Tomas Linares

Tomas Linares

Maracay, Venezuela

Amblema is an educational tool with the primary purpose of motivating, encouraging and supporting teachers from schools in vulnerable urban and rural communities in Venezuela.

I come from a family of 6 siblings. My parents dedicated their lives to education: supporting the founding of several schools. In them I could see the admirable work of a teacher. They instilled in me that desire to help others generously. As a teacher I could reach many people, positively influencing the lives of my students and their families. Being a teacher was much more for me than imparting knowledge, it was directing those who would be my students. I had the living example of my parents and other extraordinary teachers that I had during my time at school; Why not be another one in serving others? With these premises I was encouraged to study education at the Andrés Bello Catholic University; where I graduated as a graduate in Education, and a mention in Biological Sciences.

Shortly after starting in that adventure, I realized the receptivity of the students and their parents. I learned to make my teaching work compatible with the personal guidance of the students and their families.

In the schools where I worked, and where my parents had a great influence, they instilled in me the over arching idea that in schools, the first priority should be the parents of the students; secondly, teachers and, thirdly, students. With these ideas, I dedicated myself to training in Family Counseling and in supporting my colleagues, to be more effective in the education of children and young people who were in our classrooms.

I went from being a classroom teacher, teaching the subjects of biology and chemistry; to later be appointed as an academic coordinator of one of the baccalaureate levels. I even took on the challenge of being a principal of a private school for four years, where I was able to put into practice much of what I had learned in relation to educational management. With that experience I was able to realize the central value of the quality of teachers in the optimal development of a school, and the happiness that students can have in their learning process.

I always dreamed of developing a socio-educational project in favor of a quality education in areas with scarce economic resources and where there are splendid teachers who need to be valued and supported. This coupled with a clamor in the country: the need to improve education. That way I could make my contribution in favor of a better country, through better education. Also, why not take advantage of the good intentions of other people who are willing to invest in a project to encourage the work of teachers? Due to these circumstances of life, these two factors were united: my teacher training with the willingness of friends to undertake a project with a vast social impact.

Sharing my teaching vocation with the development of a socio-educational project (the educational tool Amb-Le-Ma: Environment, Reading and Mathematics) has become the raison of my life.

Why do you want to be a part of the HundrED Community?

In the globalized world we live in now, it is easy to access a lot of information and get to know experiences from any part of the world.

The excellent level of the education system in Finland has been known for years. All it’s advances and contributions in the educational area for the development of Finnish society. And, as part of this, we have been able to learn about HundrED's initiative within this educational context in that country; and the interest it has, as an organization, to publicize the educational potentialities in Finland and allow exchange with other institutions or teachers from other regions of the world.

In Venezuela, without a doubt, we need to make a huge leap of quality in everything related to the educational system and, especially, to know new tools to help in the professional improvement of the country's teachers.

Both for me in particular, and in the wonderful and effective adventure that Amblema has become, the fact that we can join initiatives like HundrED Comunity, is a great opportunity to learn about experiences in Finland and in other parts of the world that may also be in situations similar to ours.

And at the same time, it is a simple and effective way to make known what we do in Venezuela, through this socio-educational tool, which could be replicated in other countries.

How can education support students to flourish?

In my view, education can support the flowering of students if their starting point is respect for the uniqueness and freedom of each individual, each child, and each student.

A good education - a good educator - is one who is able to help his students discover the personal strengths that is inside each one. Help them to enhance their qualities, their personality, and their skills. Make them dream big and teach them to make each dream come true, each goal, and each project of life. Let them learn that failures are part of the way you grow. And, above all, that the teacher - education - is personal, because each child is a different flower that will produce different fruits, at different times, and in different circumstances. Hence the importance that school education must learn to respect the freedom and responsibility of each student.

And, along with that, education should strive to show that with the experiences of others, the way to build a better society depends on each person taking on their role and commitment to be builders of a country. Also, to encourage social awareness, the desire to be an active part of the progress of the society that saw me being born, help to get out of conformism and dependence on others, especially the gifts of the State. Teaching that part of the use of ones freedom is the responsibility for the common good: to put at the service of others all talents, skills, abilities and personal projects in favor of a better world.

No one can deny that a beautiful flower makes life happy. But a flower garden, which produce many and juicy fruits to offer to others can make a difference.

What role does innovation play in education change?

Every day we can see the technological advances, scientific, informative, communicational, etc. and how in all the productive areas of the world they take advantage of these advances to be more effective and achieve better impacts in each sector of society. This in both public and private life. And, in addition, they are constant and accelerated changes that in many cases surprise us.

In the educational world we must be aware of this changing reality. We must adapt to changes and resources of all kinds that arise. We must be aware of the new: because in that "new world" is where the students we are forming in the present will move, work and live.

But not only there are changes, novelties in the productive, technological world; but in the educational area are continuous innovative contributions that facilitate the training of students and the educational systems themselves.

Hence, each teacher can and should be involved with these innovations of the current world and educational processes. We must be open to incorporate them into the teaching-learning process. There are thousands of excellent innovative and effective experiences that are known around the world, which we can replicate and adapt to the very circumstances in which we develop our teaching work.

In my particular case of Venezuela, we are committed to offering a profound change in our educational system. That change will have to happen by incorporating those wonderful educational and technological innovations that exist in the world, with the attitude of being open to all new proposals, to adapt them to our social and cultural realities.

In these years of experience with the Amblema Educational Tool, visiting and getting to know many teachers in very vulnerable and poor areas of the country, the limitation to know and, therefore, to incorporate educational innovations is evident. It is an urgent challenge to achieve the change we want. But, at the same time, I can not help but recognize that in spite of so many technological deficiencies or training, there are teachers in these areas who create educative innvations worthy of being admired and known in many places. Therefore, it is also of great importance that teachers have that sense of knowing how to share our own initiatives or innovations with other parts of the country and the world.

Three HundrED innovations you love. (and Why?)

- TRIX AND TRAX: It is an innovative and creative proposal that under  the "peer to peer" methodology reinforces self-confidence; offers opportunities for children and young people to discover who they are; their purpose in life and how to develop their talents.

- TEACH A CLASS FOUNDATION: An excellent platform to support the work of teachers with various initiatives that they can each develop in their school.

- THE TEACHERS GUILD: I find it interesting because it offers teachers tools to become creative leaders and to teach their students how to overcome problems and find practical solutions.

Three innovations you would love for HundrED to know about. (and Why?)

- DIDÁCTICOS MUSICALES (Musical didactics): (@didacticosmusicales) Valencia-Venezuela This is an educational tool to stimulate early learning - including from pregnancy to the 5 years of age - through music.

- RITMOS MUSICALES PARA ENSEÑAR MATEMÁTICAS (Musical rhythms to teach math): (Carora-Venezuela) Professor Pastor González, teacher in a very humble rural area of Venezuela, helps his students to master the basic tools of matematics through different musical rhythms of the country.