Gabriel Mario Rodrigues – Chairman of the Board of Directors of ABMES
“The mediocre teacher rells. The good teacher explains. The better teacher shows. The great teacher inspires. “(William Arthur Ward, American educator and writer)
I’ve been thinking for a few days about what to write to celebrate Teacher’s Day and, of course, try to get out of the ordinary place on those occasions.
Using a folder that Semesp delivered on the occasion of the 20th Forum, held in São Paulo on 26 and 27/9, the numbers published by Inep gives a superlative panorama of education in 2017, indicating that in Brazilian higher education there are 182,096 teachers in private schools and 168,974 in public schools. That is, they totaled 340,027 professionals in all 2,448 institutions of higher education of the country, operating in 2,152 private HEIs and in 296 public HEIs, composed by 93 universities, 181 university centers and 1,878 colleges. These are extraordinary numbers accumulating millions of lesson/hours per year, moving a financial machine of billions of reais, directly and indirectly. These are a lot of teachers working their tails off in higher education.
However, to speak only of the economic results is little, very little, when we highlight the numbers of students enrolled in private institutions, in the order of 6,241,307 (75.3%), and in public ones 2,045,356 (24.7%). And to what do we owe these fabulous numbers in the private sector other than devotion and dedication to teaching, whether as hourly, part time or full time.
It is necessary that these professionals perceive their true value and recognize the importance that is given to them. The most beautiful ideas about education, the most sincere and heartfelt praise for the role of teaching in the development of a country, and the more generous dreams in which school appears as a space for true human learning and growth, do not solve the problem of education if the teachers are not and do not feel valued.
But how, then, can we explain this devotion, this attachment which in most cases has no reciprocity? What name to give to this dedication with such skill if there is no salary that compensates the effort, especially if we add to it punctuality and assiduity, which do not always gain recognition?
Where should recognition come from, or should come from: the students, the parents, deans of programs, the rectory or society?
Poets, writers, novelists and chroniclers have already exalted through their works the figure of the beloved teacher, praising and thanking what they have done for culture and education, emphasizing teaching exactly in the terms defined by Pope John XXIII: “We must build schools worthy of that name. ”
But, so what? How are the programs and contents of the courses of teacher training in the universities? Are they in tune with the reality of technological modernity, besides the support of modern pedagogical proposals? Have teachers been given consistency to their knowledge with continuing education, participated in seminars and congresses, carried out postgraduate studies, etc. etc.? So the minimum training to take up a classroom did not end in the three-year teacher’s degree, or the four-year bachelor’s degree. It requires more.
I have said here in this space that without the teacher there is no education and consequently hundreds of social positions that in a 360 degree rotation does not (over) live without education and the main protagonist/responsible is always the indispensable teacher.
But, they will be saying at this moment: so what? How does my survival, my status, my monthly bills, my performance in the various social strata, my family and my children, my leisure and my cultural enhancement with trips and courses remain?
In this electoral period we are living, nothing has become clearer that the greatest discontent of people is about the poor services that the state provides. And the most insistent demand commented by the media and social networks are about the lack of security for the people; lack of adequate health services and educational training for life.
Consequently, education from childhood to university, due to the transformations that society is experiencing, is one that is being pressured by the population, for a very simple reason, because everything we do will be conditioned to technological environments, including teaching and learning activities and the teacher will cease to be a transmitter of information to become also the manager of the learning process and to master and be a user of information and communication technologies.
The job market seeks graduates who are more prepared to offer solutions to their projects and the good teacher needs to be aware that her/his role is to collaborate with the success of their students. But a strategy will be necessary for teaching to thrive and fulfill its goals. There must be alignment of purposes of the state, university, schools, teachers, families, companies, society and students, with the area of educational training. With less words and more action, we honor Teachers of all areas, levels and degrees and of all professionals working in the field.
All this is important, but what counts is the day-to-day recognition of the teacher’s work. I know many whose lives have been devoted solely to teaching, for more than 50 years, to the detriment of family and social life, some in a single institution teaching only course. They are admired and remembered by their thousands of former students, but in the college where they taught, no one pays tribute to them: a small note, a cookie, a small plate. Anything. Institutions do not usually worship these values and because it is important, we could not fail to mention why Gratitude is worth gold.