Sometimes I cross his path on the streets of Orense, and even today I am not able to offer more than a shy greeting. In all likelihood, he is not aware of the effect he had on my adolescence and on my way of understanding literature as a refuge from life and knowledge…
This week is the fiftieth anniversary of Project Zero, the research laboratory on learning at Harvard University. With the title “Changes in Mind: Five Decades of Insight into Intelligence, Thinking and Learning,” speakers explored the effect that many of its researchers, like Howard Gardner (multiple intelligences) or David Perkins, had on society. Being part of that celebration along with Professor Steve Seidel, Project Zero’s former director, made me ask myself: what is the reason that I enjoy the classroom more than the stage these days?
The Brazilian educator Paulo Freire talked about the idea that “nobody educates anybody else, nobody educates himself, we educate one another in the context of living in the world.” And seeing how my own students direct their own learning is something quite comforting.
At the Institute Otero Pedrayo in 1994, his way of teaching was unique. Mr. Arturo Fernández Nóvoa guided our learning with a skillful blend of reality and relevant facts with the daily ins and outs of grammar and literature and always with respect, a lot of respect for the fortysomething kids in his class. I don’t remember the methodology but the effect his teaching had in me. I think I owe him much in that search within myself through literature and constant listening. As Freire would say, “What the educator does is to make it possible for students to become themselves.”