Educator and writer born in Bogotá, on August 17, 1889, died in the same city, on November 3, 1975. Founder of the Modern Gymnasium of Bogotá, Agustín Nieto Caballero graduated in Law in 1912 from the University of Paris; he studied philosophy, sociology, and educational sciences at the Sorbonne and the College de France for four years, and psychology at the Teacher College of Columbia University, in New York. When he returned to Colombia in 1914, he met with José María Samper, Tomás Rueda Vargas, Tomás Samper, Ricardo Lleras Codazzi and other freethinkers, in order to give a turn to national education, in such a way that it was consistent with the ideas of María Montessori and Ovidio Decroly, according to which the child is endowed with sufficient strength for self-education and the role of the teacher is to encourage and facilitate this path.
The Modern Gym
Its principles sought the rescue of human values and the exercise of personality (objective of the liberal ideas of the time), where the school, only the school is capable of ensuring a real and definitive independence. Based on these ideas, Nieto Caballero founded the Modern Gymnasium of Bogotá, where he made a notable contribution to the development and growth of the country. Many of the graduates of the Modern Gymnasium have taken an active part in the public and intellectual life of Colombia. There the famous school box days were held, which consisted of breakfasts and clothes for children from public schools. But Nieto Caballero was also concerned about the education of women, and he demonstrated it by founding, in 1928, the Female Gymnasium in Bogotá. As an educator and a man of letters, he participated in numerous events.
In 1931 he attended as a delegate from Colombia to the International Press Congress in Madrid; later he was the country’s delegate to the League of Nations between 1931 and 1934; he was appointed Director General of Education from 1932 to 1936; guest of honor at the World Congress of Education in England in 1936; and he chaired the V International Conference on Public Instruction in Geneva that same year. We cannot fail to mention among his activities having been the president of the country’s Delegation to the VIII American Scientific Congress, in Washington in 1940; and the Latin American representation at the International Conference on Education at the University of Michigan, in 1941. From 1938 to 1941, Nieto Caballero directed the National University of Colombia, and in recognition of his work he was appointed Colombian ambassador to Chile in the following two years. . He returned to the country and ran the Chair of Education Guidance at the Higher School and at the National Pedagogical Institute. He traveled several times as an invited lecturer at universities in London, Paris and Athens. He was a member of the National Council of Education and director of the Colombian delegation to the World Conference of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1947.