Principal Susana Lamela – Diversification of the students’ school experience
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Transcript – Principal Susana Lamela – Diversification of the students’ school experience

The school outing is something essential to us in the journey through secondary school, because it entails broadening that universe, taking them to different places, giving them the chance to experience the movies, the theatre, which they might not experience if the school didn’t take them.

And we also have to work on this with them, because very often they too have a preconception ingrained, that this is not for them or that the theater is boring. So all of this is dealt with, it’s worked on prior to the outing, the [experiences] that they deserve.

In fact, we would always tell them, Look at this symbolic detail, every year before we received them we had the school freshly painted. I loved that. And we always told them about it because I think it’s important to put it in words so they’ll know the meaning of our actions. Very often they said, What’s the use of painting it? They’ll write on the walls right away. That’s OK, they write, we can discuss at the same time that they can choose places to write on, that we can mark out sectors for the kids who like to paint graffiti or write, but that they should try to understand that we believe they deserve a school that’s nice and clean and is waiting to welcome them. So, from a symbolic point of view, we found these were strong messages.

In fact, we had a habit that we developed: we got together in the patio when we wanted to converse about something with all the students, with the whole school community. First we talked to the teachers and told them that after the break we would gather everyone in the patio and have a chat. Compulsory schooling and the right to study were topics we discussed with them in the middle of the patio. The thing is, the Student Center had a right to demand window curtains and a heater, but also to demand clear classes, endless explanations, I mean, endless because it’s not enough to say something one time. No, they have a right to demand explanations, and to question testing methods. Their voice has to be heard, not in a capricious or overbearing way, but giving arguments.

This was another strategy we had, making them part of the conversation as valuable political speakers, and they had to empower themselves by becoming political subjects.