19 Feb Teacher Feature
Ramon Padilla was raised Catholic and held his faith through high school. He pushed away most uncertainty until college. There he gained a stronger sense of empathy, and he began to question himself. He said, “Doubt nourishes more than certainty.” Once he realized that he did not need a fixed view of the world he grew, more so then he would have if he clung to the ideas he had grown up with.
Padilla always had an interest in social justice which led him to work in the Peace Corps. When in a foreign country, he felt free to be himself. He gained experience as a community organizer, but what gave him the push to teach was a book: “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” by Paulo Freire. This book emphasized the importance of healthy teacher-student relationships, as opposed to the traditional dysfunctional system where students are taught to be unthinking followers to an authoritative figure. Padilla felt responsible to implement these ideas into our school system.
Padilla stands out from other teachers because of his belief in youth. “I want my students to develop the skills they already have,” he remarked. He wishes students had more control over their education. He wants pupils to spend more time discussing and debating than memorizing and spitting out facts. He acknowledges the risks of granting students more freedom. One year, he had students create a lesson plan and they chose to have a unit on prisons. They had taken a field trip to a local prison and it was a life-altering experience for everyone. It was uncomfortable for him, but he knows that some discomfort is good.
He hopes to be remembered as someone who cared for students; additionally, he hopes students follow his example and use what makes them happy to benefit the community. He informs me, “Luck comes prepared.” If pupils equip themselves, then when opportunities arise they will be ready for them.