Pre-Texts in Chile 2016

Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes

Valparaiso , Chile

At this workshop, hosted by Carolina Rojas regional director of the Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes, there were twenty-three participants who were schoolteachers. Some specialized in teaching military recruits at army bases and others in special education. All of the teachers had at least 5+ years of experience on the job. Most of the participants were women (only two male teachers present).

Previously familiar with Carl Sagan’s work, they were eager to deepen their understanding of it. One thing that struck us was their curiosity and respect for the methodology. They had no reluctance to abandon known practices as long as a rationale was provided. This supportive environment allowed for meaningful conversation about pedagogical theory from the very beginning rather than at the end of the workshop. The fact that they came from different schools and backgrounds afforded us the opportunity to truly foster a learning community where empathy was central.

There were two activities that stood out. In the first one, participants were divided into groups of four, given a segment of the text, and asked to interpret it in a radio drama. The result was an outstanding originality in the diversity of interpretations using sounds and humor. In the second activity, participants were divided in pairs and given a fragment of a paragraph. Each couple drew their segment in a sheet of paper, which was then attached to the others in order to form a banner or mural. One person then proceeded to read the paragraph while the group contemplated the collective piece of art (see attached video).

The participants deemed having the workshop convened by the Consejo Nacional, rather than by the Ministerio de Educación, as a positive element because they could speak freely about their approaches to teaching (rather than focus excessively on assessment strategies). This is a strength that should be developed for future iterations of the project.

We found this Chilean group of teachers to be the most proficient in their craft. Not only were they knowledgeable about contemporary theories, but also, about proven practices. We have high expectations of this group and trust that they will use Pretexts to improve their teaching.


Doris Sommer