Monday, December 04, 2006

Visiting Schools

My cousin Martin works at a couple low-income schools outside the city of Buenos Aires and I accompanied him to work last Tuesday. Because Martin had to run from one school to another , we didn’t have time for lunch. At the second school, Martin passed out a quiz in which 14/15-year-old students worked in groups to answer questions about an excerpt from “Brave New World”. He would have preferred for them to work alone, but students had to share because of a lack of books. As I snuck away to grab a bite of food, a woman who works at the school stopped me and asked who I was. She told me that we must notify the authorities before visiting. After I ate a milanesa sandwich and returned, the same woman entered the classroom to inform me that the vice director wanted to speak with me. The vice director was very excited to share his views with a yanqui educator. A few times, he asked me questions and answered them before giving me a chance to do so. Among other things, the man drew me a graph to explain some basic ideas.

He started with a circle representing the “universe of education” and then drew several lines converging on that circle. He explained that within education, we find various disciplines and the teachers that teach them. However, in order to succeed, there needs to be some force to unify the potentially disjoined experience. That force is a “concept of national identity”.


Lyn said...

hey ari! nice blog. thanks for keeping in touch and making us jealous of your free time and travels. i like the "vice director"'s drawing--the french would probably say the same thing about needing a "concept of national identity" to unify the experience of education... what would we say at calhoun? maybe that it's all unified as contributing to the growth of the individual?

Ari Pliskin said...

I guess it depends on the educator. Individual potential would certainly up there: reaching potential, getting into college and getting a job etc.

I should add, that to some Argentines, the vice director’s comments sound uncomfortabley reminiscent of aspects of their national past that they would rather leave behind.