Transforming public education is possible. Escola Municipal Desembargador Amorim Lima, in São Paulo, is an example: in 2017, it was considered the second school in the world ranking of innovation Edumission, promoted by the company Education Cities.
Founded in 1956, the school had other names until it was named Amorim Lima. But the biggest change in its history happened in 2003, when the institution abolished grades, exams and even classrooms walls. The changes were led by the principal Ana Elisa Siqueira, whose mission was to combat students and teachers discouragement and desired to involve the students in the pedagogical proposal and bring the school closer to the community.
With the help of a commission made up of parents and students and the inspiration of Escola da Ponte, in Portugal, the changes took shape little by little. Since then, students have gained more autonomy over the school curriculum and can choose what they want to learn each week. The classrooms gave way to two classrooms where students of different ages, including those with some kind of physical or intellectual disability, are divided into groups of five to work collaboratively.
Teachers act as mentors and evaluate students by monitoring activities. Among other initiatives, the school also focused on valuing Brazilian culture, including parents and family members in school activities, and partnering with other institutions – such as USP – to offer classes in Greek, Latin and physics experiments for children.
Watch Ana Elisa Siqueira speech at TED Talks with more details about the experience at EMEF Amorim Lima.