15 Mar INTERDISCIPLINARY PROJECTS TO BECOME MORE HUMANE. ECUADOR
Two years ago in the private school of La Dolorosa in Quito, Ecuador, we proposed a reassessment of the model of evaluation and the methodology of the learning process. The challenge arose in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic, which obliged us to think carefully about which are the most adequate methodologies in order for us to deal with the challenges that our own surroundings presented us with. The conditions in which the new academic year was going to develop were ideal for a transition from a traditional evaluation based on examinations and closed structures to one that would prioritize the application of knowledge in situations closer to the students. That was how we decided to innovate: we would take the risk of putting into practice learning based on interdisciplinary projects. This focus prioritizes the active participation of the students, who have to attend to a problem or challenge from the focus of the materials integrated into the proposal. What seems to us most enriching is the fact that this opens the door to many ways of resolving a question. It is not a matter of a perspective centered on a teacher who dictates a solution, but on the student as the center of his/her own learning process.
It was a great opportunity for a change that was not limited only to forms in which the students presented to their teachers the knowledge that they would acquire, but that went beyond the everyday teaching approach in the classrooms, the manner that was expected of the teachers and the planning of materials, which had to integrate and break through the limits of their field of knowledge. The journey toward the consolidation of this new methodology was not exempt from problems. Nevertheless, after a few years we could see the fruits of perseverance and the confidence in the new forms of reinforcing knowledge.
We would like to share with you the experience of the presentation of the interdisciplinary projects in the month of January, 2023. The students of third year of bachillerato (secondary school), who had to integrate History, Literature, and Religious Education, proposed the campaign “Different” as a response to various problems of contemporary social marginalization. The interests were varied: discrimination against older adults, migration, and awareness about mental health. The week previous to the launching of the project, various anonymous campaigns were carried out, which had the aim of awakening the students’ concern about the topics. The day of the presentation, attendees from other classes were invited; they were the audience for the activities that had been prepared. There was a food festival, the projection of short films, a peaceful demonstration in the corridors and on the school grounds, a round table discussion with older adults about their life experiences… Most important: the audience acquired an understanding of how the problems of the society that surrounds us are part of their everyday life, and that it is possible to act in a way that is different, humane and which participates in the transformation of society through small gestures.
The interdisciplinary projects allowed the students to discover ways to have an impact on their immediate surroundings. It was very positive for the student organizers to be able to identify the problems which surround them, as well as for the attendees to have a space to reflect and become aware in this respect. Evaluation is more productive when knowledge becomes meaningful for all.
Paúl Cepeda e Irene Villacrés
U.E.P La Dolorosa