Welcome to Ojalá Niños
To be a model for extra-curricular education in rural communities in México for children of all ages, using art, music and literacy in a space for learning that inspires creativity and develops critical thinking skills and self-confidence
To help the children expand these activities into cooperative businesses for sustainability
To have the vision to create projects that will offer solutions to environmental, health and social justice issues in their own communities
Ojala Niños provides children of all ages in the Otomí indigenous rural community of San Miguel Viejo access to free daily classes in the arts, music, literacy, health, environment, computer technology, social consciousness and ethics, and many other essential and delightful activities.
This unique program is inspired by Albert Einstein’s words:
"I don’t teach my students. I give them a place to learn!”
The program offers alternative educational opportunities 5 afternoons a week, year round, at no charge. We provide space, materials, ideas and guidance as the principle focus for turning curiosity into exploration, discovery and learning. We emphasize the importance of social service and social justice in order to develop critical thinking skills, self confidence and sustainable work ethics.
These skills prepare the children of Ojalá Niños to take their rightful place in the local, national and international economic order.
Other professionals and organizations offer special projects, trainings and field trips that greatly expand their awareness beyond what they see every day. Providing this expanded view of the world prepares each child to understand the complex issues facing the planet and to make informed decisions in their best interest and the interest of future generations.
The programs of Ojala Niños A.C. offer an alternative to the learning model used in most public and private schools. It is “A Place for Learning” providing space, materials, ideas and guidance. This environment stimulates the integral processes in human beings that lead to the desire for life-long learning.
The three ideas that form the composite of the learning person are:
CURIOSITY: is the engine for learning in all beings. It is the force from the first days of life that leads to exploration, leading to discovery, leading to learning.
In our earliest days, curiosity requires guidance from older beings for safety. That guidance is called “teaching” in traditional education and usually implies a subtle level of authority over the learner. In the place-for-learning model learners are given the freedom to exercise curiosity.
SOCRATIC DIALOGUE: is simply the arts of questioning and conversing.
The most learned amongst us engage in this process, but it is also a delightful exercise with young children! The human mind becomes immediately engaged when a question is asked. It is like a light switch. “What do you think?” “What do you see?” “What did you hear?” All simple questions but producing profound thoughts that resonate in the learner. Dialogue requires two voices but can be expanded to include a group conversing about a question that has been posed. This is always a lively happening and inspires the desire for more such experiences.
THE CIRCLE: has been the physical form of human interaction throughout human history.
Our ancient tribal ancestors did not sit in rows to talk with each other or to think about collective problem solving. They did not sit in rows to hear a lecture or view a performance. The circle was the symbol of their interdependence. We still sit ‘around’ a table to share meals, we sit ‘around’ tables for meetings. Some ancestral memories still play out for us.
When children or learners of any age sit in a circle, or move in a circle, each person is very alert because they are seeing everyone else and experiencing a collective energy. Minds are engaged and there is an eagerness to express opinions, feelings or thoughts that are forming. It’s easy to listen to the opinions, feelings and thoughts of others – and participate!
Classes are offered Monday through Friday beginning at 3:00 PM. However, since March 2020 we have not been holding classes due to the Coronavirus pandemic. During this time, the Director of Programs, Omar Rogel and members of the Board of Directors have been evaluating our current programs to validate that the programs offered meet the mission and objectives of Ojalà.
The criteria we use to evaluate our programs is quite simple. First, does the program foster critical thinking at all age levels. Second, does the program enhance the skills of each child in terms of being able to enter and thrive in an ever-growing complex local, national and international economy. Third, does the program fit into our holistic educational model resulting in better prepared individuals to meet the challenges facing our world in the future.
During the program evaluation, we validated that the programs which had been offered prior to the pandemic met the above criteria. We also identified the need for additional programs to augment the current programs. The three new areas for integration into our holistic set of programs are:
Health & Diet
Omar is leading the effort to integrate these topics. Once completed, a new schedule of classes will be offered to maximize the breadth and depth of the offerings while meeting strict safety and health requirements which may be required for the foreseeable future.
Ojalá (Oh - hah - LA) is the word used by millions in Latin America to express a wish, a hope, or a dream. The word itself has an Arabic background, coming to us through multiple cultures and many centuries.