by RAFA CASUSO:
Psychologist, photographer, geek. I like going to the mountains, walking, using the bike. Read, philosophize, observe, listen and be silent, although sometimes it is difficult.
Don Quixote undertook many journeys, Ulises faced journeys in the Odyssey, Jesús Hoyos Arribas offered our students a journey through Santander. We don’t stop traveling!
We travel for pleasure, for work or out of necessity (migrants, refugees…).
Are we vigilant when we travel? Will we enjoy the trip? Did we have the best possible time given the circumstances? We are learning? Did we achieve our goals?
We should be able to answer yes to everything.
These previous paragraphs are the entry of the Cisneros de Santander School blog titled “trips in our neighborhoodon the Sustainable Development Goals.
The director of Cisneros, José Antonio Sánchez Rada, very involved with his team in the “Cisneros Project” invited me to take a tour of the neighborhood with his 6th graders.
I have a special relationship with the Cisneros school. I did the internship as a school psychologist in the said center, I appreciated and learned all that its teachers are able to bring to the student body and to society, a lot. I have collaborated and collaborated with conferences and any activity requested by José Antonio or other teachers, I am delighted to do it. And as a grandfather, I pick up my grandchildren, Martina and Edu, whenever I have the chance. A pleasure to maintain this relationship with Cisneros.
I went there as a companion, an observer and with a lot of curiosity. A class outside the school, different from what is taught in a normal class with a normal program, to go around “the neighborhood” for two hours of practical lessons in the streets. Educational walk with 12 students and two elderly people, the guide and me, Rafa, not Rafael, since they asked me what to call me. Many knew me despite the mask, from the interviews on “Attention and Emotional Intelligence” that we had shared, virtually and in person.
What could we see in the neighborhood that we don’t see or that we don’t see on a daily basis when they go to school with their routine? But perhaps a more important question for me, what can be taught and learned outside of class, when Cisneros teachers, like José Antonio on this occasion, have a great interest in teaching, in a different way and awaken the imagination and motivation of boys? and the girls? The answer at the end of the walk through the “neighborhood”.
We start with the drawings of the facade of Cisneros and Mendoza, explaining the educational guide, the details and asking questions about it. Like a bunch of grapes passing from one subject to another. The ground, the ramps of the school for people with reduced mobility, the darkness and dirtiness of part of the building, a consequence of pollution, the fire water intakes, gas intakes, sewers, rubbish bins, the large number of motorbikes parked along the narrow sidewalk of the schools, bike racks, etc. And in each section questions and answers, generating throughout the journey, a Socratic dialogue. Bike hitches, awesome! But… if there are no cycle paths to get to school because of the number of cars and the lack of protection of school environments, what is the point? comment. A truck passes a few meters away and the teacher asks them if they have noticed the noise and talks about the noise pollution and this other pollution, that which we cannot see, that of cars, that which kills, but which is felt and has its consequences on health.
Time passes and we made little progress, we headed to the Vorágine bookstore, a mandatory stop, a “neighborhood” bookstore. On the door, apart from the name of the bookstore “La Vorágine, critical culture” there is a sticker that says: “It is a space that is non-racist, non-Eurocentric, non-patriarchal, non-sexist, non-ableist, non-ageist and non-fascist. If it doesn’t fit, don’t feel you have to go in. This city is diverse and you will surely find your place in the world”. For the guide and for any teacher and citizen, this place linked to books is a source of culture, of knowledge for all. Questions and answers about the meaning of each word read continue.
In passing, we talked about the architectural barriers in certain places in the district. From the stairs to Peñas Redondas street we see the Asturian center of Santander, Sidrería el Pegollu. Who knows what pegollu means? question… “foot or support of the hórreo (or panera)” explains the “saying”, nothing escapes it, no detail in the eyes of all. A graffiti on the wood of the Metropolitan gymnasium”if you see pacem, for bellumgives rise to the Latin, in the sense of the phrase “if you want peace, prepare for warand the unavoidable war in Ukraine, a question that will come up during the visit to our “neighborhood”. We talk about the economy, if we agree with the meaning of the expression and the distribution of the country’s money: for Education, Health, Defence, Public Works, etc. ? there is unanimity in the priority for education and health
We start walking again and we see a blue label “0” emissions stuck on the windshield… do you know what this label means? I ask. I explain that it is something new and that there are four types of labels according to the age and pollution of the cars and that from next year, 2023, the most cars pollutants will not be able to enter the low emission zones, which the municipalities of Santander and Torrelavega, will have to create these zones against climate change and for the good of people’s health.
Nothing escapes these boys and girls who learn and quickly learn to perceive the world around them, to pay attention to everything around them, like the few privet that are in the street. We have a street, the city in general, full of bollards so that cars don’t get on the sidewalks and yet we have few trees. We take the opportunity to feel the bark of the tree with our hands, while we close our eyes to notice its texture and feel its strength.
During our visit, we enter the chalets of the earth, a green space in the middle of tall buildings, looking for the entrance to the shelters that were during the war in this country, not so long ago. Some neighbors tell us where the entrance is, but it’s on private property. We gave up but enjoyed the peaceful surroundings of the area. Pablo, one of the students, does not like noise, he likes silence and nature, he is very sensitive, he speaks slowly.
We go out, the guide knows where part of a nearby shelter is, in the bar-restaurant La Fonda which was once called La Cueva. We ask permission and they kindly let us in. There is the shelter, at the bottom, transformed into a restaurant. We talked about the feeling that comes from knowing that in this sad war, like all wars, a thousand people entered a much larger section during the bombings.
The war in Ukraine comes to mind, these are 10, 11 year old boys and girls who know what is happening in Europe, in kyiv, in Odessa, in Mariupol, they know the names of besieged Ukrainian cities. I ask them if they know the term that defines putting themselves in the place of the other, in their skin. Price, some say “empathy”. I ask you to close your eyes for a moment and imagine how these Ukrainian boys and girls are feeling right now, as the bombs destroy their country, their lives. Hard, but real.
An hour and a half passed without anyone noticing. We went to the Secret Garden lodge to visit this very pleasant space, with a beautiful garden as its name suggests. Too bad it’s closed. We continue and we stop in front of the photo booth. The teacher tells them that I’m a photographer and I take the opportunity to tell them about this great job, when it wasn’t digital. Cameras, film reel, developing liquids, enlarger, etc. The magic of seeing a paper photo come out of the developer. But what could be better than entering the shop of Manuel Álvarez, the photographer I know, a colleague, and who very kindly teaches us about this world of images. It has hundreds of cameras of all types and ages, some very old. A wonderful space, a photography museum that invites you to get to know it with its photography lessons. He pulls out a 1900s camera on the street and everyone online imagines and becomes a photographer from the era. The image is seen upside down, he explains, covered with a black cloth as old street photographers did when taking pictures. By the way, at the back of the store, another curious thing, in the patio there is a wall that is several years old, with fossil remains that surprise us all. This patio was the path that led from the Gota de Leche to the entrance of the refuge when the sirens sounded to warn of the bombardment of the planes and the nuns took the orphan children they cared for for protection.
It’s almost two o’clock in the afternoon, it’s time to go to Cisneros, after having enjoyed a different and interesting beautiful day. Many things have remained unpublished, but there will be time during the course.
As a reflection, I left that there are many ways to teach and make students learn. This outing through the “neighbourhood” was a different one, breaking the moulds. It is likely that in many cabbage it is done in the same way, I do not know, but participating in this route, as it was in my case, was a great experience for me. I have to thank the boys, the girls and the teacher, for their company, their curiosity. I hope that in their learning, on a daily basis, they reflect and ask questions about everything around them, that they use a critical and curious spirit. That they constantly ask questions about everything, that they take nothing for granted. This school in Cisneros is an example of an educational center, thank you.