Learning in and out of school: Portugal style Posted by Irene Spero

Our days were filled with policymaker meetings at the Ministry of Education, in Parliament and private sector leaders. But we were also privileged to see how policy translates into practice in both formal and informal settings.

We visited two schools – one private and one public. College Monte Flor (http://www.monteflor.pt ), a private school, starts with pre school students and goes up to the age of 10. Organized around their vision of “One Child One Future” we saw three year olds learning English and older students fully engaged in technology enriched instruction. At Escola Básica do Parque das Nações (http://www.eseqlx.net/queirosbeta/index.php ), a public school, we were greeted by a group of 9th graders who served as our guides.  Older students demonstrated and explained their robot project and discussed  anticipated improvements. Very impressive!!.

In terms of informal learning we visited The Pavilion Knowledge, Oceanário of Lisboa and Media Lab. Each provides enriching learning for Portuguese students . Opened in 1998, the Oceanário (http://www.oceanario.pt )was the centerpiece of the 1998 World Fair. It is continuously developing new educational activities and impressive displays – and hosts school groups on a regular basis.  The Pavilion of Knowledge – Ciência Viva (http://www.pavconhecimento.pt/home)  is a dynamic interactive science museum featuring hand- on displays. Its school program brings students to the museum for one week – here they can work alongside scientists, conduct experiments in the lab and use the entire museum to delve into specific questions.  Supported by Controlinveste , one of the largest media groups in Portugal, the Media  Lab (http://medialab.dn.pt/) runs workshops offering students the opportunity to work alongside journalists for a day and publish their own newspaper.

Students in Lisbon are certainly fortunate to have these informal learning opportunities available to them.

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