In the context of the new economy, marked by the hegemony of science and intellectual property, the statement made by the founder and president of Liceu Jardim, Prof. Daniel Contro, clarifies that “the new wealth of the people is called neurons”. The migration of agropastoral character, the economic base of the past, to the era of patent registration and innovation, raises questions among the different societies in the world spectrum. In the face of the Brazilian reality, Contro sees an abyss between Brazilian education and the quality of education of developed countries in the public and private spheres. Among other things, the teacher generously gave The Winners an interview that explores the various angles of educational issues. Follow it.
Felix Ventura – Summarize Liceu Jardim´s history, especially the period under your administration, mentioning the main actions you are responsible for.
Daniel Belucci Contro – Liceu Jardim is a private, elementary and middle school, which serves more than 2,000 Class A families in the metropolitan region of São Paulo, mainly in the ABCD region. After extensive research on the economic viability, the school was established in the city of Santo André, under the leadership of a group of experienced teachers in large schools in São Paulo, aiming to bring to the region the standard of teaching of the best schools in the country. Initially, it operated as a premium school, of the Pueri Domus system. In 2011 when this network was incorporated by another educational group Liceu went its own way. Since then, what has inspired us is the determination to offer ideal conditions so that our students can develop their maximum potential and place themselves in the global scenario in a natural, competent and responsible way.
FV – What are the basic principles of the institution?
DBC – Our focus is fourfold: a) to place students in the best universities in the country and abroad; b) to offer curricula with a wide range of elective activities and disciplines, including public speaking c) to offer multiple learning spaces, facilitating the adoption of new teaching methodologies; and d) to use stateof-the-art technological resources in the service of education. As an expression of this focus, we offer a bilingual program in which, without jeopardising the high academic standards, students can immerse into the English language, even taking part in exchange programs in some of the best schools around the world, in Canada, Poland and Finland. I believe that we are on the right track since, in the last three editions of the ENEM (Brazilian National High School Examination), Liceu Jardim stands out among the 20 best schools in the country. In the last ranking, we were the third best school in the State of Sao Paulo.
FV – According to your perception, give an overview of the current situation of education in Brazil for the private and public sectors
DBC – In the context of the new economy, marked by the hegemony of science and intellectual property, education is no longer a choice but an imposition of the new wealth of nations. The new wealth of the nations is called neurons. It has migrated from luscious cornfield and beautiful flocks to patent registration and innovation. There is an abyss between Brazilian education and the quality of education of developed countries, both in the public and private sectors. In all international rankings, our students occupy shameful positions. In the International Student Assessment Program (PISA), for example, which assesses 15-year-olds in reading, science and mathematics, bringing together the 70 most developed nations on the planet, we have occupied the last positions since we took the exam, about two decades ago. The tragedy is also evident in the rankings of the World Bank and Unesco.
FV – When we think of world regions that can be cited as reference in educational institutions, what can be said?
DBC – While countries like the Scandinavians and a group of Asians are among the best, placing more than 50% of their students on the top list, less than 2% of Brazilians are in the same range. Our classrooms are the most inefficient ones on the planet.
FV – With regard to our educators, how can we compare our reality with global issues?
DBC – Our teachers, for the most part, have poor training. We do not attract talented young people to the teaching profession: 85% of the undergraduates who are preparing themselves for the teaching profession graduate from Online Distance Learning. There is strong ideological resistance to merit-oriented programs. We have exempted our students of their responsibility. As a result, they leave school semi-illiterates in more than 70% of the elementary schools, in a bleak and gloomy scenery. We universalize access to school, but we immolate quality. Not even the vast majority of private schools, although ubiquitous in the country, are assurance of quality. We have more than 40 million students in elementary education. We spend huge amounts of resources. Taking GDP as a base, we invest proportionally more than Canada and Germany. But to continue as we are, we will be a country with no future prospects.
FV – Comment the speech of José Renato Nalini, the former Secretary of Education of the State of São Paulo: “Society has learned to claim what is healthy, but did not learn the lesson regarding duties, obligations and responsibilities”.
DBC – In the last years, the defense of rights has been prominent in all layers of the Brazilian population. Unfortunately, however, people have been led to believe that there is always someone to owe them something. The poor, the destitute, the landless, the homeless have become symbols of an ideology of rights, without the correspondence of duties. Success in Brazil is treated as despicable, or even wrong. The employer is considered as a slave master, an exploiter, a thief. In the USA, students learn to admire the great entrepreneurs who have leveraged the wealth of the nation. Here they are execrated. Work gained connotation of punishment. “We can not study because the books are expensive,” say those who fill the soccer stadiums to watch matches that end late at night. We have come to the folly of blaming the success of some, regardless of their merit, for the failure of many, regardless of their demerits. Almost everyone blames the system or the government. It is unsupportable for any society that believes that somebody else’s duty is your responsibility. The Brazilian state hands out more than 60 million benefit checks each month. Not by chance, we need five Brazilians to produce the same as one Canadian. Oh! We can not compare ourselves to Canada? Well, it takes three Brazilians to produce the same as one Argentinian.
FV – How do you evaluate the dynamics of families in the formation of the current generation of students?
DBC – The vast majority of parents who make up the so-called Class A are professionals and entrepreneurs from different sectors. Culturally, they are parents who, for the most part, are guided by the same beliefs of the present generation. They advocate an education with few rules, aimed at ensuring the happiness and well-being of their children. They do not support a more rigorous pedagogical strategy and tend to let their children choose where they want to study. They usually delegate discipline, do not exercise authority, for fear of losing the love of their children. It is a generation for which the love of children does not seem natural to them. It needs to be conquered. This is a feeling that leaves them insecure to exercise authority in the family dynamics. Many parents become friends, but not parents to their children. This picture is tragic. Children who grow up in an environment without rules, become insecure adults, unfit for social life. They are mistaken in wanting to spare their children from any frustrating effort or experience, ignoring the fact that this is precisely the path that has led themselves to successfully stand in the world. Unfortunately, almost all families consider sending their children abroad, not only to study, but to make a career, in the face of the hopelessness that has hit the country in recent years.
FV – How does Liceu Jardim deal with sustainability and waste management issues with its students?
DBC – We act on three fronts. First, these themes integrate the content of the mandatory disciplines, such as Natural Sciences and Geography. Second, our school routine, with active participation of teachers and students, includes the selective collection of garbage, the cultivation of organic gardens, composting, rainwater collection, and capture of solar energy. The school has installed 1,300 photovoltaic panels and, since 2016, has achieved energy self-sufficiency. It is the largest urban photovoltaic roof of ENEL, the power company of Sao Paulo. Third, we regularly develop special projects, such as science fairs, guided by the UN sustainable development agenda, and composting courses at the school farm, where the remains of leaves and also earthworm feces are used to generate organic fertilizer, which are used in our garden.
FV – What is the relationship between technology and the classroom at Liceu Jardim? What elements are used in consonance with the main world institutions?
DBC – At Liceu Jardim, technology is at the service of learning in several areas of knowledge: digital literacy, which involves fundamental skills for the 21st century, such as research; information curation; creation and sharing of digital content; internet security; digital citizenship and communication. To achieve these goals, in line with the leading global institutions and leading countries in education, we have adopted a cross-platform methodology that ensures students’ contact with digital productivity tools, games and the virtual learning environment provided by Google for Education, evaluative activities online with diagnostic reports of performance, gamified platforms aimed at the development of logical-mathematical intelligence and reading skills, as well as projects integrated to the curriculum that allow the gain of knowledge through problem solving through Lego Education kits, as it happens in our Kindergarten, for example.
FV – Still about technology, is there any application where artificial intelligence is explored for educational methods in the institution?
DBC – Yes! Some of the digital platforms adopted by Liceu Jardim have an artificial intelligence system capable of recognizing patterns in students’ rights and wrongs during educational games and online evaluations. On the basis of these patterns, detailed reports on student performance are drawn so that teachers can devise more assertive action plans. On one of the platforms, which focuses on teaching mathematics, the artificial intelligence system leads students with different performances to distinct paths on a digital exercise trail, allowing error handling and customizing the learning experience.
FV – Does the institution provide students with extracurricular courses in addition to regular program content?
DBC – In addition, the school also offers extra-classes in technology and culture maker courses, promoting special actions like the project Be Amazing on the Internet (Google and Safernet), aimed at digital security; the BBC Micro:Bit experimental programming course, a highly successful initiative in the UK that already reaches over 1.5 million students; and our Engenhoteca, which functions as a sort of school of inventions, seeking to awaken and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship since elementary education.
Jorge Fabbro: He is part of the coordination team of the Liceu Jardim, where he also teaches some elective courses, such as Law, Oratory and Archeology. He holds a PhD in Archeology from USP [Brazil], a Master of Arts from Andrews University (USA), a Bachelor of Laws from UNISA, President of ABAMO Brazilian Association of Eastern Mediterranean Archeology and Associate Researcher from LABECA Laboratory of Ancient City Studies at the Museum of Archeology and Ethnology of USP.