Carlos Andres Castro studied in a rural primary public school in Chia, Colombia until he was 13 years old, when his vision was affected by glaucoma. He then attended a school for children with vision impairment. In three years he learned Braille in addition to the normal curriculum for his school age. Carlos then returned to regular high school although his condition did not allow him to study as other children did. Carlos was extremely shy, but when the school adopted a new pedagogical personalized learning model – FRE, new horizons opened for him.
The FRE learning model taught him autonomy, self-esteem, how to search for information, and how to argue effectively and discuss solutions with his classmates. Through his classmates’ support and the guidance of his teachers, Carlos was elected student representative to the Board of Directors at his high school. Carlos evolved into a leader through the support of other young people of his own age who learned to ignore his vision impairment and focus on his contributions and potential.
If we are to transform education, we must concentrate on developing each student’s natural talents, as well as his or her personal and socio-emotional competencies. Educators guide students, allowing them to be the main drivers of their own learning process. With the award-winning FRE pedagogy model, each student is assessed on their knowledge, interests and abilities and given a personalized learning plan based on that assessment, allowing them to work according to their own unique learning rhythm.
The individualized plan and relational learning method engage students, who find meaning in their education and do not drop out of school. Students must achieve excellence on every topic, thus no student fails the year. FRE creates an environment that allows students to work with their educator one-on-one. Our experience demonstrates that students finish their entire grade curriculum an average of 10 percent faster while maintaining level of excellence. FRE has excellence as its constant, and time as a variable, thus sustaining better outcomes.
Because students work on an Individualized Learning Plan accompanied by their educators in a one-on-one relationship, they are trained to work as researchers throughout their primary, elementary, and high school education years. Autonomy benefits students in their academic and future lives, significantly increasing their chances to succeed post high school. The skills developed give students the opportunity to create their own jobs, work experiences, and/or businesses.
FRE is called “relational” education because students move to the next topic in all subject areas only when they are able to “relate” everything they learn to their daily lives, increasing knowledge retention and their chances to succeed academically, developing true cognitive skills.
A personalized learning increases the success rate because it focuses on developing the specific potential of each student and creates a path for a life-long learning experience. It reflects what the word education really means from Latin: "to bring out from within." Students practice every day, for 12 years, to achieve excellence in everything they do, to never leave gaps and always find meaning in what they learn. This will be reflected in their adult lives making them better professionals, better family members, and better citizens. The quality of their lives is directly linked to their relationship with the world.
FRE develops key 21st century skills that enable students to perform well in the global world. Entrepreneurship skills are naturally developed and practiced during their academic experience:
- Autonomy: Students are supported by educators on the development of their intellectual and personal autonomies.
- Solution of Real-World Problems: Student’s work is based on constantly solving problems of their lives and their communities.
- Planning: Students plan their hourly and daily schedules, in agreement with their educators and respecting their Student Learning Plan.
- Effectiveness: Students develop the ability to search for resources, manage the various available tools, and administration of their own time.
–Critical Thinking: Students build processes from questions.
- Decision Making: Students decide on various elements of their working plan.
- Responsibility and Accountability: Students learn to accept consequences of their own decisions.
- Leadership: Students join others in a proactive and daily activity, supporting the community in their “expertise.”
- Excellence: Students must achieve excellence to move to the next topic and grade level.
- Creativity: It is the only path to answer questions.
- Relevant Learning: The development of individual potential is achieved through personalized Student Learning Plans.
- Technology Enabled: Students use technology as the main learning tool and are opened to the world.
- Collaboration: Students work requires peers and educators to reach excellence.
By practicing every day in everything students do, these skills become a natural way of living.