|27 Sep 2023|
|2023 Finalists Global Teacher Prize|
Professor Alberto Rodrigues decided to become a teacher because he believes in transforming the world through education that prioritizes diversity of thought, global citizenship, inclusion, equity and awakening the potential of children and young people to build a better world. Born and raised on the outskirts of São Paulo, he had a poor childhood, lacked resources, suffered bullying at school, and had no arts teacher at school, as so few teachers in his region were willing to teach in public schools. After graduating and qualifying as a teacher, he decided to be the art teacher for his students that he couldn't have as a child, to offer them the maximum opportunities and chose to teach children aged 5 to 10 in the most deprived region of the city. He believes the future depends on quality basic education that proposes meaningful, autonomous and active learning, especially in regions lacking basic resources and with a high rate of domestic violence and drug trafficking.
Teaching in three municipal schools, his classes are focused on the student protagonist, as he strives to give them a voice through attentive and affective listening, welcoming and trying to create connections with what they feel and want to learn. His teaching methods, inspired by concepts such as “seasons of the year” and “student farmer”, have now benefitted over 6,000 children, combining creativity with technology to powerful effect, using everything from cell phones, computers, QR code, holograms, gadgets, cinema, photography, theatre, dance, music and visual arts. Alberto created a question-and-answer board game that utilises the Artificial Intelligence of virtual assistant “Alexa” to present arts content, increase the cultural repertoire and allow students to choose what they want to learn. Tackling the challenge of returning to school after the pandemic with many students suffering low self-esteem, anxiety and depression, Alberto’s project "I'm sensational" was important in stimulating their socio-emotional skills, making it possible to share life stories and experiences lived during the pandemic through artistic expressions.
Throughout a 14-year teaching career, the ambitious scope of Alberto’s art education has been taking his students and the community on a journey encompassing everything from exhibitions held in the city square to understanding the wider world and Brazil’s place in it (with content focused on surrealism to Brazilian folklore), sustainability and environmental campaigns using QR codes, lobbying for the creation of a solid waste treatment plant in the municipality to staging an integrated arts festival on the banks of the Paranapanema River and among the trees in the public square, as well as volunteering and collecting food and clothes for the needy. His 2017 campaign to encourage the population to take care of the city and show more respect for others and the environment went viral with the creation of bumper stickers and a community on Facebook, “Eu amo Piraju,” with around 21,000 members posting positive news about the city - even more remarkable as the city of Piraju has 30,000 inhabitants. All this explains why Alberto’s students have excelled at school and gone on to great success, many following careers in the arts, and why he has won so many teaching awards.