Reflection of the Principal for a better society.
For a long period of time, humanity took its interest in everything that contributed to people being filled with content and information and thus becoming more intelligent. Psychology maintained its scientific interest on how to measure it, and philosophers debated the rationality and irrationality of human acts. In the final decades of the twentieth century, Daniel Goleman introduced the concept of emotional intelligence and with it a strong boost was given to other explanations about what is truly important to develop in human beings. In the 21st century, virtues focused on the study of theorists such as Seligman and Peterson and from them are derived the strengths of character which are fundamental to predict school success. The aforementioned authors highlight a series of virtues and derived strengths that they found when studying traditions and religions of the East and West. Of all those that are mentioned, I want to focus on one virtue: humanity:
What makes us supposedly superior to Homo sapiens is the humanity we have. We say that we are humanists because we exalt the liberal arts and through the permanent search for beauty and the truth that it entails, we approach the emotions that are common to all. Likewise, we call ourselves humanists because we put the man, as Protagoras would remind us, as “the measure of all things.”
Our humanity makes us affectionate, kind, respectful, and socially intelligent. We always need to go back to that. In an increasingly standardized society that lives at the speed of information and networks, a society that also lives in the middles of the crises of democracies and a global pandemic; at the end of the day going back to that virtue and those values is our only salvation from this moral and social crisis that we live.
If all this is true, and this is demonstrated by Seligman and Peterson in their studies with young people, then the primary purpose of the school should be to train children and young people in these strengths of character. Nowadays many individuals state that new generations are made of “glass” because according to them they are fragile to any difficulty or frustration. We see many students confused and disappointed on a daily basis. So our challenge is bigger. We must be able to accompany them not only in their academic and personal training but we must prepare them to develop those character strengths that will help them defend themselves and be citizens with high goals, aware of their limits, capable of understanding failures and the true proportion of triumphs in an increasingly hostile and difficult world.
That is why, in the Gimnasio Moderno, thanks to the enthusiasm and leadership of our beloved Vice Principal, Juan Sebastián Hoyos, teachers have been working for several years on how to develop each of these character strengths in all the student community.
This is a very special moment in our history and one that will undoubtedly impact the lives of us and our students forever. In addition to sharing a universal tragedy with a pandemic that confined us and changed our lives, in the streets there are mobilizations and social outbreaks that also affect us and make us reflect about our role in society. Our students will forever bear the mark of this strange and controversial time, and that is the moment on which teachers must be more inspiring than ever: The post-pandemic Colombia will have to rebuild on the basis of a civilized dialogue and tolerance for those ideas that we do not share. If we want our young people to inhabit a fairer and more equitable Colombia, as also a better, kind, inclusive and diverse world, we must be that teacher that we always wanted to be, imitating those that encouraged us in our lives for a good purpose and avoid these new generations to become the generations of fear and confinement.
I strongly believe that the answer is back in the classroom. Dedicating as much effort and time as possible to understand that in an education that strengthens the self-esteem of the children and young people of Colombia, there will be the future of a nation that honors its humanity, enjoys the joy and good disposition of its inhabitants and imagines a social agreement that eradicates forever the violence and inequality that suffocates us and fills us with despair. Only then can we look to the future with optimism.
Víctor Alberto Gómez Cusnir.