The Future of Education

After almost 8 months here in Maxwell School, I now have a clear idea of it works; what the program expect from students, and how far we can be shot away into greatness. As you know, it’s the first public administration school in the country, and the number one for 21 consecutive years.

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After studying Communications in Peru and International studies in Barcelona,  I can say that, even while quality is hard to measure, this program is clearly more demanding and asks for more participation. Stating that Barcelona was more relaxed than Peru, while not as academically rigorous, it gave me the freedom to explore deeper some particular topics.

So, during my time here I have been thinking, not only about teaching styles, but about how education can help you to achieve all your working goals. We can think about how people like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg dropped out school and achieved so much, while every serious research says that higher education is the safest investment you can make.

Going to the root of the problem, some assure that is not about schools, but how some schools build their teaching styles. For Sir Ken Robinson, education is still the model made up for industrial needs two centuries ago. Where you should only be good in what you are told: stigmatizing other capacities that challenge the status quo.

Let’s think about Finland, how a couple of decades ago was only one more northern European country in terms of education, and now is one of the best in the world, competing with Asian countries and spending less time studying. The secret of Finland is no longer a mystery; they make students enjoy school. Malcom Gladwell said about success: “Nothing happens without desire and passion. Otherwise, nothing else falls in place.”

Furthermore, Finland is taking things to a whole new level. They want to change their system, taking out school subjects and instead having challenges to achieve, where students will need to use cross-subject knowledge, and their personal abilities as team members. A Sen learning say: “The obstacle is the path.”

This is a very important issue, there’s an analogy attributed to Einstein that says: if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. That’s how Howard Gardner came up with the theory of Multiple-intelligences, which is now the most respected by the scientific community: Linguistic, Logical/mathematical, Visual/spatial, Musical, Bodily kinaesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalist. Ask yourself which one’s you master.

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In my opinion, this approach should be considered also for higher education, as in the real-world teams are built up by people with different abilities that complement each other. This is also the case of institutions and companies that are seeking shareholders to improve their overall impact and be more effective with resources. Moreover, critical thinking and creativity should also be more emphasized, as they keep organizations ahead in the marketplace, and can really achieve the changes we want in the world.

For most respected researchers, the future of administration will be based on psychology and leadership: how to understand others, and how take out the best of them. While the future of public administration seems a little blurrier as there are challenging ideological positions. For me, will be about how to be adaptable in this everchanging environment, with all its new possibilities. Considering science, empowerment of the poor, and partnerships with other actors that could bring solutions to achieve a sustainable development for nations.

While Maxwell School is not the perfect place to study (and any place will be), I can say that is one of the best, and you will find your own reasons why. What I can tell you is that you will be defied from the very start, not only to challenge what others said before you, but to challenge yourself.

Here you could find: Some of the best Professors available always ready to guide you. Intrinsic institutional values based on reshaping the world for a better society. Interaction with some of the brightest people from all around the world, that carry those same values.

We should never underestimate the power of connections, as it’s what this world is made of, and nothing is more important than what motivates us to achieve our goals.

Think about Maxwell if you feel prepared to make a real impact in the world.

Isn’t that why we are all here?

Socrates said: “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”


Trump: What can we learn from his election?

It has been a month since the election and many of us are trying to be more understandable of Trump’s supporters. Most of all, we must begin to consider what this means for public servants and what should change in order to fulfill the claims of voters.

One thing is clear, most of us in Maxwell did not support him because of his bigotry. Moreover, some anti-Trump voters compared him with Hitler, on how he said some of the same things than Trump in campaign: He promised to make Germany (America) great again, he proposed mass deportations, he said Jews (Muslims) should wear special ID’s, he blamed Jews (Mexicans) for country’s problems.

Beyond this, there are many reasons why Trump was elected, considering the perceptions of the average voter. First, people want a change, they are not satisfied with the current political system. Therefore, as a political outsider Trump seems more inclined to tell the truth. That is how he is going to investigate Hilary for the 33,000 erased mails, showing why things were nor working as people wanted.

For the average voter, USA is the first world power and should show it. There is the perception that Trump takes what he wants and does not kowtow to foreign weaklings. That he will bring back jobs from China, Japan, and Europe, that selfish multinationals took away from US citizens. Moreover, they want security, and they think that Trump will be tougher with ISIS, and for that he will ally with Putin to crush it faster and better.

Moreover, as a business savvy they think that he will ensure that the country do not continue to pile up debt. While Obama, whose justice beliefs dictate his actions that are geared toward wealth redistribution, Trump is more about wealth creation and personal drive to accumulation. So, he doesn’t buy into the victim mentality: where you’re only entitled to make someone of yourself if you’re a victim with a hard-luck story.


Going back to reality, we can say that some of these issues are illusory, or at least uncertain, but surprisingly others are not. So, I will try to see the bright side of the road, instead of complaining, since time machines are not ready yet. Is not just that Unites States may not be ready for a woman president, is that the Clintons currently represent the geopolitical status quo, and most people is tired of this.

Sadly, anyone knows what Trump really represents, but he shows himself as opposed to globalization, denouncing that it is killing the middle class. He also said that he will take out United States from the NAFTA and the TPP, because for him is a deadly blow for the national manufacturing industry. To the point that in the last 15 years more than 60,000 factories had to close, losing 5 million jobs.

He is showing himself as a true nationalist, but this is not necessarily good, at the point that we can find some resemblances from Hugo Chavez on him if we look closely enough, with obvious differences of course. In this same line, Trump said that he will ban foreign lobbyists fundraising for US elections. Some may even say that he is against the one-world government that Denis Healey, a Bilderberg club (whose members are the 100+ most powerful individuals in the world) founder, described as a single community in 2001. Trump also criticized George Soros in more than one opportunity, who is believed to support Clinton’s campaign with more than $10 million, and before this by her foundation. In addition, he said that he will rise the taxes for hedge funds managers with the restoration of the Glass-Steagall law.

Regardless of how good this could be, Trump (at least based on what he said) is more focused in the economic wealth of his own voters, and this is something that some local social movements understood well. I can imagine what a low middle-class worker could think if they see illegal immigrants taking their jobs away by working for less than minimum salary, it is just not fair.

I am not defending Trump, for now I do not even believe him, I am just saying that some things he said make sense. He represents less politicking and more action, a fresh approach that can be summarized with his phrase: “get things done.” While Trump is designating CEO’s and Generals as officials, Wall street shows its historical maximum because of the optimism that woke up the proposed domestic economic stimulus and the reduction of corporative taxes and regulations: on the first week of December Dow Jones rose 65,19 points.

As I said before, most of us in Maxwell are not happy with the results, but what we should do now is try to focus in what can be done. And above all, try to figure out what can be learned from what happened.

Along with the big picture dynamics, as public servants we should try to get closer to people, to understand what they really need, and what they think about government. Before someone comes and takes advantage of their frustration with more promises than they could handle. We cannot forget that people is not only rational but emotional

Moreover, it is also important to realize that we should not aim only for civic ideals, but for specific solutions for what is really happening. It is a two-way street in which we should not only try to give citizens what the need, but interact with them to figure out together why do they have that needs, or why do they want something else. Showing them what the government can do, why, and what the government should expect from them, rephrasing Obama and Kennedy.

This is how we could aim for and effective government without losing our values, that are the only thing that can guarantee, along with hard work, a sustainable development. It is about trying to bring the best of us, instead of the worst, to get the improvements that we want.

Beyond Trump

Last Tuesday was the Election Day and as you all know Trump won against all odds. Maybe because his voters were more compromised to go and vote, or maybe because they felt uncomfortable to say out loud their choice before elections. As an international student, I am not the most suitable person to talk about this, but I consider that this same status give me an outsider view that could also be valuable.

I remember watching the debates and the elections in a big screen at the campus, people were really excited, some worried, others amused, but mostly committed. Through rigorous analysis, insights, jokes, and debate I can say that the atmosphere was thrilling and kind of inspiring. Although the political debate was based sometimes not on initiatives but in attacks, dumbing down the interchange of ideas, this is the election where people in every country have a position. In one-way or another, most of the eyes in the world were put in this election as we are talking about the first world power, with its flaws and its strengths.


Here in Maxwell most of the students were supporting Hillary, not because she was an ideal candidate, even though she presented enough credentials to do the job, but because Trump was worse, at least according to them, and me (maybe biased because of our public servant inclination). There are many things to say against her, as to almost every leader in the world, regardless their country of origin. But when we talk about Trump, as much as how phenomenal business and showman he could be, we just cannot see in him a real commitment for people but for power. It’s not just about what he says (as he chameleonically changes scripts), or about his political ideology, not even because of the particular policies that he proposed (with a few exceptions, of course). It’s about the bigotry and the intolerance that characterizes him as a person, turning by fear people’s nonconformity into hostility, creating more division.

Maybe USA is not ready for a woman president, or maybe is just raising its voice against the political status quo. The truth is that, whichever tip of the iceberg that you want to choose at the end, this is kind of an auto-imposed challenge for the country, with all the positive and negative outcomes that could bring.

Here in Maxwell, people have strong beliefs in social development and equality, that doesn’t mean that they are against efficiency and productivity. This feeling can be felt in every corner, from the professors to students, every quote on the wall and every statue are saying in one way or another that in order to achieve greatness we must be one single fist, unbreakable.

Wednesday morning I saw a few tears, but I also read some great posts in social media from local classmates, where they present themselves, as they are, Republicans or Democrats. Saying how they are going to deal with this. Saying how this is not the time for complains or regrets, but to fight for what they believe, today more than ever before. These are the future public servants, who make me think that this country could not only have a promising future but a promising present as them, and people like them right now in office, are going to defend the values that this school promotes.