Wanderlino Arruda
Djalma Souto


Educators and Jequitibás

It all started with an analogy done by Rubem Alves, in his book “TALK TO WHO WANTS TO TEACH”, making a comparison between Jequitibás and Eucalyptus trees, for confrontation or synchronization between educators and professors. What differences exist between an educator and a professor? What is the difference between a jequitibá and a eucalyptus tree? Well, first it’s good to remember the differences between an old pharmacist and a modern druggist; between an old, mule drawn trader and a modern cargo transporter. The old pharmacist was a complete professional, used to performing every procedure in the pharmacy: He would measure, mix and manipulate the substances, transforming them into medicine, carefully package them and then, tenderly entrust them to his clients, delivering them to the very sickbed when necessary. The pharmacist always had a little conversation for each person that came into his pharmacy. He was the main spring of his commercial establishment. A pillar of local culture, distributor of wise advice and local news, and a sort of social fraternity director, a passer-on of wise old sayings and life directives. The mule drawn trader was a man who raised his team of animals, fed them every day, cleaned them, put on the saddle, took care of the cargo, put up camp and even told stories to his companions at night, around a warm campfire. No one hears about the pharmacist and the mule drawn trader anymore. What we have are busy, impersonal pharmacies, void of consideration for people’s feelings. Exceptions, of course, are rare. Freight drivers don’t even exist in the place of the mule drawn traders. What you have are companies directed by offices that communicate by telephone, controlled by computers, smelling of sterility, distant, as distant as the destiny of the cargo they carry.

And what about the educators? They were men and women dedicated to their choice for a lifetime, sharing and mixing their lives with the lives of their students. They were the transmitters of universal knowledge, teaching everything, from hygiene to world history. From the mother tongue to the most complex arithmetic. From geography to religion, from drawing to natural science. From home economics to etiquette. It was a time that forged competent and educated young men and women, a refined nobility, in an environment with an eternal perfume of spring. The professors of today, or at least those who are not educators, poor things, are disposable, a perfectly substitutable work force. They remain on strike for months at a time, go off on recess, go off on vacation, are laid off or fired…and all this time wasted away from school goes on continuously with absolutely no effect whatsoever on governmental, national or public concern or consideration toward their situation, they are just replaceable employees, competence or degree making little difference in their passing. An even better comparison can be found between the jequitibá and eucalyptus trees. The jequitibá is a long living tree, getting up to fifty, one hundred, two hundred years old and more, passing from generation to generation, useful and precious. Now, to the contrary, the eucalyptus tree is ripe for the taking in four or five years, a green desert, good for little except its wooden face value, a silent den, home to no warm blooded animal or bird.
And is all this the truth? It is no use for modern professionals in teaching, or educational employees, as they like to be called, in reference to union matters, to deny it. It’s the world itself that is dissolving the office of the educator, the same way that it also almost finished off the jequitibá, the braúna, the candeio, the jacarandá, the cedro, the peroba and the sucupira. The jequitibá, strong and eternal, symbolizes the educator. It transmits a soothing presence of permanence. It remains as the world passes, useful in all directions. The eucalyptus, - disposable by nature, is the professor, that no longer accompanies the student. He has no time to spend on his charges, no longer following the individual drama of his pupils, doesn’t feel or live anything professionally, desperately racing from school to school, from class to class, to earn his paltry daily wages, or somewhat more when well placed. The professor no longer remembers his students’ names and the students aren’t interested in their professors’, either. Wireless teaching machines, they are, and little else!
The in success of much in the world today has its causes firmly rooted in disloyalty and lack of interest, motivation and incentive, along with the incapacity to dream. The growing disinterest of world governments in relation to education is what is really behind the failure of the profession of the educator, relegating it to last place in the list of national priorities, getting rid of it, principally because education in itself gives additional advantages to those interested…political campaigns. How to weasel out percentages, the famous one-third, of the payment checks? Unfortunately, many educators holding the vocation of educators end up transforming themselves into simple professors. Like simple eucalyptuses. Without loyalty, without a total, living conviction of purpose. Without developing the capacity of tenderness, of refinement, of personal interest in what they do.
Happy and content is the educator who still maintains his loyalty to their profession, like the mule drawn trader and old pharmacist. These - I’m sure - are worth their place in heaven.

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