George Lucas Educational Foundation

It's Personal: Chile's San Luis Beltrán School

Students become responsible for their learning by setting their own pace at a school that educates parents as well as children. More to this story.
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It's Personal: Chile's San Luis Beltrán School (Transcript)

Cecilia Quidel, teacher: When this school opened, this was an abandoned area. And there was a great need for a school, because there were few schools in the district. It is a vulnerable neighborhood with low-income families. Since the beginning, personalized education has been part of the school's methodology. Our motto is "Quality education in an impoverished area."

Leslie López, assistant: This school is unique. There is more personal attention than in other schools. Each student learns at his or her own rate. It is important that they are all learning. They do personal work during the first two hours of class. It is called personal work because they take their worksheets, sit down, and look them over. If they have any question, they ask for our help. Everyone studies different things, so the pace of learning is particular to each student.

Cecilia Quidel: When they finish personal work, we all join together to share what we've learned: What did we learn? How did it go? What do we need to work on? How am I doing with my work? Did I push myself enough? Do I need to concentrate more? They become responsible for their own learning.

Student: I was working on subtraction with borrowing.

Cecilia Quidel: Borrowing, was it difficult? No, easy!

Carlos Olivares, coordinator: Personalized education basically gives the students a work plan they decide on. They must complete the work, but they choose their course. We teach them to be responsible and independent by giving them this freedom. They learn organization. They learn study habits. They learn to study without being told to do so. And they feel capable of doing many things and doing them well.

Cecilia Quidel: This school always receives the highest test scores in the district. For the past five years, we've received recognition for academic excellence. More than a methodology inside the classroom, we have a unique perspective on education. The school incorporates the family. Our doors are open to the family. The families feel they are part of the school.

Carlos Olivares: When we began working with the students, we realized it was essential to have family support in order to succeed. Generally, the parents had incomplete basic education. We realized we needed to offer them education. So we implemented the night school program, and we began providing night classes for the parents.

Janet Piña, night school student: I had to work at a young age and leave school. So I grew up and needed to make money. I preferred to work rather than continue school, and time passed me by—until now, because my son has to finish school at night. I signed up for night school this year and go to classes with him. We studied together for tests. We took the college entrance exam together.

Night school teacher: As students, you all have walked a difficult road. It has not been easy.

Janet Piña: It is important for me to finish high school to encourage my children to continue their education. It’s a very important achievement. It was a huge challenge. But, I did it. I did it. And graduation is very special, because I am graduating with my son.

Cecilia Quidel: To be able to implement high-quality education with children and families from this neighborhood always encourages me. Schools like this one make me hopeful about education. I dream about a different kind of education in my country. I dream and believe it is possible that we can do things differently when it comes to education.

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Video Credits

Written, Directed, and Edited by

  • Lauren Rosenfeld


  • Anthony Rauld
  • © 2008
  • The George Lucas Educational Foundation
  • All rights reserved.

Comments (7) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Sarah Mello's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This model is great and very inspirational. I wondered, are students ever given the opportunity to work in groups on their assignments or does all help have to come from an adult? It seems that part of becoming an independent learner is learning how to teach and learn from peers.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi , I would like to say it seems an active learning methodology by giving freedom to selection for the students. I wonder how do you provide a calm classroom environment for study. For instance is there a noise in the class or reckless students who violence the class . How do you keep students to obey the self study time rules within this free model of learning . Is not there any stundents mis behave or have problems to follow the method


Kathy Wagner's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

What an inspiration for all of us. I hope Edutopia continues to follow and report on the success of this school and the students. Well done.

Jorge Monzon's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hello friends

Congratulations on you Chile story. I am interested in finding more information for Hispanic parents. Can you direct me to the right person in Northern California to discuss a potential story on issues that affect our Latino students?

I work in television in Sacramento and you can contact me at 916-698-5268



Phoebe Park's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I worked at San Luis last year as a volunteer in the English department. Being from England myself it was a great experience to see teaching methods used with classes which were often quite large. I can say that this is the most delightful school and I have no doubt it will continue to do great things for Pudahuel.

lucas chavez grille's picture

this education is a inspiration for nex to educator generation cecilia quidel is a very important teacher in chile

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