We used to say, this is where we’re at, we march forward, we go back, we go forward, we go back, always according to our interpretation and contingencies. And I remembered a terrible event that happened at school, when a boy took a gun to school and it got shot by accident and a girl got injured.
Of course she was given immediate assistance. But it also became a situation that had to be addressed by all from the point of view of care. So, on top of moving away from that situation, from the scandal—because we rushed to get out of that place—, it was a chance to reflect on the fact that coexistence and care were everyone’s responsibility, and it was amazing how they went through that process gradually.
So for several years after this, sometimes the students came up and said: Susana—or Sergio—, did you know that so-and-so is saying he has such-and-such thing in his backpack? I think the whole community started to understand and our students started to understand, learning from the event and the work done in class, that the jump we had to take regarding coexistence was that everyone had to be aware of the need to take care of one another.
Of course we adults have a different position and a different responsibility, but they do too. And that was amazing to me. I mean, I’m using this extreme example, but there are daily fights at any school when students leave, that was also amazing because they started to understand that being a schoolmate also meant taking care of a friend to stop him getting into a fist-fight on the corner, that this could be settled by talking at the prefect’s office or the principal’s office.
And they knew for sure that there was a place of total trust, that they could tell us and no-one would expose them like “so-and-so told me…” So this led to an interesting dynamic of taking care of one another, of understanding that we build the rules but then we all must take on the responsibility of working towards a proper, careful, cheerful environment.
That’s another word that teachers and students always focus on. The school doesn’t have to be a serious, dull space. Of course studying takes effort, of course it’s not always fun, of course it involves challenges, anger, frustration. But school also has to be a cheerful place, where there is laughter and play.
And I think these goals have been achieved.