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(Simon Narciso Jesus Rodriguez; Caracas, Venezuela, 1769 – Amotape, Peru, 1854) educator and Venezuelan writer. The history of the America's independence has never been so unfair with one of his major characters as it was with the work of the distinguished educator and great thinker American don Simón Rodríguez. The story of his life, trapped in the nickname of El Maestro del Libertador, stood out in the history for the merit of having forged the spirit and ideas of Bolivar, reducing passivity to what was actually an active relationship of reciprocity.
The oath of the sacred mountain
But Simón Rodríguez was not born to Bolivar the liberator of America future; He made himself, rather, to become true republics to the territories conquered by the freedom. The project designed by Simón Rodríguez, based on the colonization of the continent by its own inhabitants and in the training of citizens through knowledge, draws it as a great American thinker who, under their relentless struggle for popular education, it would be more just remember as the great master of many. The originality of his thoughts, his strict sense of honesty, renewing transcendence of their educational and social ideas and heterodoxy and eccentricity of its methods speak of a man with sense, outside the context of his time.
Historians tend to locate in the blurred border that separates genius from madness; and not without reason, Simón Narciso Jesús Rodríguez life is mined of anecdotes that suggest the question constantly. He was born in Caracas October 28, 1769 (although it is also said that it was in 1771); It is said to be natural son of Rosalía Rodríguez and an unknown man, surname Carreño.
Inaccuracies about their origin have animated Fable: abandoned at the gates of a monastery, was raised in the House of a clergyman's name Alejandro Carreño, who presumed that it was his father, along with his brother Cayetano Carreño, who was to become a famous musician of the city. He was tall and stocky, and his extravagant way of dressing caused laughter of many.
None of these references, however, figure the existence of Simón Rodríguez: traveller tireless, was a cosmopolitan in the literal sense of the term, who cared little attachment to any family, cultural or territorial link. The ethos of his life was always to educate, and so traveled the world in search of a place which could "do something" and put their ideas into practice. This was his true homeland.
The young teacher
The long career of Simón Rodríguez as an educator, if it is so can be labeled its incessant efforts to "educate citizens through knowledge", it begins officially when the Cabildo of Caracas gives, in 1791, the permission to practice letters school master in the only public school in that city. It is clear that the self-taught formation undertaken by Rodriguez since very young age speaks one home early in his career and a premature encounter with the vocation of knowledge, reflection and thought.
At twenty years of age, it is said, Simón Rodríguez I had read Jean-Jacques Rousseau, particularly the Emilio, and a translation of the Declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen. As a sign of momentum and the greed of his reflections, always original and against the grain of the medium, presented to the city of Caracas, in 1794, a study entitled reflections on the effects that vitiate school first letters of Caracas and means of achieving its reform by a new establishment.
The ideas expressed in this essay are based on the need to formalize the public education through the creation of new schools and the formation of good teachers; in this way, argued, will promote the incorporation of more students (including black and Brown children) and the progressive decrease of the particular teaching; It was also good salaries.
It was at that time when, in the school of letters of the Cabildo of Caracas, had among his students, until the age of fourteen, then mischievous Simón Bolívar. Simón Rodríguez, which in addition to master was also Clerk of the tutor of Bolivar, had been recommended to take care of the education of the future liberator of America.
Some contingency of vital importance for the life of the teacher would encourage him to leave the country. The date of the exodus is doubtful, as well as the nature of the events that led to it. It is a commonplace that says that Simón Rodríguez was part of the famous conspiracy Gual and Spain, discovered July 13, 1797, and he had to flee terrified to La Guaira to embark on a Galleon destined for Jamaica.
There are some who ensures, however, that his departure occurred prior to November 1795, and which was motivated by their dissatisfaction with the Spanish regime: "evil agreed with the tyranny that stooped under the colonial system (in the words of O'Leary), decided to search elsewhere in the freedom of thought and action that was not tolerated in their home country". Jamaica was waiting as a port of the start of an adventure for more than twenty years in exile.
Vocation showing Simón Rodríguez towards education is manifest in the attention that it lent itself to the new knowledge; He was thirsty for learning, at the time that designed and rehearsed in its wake new teaching methods. Once in Kingston, Rodriguez used their savings to learn English in a school of children; as he did so, he enjoyed teaching English to young children. His method was curious: "to go out onto the street students launch their hats to the air, and I do the same as them".
His next destination would be the United States. In Baltimore he worked as typesetter of printing, trade that would allow him, later, composing himself moulds of printing of his works. Three years later travelled to Bayonne in France, where it was registered under the name of Samuel Robinson "to avoid having constantly in memory (as himself) servitude souvenir". Later, in the city of Paris, empadronaría in the register of Spaniards in the following manner: "Samuel Robinson, man of letters, born in Philadelphia, thirty-one years"; and this identity would keep it the next twenty years of his life in the old continent.
In Paris he met Fray Servando Teresa de Mier, a revolutionary priest of Mexican origin, and convinced him to together opened a school of Spanish language. To prove their expertise, Rodriguez translated Spanish novel Atala of Chateaubriand; Mier attributed the translation. She also studied physics and chemistry, and became in the Exhibitor's order of the laboratory investigations for which he worked.
Bolívar was in Paris from 1803, and Simón Rodríguez was part of their closest friends. Both enjoyed long gatherings, sometimes alone and other accompanied by Fernando Toro or some other character. In 1805 they undertook a long journey to Italy, crossing the Alps on foot. They were from Chambery to Milan, then to Verona and Venice, Padua, Ferrara, Florence and Perugia.
Finally, they arrived at Rome. Here was where climbed to the sacred mountain and occurred the famous oath of Bolívar to liberate America: "I swear in front of you (thus describes the oath of Bolívar Rodríguez), swear by the God of my fathers, I swear by them, I swear on my honor, and I swear by the homeland, that I will not give rest to my arm, or rest my soul, until you have broken the chains that oppress us by the will of the Spanish power".
The oath of the sacred mountain
In the city of Naples their paths separated: Bolívar returned to America; Simón Rodríguez returned to Paris and from there marched to Germany, and then to Prussia, Poland, Russia and England. According to his own account, he worked in a chemistry lab, participated in secret meetings of Socialist character, studied literature and languages and ran a school of letters in a village in Russia.
Later, in London, he worked as an educator and invented a new system of teaching with various topics, of which one was intended for the good handling of writing: placing students with arms in triangle and tied fingers, leaving free the index, middle, and thumb. And exercising them in follow on paper, located obliquely, the contours of a metal plate where they had plotted an oval. Of this figure, it was all the letters. "Nothing more artful (say Andrés Bello), no wiser, no more attractive than its method;" in this sense, is another Pestalozzi, having, as this, the passion and the genius of teaching".
And it is that Simón Rodríguez was passionate about writing. He saw in her expressive capabilities which, from his point of view, were not reflected in the Spanish grammar. I used to write using the most signs of punctuation, admiration, and exclamation points, capitalized and underlined, and diagrams of formulas, symbols, parentheses and keys, so that it would be possible to transmit the spirit and the complexity of their thoughts. I wanted a living letter. And so should it practice throughout all her writings in Europe and once returned to the new continent.
Return to America
Encouraged by the news that arrived from America, Simón Rodríguez launched way back in 1823. In his long exile had matured increasingly their ideas about education and politics, nurturing, primarily from the thought of Montesquieu. It is true that Rodriguez welcomed the ideas of the Enlightenment, but used them as a reference for the construction of a very original project.
In fact, it could not be otherwise, because the legacy of Montesquieu on geographical and cultural determinism not invited to anything different. So Simón Rodríguez put it: "the laws must be appropriate to the people for which they were issued, [...] "they must be adapted to the physical character of the country, [...] must adapt to the degree of freedom that the Constitution allows, the religion of its inhabitants, inclinations, their wealth, their number, trade, their customs and their ways".
Hence his obsession was, until the moment of his death, the promote the "conquest of America by means of ideas"; It was necessary to form citizens there where there was no them, and only thus would establish true republics that were not a mere imitation of the European. Spanish America had its own identity, and had own their own institutions and Governments: "Or invent or fail". His thinking, though original, clashed with the ideology which prevailed on the eve of American independence. Perhaps that is the reason why even though their struggle be heard and found public right and left schools did not stop but at the moment of his death was never fully understood.
The reunion with Bolivar
Once aware of the stay of Rodriguez in Colombia, Bolivar wrote a letter in which invited him to meet him in the South, where was in full campaign. In Bogota, first place of stay to his return, his first steps made their way to install a "House of public industry". He wanted, more than anything, provide students with direct knowledge and enable teachers of all trades.
The project failed due to lack of resources and the master went to the South. In Guayaquil it submitted to the Government a plan of colonization to the East of Ecuador. Finally, he met Bolivar in Lima: Simón Rodríguez presented their educational plans, which would be implemented in America, in that the Liberator was already found and schools which would put under the direction of the educator. Simón Rodríguez was incorporated into his team.
In mid-April, 1825 began, along with Bolivar, a tour of Peru and Bolivia. In Arequipa, he organized a House of studies; It went up to Cuzco, where he founded a school for boys, one for girls, a hospice and a House of refuge for the destitute. In the Department of Puno, he did so. In September, now accompanied by general Antonio José de Sucre, President of Bolivia, entered both in La Paz, before heading to Oruro and Potosi.
And in Chuquisaca, in November, 1825, he had to stop the March, as the educational project of Simón Rodríguez had begun in that city. Bolívar then appointed him director of public education, physical sciences, mathematics and the arts, and general director of mines, agriculture and public roads of the Bolivian Republic. The first day of the year 1826 will start operating the so-called school model, which in the fourth month of his career had already two hundred students.
The teaching plan was very original: it grouped students and the educational methods, mixing technique and the spirit are contradictory. The children, delivered entirely to learning tasks, even during the moments of fun, were individually observed by medical personnel to identify the inclinations of each student. In the words of many misunderstandings, the originality of these projects seemed to the one applied in the famous phalansteries of Charles Fourier; However, Simón Rodríguez had never had contact with the work.
Regardless of what outside the philosophy involved in the development of this project, was clear had no lace in the society of that time; people didn't understand that and the investment that demanded the schools seemed excessive. Marshal Sucre was influenced by the criticism of the medium, and wrote to the Liberator to show their dissatisfaction with the work of Robinson, as he used to call. After antagonizing everyone, Simón Rodríguez finally resigned from office. With deep anger and disappointment wrote a letter to the liberator, which complained bitterly of the misunderstanding that had suffered.
Disappointed because you they had not left do for the freedom of America, and ruined and indebted because you had put your pocket for the operation of the schools, he went to the Peru. In Arequipa you rode a candle factory, which hoped to raise funds for its maintenance; candles also represented a sarcastic sign what in his opinion meant the "century of lights" for America.
The success of your business, however, was in his return to the activities of master: parents flocked en masse to store so it will take care of the education of their children; and that was how Simón Rodríguez again requested leave to become a teacher. In 1828 he published his first work, entitled American companies in 1828; are like and how it should be for centuries to come. It was, in fact, of the prologue to the work, in which defends the right of every person to receive education, noting the importance of this political and social development of the new American States.
The first part was reprinted in Mercurio Peruano a year following, and continued in El Mercurio of Valparaiso in November and December of 1829. Also published a work in defense of Bolivar, entitled in the public press the liberator of America noon and his comrades in arms, defended by a friend of the social cause. Other works were published, which include a project engineering and hydrology on the field of Vincoaya. Had died the liberator and the project of the Gran Colombia had been undone.
After publishing part of the Companies Americanwork, he moved to Concepción (Chile), invited by the Mayor of the city to "carry out the best possible science education plan" at the libertarian Institute of Concepción. He applied to the teaching system designed in Arequipa, concerning hydrographic project, using summary tables. The first picture was "physiognomical", and reached only notions; the second was "physiographic", aimed at providing knowledge; the third was "physiological" or science, and the fourth was "economically", i.e., philosophy.
In 1834 he published lights and social virtues, finished work of his great project of instruction. Unfortunately, their fate was stained once again by the fate: the 1835 Concepción earthquake wiped out everything, including the Simón Rodríguez stay in that city; "in America I don't serve for anything", exclamaría. He moved to Santiago de Chile and starred a wonderful encounter with Andrés Bello, of which part of the momentum of the University founded by the distinguished humanist imperialists.
He then left for Valparaíso, city in which was also devoted to teaching, using a quite original method for the time: in anatomy class, he undressed and walked down the Hall so that students "had insight into the human body". Of course, this teaching did not have long life. The society began to reject it; the population of students descend quickly and he would end up in absolute misery.
Thus the French traveler found him Louis-Antoine Vendel-Heyl, who would say, almost crying, that "could even have the consolation published the result of his meditations and studies". How to sample in the resquemor that felt towards the society that frustrated his projects, at the door of the House of Simón Rodríguez could read a sign that said: "lights and American virtues, i.e.: candles of tallow, patience, SOAP, resignation, strong tail, love of work".
Suffer the fear that his work was lost, around 1842 wrote: "experience and the study provided me lights, but I need a spotlight where to put them: this candleholder is the printing press." I'm walking my manuscripts like the Italians their travellers. I am old and, although robust, fear, from one day to another, leaving a trunk full of ideas for grass of a hack that does not understand them. If I should die, I would have lost a little bit of glory, but the Americans would have lost something more."
He reissued the work American companies and, without more, marched towards to the Ecuador. On the way he stopped in Paita and visited the lover of Bolivar, Manuela Sáenz, who was withdrawn in that city. In Latacunga was welcomed by a priest, doctor Vésquez, who has insisted that don Simón was teacher at the College of San Vicente. Despite the insistence of the teacher to devote to agriculture, it ended up being Professor of Botany from that institution.
In parallel, and in a manner consistent with your vision of things, he founded a gunpowder factory in that city and at the same time published a brochure on the manufacture of gunpowder and weapons with other General teachings whose preamble reads: "gunpowder here is the pretext to deal with the education of the people". He later left for Quito and founded another candle factory; He then went to Ibarra, to Colombia, and again returned to Quito in the year 1853.
He was 82 years old and was still an athletic appearance. He gave a lecture which surprised the audience by his experiences and his torrid love affairs and children left the world, as well as by their ideas. Finally, in 1853, despite having stated his intention to return to Europe with the illusion that there still could be "done something", he moved to Amotate, Peruvian city that died on February 28, 1854, at the age of 83.
The work of Simón Rodríguez
Guided by the idea that only through popular education would ensure the true strength and prosperity of the new republics, Simón Rodríguez drew a pedagogical project of an unquestionable originality. In Rodriguez educator, the man of ideas and writer melted in an extraordinary way. Its pages are fascinating not only because of the consistency of their ideas and passionate high temperature which prints them, but also by the undisputed and original novelty of his writing accent. This is manifested in particular liveliness (inocultablemente American trait) it insufflates into Spanish, somewhat envarado by centuries of colonial rhetoric, and the innovations introduced in the typographic field.
Educator influenced by Rousseau and Saint-Simon, Simón Rodríguez was an intuitive reformer. Master of Simón Bolívar, concerns and reforming ideas influenced mightily in the formation of the liberator, as he himself acknowledged. After the triumph of Bolivar, Rodriguez was director and inspector general of public instruction and charity and organized schools, but his restlessness and his character would not let him never settle, evil which worsened after the death of Bolivar; the master was rolling until advanced old age by Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.
Simón Rodríguez was the first who wanted to apply in South America bold educational methods which were beginning to be used at the beginning of the 19th century in Europe, and by all means tried to impose in the underdeveloped provinces of Bolivia and Colombia the innovative and revolutionary theories on childhood education. Nourished by the ideas of the great French philosophers of the 18th century, it was an unhappy and radical spirit. His main texts are the liberator of America noon and his comrades in arms, defended by a friend of the social cause (1830), lights and social virtues (1834) and in 1828 American societies; are like and how it should be for centuries to come (1828, latest edition in 1842).
In The liberator of the noon of America made a vigorous defence of the figure of Bolívar and his performance in the war of independence, stating at the same time many of their own ideas about the culture and the fate of Latin American peoples. Although this work is very patchy, and the urgency that was written and the same temperament of the author does not save much unit, highlight her admirable and daring thoughts that make it one of the most interesting studies of American culture of the last century. His other writings are the soil and its inhabitants, concise on Republican education summary, friend advice given to the College of Latacunga and criticism of the measures of the Government.