This profile was prepared when Mauricio Wild was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
Mauricio Wild's philosophy challenges the traditional meaning of teaching: rather than adults feeding prescribed information to children, teachers should provide opportunities for learning. In 1982, he founded the Pestalozzi Educational Foundation to provide an institutional framework for his educational philosophy. Since that time he has established an alternative model that has spread by force of its attractiveness.In contrast to the fixed curriculum and rote methodology typical in Ecuador's public education, the Pestalozzi School has no pre-set course of study. The classroom is only one of many tools students can use; teachers redefine their roles to be facilitators and coaches. A child's fascination with bicycles could stimulate questions like: What would you have to know to build it? How do the gears shift? The bicycle could become the basis for study of geometry, accounting, transportation, historyeven apprenticeship in a bicycle shop. Many educators have stressed the need for innovation, including Johann Pestalozzi, a 19th-century Swiss educational reformer, Montessori, Piaget, Thomas Kuhn and Humberto Maturana, to whom Mauricio often refers. One distinguishing characteristic of Mauricio's education alternative is his determination to weave it into Ecuadorian society. Despite the fact that it is almost completely alien to Ecuadorian education officials, through Mauricio's dogged efforts the Pestalozzi model has secured accreditation up to the secondary level. Further, he has addressed the problem of how people can pay for Pestalozzi in a poor country. Mauricio has developed an economic strategy based on barter and interest-free loans: within Ecuador's overall capitalist system, he has created local cooperatives that support his schools and strengthen community interaction.