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!