By Eduardo Daniel Ramírez Silva
What do you think of when you hear the saying “each mind is a world unto itself”? Several ideas might come to mind, but one point of view could be that it refers to the appreciation of each person as a unique being, with his or her own identity, history and contexts, way of thinking and of perceiving reality.
Even though this saying is drawn from popular wisdom, to a certain extent it is true. Therefore, we should stop for a moment to analyze the deeper meaning of the message it wants to convey, perhaps through the following analogy.
Let’s take the solar system as our reference. The eight planets and their satellites revolve around the sun receiving its heat and light, though not all of them with the same intensity. In the academic context, something similar occurs: in the classroom, the students revolve around the teacher receiving the light and heat (knowledge) emanating from him or her, thus making the classroom a sort of solar system, in which students are the planets and the teacher, the sun.
This is how we understand that each head is a world unto itself and it is our duty, as teachers (suns), to provide light and heat for each head, for each world. This viewpoint places the teacher in the central point of an obsolete educational system, positioning us as holders of knowledge who play a leading role. Even though we are fundamental to people’s education, the truth is that our era has dealt us a culture that has transformed the needs of individuals who now require new forms of education to improve our natural and social environments.
The role of the teacher should also be transformed, as a part of and participant in these cultural changes, thus making it necessary to rethink and readdress the sense of duty and vocation of educators in society. To this end, I would like to put forward a proposal that can be explained with another analogy related to outer space.
Across the years, the stars have amazed and captivated us. Human beings have created so many things around them according to the time in history and cultural context, from constellations that have served to guide us in our search for new lands and keep us from losing our way, to using the stars as a source of inspiration for stories and poems that have enamored so many people.
Despite all this, what actually are the stars? Basically, they consist of a sphere of plasma made up of hydrogen and helium drawn from nebulae. These components contract owing to gravity and, therefore, their density, pressure and heat increase, generating their luminosity. In other words, they are like an enormous nuclear reactor in which the atoms of its components are in constant, rapid motion, releasing huge amounts of energy that, in turn, generate extremely high temperatures that produce the brilliance of these celestial bodies that hold us in such awe.
From this perspective, personally, I no longer view each head as a world unto itself, but have begun to conceive them as a star, where we teachers are included, since, in reality, we should be the first to become aware of this marvelous process in which we discover our light, in which we generate our own brilliance, igniting and motivating us to live an extraordinary life and give a new meaning to our vocation.
Based on this, the classroom is no longer a solar system, but has become the universe brimming with beautiful stars that are about to be born. The worlds are no longer placed around the sun, but all the stars are on the same astral plane; nobody is above or below, we are all the same and located in the same position, with the same capacity to shine individually, although, together, we grace the immense, infinite universe.
Teachers have a new mission, which is not to provide light, but to guide our students, just as the stars guided the navigators of old, toward the discovery of their light and the generation of their own brilliance.
About the author:
Eduardo Daniel Ramírez Silva holds a B.A. in Cultural Management. He teaches high school classes in Ethics, Literature and the Socioeconomic Structure of Mexico, and is in charge of Orientation and Tutoring for high school freshmen, coordinates the debate team and implements reading promotion projects. He is also an independent cultural project advisor, designer and assessor.