Maria Lujan Tubio and Carol Guedes created a project that stands out for the way it came to life: Casa do Presente is an innovative experimental school co-created by experts along with the students. To design the learning program, students indicated what they would like to learn and what was most important to them.
The complementary education offered at Casa do Presente does not follow the traditional model of schools and is based on individual skills, the development of creative capacity, entrepreneurial vision and self-knowledge. All teachers are volunteers and mentor the students. The practices are built around eight elements of happiness: leisure, intellect, health, financial life, friends / family, work / career and spirituality / love.
Maria and Carol talked to CER about the experience and results of the non-formal education offered at Casa do Presente.
Maria: A very important thing that we took into consideration when designing Casa do Presente was that we needed to be with people who had the same dream as us. And that’s what happened. Professionals offered to help students who, in turn, engaged in the change of education. Then everything happened without effort. We did not hold ourselves back from anything.
Carol: When I heard about Maria’s idea, I wanted to be a part of it immediately. I was young and wanted to have that opportunity. I did not believe the model of education I had studied in and wanted to do so that people could have what I did not have.
M: Love interferes in absolutely everything. One perceives the lack of love, consideration and affection in all things.That was one of the main things students said when they co-created Casa do Presente. They said they lacked love in schools. When you work with something you like and believe in, others understand you and help you improve. That changes everything. People, in general, are disconnected from this kind of care. Relationships need to be redefined, you need to work with love even for those who do not know you. That is life-changing.
C: There is also another challenge regarding this matter in traditional schools: how will you be able to offer something you do not have? There are many educators who are not cared for in institutions. At Casa do Presente we are available to take care, to be cared for and to understand the whole context. We have more than one mediator per class and students study the subjects they chose to. That helps creating empathy.
M: Entrepreneurship has to do with purpose. It takes self-knowledge to find out your life goal, to know who you are, what you already have and what exists in the world. At Casa do Presente, we present this concept to students and help them getting to know themselves through the practices. It happens naturally, without effort. Suddenly, one of them says he wants to start a business. Our team of mentors advises him – without disencouraging the project idea – because we all know that going through the whole process is the most important thing for learning. We try to re-signify failure as part of personal growth and help them along the way. Sometimes we get very surprised.
C: One thing I have learned and that makes me very happy is that entrepreneurship is not necessarily about business. It has to do with being an entrepreneur in life. I have apprentices who do not have a business idea, but they know how to test things, achieve, conquer, take steps, understand self-knowledge and self-management. That is entrepreneuring.
C: Each student is very unique. There is not an answer for everyone. Several apprentices have passed by me and each one responds in a different way and has different needs. One may want to get a job, others know exactly what they want and there are those who are still undecided. At Casa do Presente we understand that it is necessary to have a lot of conversation and listen to what they have to say.
M: We can point out some themes that are most common in their demands. Learning to have emotional intelligence, to share, to identify emotions in themselves and in other people to improve how they relate, to master the art of nonviolent communication and to know more about healthy eating, for example. Each of them has a need and we help them identifying what it is.
M: Carol often says that not everyone has the money to support a project, but that everyone can donate 5% or 10% of their time. If that happens, it is possible to spread the model. It is very important to get people involved so that they can contribute and impact the lives of students.
C: And the benefits of having people helping are not only for the students. In that kind of experience you immediately get something back. It’s an incredible energy that can be helpful to your problems as well. It’s a way of reconnecting to what really matters.
M: Yes. We offer complementary education. That means our students attend other schools in São Paulo, both public and private. They take Casa do Presente with them to these institutions and to their lives. They are multipliers.