was really difficult for many of my peers. I was blessed with the possibility to get the majority of my scores above 8. But there were times where I also failed. No problem. The Jesuits trained us to don´t give up. No matter what. They taught us that “después de una caida, a sacudirse el polvo y hay que levantarse” or in English: “after we fell down, shake the dust, and we have to get up”. And I was able to pass every single period or trimester. In parallel, the extracurricular experiences were always part of my life. During junior high school, I decided to practice Olympic gymnastics and English during the afternoons. In addition, I was always busy running from school to my extracurricular courses.  I did my homework between 6 pm to maybe 8 to 9 pm. My sleeping habits were of 9 hours a day, with the exception of the days before exams: I practiced the habit to wake up at 4 am to re-study before going to school, and this was an awesome habit, which helped me to keep the fresh the material in my brain before the tests. I never copied in the exams. No cheat sheets were allowed. And if you copy to others, the professors had the authorization to give you a Zero score immediately.

cancha colegio

Basketball Court Games-Ignatian Central American Schools 2017. Externado San José.

For senior high-school years (from 10th to 12th levels), I kept the extracurricular sports and on top, I had a boyfriend too! Of course, it was a handsome platonic boyfriend with parental supervision. This is to tell you that I was always multitasking between school, sports, friends and home responsibilities. I also added singing at the School Choir. And we were busy doing teamwork assignments. Many of my peers loved to come to my parents´place to study and to prepare for the examinations. I remember my parent´s home was full of my classmates or friends, particularly when they wanted me to explain what they did not understand.

Padre Toro HIlton SJ

Christian Formation was a core stuff for us.

I was blessed to have the quality of education I got. But it also has its flaws: For example, the fact that the Externado is not a bilingual school, put me in disadvantage when it came the time to do the TOEFL and SAT tests later. Another disadvantage was the lack of understanding of the girls’ needs and wants “at that time”. Girls have different mission and purpose in life. Fair enough, Externado professors and priests were trained to help boys, and the switch from boys to co-ed system took some time.  I was part of the 4th generation of girls who graduated from there, and I am sure,  probably, the Jesuit priests were also adapting their education to the girls. Another disadvantage we had was the fact that we were always busy. school plannerOr at least, I was so busy. We did not have time to participate in social gatherings with other schools, and we were quite isolated from the interactions with other students from the British, American, French or other Catholic schools.  I mean I had no time! And the Jesuit school did not promote that interaction or networking with other schools either.  If we wanted to meet and greet peers from other local schools, we had to be invited to their parties, and I was not a party girl. I was more interested to attend cultural concerts, poetry declamation, classical music, or ballet performances at the National Theater than to go to a party. Maybe this happened because there were times of the civil war here, and my parents protected us, by keeping us in a bubble.

Well, I have to stop here. I have described you how was my academic life. I still have to write about the Christian formation and the spiritual character of the Jesuit education. So important! And it will be on my next post. Then, we have to link this experience with the strategic innovation mindset. How can we connect the dots of my secondary education with the strategic innovation framework? Other schools here are quite similar to the Externado such as the Liceo Salvadoreño and Champagnat, Colegio La Floresta and Lamatepec, Colegio Guadalupano, Colegio Highlands and some of the bilingual schools as the Deutsche Schule, Lycée Francais, American and British school. Moreover, how can we translate our quality of education to public education which is so way behind the Externado standards? This is coming next. Stay tuned!

Blessings, and thank you!bee

Source References utilized for this article:

Disclaimer: All the presentation slides shown on this blog are prepared by Eleonora Escalante MBA-MEng. Nevertheless, all the pictures or videos shown on this blog are not mine.  I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

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