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Educate by example

In a world where discourse is moving further and further away from behavior, the phrase once uttered by Albert Einstein becomes relevant: “Educating by example is not a way to educate, it is the only way”.

Educate and teach are two words often used as synonyms, but they are very different. To teach is to transmit knowledge, techniques, behavioral routines… Whereas to educate is to train a person in values ​​by developing their creativity, their capacity for wonder, their curiosity and their critical thinking.

Another way of explaining the difference is that teaching teaches the content of what is already known, while educating is the ability to venture into the new, the unknown for individuals.

Modern society has agreed that education is a right and responsibility of the state and can be supplemented by private systems. The governing bodies are the Ministries of Education, which now only have the nomenclature of education. Today, it would be more appropriate to call them ministries of education because they favor the transmission of content and measure their achievements or failures by the misnamed “quality” through standardized tests that only measure knowledge.

On paper, public education policy in Chile contains all the elements of what education really means, but in practice, we focus on teaching. For example, the regulations contemplate the existence of school councils for all schools that receive state funding, but in general they operate as purely administrative bodies to comply with existing regulations.

If School Councils were to conform to the spirit in which they were conceived, they would make a great contribution to the education of each of the school communities. Moreover, they would be an excellent practical example to educate students, professionals, teaching assistants and families about participation, coexistence and well-being.

If our leaders had received an education in citizenship by example, we would not be confronted with the lack of dialogue and the weak capacity for understanding that everyday political events show. For example, I find it unacceptable that when the President of the Republic calls for talks with different political sectors, there are some who do not attend and say that they will only attend when their votes are needed in Congress.

With examples like the one I cited, what can we expect from the generations in formation? The responsibility of leaders is to guide and light the way, always keeping in mind the common good rather than special interests.

It is through the example of those who have a public presence that we can build a better society with better cohabitation. No one is humiliated for being an example of a good citizen. On the contrary, they are exalted, which is why I insist on quoting the sentence with which I began this forum: “Educating by example is not a way of educating, it is the only one”.


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