Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Juana Manso (1819-75)

We,educators, are not utopian. We know that social levelling is impossible, since money will always divide men into classes’
Juana Manso (1819-75)was born in Agentina and as an educator she had two main concerns: that education in all its dimensions should reach women (and vice versa) and that it should not to be dogmatic Catholic education.
She was the initiator of a movement for coeducation as a method based on the recognition of equality between men and women. Also, she was one of the first women concerned about children’s rights.
Schools with progressive methodologies
. Manso complained that in Argentina the teaching profession was exercised in a humiliating fashion. Because of that, she sent to the Legislature of the Province of Buenos Aires a bill for an Organic Law for Common Education in which she asked for professionalism, appropriate salaries with periodic increases, and so on.
She proposed educating children in keeping with their nature. To do so, she proposed dividing childhood into four periods: the first, attention and observation; the second, attention and comparison; the third period for exercising memory; and the last one for applying the imagination.
Maria Montessori once said ’teaching through the paths of joy and love makes learning enjoyable.’ Juana did believe in that saying and she also, as Montessori did, encouraged teaching through play.
She was buried in the English cemetery. Friar Junior proposed the following epitaph: ‘Here lies an Argentine woman who, in the midst of the night of indifference that enveloped the country, preferred to be buried among foreigners rather than defile the sanctuary of her conscience
For more go to

Monday, December 17, 2007

Rosario Vera Peñaloza

As a final assignment for School Management, we were to find out something about an educator in Argentina that made the difference. While doing my research, I found out about Rosario Vera Peñaloza. It was really hard to summarize or focus just on some aspects of her life so as to make it fit in the blog (as we all know, an entry should not be too extensive), because she led a very motivating life. Just to mention a few things about her:

  • She was born in Atiles, Valle de Malezán, La Rioja on 25th December 1873
  • She was orphan when she was a child and her maternal aunt was the one who brought her up and taught them her first letters.
  • She founded the Kindergarten attached to Escuela Normal from La Rioja.
  • She toured through the country encouraging popular teaching to transmit new techniques for teaching and found libraries.
  • She created the subject on folklore studies to keep the national character in a country with lots of immigrants.
  • Not only did she follow Froebel’s and Montessori’s principles, but she also studied, compared and adapted them to the reality of Argentina.
  • She placed a lot of importance on children using their hands as a way of activating the brain and expressing themselves.
  • She died on 28th May in 1950 and from then on, to pay homage to her, the National Kindergarten Day was installed.

As you can see, there were many things this wonderful teacher did and maybe we do not know about her as much as we should. Lots of teachers have made a difference and there will be many more in the future and that is why we need to think and investigate about their lives. They worked hard to leave a mark on students, colleges and people in general, and maybe it is time we start learning from them.

María Lorena Recio

P.S. By clicking here you can go to another blog to read a poem that is really good about teachers making the difference

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cecilia Braslavsky (1952-2005)

She was an intellectual, but above all, an educator. As the daughter of a school teacher, and since the apple does not fall that far from the tree, she devoted her life to the betterment and quality of education in Latin America.

She was an avid researcher, and in the year 2000 she became the first Argentinean woman to run the International Bureau of Education of UNESCO. During her term she tried to raise awareness in Europe of the particular needs of Latin American countries.

Throughout her life she wrote a great amount of papers. Unfortunately, I have not read all her work, but I have to say that the first one I read was an interesting piece of research. Diez estrategias para promover la calidad de la educación en un mundo en movimiento (2004) is a monograph that summarizes in ten "simple" items the necessary factors to guarantee a better education in this day and age. Dealing with issues ranging from the sense of belonging of those involved in the educational process, to the importance of teamwork among different institutions, to criticizing the way in which the quality of education is controlled.

The topics are presented simply, and seem appeal to common sense, but someone once said that this is the least common of all senses. I agree. Many people know what it takes to do things right, but they can never get those who have the power to do it... to do it. She has appealed to those in power in several international Congresses and has presented her ideas to people who will carry on with her legacy. Her struggle for the improvement of the educational possibilities in Latin America has crossed the boundaries of continents and cultures trying to bring about a better future for students.

For a brief biography and detail of her life's work, I have included a link at the end of this entry (see Interesting links). I hope you take the time to read through it, and learn more about one of the many people who, still after they are gone, produce a lasting impression on their field and a desire to better the best of possibilities.

Interesting Links:

- Homenaje a Cecilia Braslavsky. (Número especial de la Revista Electrónica Iberoamericana sobre Calidad, Eficacia y Cambio en Educación (REICE), por Inés Dussel)http://www.sc.ehu.es/sfwseec/cecilia.htm

- C. Braslavsky, Diez estrategias para promover la calidad de la educación en un mundo en movimiento (2004). http://www.fundacionsantillana.org/Contenidos/Publicaciones/SemanaMonografica/Ponencias/XIX/ponencias_19.htm#- In memoriam of Cecilia Braslavsky. UNESCO.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento

I can see the ideas of Sarmiento in the very existence of the school in our country. I think that is fundamental for a country to educate its people no matter what class or religion they belong. Education is the base for everything (though politicians prefer a non-educated society to be able to domain it easily). As a teacher-to-be, I would like to respect each culture and make no difference among my students for them to learn about equal opportunities, and help them build their self confidence as well as their intelligence.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Rousseau's impressions

What impressed me most about Roussea's ideas is that he argued that what the educator needs to do is to facilitate opportunities for learning. As a teacher, I would like to act as a helper in the child's educational process, paying attention to the student's environment, because their families and interests are involved in the process. I would like to invite their parents to some classes in order for them to see how their children work at school. Also I would include topics related to my students' interests.

I also thought it is interesting tha Rousseau divided development into five stages. To me, this concept means that teachers should take into account these physical and psychological stages, in accordance with the students' ages and needs, for example, the material used and the topics and activities developed in the classroom. As I have been studying in developmental Psychology, Piaget said: "the developing cognitive understanding is built on the interaction between the child and the things which can be observed, touched, and manipulated. Besides, if students are not particularly interested in them, the class will be boring for them, and consequently the students lose interest about learning the language.

In conclusion, I believe Rousseau influenced my teaching because I try to pay attention to my students' interests, needs and ages also I try to plan my lessons according to these concepts.


Thursday, September 27, 2007


Montessori Method is characterized by an emphasis on self-directed activity on the part of the child and clinical observation on the part of the teacher, who plays the role of a guide. It stresses the importance of adapting the child's learning environment to his developmental level, and of the role of physical activity in absorbing academic concepts and practical skills; children learn through discovery, so didactic materials that are self-correcting are used as much as possible.

I have seen some of the ideas advocated by Maria Montessori regularly applied in pre-school years, when the teacher shows different materials to the students, teaches them how to manipulate them and then each child, together with these “instructions”, lets their imagination fly. I have also seen this kind of prepared environment for the children in which the size of the furniture is in accordance with the size of the children. And a couple of times I´ve experienced specific procedures related to my Chemistry classes in secondary school that helped me to understand some concepts by seeing them concretely, but they were like exceptions rather than a whole plan to integrate different topics.

As a teacher-to-be, I would like to try everything I have read about the Montessori Method, but one of the areas that has interested me the most was farming. The way in which the students get involved with elements of farming as an economic enterprise so that they can start being aware of the mechanics of society. This was really interesting for me because it has a direct connection to reality and at the same time the children can be in contact with nature, which in some cases is something unusual. I also like the way the method integrates different areas such as the arts, sciences, geography, history, and language; and the use of concrete material to represent mathematical concepts. I was also surprised to see the interest that the children showed in doing the activities and how they seemed to enjoy learning without knowing they are doing so. So I would like to be able to give them freedom to choose their work from among the self-correcting materials and be there to guide them through the process of learning without any pressure.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Teaching for freedom

In my experience, the ideas suggested by Freire are not often seen at schools today. What I mean is tha most teachers seem to work individually, without taking into account the learnes' own ideas and thougths. It seems to me that many teachers today are not really concerned about creating a will in their students to express themselves and give their opinions.
As a teacher to be, I would like to appy Freire's ideas, because I think it is very important to reduce learners' oppression; and to educate strong future adults, or already adult people who will not be ignorant anymore.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Maria Montessori

Montessori's method reminds me of my days at kindergarten. As in Montessori's schools, my classroom was arranged according to subjects (cooking, housekeeping, gardening, and a reading corner). Apart from that, we were always free to move around the room isntead of sitting at desks. And there was no limit to how long we could work on something we had chosen.
As a teacher-to-be, I think this is a good method for our educational needs. The Montessori method is philosophically and practically different from other educational methods, and also very different from my personal educational experience, but I'd like to do my best to apply it. I'd like to teach my students how to respect individual differences, and to emphasize education as a way of seing children as they really are. One of the ideas I have in mind when I remember her method is the calm of the environment where children can work with activities of their own choice. Finally, the most important thing about this method is it gives us the opportunity to help children self-construct their minds and personalities.

Contributed by Mariana Fernández

Friday, September 14, 2007

Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator. His first years paralleled those of the great depression and he became aware of the problems of the world around him, since many of his friends lived in extreme poverty.
He believed that the role of the educator was to enable students to analyse the world around them and to see themselves as able to transform it. Freire was concerned with teaching reading and writing to illiterate adults so that they could have a voice and accept responsabilty for social change.
Freire's ideas were revolutionaire and I really like the fact that he made use of those experiences that are relevant to the student, like everyday situations, making the process of learning more likely to take place. His ideas are a great inspiration for teachers. I think that his ideas can cause revolutionary changes in people's points of view about society and about the world. I believe that he reminds us that education is not objective and that we, as teachers, can give more from ourselves than what is usually expected and make our contribution to a fairer society. Even though I have never seen Freire's ideas applied at school, I would like to put them into action if I ever have the chance.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Domingo F. Sarmiento

Domingo F. Sarmiento was an Argentinean president in the late 1800s. He travelled to different countries in Europe and to the United States studying their educational systems. His educational policies included opening non-secular, public schools for everyone as a means to create one uniform society.
For him education was the way to form prolific citizens as he believed education to be the way to improve the country’s economy. Both the government and the people were to work together to develop the country’s situation as a whole, not just its economy.
He believed that the maximum emphasis should be made in primary schools as for him children were the citizens and workers of tomorrow.
As a teacher-to-be I would like to incorporate into my lessons Sarmiento’s idea that everyone is entitled to be educated. No matter how young, old, rich or poor everyone has the right to be educated, especially as this opens doors to the improvement of their selves and their professional lives.
L@U F.S.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Maria Montessori

Having read about Maria Montessori, I know that her method is very different from the ideas applied at some Argentina´s schools. One of the reasons can be tha way the classroom is organized or the amount of students in each classroom, which sometimes makes things more difficult.

But I find that Montessori method marks similarities with Argentina kindergartens, where classes are not as structured as the ones at primary or high school.

Having looked at the photographs at Montessori sites, I remember the way children sit at kindergarten, the table at which they can interact and share different experiences. They absorb what is in the environment, where the things they learn are forever and true for them.

Another point of similarity is that parents are closer than at any other stage at school. They are really involved and volunteers of any situation. The Montessori method recognizes parents as a child´s first and most influencial teachers so that teacher and parents join together to facilitate the education of the learners.

As a teacher-to-be, I find this method especially interesting. I think it will be enjoyable for the learners and for me too, because they learn through personal experiences and concrete situations. In this way, it is easier to acquire knowledge because they do not know they are learning but they are enjoying coming to school and being part of it.

Maria Montessori said:
"We must help the child to act for himself, will for himself, think for
himself; this is the art for those who aspire to serve the spirit."

As a teacher -to-be this is one of the ideas I want to keep in mind when teaching a learner.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Sarmiento and his educational system

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento was an Argentine educator, man of state and writer. He was president of Argentina from 1868 to 1874 and he traveled extensively to learn about educational experiences.
Sarmiento´s ideas were quite interesting since he wanted to make a change at those days. Although his educational system was more related to the country’s progress rather than building equality among people, he wanted a society to cooperate with his plan: to educate people so as to improve the country’s economic situation.
He wanted people and the government to work together taking their responsibilities. To me, this idea should be also taken into account because
I think that if we want to improve, each of us should cooperate and do what we have to with responsibility, without forgetting that we all form part of the same country or society, which without help and cooperation wouldn’t go ahead.
As a teacher-to-be, I would like to reflect in my lessons what Sarmiento thought about children: that they are the basis of a country’s development.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Born to educate

Click on the image to enjoy a slideshow on Calasanz's life- in Spanish.
Make sure your speakers are on, not to miss the wonderful background music!

This year I've started working for a Scolopi school. If you'd asked me about the Scolopi (or Piarists) just one year ago, I'm afraid I would have been clueless... shame on me! Not just thinking of me as a Catholic teacher (though being a Catholic, I'd never worked for a religious school before, you know). I'm actually thinking of all Argentinian teachers.

Let's begin at the beginning. You may be unaware that their founder (St. Joseph Calasanz - aka Calasanza and Calasanctius) has been proclaimed "protector of all State primary and secondary schools" in Argentina ( National Law Nº 13 633/49). If there was general agreement on the importance of his contribution for our educators then, I wonder, how come his figure has gradually vanished from the curricula at Teacher's Training Colleges to the point of my never having heard about him in all my years at schools and training colleges?

This "teacher of teachers", as Calasanz has often been called, opened (back in November 1597) the first public free school in Europe. He worked all throughout his life to teach children in general, and poor children in particular. I've heard he discovered his calling to educate the underprivileged as he walked around some of the poorest neighbourhoods in Rome. I can't help thinking he would feel but quite the same if he walked around Buenos Aires, my city, today... He was, nevertheless, quite optimistic about the power of education:
if from the time they are of tender age the children are instilled with piety and the arts, one can expect, beyond all manner of doubt, a happy tenor their whole life through" (Constitutions of 1622, n. 2 - as cited by J.Ma. Lecea)

Piety AND Arts. An education in values PLUS the access to information. At times where many equated "teaching" with "instruction", this visionary grasped an unquestioned truth today (at least in principle): "to educate" does not merely mean "to transmit knowledge"; education is what makes us (both learners and teachers) human.

Joseph Calasanz was born exactly 450 years ago. Four centuries ago, he gave a step that would influence worlwide education forever... Let his passion for education and for the poor and unlearned go on living in every teacher's heart for long!