The President of the Chilean Union of Teachers is concerned by teachers’ working conditions and that they serve teachers so that they can help their pupils to bring out the best of themselves as human beings; so that they may express their maximum potential.  This is the role that education must have from a humanist perspective.

This interview was recorded during the European Humanist Forum.  Mario Aguilar participated as a speaker in the working groups on Nonviolent & Humanist Education and Human rights.

(The translation of the transcription is below, and English subtitles are available in this video.)

Well, the essence of our work is to rescue the true meaning of education. The etymology of the word education is “educere” which comes from the Latin “to bring out”.

Human beings bring something with them, and that is a vision which humanism also shares. Human beings bring their equipment with them, they bring a potential that is in all human beings and when you educate “educere”, you bring out education.

It’s to bring out, to enable that potential to be expressed and human beings can reach their maximum evolution, their maximum personal potential.  Anything from the capacity to satisfy their basic needs, but up to themes of transcendence and spiritual development.

All of this is the reason for, and the cause of, true education, but that education has been trivialised.

So for us as humanists, the meaning of what we do is to improve the working conditions of teachers, so that teachers, in turn, can really do education.  And true education is to give to children the possibilities to develop the potential that is in everyone, and that finally the quest for education – and this is something we also deal with in the book ‘The Pedagogy of Intentionality’ which we wrote with Rebecca Bize – is that human beings develop those capabilities so that in a certain moment in their lives, when they enter adulthood, they can develop their life project autonomously and with a meaning as transcendent as possible, or towards the most elevated aspects of human beings, which at the end of the day is their spiritual development.

This issue that is something very meaningful for humanism, is also what I believe is the main purpose of Education.

Today, we saw this in the talk this morning in the working group on education, today education is geared towards productivity, towards the economic model, to prepare manpower for that economic model.

It is a standardized education.  I mean, it’s only based on quantitative results.  But that is not “to bring out”.  That is not the true purpose of education.  And so our fight also as a teachers union is to rescue that essence of education via the teachers.