Lyle Gordon French
Autor: Museu da Pessoa
Publicado em: 31/05/2011
Infância no Canadá. Educação bilingue. Momentos com os pais. Mudança para Londres. Estudo em Psicologia voltado para Educação. Viagens e trabalhos ao redor do mundo. Educação no mundo. América do Sul e Brasil. Oportunidades no Brasil. Vivência e adaptação cultural. Diretor pedagógico na PlayPen. Desafios e planejamento. Práticas da imersão em línguas.
[Início da Parte 1]
P/1 - Isla Nakano
P/2 - Marina Galvanese
R - Lyle Gordon French
P/1 – First of all, I’d like to thank you for coming.
R – Ok. Good.
P/1 – I’d like to ask you your name, your place of birth and where were you born.
R – So, my name is Lyle Gordon French. I was born in Nelson, British Columbia, in Canada. And do I have to say when I was born? As long as it doesn’t appear in the book. As long as there’s nothing in the book about the birth date, because no one at school knows my date of birth. Only Edson and Guida.
P/1 – Ok. We’ll keep it a secret.
R – ‘Cause I don’t like to celebrate my birthday, I don’t like people telling me: “Happy birthday!”. So no one at school knows. So, August 1st, 1967.
P/3 – You can say just the month and the year, but not the day?
R – No. The year is worse.
P/1 – What are your parent’s name?
R – My mother’s name is Judie. Her official name’s is Judith, but we call her Judie Linn, and her maiden name is (Biddlecon?). And my father’s name is Paul Robert French.
P/1 – And what do they do?
R – My father is deceased and he was a businessman [for] oil and gas property development. My mother’s a dentist, so she works as hygienist dentist. I don’t know how do you call. She does all the cleaning and the removing of the plaque, all that kind of stuff. And she is retired. She retired last year.
P/1 – And do you know how did they meet?
R – How did they meet? They met in high school. My mother was an “esportista” and my father was in the basketball team. And, so, then, they met through sports.
P/1 – What about your grandparents?
R – My grandparents? Which? Maternal or paternal?
P/1 – The maternal…
R - Paternal is easier. They met in Vancouver [and] my grandmother’s English, my grandfather’s Irish, and they met at Vancouver. And they got married at the war, the time of the war, I think. You know, that time. Just before. No, before the war. Before the Second World War. My mother was adopted. So her family, my grandparents, are English. Her mother was from England. And her father was born in England, but he was raised in the United States. And, then, they met somewhere in the middle of Canada by accident. The story of my grandmother’s is really interesting. My mother’s because she was the first woman in Canada, ever, to go to university and study law. (commentaries) It was like 1920. But one year, two years after studying law at the university, her mother died. So, she had to stop university, go home and take care of her father. Because in 1920 women only took care of that against the man. So he had no one to take care of him. So, do you have husband? You should be taking care of him. (laughs) Her real parents, they were killed during the world war, in Germany. Her parents. Like, her real parents. So they were… She was one of those children that were sent away from Germany. Early. When they started the process in Germany. I remember when they started early being… What’s the word? Antisemitic. Remember? Yeah. And this when they started. And, then, I think they had some money and they said: “Ok, let’s send the children” and then they stayed. But she never went to find her parents, you know?
P/1 – And what happened when she arrived in Brazil, do you know?
R – My mother?
P/1 – No, your grandmother.
R – In Brazil? They never arrived in Brazil.
P/1 – No, no, no. Like, you said that she was sent to Brazil.
R – No. To Canada.
P/1 – Oh! To Canada. Sorry, sorry, sorry.
R – It’s ok.
P/1 – To Canada, yeah.
R – She was sent to Canada, she was adopted. My mother was adopted when she was one and a half or two or something.
P/1 – Ok.
R – She was very young when she was adopted. Very, very young. And she was adopted by this couple. My grandparents already had a boy, fifteen years old, and they wanted another child. But they thought it would be better to adopt because there were children who needed a home. She was adopted.
P/1 – What about the Irish people of your family?
R – Yeah. It’s why I like to drink, I’m sure. (laughs) I don’t know but he was never really Irish. He’s more Canadian than Irish.
P/1 – Do you know where about in Ireland?
R – In Ireland his family comes from _________ which is in the west coast. And my father’s parents come from two parts from… She was born in London, my grandmother, but she was… Her mother came from the northwest, near Manchester. But my grandmother was born in London. Because at that time, when you live in the colonies, like I don’t know how it worked with the Portuguese in Brazil, but they always went back to London, to have the children. They never had the children in the colony. Depends on the level of the family. But they always go back to the wealthy Portuguese, I’m guessing they would do the same: go back to Portugal, the children would be born in Portugal, then they came back to Brazil. In Canada this is what happened with the English. The English who lived in India, in Australia, in New Zealand. At this time, this is what they did.
P/1 – And could you tell: do you have siblings?
R – Two brothers.
P/1 – Could you tell me the name and a little bit about them?
R – Corey is my next brother down, and he is three years younger than me. He works in the film industry, in Vancouver. He’s married, and he has a child. My next brother, Gregory is ten years, eleven years younger than me. And he lives in Calgary [Canada], and he owns a company that does something with oil and gas. I don’t know.
P/1 – Now we’re gonna talk about your childhood. (laughs) So where did you live when you were born?
R – In Nelson. It’s interesting, cause it’s a small city.
P/1 – But which area?
R – British Columbia. South of British Columbia. South of B.C., in the mountains. So it’s ten thousand people, eleven thousand people. It was mountain living. So, if you can imagine a small city in Switzerland, in the mountains. It’s the same. Or Germany, it’s the same thing. Very protected. Very safe, we walked everywhere. This is also the same city that our students go to in grade six, for the reason that one: I know everywhere there. And two: it’s very safe, you can walk everywhere. You don’t have to worry about stuff. So, Nelson is where I was born and I lived there until I was twelve.
P/1 – What about the neighborhood?
R – The neighborhood. My parents lived first in a place called Fair View, near the lake. And then when I was, like, six years old, and my father had lots of money [so] he moved, and built a big house. And then he moves, so we moved and that was great. When I remember the house, we had these… It was a huge house. We had this huge view of the lake and the city. It’s really nice. The views were great. And I remember my father and my mother, but my father mostly was very socialized. So there were lots of parties in the house. Lots. And, of course, with the view. So there was dancing. Like, in the house there was a bar, there was a dance floor, there was a “salão de festa”, all that kind of stuff. I think it is. So, it was good.
P/1 – And can you tell us a little bit about the parties, the events that you guys were celebrating?
R – Yeah. When I was young and started and then we were encouraged early on, like when we were nine or ten. In my family, we were taught how to socialize. We were encouraged to engage with adults in conversation, and talk about things. We travelled a lot when I was a child. We talked about all kind of stuff. And, so, we were encouraged to do this, and if you had people over for dinner, we wouldn’t just sit there quietly; we would be asked questions, not just like: “What did you do at school today?” But like: “What do you think about… When did you go to Italy, did you like Italy?” or “Did you go here with?” things like that. And the parties, then, we were allowed to participate until a certain time. And we were meant to socialize and have fun. And help out, always help with the party. But it was, I remember. I think it’s why I like entertainment so much. Because as a child there were always entertaining going on in my house. Always. For whatever reason. So, yeah. And the neighborhood was nice. But I had to walk to school, it was a fifteen minutes walk.
P/1 – And what about the holydays, such as Thanksgiving, Halloween…
R – Yeah.
P/1 – If you could tell us...
R – Sure. In Canada, Thanksgiving is very small. It’s not like in the United States. First, it’s in October. So, Thanksgiving is normally just a time that you get together, but not like the American version, like, everyone gets together. If my grandparents were there, at home... My father’s parents lived in the same city. So, if they happened to be there, we would get together and have Thanksgiving. But it’s not like you’ll all fly together to be at Thanksgiving. So, the big events in our family were always Christmas and the New Year. Always. So, for our family, the “noite de 24”, that’s a big event because it was just our family, together. Then, in the twenty fifth, we gave the presents. So, we would wake up in the morning, early, and we had breakfast, and, then, lunch late, a huge lunch. So, there was… And we have in Canada the Boxing Day, which is the third day. So, what happened in the third day: so, the first, the twenty fourth is the family in the evening, like in Brazil. Then, in the twenty fifth is Christmas and, then, in the twenty sixth is when it’s called Boxing Day because it’s supposed to take boxes to your friends. So, then, we… That’s when I would go with my parents to see their friends. That’s the day you visit your friends for Christmas. So, my grandparents would go visit their friends, and my parents would go visit their friends. And, then, I would, sometimes, go with my grandparents to see their friends. And, sometimes, I’d go with my parents to see their friends. But it’s a day that you went. So, what happened is: my parents would go to your house, for example, and your children, and, then, your children and me would play. The women would get together and say – because there were always food left over from the day before. Because you had two meals, right? So, then, they take the food and they make something. And that’s kind of like a… That’s a very sort of informal. It’s different in England. I have family in England, too. It’s three separate meals. So, there’s a big meal in 24, a big meal in 25 and another meal in 26. And, then, they eat after. But in Canada the 26 is more informal, it’s more visiting your friends. So, yeah. And Halloween is, of course, big for us, because it’s how we get to dress up. It’s like your carnival. And I was always creative with the costumes. So, I was always thinking, planning ahead, you know, always.
P/1 – Could you tell us about of your costumes?
R – Yeah, I remember. Yeah. Let’s see: I remember once being in – you know, Merlin? You know Merlin?
P/1 – Yeah.
R – And I didn’t have the right trousers, right? So, I don’t know what it was. I needed to have black, and I didn’t at that stage. I don’t know why I didn’t have black trousers. But I said: “Ok, that I’m gone…” And my mom said: “You are not buying black trousers just for one night.” So, then, I took a pair of trousers ____ and I went to the… I don’t know! Like, the Walmart. There was no Walmart but like the Walmart. And I bought the dye. Do you know dye? And I was doing it. I was only seven. No, eight or nine. And I was dyeing the colors. And it was… It only came out “como cinza”, but then I was like: “Ok.” I remember doing Merlin, once. That was great. Oh, God, I can’t remember. I remember Merlin really well because there was a lot of work. I would always be creative with my costumes and at, once, I was, you know Piccadilly Circus in London?
P/1 – Yes.
R – So, once I was at Piccadilly Circus. I had, like, the statue in my head. And, then, I had a loop with cars around me. (laughs) That kind of stuff. And my brother would always… Corey would just buy. Like, he would go to the supermarket, like, again, the department store, Walmart, or whatever. And he would buy the ghost, or he would buy the pirate, or he would just… He would do it that way. And, then, of course, we went with our parents. My mother and my father never went to Halloween, but my mother did. She would go out. And it’s interesting because she went last week with her grandchild. Now, my mother complains about Halloween all the time: “Oh, the children came to the door. I have to have candies.” Then, she went to Vancouver,to be with her grandchildren. And I said: “E aí?” Oh, now she said it was so nice, I had… So, I said: “If you have children, then Halloween is fun; if you don’t have children, than it’s not so much fun”. So yeah, there was Halloween. And aside from that parties, the summer – we had a summer home. So, we would be at the lake and water skiing, that kind of stuff. And the winter we skied. And we travelled.
P/1 – And did you travel around Canada or did you go abroad?
R – In Canada, yes, in the west of Canada, we did it. And, then, in the east no. And, then, in California because my grandparents have a house. They had a place in Southern California. Always, they were going for three months a year. Four months. As soon as the winter starts, they would go and, then, we would go there for, like, Christmas, sometimes, or we would go there for Spring Break, or you go there for… There’s another holiday we have… We would go there and, then, we would meet up.
P/1 – And how cold was it during the winter?
R – Well, in Nelson it’s not very cold, but it can be, like, minus ten. Then, that’s really cold. But in Canada that’s not cold. But for Nelson it is. It’s because it’s in the mountains. In Nelson,the problem is [with] lots and lots of snow. So, as a child, you hate the snow. Because, why? Do you know why?
P/1 – No.
R - Because you have to shovel. And your parents are always going: “Go shovel the driveway. Go take the snow off the sidewalk.” So, it’s a problem. This is why. Like, snow is great but you have to clean it off the car, your shoes get really dirty, you slip all over the place. So when you ski it’s fun, or toboggan it’s fun. But when you have to live… When you are a small child it’s fun. but once you are in grade three “começa”: “Go clean the car, go scrape the window, go take the snow off the drive, go out help me to do this”. So it’s a lot of work, snow. But, yeah. So, there were a lot of snow in Nelson.
P/1 – Do you remember not getting out of the house because of the snow, because it was cold?
R – “Aham”. I remember when I… It depends. In Nelson, I can remember big snow storms. When it was too ____ you had to wait until the snow truck came. Before it, the road was closed. You would have to wait for the snow vehicles to remove. So, sometimes, I’d be late to school or have the morning off. When I moved from Nelson to Edmonton when I was twelve, then it was really cold. Because it was very north. And, then, would have days, like, it would be like minus 28 “mais” wind, and like minus 48. So, they had rules, like, when the temperature was “x” the schools would close because the bus couldn’t run properly. Because it was too cold. And I used to love those days. (laughs) Yeah. Those days were great because you would get… You would be listening to the radio in the morning, and I would say: “School district number 32: all schools are closed”. You go like: “Yeah!” (laughs) Yeah. So, we had those days. And it wasn’t from the snow. I know in the United States they have this. They have snow days and, then, they close the school if there’s too much snow. In Canada, they’re so prepared for snow. It might be waited one hour or something like that, or… Vancouver is different, when it snows it’s chaos. But everywhere [else] it’s ok. Except for if it’s really, really cold. And special children have to walk to school if it’s minus forty degrees outside, and they’re very small. It’s too dangerous. So, yeah: I remember schools closing for that. And, then, of course, you have the winter sports. So, in Canada, it’s a big thing skating, hockey. Of course, my father watched hockey all the time. Like Brazilians watch football. So, they watch hockey, and skiing. You ski at the weekend, mostly. And the ski hill was very close to our house. Well, forty minutes driving. So, it was easy to go skiing. Yeah.
P/1 – Now, how about your first day at school? Do you remember your first day at school? Did you go to kindergarden before?
R – Yes, I did. Yes. I went first to play school. Pre-school. It’s called day care. And, then, school starts when you are five. So, day care for me I think, was three…I was three years old. Three or four, if I did. Well, I think I did one and a half years because at this time my mother stayed home. As soon as I was born my mother, she was, I think, I don’t know, she was going to be at [the] university. But, again, like her mother, she stopped university when I was born. She was gonna be, I don’t know, administrator or lawyer or something. I don’t know what she was studying. But, then, she stopped and I was born. So, she was at home taking care of me all the time. I didn’t go to preschool early because she was at home doing all the stuff. My brother went to preschool earlier than I did. Because she was: “Ahh he is a second child, and, then, he couldn’t do this.” So I remember it. I remember playing [but] I don’t remember preschool, I remember… Because, of course, later, when my brother went there, then my mom used to say: “I used to go here”. It’s your… In Canada it’s called day care. So it was your play school, your preschool, your day care. But I don’t remember it. And school for me, was… My family speaks English [but] School for me was [in] French. So, I was immersed. An immersion program which we, [there] are the bilingual schools in Canada. So, I was one of the first… When I say this, is when people can start figure out how old I am… (laughs) Because Canada’s had immersion for, like, 47 years, 48 years. It started, first, in Montreal, and… You know, then, they figured out. I was in one of the first groups for immersion. And when it started on Canada it was experimental, then. So, all of my instruction was in French, at school, everything, and, then, when I was in… I gotta remember this now. When I was going into grade four. Yes, grade four. My brother was going to kindergarten or grade one. When my brother was going to French immersion, there were some results that came out about bilingual education in Canada. That said, the students in grade four or grade five. There were researches in Montreal, like students in grade four or group five or grade six, like, don’t do as well in mathematics as the monolinguals. So, there was a scaring Canada, like: “Oh! Immersion is not very good.” But what happened was: first of all, the results had not been… The testing had not been done fairly. Because they test in English and I had had all my instruction in French, for example. So, that was unfair. And there were many things that were wrong initially and they quickly figured it out. A year or two years later. And then Canada continued to be very good in bilingual education. But my mother, like many of her friends, said: “Oh, you know. I notice that Lial’s math’s not as good as … or as the girl at the classwork.” So, that’s when it started. So my mother decided for my brother that he should go to a non immersion school. And, then, for me, I had only… After one more year and, she said: “No, I want both children in the same program”. So, I, then, went out.
P/1 – Why did your parents decided to have you at a bilingual school?
R – Because, you have to remember the climates in Canada. At that stage it was a social program more than anything else, the bilingual program. So, it’s because we had those two sides to Canada. And, so, there was a movement to bring it together, and then learn from one another. And remember that Canadians are very liberal, right? Even if they’re conservative, they’re liberal. So, they are always like: “No, but we have to be fair… We have to…” So, I hate that that was part of the makeup and, of course, that’s the seventies. Now, so, I think that that had a lot to do with the fact that they said: “You are going to a bilingual school”. My father, though, he still doesn’t talk. I mean, he is dead but he never spoke very nicely about the French Canadians: “Oh, the French! Oh, the French!” But, you know, encouraged language learning, you know, like: “Learn the language”. I can remember, once, we were in a national park. Because when you are in anything that is federal in Canada, anything, it has to be bilingual, it’s a law. So, for example, if you’re arriving in Canada, they, the people that check your passports, they have to be bilingual. And if they’re not, there has to be someone that speaks both languages. We were at the National park… And one day, there was a woman, she was a French Canadian. She was a ___ and she couldn’t speak… She spoke English but my father was asking something quite complex, like, I don’t know, something like: “Something happened, and bla bla bla, where will I get these?” And she was, like: “Ah? I’m not quite following you.” And, so then, I remember my father saying: “Oh, tell her that there is what I want”. And, then, he was being… I remember he being quite impressed, like: “Wow, that’s cool!” You know. So, the same time he complained about it, so the answer to the question, as: “I think it was socially acceptable.” I think it was like… And specially in Nelson. Nelson, you must remember where I was born. Nelson is famous for hippies. Famous. (laughs) Because there were people in America who did not want to go to war in Vietnam, many of them went to Nelson. Many… That is full of draft dodgers. Full. There’s that whole movement in the city. Everyone is very zen. (laughs). Still today, they are. It’s amazing.
P/1 – Is it near Vancouver?
R – Yes, it’s about: by car, 8 hours; by plane, one hour. And it’s very… It’s a kind of… It’s one of the largest producers of marijuana in the entire country of Canada. (laughs) It’s true. They grow in the mountains and in the valley. (laughs) It’s… I’m serious. (laughs). And the other thing, as you know, like, drugs in Brazil, it’s a taboo subject. But, like, in Nelson, it’s not. If you go… My mother… Oh, she is [a] drug addict. (laughs) And in her house… And she is not. In her house, in her freezer there’s always, like, a small thing with marijuana in it. So, if someone comes and say: “Oh!” And, then, she says: “Yes, of course I have”. It’s like it’s not that it’s normal but it’s not unacceptable, it’s not a taboo. No. What do you call? In English, counter culture. Do you know what that means?
P/1 – Yeah. So, now, Mr. French, we’re going to go back a little bit to your French education: how was it for a kid, you used to speak English at home and then at school French? Did you find it hard? How was the experience?
R – I mean, it’s like the students at our school: I never realized. I mean, I knew it was different but I never looked at… I just thought: “Well, that’s what I do when I go to school. Like, everyone does that.” That’s kind of what you think. You just don’t think about it. You just think that your parents take you there, they drop you off, you do that and then you go home. And everything I did there was in that other world. With this different language. You knew it was different because when came home you spoke another language, and you heard your friends and mom speak another language. And television was in another language. Until I was, like, I think it was not very long after I started. Because we have the CBC, the Canadian television. And every day we have Sesame Street. Do you know Sesame Street?
P/1 – Yeah.
R – But we always had Sesame Street in French. And I started to… I remember that I remember thinking: “Oh! It’s the same, but, now, it’s in French.” And, there were different characters and different things, and it wasn’t like they adapted it. They had two versions. And that’s what I remember starting to think: “Oh, it’s different how they’re doing this”. So, my school was different. But I do remember my mom speaking to the teacher in English. And I can remember thinking: “Why don’t I do that?” You know? (laughs) She talks in English but I, like… How they would pick you up and things like that, so... But, yeah. I don’t remember being anything weird or different, not at all.
P/1 – And do you remember the classes, the materials, the professors?
R – Yeah. I kind of do. I can remember the teachers. Yeah, I can remember. The classrooms were relatively large. The first, because I was at two schools. I remember, I told you my parents had moves and so. The first school was and old school, a big building, an old building. And the classrooms were quite big and I remember they had that old type of heating, like those radiators, I remember that. But they… It was, I think it was… I think that in some ways there were a lot of group work. I remember doing lots of group work. And I remember doing lots of shared activities, where we had to talk a lot. Because, of course, that’s what in immersion is about. You have to have the kids talk so I remember always having to say why we liked what we were doing. And there was circle time and center time and all that kind of stuff. I remember that. In the second school… I remember the classes from the school were smaller when I got there and the building was newer. And the classrooms were smaller. But… And I remember lots of artwork, lots of visual things in the classroom. But, kind of traditional style classrooms, you know?
P/1 – And the first school, how about your relationship with the teachers?
R – Was very good. The first school after daycare. So, when I was in kindergarten, when I was five years old and started school. My first two teachers, I really liked. My first teacher, I really liked. My second teacher I didn’t like. My third teacher I really liked. And so, yeah. The relationship is good, I was popular. I was well liked by the, you know, by the teachers. But I was noisy and talkative, and… Because I remember [that] once we were in the library, I would be in, like, grade four, then. And we were in the public library, on the Saturday. And my grade one teacher was there. And she said: “Oh, hello, Lyle. How are you? Nice to see you. Hello, Judie!” My mother: “How are you? Bla, bla, bla.” And when we left I remember my mother saying to me: “You know why she remembers you, don’t you? You know why she remembers you.” And I said: “Because she likes me.” And she said: “No. Because you were always making trouble in the classroom.” (laughs) So, it was not trouble but it was constantly talking or running around or doing, you know, whatever I already wanted to do. But, yeah, she was nice. You know.
P/1 – How About the strategies?
R – They were. Well, it’s Canada. So, it’s… You don’t talk when someone else is talking, you share, eye on the speaker. So that kind of stuff. I remember being very clear, like the look in the eyes. Like: “Is that what we were supposed to be doing?” And, then, you go, like: “No, I’m sorry.” That kind of stuff, you know. (laughs) What happens often in Brazil is you go: “No. “Mas” I don’t care.” Kind of attitude. But in Canada it was kind of like ___ so the strategies that they used was very much making you understand that something is not right with the picture and change it. You need to change what you are doing to fit it into the way it was supposed to be. I remember a lot when they would throw questions at you to make you think. I remember this: “Ok. But why do you think the crocodile had a bath? Why? Why would he do that?” (laughs) And, then, she would make us do or… I can’t remember I being a very strong part of it. I remember when I think back about arts. This is something I think. Because, Gabriela, who… Have I introduced?
P/1 – Yeah.
R – Gabriela is very arty. So when I think about the way Gabriela runs the art in our school. My school, I think, was not a very creative. My teachers were not very creative. I see that the way Gabriela runs it in our school and watched it. And I think: “I never had something like that in my schools.” In any of them, in art. It was more kind of traditional. So think of in the art side. It wasn’t, it was more (stayed?). But the other side, language arts, we were reading, we were really encouraged to go deep into it and question, and ask why. So I think there were a lot of reading. And I remember we had so much reading.
P/1 – What books do you remember?
R – Well, I remember, of course. When you are a child and there’s a book called “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile”… So, of course, you want that one all the time. Because when you have the name Lyle — that’s a strange name. I was just in New York last week, and I went to a bar, and I was talking to a friend of mine, and a friend of his arrived. And he goes: “Oh, he’s a really nice guy but I can’t remember his name.” Well, I just introduce myself: “Hi, my name is Lyle.” He said: “My name’s Lyle too.” And he said to me: “Don’t you think it’s a pain having such a weird name?” And I said: “Yes, I agree. It’s always hard.” So “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” which, of course, in our school we have… I put that book… (laughs) There’s “Lyle meets his mother, and Lyle lives…” He lives on forty second street in New York, and he lives in this house, you know? So, that was great. Because, of course, when you live in Nelson, a small town and, then, Lyle, the Crocodile lives in New York, it was cool so. And I remember that. It’s hard to remember all the other books that I read. It’s really hard. “Corduroy”. Of course I remember “Corduroy”. The little bear that loses the button or doesn’t have a button. Do you know that one? “Corduroy”? It’s called “Corduroy” in Portuguese too. That’s a little bear who lives in the supermarket [or] in a shopping center and it is missing a button, and a girl wants it even though it’s missing a button. And, so, there’s a whole thing about liking people for the way that they are. I remember “Corduroy”. This is early stuff. But it’s hard to remember that far back. I remember in grade… I wanted to say two, but I think it was one. But let’s say grade two. When we had already the dictionary. And I remember this: we would be reading a book. “Lyle, Lyle” and “Corduroy”. And, then, whenever we came across a new word that was interesting for us, we had to have a little book where we would write in the word. So I write the word, I don’t know, “gingerlee”. Like the way someone walks. And, then, you would have to write it and you could draw it or make a sentence. And, then, at the end of the year, you would have, like, this dictionary of your words. And, so, for me, it was like a collection. So, the reading was always linked to this. And the teachers, I remember them. They would always ask us to use… Now, of course, when you are in grade two, you’re not writing, you know, paragraphs but you are talking a lot. So, the teacher would say things like: “He walked across the room”. Is it another word we can use from your dictionary there? What did he hopped. Ok, he walked or he gingerlee walked. Ok, great. So there was always this pushing language. But, again, that’s immersion too. You have to do this in immersion. You know, you have to. Because at home I don’t speak the immersion language, so you have to… The teachers are always finding tricks to say: “Let’s get them.” But this helped my English, of course, when the English started. Of course this helped. My first language, so… I remember that… Reading and having the… I remember those dictionaries. And then creating it. And at the end of the year, you had it, you know… It was yours to get home. What would have happened to those?
P/1 – And what about recess time? Did you play? What did you do?
R – Yeah. Recess. (laughs) Recess was fun. I had… At that time the rules, the laws for schools had changed in Canada. But we used to build the snow forts in the winter. So you build these forts. Like walls of snow and… Then you would have fights with snowballs. (laughs) And we would throw. So I’d be on my side with our team and there would be the other side. And there would be like a “guerra”. But now it’s illegal. Like, if you make a snowball at school it’s an immediate suspension. You can’t. Because, what happens: when throwing it, there could be directors or something inside it. It gets in the eyes, there’s been many problems with this. So now you’re not allowed… But when I went to school you were allowed to throw those balls. Kind of. You wouldn’t be getting into so much trouble. “Don’t do that. That’s not right.” You know, whatever. Now, it’s like, you get suspension, or something. So, I remember snow forts. Our recess was twenty minutes. And it was controlled that there were always teachers at recess, marbles… You don’t really do this in Brazil. We have the circles. Yeah, marbles. We had seasons, right? So the spring time was marbles. The winter was snow forts and snowballs, that kind of stuff. In the spring is when we had skipping and foursquare, the balls. And summer was… Because summer in Canada only starts in June, so you only have, like, two weeks of summer at school, really. So… I remember those things, so, yeah. And lunch was, you know. In Canada, I remember, you take your lunch to school. But, and then you go down. It’s a communal lunch, so you take your lunch, you open your box, you have your lunch, then you go back. Then you play, then you go back to the classroom. And finish the day, like, at three o’clock. And then we walked home.
P/1 – And the skipping game, you know, you said, how was it the rules, you know?
R – Foursquares, I don’t remember the rules but I could tell you because we played foursquare at school, I have to tell you this. But is basically a foursquare and a ball and a hit a ball to you and you have to hit it back into my square. Or into another square. And there were rules like that. And if you miss, then you are out, and then someone else comes in. In skipping, we have the one, you know, just the regular skipping, then the two. How do you call double dutch? Two ropes at the same time. How do you do when you have two ropes? You know the two ropes? You go like that. You hold the rope and I hold the rope. And, then, we go like this. Like, I was starting turning the ropes. And then the person starts jumping, and double jump.
P/1 – “Elástico, eu acho.”
R – Skipping. And, then, we do songs, and stuff like that. So, then you say “pular corda”. But then we started with one, then, after a couple. When you are in grade four we’ll evenly do double dutch. It’s called double dutch. I don’t know why it’s called double dutch. And then, so, yeah, we had that and, then, what else did we have? I’m sure lots of other things. But it was just free time. If I go to the playground now, it’s the same problems in my playground: “He took my snack. He hit me… He…” It’s the same thing.
P/1 – And did you celebrate any holidays inside the school, like the national day of Canada?
R – No. Canada day’s in July, so, there’s no school.
P/1 – Oh, it’s summertime, yeah.
R – Yeah, which is the same. Canadians are not very patriotic. So, there’s people very ___. Like, you have the Canadian flag at school but you don’t. It’s not like the US. Like, the US, they start the day with ___. There’s nothing like that in Canada. And when I went to school, I don’t know if you know but Canada… Do you know, we have a prime minister, but do you know who the head of government is in Canada? Is the queen. So, in our schools you have always the photograph of the queen, at the office, and the photograph of the prime minister. And, so, assemblies were like this: you have assembly once a month. And assembly was first, you sing “O Canada”, and at the end you sing “God Save The Queen”. So, you had the two like this, it’s kind of like now it’s not like that anymore in Canada, it’s just… They have the pictures of the queen in all public buildings. But we don’t sing “God Save The Queen” anymore. We just sing “O Canada”. It’s unbelievable but Queen Victoria day is still a very important day in where I come from, in British Columbia. So, B.C. and Ontario are very much more English. And so that we had these celebrations like Queen Victoria day. It’s an important day. But we don’t celebrate the queen’s birthday or, you know… Canada day is a small thing.
P/1 – And how is the Queen Victoria day?
R – Queen Victoria day is a long weekend, and there’s always activities around Nelson, anywhere. there were always activities that are family orientated. And they are really lovely. So, like, it’s families, it’s kids, it’s lots of different things in the park. It was really, really well organized. I remember Victoria is called Victoria Day Long Weekend. And I remember always, we did things as a family. We would go to see whatever events were going on in the park, or, you know, that kind of stuff. But it’s not the same as remember… What did they call it in the US? Independence Day, it’s huge. There’s no fireworks or something. This is more a kind of like, a family’s day.
P/1 – And do you remember some of the activities that you used to do with your family?
R – In these Holiday?
P/1 – Yeah.
R – No. We didn’t do. We would watch. So I remember. It is very Canadian. Do you know logrolling? You have a log. Pawn. You know pawn? The tree. You cut the tree, and it’s a log. And, then, they put it in water and then I stand here, you stand there, I run this way, you run that way and the first one to fall in the water loses. Do you know this? No, it’s really Canadian. (laughs) So, I’m standing this way looking for you, you are standing that way and we start running on the log. I run this way, you run that way and you’re trying to not. And who ever falls in the water loses. (laughs) And then you have the game where you cut the tree. Who’s the fastest to cut the tree. You get the idea, it’s very Canadian. So a lot of things to do with cutting wood, being in the forest. I don’t like this kind of stuff, my mother does. My mom thinks it’s fun. You know, or climbing the tree to get the ball or ring the bell or whatever. Fun stuff, yeah. But yeah those were activities… And I never really liked it. I remember having to go. And, then, we would go: “No, do we have to go? I don’t wanna go there.” You know. “Why do we go to Vancouver for the weekend? Whatever.”
P/1 – And do you have one peculiar significant memory from the school? From this period? Or [something] funny? (laughs)
R – Yes, but… It’s horrible this story. (laughs) We have two or three times a year, once or twice a year, then, we would have “cachorro quente” at school. Hotdogs, right? And you would have to buy tickets. Ok, so it was in grade two. So you would buy tickets, then, on the day of the hotdogs you would give the tickets, and you would have a hotdog. And it’s a big thing. Because you never are allowed to have this kind of thing, you never have this kind of food at school. That’s like once a year, twice a year. So, I was seven or eight years old and I remember the teacher, Mrs. Brown. And she had the tickets in the bottom of the clean deck. I saw where she was keeping it, so I took extra tickets. (laughs) In I just kept that. And, then, on the day of the hotdogs, I had one, then I had another, and then I had a third, then a forth. (laughs) And she saw me. And she says to the principal: “I think he only bought two. I think his mom only gave him two. So they phoned my mom, and said: “How many hotdogs did you remember…” No, she said: “One or two? I gave him money for two… I gave him two dollars.” Or something like that. So, they called me to the office. And, then, of course, the principal says: “Did you steal tickets?” And, of course, even in my office, what is any eight-year-old child say? “No!” (laughs) So when I have children in my office I remember exactly what happened to me. That was saying: “No, no, no.” Then, he said: “Look. You did, we know, because you did this and then, I remember telling him. And, then, I said to him: “Don’t tell my mom”, “Don’t? No, we already talked to your mom and bla bla bla.” So, I remember that was in the afternoon. It was a long afternoon, I remember that. (laughs) But I decided. I remember I was eight, and I decided: “Ok, I’m not going home. Not going home.” (laughs) And that was like: “Ok, where can I go? Because I’m gonna get too much trouble. When I leave the school, I’m gonna walk down to the train tracks, and I’m just gonna walk. I’m gonna leave.” (laughs) No, really, I was like, I’m leaving. I’m not coming here anymore. I’m running away. So, I leave school and I was: “Oh, like, ok.” When you leave the corner, I said: “Ok, I gotta go left.” I was going. “It’s down there somewhere. Now I will just find it.” Who was in the corner? My mother, on the car. She opens the door, and says: “Get in.” (laughs) The one day I don’t get to walk home from school. And I remember that. Very clearly.
P/1 – And the principal was very angry?
R – Yes, he was. He was, and the teacher… The teacher was mad. And I think that she was mad because it was so stupid where she kept them. I think she was mad on herself. He was really good. He did, I think, like I do. With the students we talked about honesty, we talked about why it’s wrong about what we do, about what we don’t do, about what rules...I remember it. He wasn’t yelling at me or anything like that but he was tough. And that was good, because I learned it’s a very important lesson early on about what you don’t do. Of course, my father got home. But that’s another story. But, yeah, it was not easy.
P/1 – How old were you?
R – I was eight.
P/1 – You were in the second school?
R – First school still… And I remember the thing, also, to that whole conversation with the principal. Everything was in English.
P/1 – Ohhh.
R – Yeah. I remember that. Things are changing here. (laughs) This is kind of serious, like, because I never see the thing. Sometimes, I can remember. You knew when the teacher in immersion was mad. Your French teacher. It’s my only teacher. You knew that she was mad. But if it was really serious, they would say, sometimes, say something in English. Now, you always think, it’s kind of, if you’ve been really bad, we’re gonna talk to you in English. But I’ll always think it’s wrong. I think it should just be done in French, you know, the whole thing that. And the principal was… He was good, though. He wasn’t too tough. But I remember getting caught. I remember what my father and my mother at home said: “So, next time, what do you have to make sure?” Then I said something, like: “Next time, I have to make sure that I don’t buy them one after the other.” (laughs) “That I do it slower.” Something like that, I said. But I was joking because I was so mad, it got me lots of trouble with my father. Lots. Lots, lots, lots. Anyway.
P/1 – Were you, in any other time, in the principal’s office?
R – Yes. (laughs) But it was later on. When I was in elementary school no, in grade two. I could be problematic, sure. But I was never fighting with kids, and things like that or… Stealing, once. Yeah. But, no. I was, later, in school. In middle school, yes. Then I was in the office a lot.
P/1 – And, you said that the principal was actually good. Do you remember how was this disciplinary way of dealing with the students?
R – No. there were no consequences. there was a lot of discussion about it. And, then, of course, the parents were gonna deal with this at home. So there wasn’t anything like I was gonna misplay or anything like that. It was just like a discussion about what was right and what was wrong. I can’t remember his name, but I could remember his office, very clearly. But he wasn’t too tough. He was a very fair guy. I just can´t remember who he was. Then, when I moved schools, to the second school, the worst possible thing happened: the principal, Burning was his first name… I just remember, because my grandfather was very good friends with my principal. They used to golf together. And I remember my grandfather saying: “So, if you do anything wrong at school, I’ll know because every Tuesday I golf with him.” (laughs) So, I go: “God.” So there’s advantages and disadvantages of living in a small town. Because it’s safe, it’s secure, but there’s a disadvantage that everyone knows who you are. You know, it really is. It’s a disadvantage.
P/2 – Makes it smaller ?
R – Makes it smaller? Yeah. Then, people know. You know.
P/1 – And how was it in the second school?
R – The second school was nice. It was difficult because, you know, you have to make new friends. I remember that. I think one of the most important thing was starting drama. There were drama classes when I was in grade four. Because you can have drama. You had to get drama, and music and arts. And in grade five you had to start to choose only one. Drama it was great. It was a forward thinking about stage. But I remember doing drama, and I had a really great drama teacher. And we had, still, this stuff to express yourself at a young age, which was great, you know. I enjoyed that. The only thing that there was… When we moved to the other school, we moved houses. We moved to the other school. And I was finishing grade three and, then, grade four. In grade three, that my parents got divorced, so the movement at school, and the movement at house was very much linked to the “époque” of divorce. And they were one of the first parents to divorce in the city. I don’t know, whatever, who knows, of this class of people. They were the first. So there were always like this attention. I think the first two years was horrible at school because it was all linked together. Because you have a new school, make new friends, parents divorced, so, when drama came the year after, I think, it was, probably, another reason why I enjoyed it. Something different, I guess. I don’t know. But at the time I was in grade five, I was fine. But the first year and a half, two years was tricky.
P/1 – And was it easy to make new friends?
R – Yeah, it was. It wasn’t impossible. Because, you know, we were in grade three, half way in grade three. I don’t remember it being difficult. I was lucky because on the same street that I lived, there were two boys from my class. So, my neighbor was from my class. We became very good friends. So, I think that part, making friends, wasn’t so hard. I remember the first day at school being like: “I don’t wanna go.”
P/1 – Do you liked this time when you started to learn English, some subjects…
R – No. In grade four it starts, yeah. But, then, remember that when my brother started school, then my mom said: “Ok. Now we’re going to put them both in the same program.” Because you have strands within the school. You can have immersion or not. But I think this statistics made my mom worry. In grade four, I can’t remember if I was… It started at grade four, or half way through grade four, but it was in grade four that I was pulled out immersion. And I went back into monolingual. And in grade five, you start having French twice a week, what they called “core French” in Canada, because everyone has to do it. And I remember thinking: “God, these people are useless.” I remember the teacher would be saying things like: “Hey! We’re gonna talk about numbers.” (laughs) Then, I: “God! They can only count up to five.” Or something like that. And they kind of count very well. Whatever. It was like really boring. But anyway.
P/1 – Could you compare the two schools? What were the differences?
R – Yeah. That was weird, because it’s in the public school that work, and so if… I don’t know if you know people in the US, like New York. Do you know New York? Like, it’s public school number thirty two and forty one, and there was this: “Oh, he came from thirty two. Ours is better.” So, when I went to the new school, they said: “God, you came from ___. Now you’re here.” It was like, you know, there’s always this kind of competition. So I think initially I thought my other school was better, and you want to pretend like that when you get into the school, but, then, eventually… I think this school that I was at was more forward thinking. Not as conservative as most, certainly. Because of the drama. And the teachers were more out there. But, I mean, my grade three teacher was a hippie, for sure. And she was always dressed in weird clothes, and the hair, and brede, you know. And it really was organic, and (laughs) yeah. Seriously. And, then, I joined… that’s when I started to like music. And, so, when I was in grade five, four, sorry, when I was in grade four, half way through grade four, they had a band at school. And I said that I wanted to play piano in the band, so, then, I started learning piano. And it was easy to do fifties music. And, then, we would perform at other school, as we always did. So I was in grade four and started it in grade five. Then I became a proper member of the band. It was at grade five, six and seven. And, then, I would go around to other schools, and we would perform. We did, like, Elvis music and fifties music. Ok, rock’n’roll. And we would dress up, you know, with leather jackets and weird hair. But the teachers were there supporting it. So it was extra school curricular activity. And that was great. That was different. And the other schools didn’t had that. None of the other schools had that. And that was from the teachers. The woman who did drama was brilliant. The guy who did the music was excellent. And the guy who did art, even though he was tough, he was a really good art teacher. So, we were doing like making films and things. When I was in grade six, no, five… “Sexto ano no Brasil”. We were making films in art class and doing drama.
P/1 – And did the school have the material?
R – Yeah. They had all the band equipment. It’s a public school, so they just request it from the government. It’s not like Brazil. (laughs) No.
P/1 – And besides the music, the arts, and the drama, were there any other activities?
R - Yeah. There was… Nothing that I participated in, though socially, with my friends, and stuff. Asides from skiing. But, then, what happened was in school. And, then, in the public school, even though if you are living in a nice area, skiing is the have and the have nots because skiing is expensive. You need the equipments, you need to buy the lift pass etc. and there were also people who liked to ski and [people who] didn’t like to ski. There’s that, too: “I never liked skating. Skating I always thought was boring.” It’s not because of money. It’s just because I didn’t like it. So, I skied, but, besides from that, the skiing was more the sportiest. So I didn’t join any of the teams or things like that. My brother did. He was in the soccer team, and the bla bla bla. But I didn’t like that. I hated. I hated hockey. Cause, if you’re a Canadian child, like if you are a Brazilian boy, your father is gonna put you in “futebol”. And my father put me in the hockey. I hated hockey. I was like: “No. God. No, please!” So I had to do hockey. But, then eventually I got out of hockey.
P/1 – For how long did you have to do?
R – Two years or something. Some hellish thing. It was horrible. Horrible. But, yeah. My friends skated, and played hockey... I think that those other sports, other things that when we are at school were sports orientated. And I didn’t. Except for skiing. I did it with them.
P/1 – Now, from grade six to grade nine. Did you find it really different? Were there more subjects?
R – Yeah, for sure. This is it. Once I was in grade, sort of eight, I mean earlier, before grade six, school was easy for me. Academically it wasn’t difficult for me at all. The problem that I had at school was: I would finish the work earlier than whatever, and I would fool around. So, this is why I was always in trouble. So, “cuidado”. I’d finish, and, then, I’d say: “Ok.” And, then, I tried talking to you, or to you. The teachers would always begin. This is something that I see now in administration. Is it that you tell teachers that you need to have other work to do for those students who are gonna finish early. I was always finishing earlier. I would find it too easy, or whatever. Or I would just not wanna do it, and, then, the teachers weren’t working with me. But the biggest change there is when we moved cities. So, this is an important, so, what happened was, in grade seven, then, my father decided to open a company in Edmonton. So, he decided: “Ok, we’re gonna move and this is a big city.” So, at that stage, and this is when we divided our family because my mother lives in Nelson, my father lives in Nelson. We would have one week with my mother [and] one week with my father. Right? Or two weeks, whatever. So, it was a split in the chair and my brother and I was together. Then, my father moves to Edmonton. So, then, my mother and my father decided, and we got to chose. I decided to move to Edmonton, and Corey decided to stay in Nelson with my mother. And so then I went to Edmonton. So, the change of schools when I was at that age, was very much linked to changing school. This trick’s changing provinces, changing cities, and, so, yeah. But it wasn’t difficult. Not at all.
P/1 – And what about the city? Did you enjoy it?
R – That was great because I was living in a city of what… Half a million, so, like the size of, I don’t know. São José dos Campos or something. We were going from very small to quite big. Not massive but quite big. And that was great. because, then, that was the best part. Better restaurants, ballet, theater, all that stuff. More cinema. That was great. I enjoyed that.
P/1 – Only you? What happened?
R – With my father. What happened is that the holiday – spring break, Christmas, Eastern – then I would be together with my brother. Or I would go to my mother’s, or he would come there. But, then, it was always like territorial because if my brother Corey came into our house it was my house. Not his. And, then, I would be like: “Look, here you don’t do this.” And if I went to Nelson, then, I would be in his house, type of thing. That was fun.
P/1 – And how many subjects did you have from grade six on? Lots?
R – Yeah.
P/1 – Could you choose them?
R – Yeah. We had electives, yeah. As soon as you are in grade seven and you have electives, you have to choose things like I chose, I remember having metal work making whatever, metalwork, woodwork, cooking... Did I do cooking? I don’t think I did cooking, you know? Sawing, I didn’t do sawing. I do remember doing metalwork and woodwork. Those were two of my options. And in terms of the arts, at that stage I left drama I didn’t go to drama anymore. Or did I do? I can’t remember what I did. I did art at that stage. I didn’t do drama, I did art. And then, I also remember when I was in elementary school, when I was studying in Nelson, we had Canada works with inclusion. So, in my classroom I remember we had two girls, one that had physical disability, and one who had a mental disability. But they were very severe, really severe, children were down… I said down, downstairs but in another classroom. I remember this very clearly, there was a boy who came into the school who was deaf and had mental disabilities. It was a double (waning?). I remember that there was a program at lunch time. Because, they said: “Look.” They had an assembly, and, then, they said: “Ok, we now have a student in the school that is deaf. So he speaks only in sign language.” And, so they offered at school sign language. At lunch time. I remember doing sign language at lunch time and I did it when I went to the new school. They had this sign language program, so I did that there. And I did it for like two years. So I could. Today when I remember much of that, I can have a basic conversation in sign language, you know we have different sign languages. You have Brazilian sign language, you have American and the British. I know the American sign language. But, yeah, I remember that at school. So, when I went to the high school, I carried on with these options. I remember hating sports in middle school. I hated PE classes. The teachers were quite tough and you cycle through different sports, but, like, really boring, really tough. I remember hating PE. You know, things like that. Yeah, there were lots of options they had to choose from. And some of them took place at school, and some of them not. Some of them we would go by school bus to the activity. Like, metalwork was in another school that had a metal shop. A high school. We would go there, do that, and go back. That kind of stuff.
P/1 – And did you spend the whole day at school?
R – Yes, of course. Always. That’s not an option in Canada. From eight twenty until three o’clock or something. It’s a normal day. We lunched at school.
P/1 – And did you have one significant teacher from this period?
R – Oh, the German teacher, absolutely. From grade five, six, seven. I can’t remember her last name. She’s significant. Her first name is Corey. And the reason that I can remember it’s Corey, now, is because when I go back to Nelson as an adult educator I talk to my old teachers like professionals now. You know? So, now, when I go back, everybody says: “Oh, Corey, Corey.” She actually, she died last year. I can’t remember her last name but she was very significant. I also remember the ones that were tough. Mr. (Calinski?). He was just, he was evil. He was just nasty. He would say things like: “I know you better than you think you know yourself.” And I know you should… I used to do nasty things to him, although. Evil things. Always. (laughs)
P/1 – Do you remember some of them?
R – Oh, yes, I remember very well because he was nasty, he was evil. And he was this really tough. You know, really tough. And, then, he would say these things: “I know you better than you know yourself.” Or whatever. So, I sent to his house, on various occasions, pizzas. He would arrive and say: “I didn’t order a pizza.” Tow truck. Do you know tow truck?
P/1 – No.
R – The truck to remove a car. I said: “We have a car with [a] problem in front of the house.” I did lots of things like that because he was nasty, he was. (laughs) He would say: “I know one of you here is doing this. And whoever is doing it, I want you to stop.” And, then, you wanna say something. I didn’t do it all the time but I did it so often.
P/1 – You used to do this with some friends?
R – One friend, yeah. The first time I did it I did it alone. That’s enough. He needs to be thought a lesson. Then, the second time I did it with Kevin, when he lived across the street. That’s when we did the tow truck. That was great. The tow truck was so cool. But, I mean, nothing horrible. We didn’t do anything horrible to him. But that’s when it started it and that’s the point. When you see it at school. I saw it at school, the thirteen, twelve, ten, thirteen year-old. If they’re no caught busy, if they are intelligent kids, and you’ve got to keep them busy because, otherwise, they will try, you know. And I had the same problem in grade eight. I had a math teacher. She was out to lunch and we would take advantage of her and do things like that. I remember him, (Calinski?) is, being significant because he was really a pain. He was really, really… I remember being. In Canada, in that school system that’s when the first time when we had a parent and teacher meeting with the children. The students would be present. We do it in our school, but when they are older. So I had to sit there, I remember, with my father. He was getting odd about Lyle is disrupted. I was like, I said: “Ok”, “But your class is a boring. You don’t do this, yu don’t do that”. And, then, my father would say: “Enough, you don’t speak to adults like that. He is your teacher, you be quiet.” So, it was very much that kind of time of the seventies. You know, like, enough. So, he got away with murder. As a teacher. Because, nowadays they will listen more to the students. Sometimes is too much. You know, a parent will phone the school and say: “Felipe told me that Mrs. ___ hit her today.” I don’t think so, but they believe everything. While my father would believe nothing. Nothing the teacher said was right. So, you need to find a balance. He was tough. And I think he is dead, too. What a shame. Aside from that, I remember teachers also from high school, you know?
P/1 – Sorry, what about the principal at this school, the principal’s office?
R – Yeah, I know. Well, we had, until I was sixteen, there was corporal punishment at school. But when I was… how old was I when I got it? Fourteen, fifteen, the first time. Fourteen. I was in grade eight. And I had been to the principal’s office, but you go to the vice principal when you are in trouble at school. The vice principal deals with the behavior issues. Bigger issues, big problems, you go to the principal, like serious, serious issues. So, anyway, I have been to the vice principal’s office many times, I had been in trouble with the teachers, fooling around, being late. In my middle school, if we were late, if the bell rang and you were late, you needed to have a late slip. Ok? The teacher would not let you in without a late slip. If you had a late slip, you had a detention at the same day for thirty minutes after school. You couldn’t say: “Oh, but I have piano lessons. Oh, I have a dentist.” They would say: “I’m so sorry. You are late, you have a detention. So, we would go to detention. And you would sit in the room like this, and you’d have to do a work. You take whatever you wanted to work and the vice principal would be there, sitting, doing her work. And she was really tough. She was really bitchy. I remember once I had a detention for, whatever, three to three thirty. Imagine. Three thirty. After thirty minutes, I was like putting my material, and she said: “Where are you going?” And I said: “Thirty minutes is up”, “I tell you when you go”. So I thought at that stage: “Ok. Fine, bitch.” (laughs) And I said: “Ok, so I wait. I just sit here.” And then she waited like two minutes and said: “You may leave.” So I thought: “Ok, wait.” What I did was I went home, I went to the public library then I got the “manual de regras”, I don’t know, the school rules. It’s a public school, it’s public, so I get it out and I read it. Then, I made some copies of certain pages. And I waited for the next. And there were a time I was late again and she was there. And I waited for exactly thirty minutes. ___ And she said: “Again? I told you…” And I said: “You can’t tell me anything, I’m terribly sorry but Rule number thirty two six nine, page thirty two. (laughs) If you break this rule, I can take you to court. Do you understand me?” And, then, she started saying...
P/1 – How old were you?
R – At eighth grade, so, “oitavo ano”. And she was like, going: “No. You are this, you are that, I wanna talk to your father.” So, anyway, I had these run-ins. And she said to me, on the last time: “The next time you are in my office, for whatever it is, you are going to have corporal punishments.” Which means, beatings. And so, you need, in Canada, at this stage where I lived, you have to have parental approval. Of course. My father had signed something earlier on saying: “Whenever it’s necessary, you can do this.” Ok? So, anyway, it happened when we were in art class and I was doing artwork, and, there’s two or three fooling around with the knives. Or doing cutting. And they cut up all my artwork. All of it. They destroyed it. And I made one cut in there. And then, of course, the teacher sends all of them to the office. Boom. “So, she’s got all the three of you. You are mean.” And she says: “Ok, you two, bla bla bla. You are gonna get it. Because I told you the next time…” And I said: “No, this is not fair”, “They did this to me, I made one cut”, “You did something”. And it’s the same thing I say in my school. “I’ve warned you before, I told you [that] if you come again, there’s no discussion, your parents will be called.” And at certain time you have to say no. But it was corporal punishment, it was beating. So, you had to hold out your hand. And they administer it like having a straw…
P/1 – She did this?
R – Yeah, she did. And the next year I got one more time, then you go home with a special note.
P/2 – How your parents dealt with this situation?
R – My parents doubled the punishment at home. So I had three on each hand. So, at home six on each hand and plus a month of detention at home. A month of no… Nothing. School, home. My father was very strict like this. If you didn't do anything wrong, if you had good report press, if you were good in the class, if you were respectful you could do you were totally free but if you broke the rules then everything went so… I remember that, she was very though. But, then, that was the phase of adolescence so, being rebellious. And I was very rebellious. Very. With the teachers, specially. You know? Because you fight with them all the time. It’s a “briga”. But then in high school it was completely different. In high school, it was, you know.
P/1 – How was your high school period?
R – It was great. It was a great high school. They had built a brand new high school. Bright new. It was fantastic. They had every resource you can imagine. It was amazing. It was beautiful. And they had, like… They had both, academic and vocational high school. So, they had students in the school who were academically not very good. But they needed to go to high school. So, they had for, then, horticulture, or beauty. They had a beauty saloon in the school. They had a car maintenance place in the school. So, how about them, these vocational people to get? That’s what you can do for your extra classes. You could do, like, mechanics or welding, or beauty, hair things, you know. Whatever you wanted. So, I did cooking at that stage. That’s when I started to do professional cooking at high school. But, then, I did all my academics. So, they had the two tracks in Canada. Or, you’re gonna be more vocational, or you gonna be like a mechanic or you gonna be arts, as well. Because they had, you know, graphic arts, they had films, they had all that other stuff. And, then, they had the academic track for people who wanted just to go to pure university. And they had the mix people who might want to be a filmmaker but also go to university. So it was great. It was really good to go to high school. And the teachers were excellent. Really good.
P/1 – Was it bilingual?
R – No. At this time it was monolingual. there were two options in the school: they had immersion classes and they had core French. I did, then, core French. Cause I’ve been in an immersion for so long. I could have got back if I wanted to. But I don’t know how I didn’t. It was my choice in high school. Everything at high school was my choice. What you wanted to do. Everything.
P/1 – And did you start focusing your subjects? Regarding your future, how did you choose them…
R – First, I was much more fun vocational. Cooking, horticulture. Horticulture was the best class of all. I don’t like planting and gardening. But it was such an easy class. (laughs) it was so easy. I thought: “This is just delicious!” We go out to the garden and we were learning about the water, about the planting plants and it was like there was no test. Like: “This is just great! I love this.” You had cooking and, of course, you have math and sciences and all other, and you say: “Oh, this is boring. I don’t want to do this anymore.” Then, after grade ten I was after the “primeiro colegial”. My father said: “Like, if you don’t do more academic subjects, you are not gonna go to university. Are you sure you wanna be a horticulturist? You know.” (laughs) So, anyway. And, then, I started doing more. So, I did all the academics. You have to do five academic subjects in order to get prepared for university. And you can choose them. French can be one of them, so… And I remember doing chemistry, biology. Were my two sciences, math, English language and social studies, which is history and geography together. That was one of my strongest subjects. Very strong. I remember, because when I finished high school, on the last year of high school, they had… They introduced state examinations. ENEM (Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio). [Do] you know ENEM?
P/1 – ENEM.
R – Yeah. So, they introduced it in the province of Alberta. I was at the second group. I think that was gonna do it. I don’t think I was the first group because they would have some experience. And the second… I think that’s the second group. And in social studies, I remember I had, like, the second top grade in the province, or something. So, my teachers were really, they were really excited by this. It was like I was in the top. Top ten of the province, or something. So, reflected my mom, then. But it was just an interest of the area. In the subject material. And chemistry, too. Math was very touching, though.
P/1 – And when you were in the high school, were you thinking about am I gonna be…?
R – I was, yeah. First, I thought that I should be a chemist because I loved chemistry. I loved chemistry. And my father was saying to me things like: “But, seriously, [do] you wanna work in a lab? You don’t wanna be in a social position of any kind”, “No, dad, is really great”. And eventually you realize: “No, I don’t want to be working in the lab. Because, you know. Yeah. Chemistry, first. And, then, the idea of medicine. Then, I thought: “I want to be a doctor.” Doctor would be great, ‘cause, then, I can combine the sciences. Sciences were great. I also liked language arts. I enjoyed it, but the last teacher I had in Canada, she was a new teacher. It was funny, because when I was in grade eight, she was the student teacher in the class. You know, when you’re learning to become a teacher. And she was a bitch. You know, when your just starting, and she was really though. So I got her in her first job as a teacher, so she was trying everything. Before I got to high school in Canada, I went to England for a short period of time. And I went to a boarding school there as well. So, I was there for a short period of time. And when I came back to Canada, I was comparing all the time the school systems, you know. And in the UK they pushed us more to be independent. And the Canadians also pushed me to be independent, but was a little bit more: “Ok, you’re gonna read this book again, read this page again.” In the UK, they would just say: “Figure it out for yourself.” Well, I was comparing them. So, when I was in high school, I mean, I had travelled a lot in my life when I was in elementary school. The first flight I ever did by myself I was completely alone, without my parents. I was six. So, they put me in the plane and I flew away. Then, I went to visit my grandparents. But, since then, I’ve always been. When I did the book with, you guys, I had so many airplanes in my memory book. Because I travelled a lot in my life. It’s part of my life. When I went to England, there were just another thing going on: The way and, then, I came back. And, so, when I finished… So, then, I did the high school. I said: “Chemistry, no.” Then, medicine. And I thought: “What am I gonna do?” And, so, when I finished, I moved from Edmonton to Vancouver to go to university at British Columbia. And the idea was to… You enter first in pre math or science, and then you transfer to medicine. So, that was my idea: “I’m gonna do this.” So, after a short period of time, I’m jumping, I’m jumping over high school, a little bit. So, high school was fun. And high school was great socially. I had a group of friends. Cause in high school, you have the groups. You have the jocks. Do you know what a jock is? “Esportistas”. And, then, you have the nerds, you have… You have the groups in high school. So I wasn't part a “esportista”, but I wasn't [in] the nerd group. The nerds were the real academics. They were always the top. The top of everything. And I was, like, into the middle group in high school. That was fun. High school was… It wasn’t a bad experience. No. Overall, positive.
P/1 – And did you use to go out with your friends? And what kind of places?
R – Bars. When I was fourteen, fifteen was going to bars, already.
P/1 – And were you allowed to drink?
R – Hum, hum. But I did. (laughs) Cause I was tall. (laughs) so, they would never ask me for ID. But I could never invite most of my friends because most of them were short or they looked like they were fifteen or whatever. In Canada, you have to be eighteen. So, like, you know. I learned in my house. How many parties I have been so... I can go to a bar and say: “Yeah. I want a dry martini and, you know, things like that. (laughs) I was fine, from an early age going to the bar. (laughs) A few times ago I got caught. My father travelled a lot and, so, we had like a housekeeper nanny kind of thing. So, I would steal the car and go. I’d open my window, go out at night.
P/1 – Alone?
R – Well, with friends. I did with lots of friends.
P/1 – Taller, as you?
R – You try your best to have as tall as you, yeah. (laughs) But, then, I did get caught. Once. I was so good with taking the car and not getting caught [but] once I got caught. I was in grade eight. Then, my father said: “Ok. When you are allowed to get your driver’s license, in your birth date, to do the test, you’re waiting six months after. As a punishment.” And, then, he also said: “You’re not going to get a car.” But I knew that he would change his mind, that was, like, there’s no way he’s not gonna give me a car. That’s impossible. This is impossible. So, he did. I got the car. And, in Canada, you have two cars. You have one for the winter and one for… ‘Cause the winter is a very heavy. You don’t wanna be driving like a very nice car in the winter. Cause you slide and have accidents, and the snow is hard. But, yeah. So, going at high school, fun, good friends, lots of travel.
P/1 – And what about, like, your mother? How was the expectation of you? Did they have any expectations of you falling in a specific carrier?
R – Yeah. I think that they thought that I would follow what my father does. You know, like a businessman. Because I could socialize and I could mingle, and he’s very good at that as well, but having my own company, working with selling and buying and negotiation. So, that was the expectations or the hope. So, medicine they were like: “Well, are you sure?” So, I finished high school, went to Vancouver alone. My grandparents lived outside of Vancouver. They had always had a house in Vancouver. And so, there, they were there. But I didn’t live with them. And I went into a house, there are apartments. And I lived there when I went to university. But after six months, I was: “No, no, no, no. I’m not staying here. I’m leaving.” And, then I left, and I went to London. And, then, I applied for university, there. And I said: “Now, I will go, and I’ll just stop the studies, and I start it again in London.” What is the big deal. So, go to London and my mother was really worried, like: “You won’t study anymore.”, “So, now, I will.” So, I went. And I was offered a place. What happened was, I also decided. I wanted to study in medicine or do I want to do something different, or do I want to had English or whatever. So, I had applied for different things. I was accepted in Oxford. But I was living in London. So I had an offer in Oxford. And it was like: “This is good.” Even though I was gonna study English and history, I was: “Well, this is good because you can do anything once you go to Oxford. But I, then, had, like, seven months before university started, because remember I left Canada. And then it starts. Then, I rented a flat in London. And I was sharing with other people.
P/1 – Where was it in London, you said?
R – In London was in Park Lane, North London. Just north of Henry’s Park. And that’s where I first lived. And I had these great people to live with. Two of them were doctors, and at the university, studying medicine. So I could see, for them, if I really wanted to be a doctor. Nick and I became best friends, and another one who was a bitch and another one that was boring. So, there was a big group of us. So we became very social. But at that time, I decided: “Ok, I’m not living in London. There’s no way. This is too crazy. I’m not going to Oxford. Even to Oxford, it’s an hour from London. I would say: “No, I’m living. That’s when the fight started, because I said: “I’m not going to Oxford.” Because it was also free university. Is free. So, I don’t have to pay for it. So, my mom was like: “No. You cannot give up this opportunity. You have to go.” I said: “No, no, no living in London.” It’s my decision, not yours. Cause you’re not paying anything. So, you know. It’s not like I’m going to the US and you buy 25 thousand dollars. You know, it’s free. So, anyway. I withdrew. And, then, you enter something called clearing. It’s in the UK, so you fill in a form and say: “Now I wanna study in this, and I choose four universities in London, really good ones, and said: “These are the ones I want.” And, then, in clearing, it’s a waiting game, cause you are waiting for you get a place. Like: “I have a place in Oxford. I gave it up. She takes it.” So, she was in clearing, waiting and hoping. And there’s a backup list. But the offers I got were ___ Bristol, Newcastle and… I said: “No. No.” So, then, I phoned, I phoned or I wrote, there was no email. And I said: “Ok, I’m having a year off. (laughs) And I’m going to travel in Europe” And that’s what I did. So, then, I travelled in Europe. All over. From London. So, I would, like, go from London to Paris. And, then, I’d go back. And I go to Rome, or I go to Amsterdam, or Madrid, or… And I lived in Madrid for like… The second year I studied Spanish for a while, and, then, I went to Madrid. So: “Now, I’ll live in Madrid for a while and studied more.”
P/1 – You just travelled or you were…
R – No, I just traveled. And it was fun. (laughs) And, then, I went back to London. When I go back to London, I thought: “Well, I should work.” And I applied for a job, and, then, I worked at BBC. So, in my time off between the university. I worked as a researcher for World Service which is the radio. So, that was great. What happened was I would work with the producers. And they would say: “Ok, you’re gonna do a program on…” I don’t know. Whatever. And, then, we would have to research it. Or they would say, like: “There’s an event coming up, there’s a book being released by ‘Cidade Jardim’. Find all that you can and we are going to do a story of it.” And I would research it. And, say: “Ok, these are the people you’re gonna interview. This is what you should do. This is the contacts.” So, we would do all that. And that was so much fun. Because when you work for the BBC what happens was everything, then, became free. What do I mean free? I didn’t pay anymore for the theatre, the opera. The opera I paid. But I got the tickets. The theater, the ballet, everything was free, then. Completely. Then, of course, it’s like: “I don’t ever want to go to university. Why am I going to stop this?” (laughs) Exactly. Like, why would you even stop that? But, then, I said: “Ok. Enough. It’s enough.” The last thing I did for BBC was the opening of Eurodisney. When Euro Disney opened, I went for the group of producers and I ___. Then, it was great. And that was my last ___. And that was great, because you stayed in one of the best hotels, at the Eurodisney side. We had everything organized. Whenever you’re from BBC it was: “Ok, whatever you want.” So, that was great. And, then, I went back to university. And I studied psychology. And that was my choosing. Because I know that I wanted it. And, in London, and then, I did my master’s degree right after. So, it was “boom, boom, boom”. I did part time jobs while I was in university, so you do something to make extra money. And, then, while I was finishing my master’s degree is when I did my certification to teach. Because I thought: “Well, as I travel so much, why don’t I teach?” Because, then, when I go to India, I know this place. So, when I was at university, it opened up another opportunity. Because it was like, what I would do, as we would have the winter break, the Christmas break. So, you would stop in December 17th, and you go back, like, January 12th. So, that was a month. And, then, in the summer, we would stop for a longer period. So I was gone. So, every June, every December I was in Asia: India or Thailand or Vietnam or Philippines or anywhere that was warm in Asia. And cheap. Because, as a student, you could go… Well,, I had money from my family, but I could go and just live in the beach for a week with, you know, fifty pounds. So it was easy, you know, very easy. So, I would do that. And, then, in the summer, I would do things like Turkey, Greece and sometimes Canada. You know, avoid. So, then, I decided: “Well, without this travel I’ve always travelled, what will I do if I wanted to go to Singapore?” Well, I’d have to teach. That would get me to Singapore if I wanted to live and work there, or whatever. So, I said: “Ok, then, I will do my teaching certification. First, I had to learn how to teach English as a foreign language. That was one certification. Then, I did what you called QTS, so you become a Qualified Teacher Status. So, I was qualified, first, for sciences and math. Because my degree in psychology was more science oriented than arts oriented. So, if you’ve been more arts oriented, you could study language or whatever. So, I studied science as a teacher. Then, I did that, and I had to do my qualification in the UK, observing classes. And my first teaching post was in a public school in North London, which was hideous. ‘Cause I was used to Canadian schools. And even though we can be… You know, we’re pretty much. But I had students like: “Who the fuck do you think you are?” And I was saying: “Oh, god. I can’t believe he’s speaking to me like... Really, I can’t believe this.” You know, like, really, out of control. Just, I’d be like: “Ok, right. If you just come back here we’re talking.” And, then, he was just looking at the window. I said: “Excuse me. Like, we’re here in the board. I’m talking about this”, “Yeah. I do whatever [the] fuck you want”. I’d be like: “Ok. It was really hard, this experience. Because it was completely beyond my experiences of what I had seen at school. And I went to public schools in Canada. So, some privates and some public. But there were no major difference between the schools. In fact, the resources in the public schools were better than the private school, in Canada. But in the UK it’s completely the opposite. It’s like Brazil. You know, it’s night and day. And, then, of course, it depends, here, you go to public school. A friend of mine told me that in Espírito Santo the public schools are really good. But they’re not in São Paulo. I’m so sorry. (laughs) And the same thing I saw in London. They might be great in Oxford or wherever, but not where I was in North London, absolutely not. So, that was very difficult. That was weird. And, then, at that, you think: “I don’t know if I want to be a teacher. That’s like, you know, not my… This is not what I wanna deal with.” And you learn more tricks and techniques.
P/1 – What kind of tricks and techniques did you develop?
R – Well, yeah, you start to learn how to better classes management, like there's no point in talking to the kids, like: “Don't do that!” You have to foster it in another way, you need to have procedures in place, so what I came up with is: "Don't discipline your students, manage your students". Don't yell at them, just say: "Ok, that's not the way we sit. What did we discuss? What did we agree?" And have procedures in place, so I had all these procedures. At school, Gabriela and all of them would say: "AH, ele é muito (procedural?)". Yeah, I am, because you need the procedures in place for people to know what's expected, and that way I didn't have to discipline anymore. So if it became a discipline issue, I would say: "Right, we've discussed this, these are the procedures, those are our rules, right? You've broken this, this and this, I can't deal with you in my room anymore, go to see the head, the vice-head, go see the vice-principal". And that's how it would be. But then, after that, and then I went to see some other schools that were much better, much better. Private schools. (laughs) Yeah, and then it worked better. And then, hum, so, I said, I've finished my qualifications, I've already done my student teaching? I've taught a class and then I said: "Ok, right, this is enough. I need a holiday.” Like: “I need a proper holiday, I've been working”... ‘Cause as you can see, I didn't work very much. I did work, I had, but then it was like now I need... So I took a one year holiday, and that was it. Uh, yeah, that was just like great, I loved it. And that's when I left and I went to South America. So I started in Colombia, hum, I went to Colombia, Ecuador and I was supposed to go down to Peru and then back to Colombia, but I got robbed in Ecuador, my bag was stolen, my passport and stuff. So I was like: "Ok now, this is just too much. I'm going back to Bogota", because I really liked Bogota. Hum, and I stayed in Bogota for a while, and then this is when Bogota was really still dangerous, but it was ok, this was like years ago. And then I was offered a job in Bogota at the American School there, it's like the _________ of São Paulo, it's called Lincoln. Granada. _________ And I really thought: "Oh, I should do this". So I thought: "No, I got so much more to see." But I haven't been to Cartagena, I haven't . I was going island hopping in the Caribbean, I was like: "No, I can't stop now, this is a year of holiday". (laughs) Let's not have any work, right? So I went, then I went north, I went to Medellin, Cartagena, Barranquilla and then I jumped onto Curaçao, I think, and then I just went all the islands and till I got to Venezuela, till I got to (Ruas Locas?), and then I came down. And then I went into the south of Venezuela, the very south, Santa Helena, and that's when I entered Brazil. And I entered Brazil, this is a great story, because very few people do this, I was in Santa Helena and I took a taxi to the Brazilian border, and he's Venezuelan, so he stops, and he drove away, and I'm in the middle of the forests, I swear to god, and there's a house, there's the Brazilian house, so I walked to the house, got there, and then there's the guy, the Brazilian federal police, and he checks in his book and he says "Ah! I'm sure you've never done anything illegal" and I was like "No, I'm sure, I hope I haven't". You know, he's good looking... There's no computer or anything there, it's just a book and he checks. He stamps me in and I walked into Brazil, so then I physically walked across the border into Brazil. And then, like I walked for about ten minutes, and then there was a taxi there that would take you to a... Cause the state is Roraima, so I was going to Boa Vista?
P/1 – Boa Vista.
R – Boa Vista. So I went to Boa Vista, I walked into Brazil, and then took a taxi for three hours to Boa Vista. And in Boa Vista I took a, I was there for three days. Have you been to Boa Vista?
P/1 – No...
R – It's like Brasília, it's the same “plano”. Which is massive streets, “não dá para andar [em] nenhum lugar” (laughs), right? It's massive, like built for giants and it's the same idea and I went to a bar on the first night, and I was talking to the people who live there. _____, I didn't speak Portuguese, I only spoke Spanish. And this was really hard there because you'd speak to them in Spanish and they understand everything you say, and then they would speak back in Portuguese and I'd go like "Huh?" (laughs) "I can't understand you." So it was very frustrating straight away. But, like, I met some really weird people there. Weird. Like they would: "Oh, what we do at the weekend is we go into the river, and we shoot alligators, and then we'd do this". And I, kind of like rednecks, you know? Rednecks from the south of the United States “são pessoas bem estúpidas” e, you know, weird. It was a weird place. Anyway, I had this dream, I had read about this place years ago in the London Times or whatever magazine, The Guardian or something in London that there were a very small village, about 4 hours away from this place, called Caracaraí and I had this, I wanted to go to this place. So, I go to the bus station and, oh, you might like this story. These are not going in the book, but this is a funny story to tell (laughs).
P/1 – Ok.
R – This one is great. I remember Portuguese was driving me crazy. So, do you speak Spanish? “Hablas Español un poquito?”
P/1 – “Sí, sí”.
R - ____ I was like, I would go to the bus station, I took the taxi and I would say: “AH, I can't even think now in Spanish about this. How do you say bus station? Ok, well, anyway.” I get to the bus station, and I remember I had, even simple things were kinda, I checked into the hotel the first time. I was like: "Buenas tardes, tienes habitación?", “Sí!” and he would say "Tengo" ‘cause they would get that basic for ___. "Quanto costa, quanto vale?", and he would say "Vinte e cinco reais", and I'd be going: "Quanto?", "Vinte e cinco". Now, this "vinte", I never heard the "tche", these sounds before. And I was like: "Podemos escribir para mim por favor?" Dnd he'd go: "Ok." I said: "Ah, vente cinco? Bueno, está bien". And I would pay and “bla bla bla bla bla”. And then, but there was never any trying to help me to understand, because you understand Spanish, right? So you think that when you speak back to me I understand. So this frustration was very, very tough. I was getting really mad because I was thinking: “Yesterday ‘quase fluente e hoje’ I'm an imbecil.” (laughs) So it was really hard initially in Brazil. And I had a friend who lived in Taubaté and there were sometimes I'd phone and go: "Look Marcos, I need" – it was really expensive to phone too. It was like: "Look, I can't understand, I need you to help here. I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing here." So, anyway. By the time I got to the bus station, I had my Lonely Planet guide and it says: "In Brazil, you must be careful with buses", because the buses have, as you have “leito”, air “condicionado”, all these things. All of these classifications of buses, and it said, specifically when you're in the Amazon, because the roads there are dirt, so you have to be really careful. So, anyway, you have to remember this now, the whole situation. So I get to the bus station, I got my bags, and I go to the window and I said: "Uno bilhete para Caracaraí, por favor’. ‘Que horas é la proxima’... Bus?". And then: "Que horas é la proxima?". She said: “Ok. It's gonna be a twelve or whatever. And I said: "Fine", uuuh, “one, one ticket”. And then, so she says: "Ok." This time I remember being 15 reais. “Quinze”. And I could understand, and I said "quinze". But before I gave her the money, I was like... Ok, I got the money out, I was like: "Mas espera. Como é?" She's like: "Como é?" Ok. Do you know the word for bus in Spanish?
P/1 – Autobus.
R – No. Not in Colombia. And not in Venezuela.
P/1 – Aaaah!
R – Do you know the word?
P/1 – I don't remember now but I have a friend...
R – Ok, I'm gonna say the word, but it's not a nice word in Portuguese. The word for bus is “buseta”.
P/1 – Aaaah! (laughs)
R – So I said to the woman: "Como é?" So I said: "Senhora, como é?" (laughs) And then we had this whole thing "I don't understand what you said". And so I said: "Senhora, la buseta? Como é? É confortável, é com ar? Espaçoso? Eu preciso saber!" (laughs) And then there was this look, she was like this at me, going like this: "Huh?" (laughs) And it's like, no, "como é, como és la buseta?". She - you're laughing - but she was like this with me. So I was like "Ah, fine", in English, then in English I said: "Fuck, whatever". "Dá, dá aqui o dinheiro" and I was speaking Portuguese. So she, and then she takes the ticket. So then I go to... (laughs) You get this whole thing, it was so funny. And I had no idea that this word, “não sabia essa palavra muito mal em Português” because in Colombia you're like "De donde es la buseta? Está la parada acá", so it was normal for me! So, anyway, I go to Caracaraí. It was very disappointing because the river was very low. I couldn't, I wanted to take a boat to Manaus, 15 dias, the river was too low, it was november, it was a bad season. I met the indigenous, I went to the village, I went on the river, and it was great ‘cause they actually spoke quite a bit of Spanish. I think that they must do trading or whatever, “sei lá”. I went to the first “churrascaria”. I never knew what a “churrascaria” was and they kept coming with more food. And of course, I'd been living in London, I was like "No, that's enough, that's fine". "No no no no no, there's more food." And I said "No, I don't need any more food". "No, but you want more!" and I said... It was a weird experience, there were so much food coming, as you know. Now you know what's “churrascaria”. So, anyway, then I carry on Caracaraí, ‘cause I had to go by bus again to Manaus. Now I know that, I know the bus ‘cause it's the same bus, which was horrible, no air conditioning on the bus, the windows were open [and] the road is dirt. Then, I have to go from Caracaraí to Manaus. 16 hours, and like, on this, and there's a part where they stop the bus and we have to sign this documentation. I was like "I'm not signing!". And then the police officers said "Well, if you don't sign, you're gonna have to walk back to Caracaraí". I said "Ok, I'm signing. What am I signing?", he said "It's just that sometimes we have attacks, from the... Iamomari?"
P/1 – Ianomâmis.
R – Yeah. “They will attack the bus. So you're signing to say that the brazilian government is not responsible". I was like, “Oh, that's comforting”. That's really comforting. So now I'm really happy. So, when I got to Manaus, I remember getting there, I was exhausted from this bus trip. And I saw the sign and it said "ônibus". So I took out my dictionary and I thought "Wow". So I looked up “ônibus” and I thought "Ok". So then I thought, what's a “buseta”? (laughs) So I looked up “buseta” and then I thought "Oh no, no!". And I wanted to go back, maybe one day I'll go back and find the woman, but I wanted to go back and tell her. (laughs) And that's how I entered Brazil, that's how it happened. I remember hating Portuguese, so... The first 20 days I was like "AH God, no! No, it's really difficult, it's really hard!". And also too, it was my own fault because I remember having read, I have read in the guidebook: "If you think you can go to Brazil and you think that because you speak Spanish it will be ok, think again". And of course I just ignored that, I thought "Ah, it will be fine, I speak French and Spanish, it will be ok". It was, it's fine I think for Spanish first speakers, Colombians, Venezuelans, whatever, it's easier for them, but it was my third language and... So, Spanish, I'm not fluent in, it's not like at top. (pause) So, that's basically taking it from high school to university. (laughs) But in London, I remember I was in London for 15 years, London was a huge part of my life. Massive. Work, travel, my strongest friends in my life are there. People ask me "Are you Canadian or English?". Because it depends where I am. If I'm with my mom, I was with my mom in China in July, I sound more Canadian. My cousin has just left for London [and] if I'm around her, I sound more English. I have a mid Atlantic. So, some people can't figure out... Some people think I'm Irish, the way I speak. And some are like, “Well, I can't figure out where you're from”. So, when people ask me "Where do you feel at home?", this is really difficult. Home is where I live, so home right now is São Paulo, my apartment in São Paulo, where my life, my work, my job etc., my whole thing. But where are my closest friends, where do I go? Is to London. ‘Cause that's where I formed [the] most important friendships of my life, that's where I had my first job. Like I've never, I said to someone, I don't know how the health system works in Canada, I have no idea. Because when I experienced the health system in Canada, I was a child. My mother did that. But I can tell you in London how it works, I can tell you how to pay taxes in London, I can tell you what we do and what we don't do, I can tell you how public transport works. But at the same time I was educated and grew up in Canada. So the Canadians, my Canadian friends who work in bilingual education, because I'm quite well known in bilingual ed and I do a lot of work and research, and then they, "Oh, he's Canadian". But my friends in London are like "hum, yeah, well, he was born there, but, you know...". You know, it's kind of a weird thing when you've lived somewhere for such a long, but those, I consider that when you're 19, 20, 21, 22, those are formative years. Those are when you really become a person. And that happened in London, away, “graças a Deus”, from my family, completely “desligado”. You know, they weren't there, on any way or form on a daily basis, didn't, there was nothing... Oh, of course, I saw them, you know, but not... So I think that has a lot to do with it.
P/1 – And after you arrived in Manaus, how did the rest of your trip go?
R – I was on a one year holiday, and what's important to know is why I was doing this trip, ‘cause I had a job in Argentina, so I was moving all around. So, I get to Brazil. Now, Brazil is massive, so it was Manaus, then it was to Santarém, by boat - which is my favorite place in the Amazon. Have you been to Santarém?
P/2 – Alter do Chão.
R – Oh! “Alter do Chão é uma jóia, uma jóia”! You have to go to this place. It's this beach that comes off, ah.... “Eu adoro! Sim, é lindo”. Yeah. I could have stayed there forever. Ok, then Belém, and Belém was my favorite city. I hated Manaus. Hell hole is the word I'd use. It stinks, it's disgusting, it's vile. Belém is cool, it's, you know, it's more cosmopolitan and bigger, I liked it... Then Fortaleza, but I didn't like Fortaleza very much, then Natal. And I was in Ponta Negra. But Ponta Negra “muito antes de existir nenhum escandinavo nesse momento”. No scandinavians, beach huts, hotels e “pousadas simples, nada de como é hoje”. It was fabulous. And there were, they were just starting to put the (band?), you know, then, you could still go down, but they were starting to control it. Now it's “completamente desligado”, you can't go on it. Hum, so, it was a long time ago, and there it was great ‘cause it was like, you know, just beach, and it was like november, end of november now, coming? It was really lovely. Then Natal, I went to Brasília... No, Salvador. And Salvador was great because for Salvador, for me, I was only, I, hum, I had a friend from London and she had a cousin who lived there and he took care of me. They lived in a nice place, I can't remember where it was. Near the stadium, above the Largo, near the stadium.
P/1 – Oh, yeah.
R – They had a nice place. But I wanted to go to see Candomblé. But really Candomblé, you don't wanna go to the museum, I wanted to see like real Candomblé, and I had in my Lonely Planet a place that was an Instituto, bla-bla-bla. So he phoned for me, and he got all the information and we went on a Wednesday night and I'll never forget this, as long as I live, cause we had to go inside the favela, like park the car, walk in, and we got to the... “Terreno”?
P/1 – Terreiro.
P/2 – Terreiro. Was it a specific party of some Orixá, do you remember?
R – I don't know. I can't remember, because at that time I didn't... But he, the thing was, he knew everything to do, like there's times where you would touch the floor and do things like that, and I was like, this is so... And it was great, because we got there kind of at the start and, like, it went on for hours, and it got bigger and bigger and louder and louder. And so, that was fascinating for me, cause I was inside the favela, and I was safe cause I was with him, and he knew some people, hummm, so, we did that. And I remember for the next two nights I had the weirdest, most bizarre dreams. I mean, really freaky dreams, and I thought... But of course I'm not into, I'm not a spiritualist or anything like that, it's like "Oh, it's just a coincidence". So I did that in Salvador, and I, hum... At that stage, I assumed, like, all Brazilians would understand this part of their culture, because when you come you're like "Oh, let's study this thing". And I was quite surprised when I got to São Paulo how few people even knew, like, somebody went "Ah, that's all like macumba". And I said "No but do you know the difference between macumba and this? Do you know these gods?”. And they were like... I was surprised that they knew nothing about it, like nothing. The same way I was surprised on my last trip to Africa when I was in Zimbabwe and I was in Botswana... like, they have, they only know Christianity now. It's such a shame that you don't know anything about the African religions. But, so, when I got to Salvador, that was interesting. I didn't like the food in Salvador. It was like, way too yucky, heavy. And everyone was like "Oh, acarajé is so great", and I was like "No, that's disgusting. I'm sorry". (laughs) Everything else until now has been really good, but that is not for me, I didn't like it at all. I did like the smell... Uh, and it was more dangerous, it was the first place in Brazil I was that I was like "Oh, this is _____". You could feel something there. I hadn't been to Rio yet, so I was like, you know, I'd heard... And I didn't hear that about Salvador, but I never had any problems anywhere, ever. But I felt strange there. Then it was Brasília, hum... And from Brasília I went to Goiás and to some place with “águas quentes” nearby.
P/1 – Caldas Novas.
R – Yeah, Caldas. And then back to Brasília. And I had some friends there, friends of friends in London, and I got to, in Brasília I went to parties and things like that, but Brasília is boring and (laughs) it's been, subsequently, because I had these friends. Once I was living in São Paulo, I went back there four or five times, so it's really safe for me to say Brasília is boring. Hum, but, so I knew Brasília, then came to São Paulo. So I went straight away to Taubaté, I had a friend from, that I knew from London. And then, hum, the idea was to come to São Paulo and rent an apartment for 4, about 4 months, 5 months, and then go to Buenos Aires, and go to work. So I came to São Paulo.
P/2 – You wanted to spend this time in São Paulo?
R – Yeah, I did, because I like big cities, remember? So, I'd lived in London and I was always in New York as well. I mean, there were lots of traveling, but I was constantly in New York. With my family, my father, or me traveling there. We have a house in New York, so he would do business and I would... I would just go to New York whenever I could or I'd be in London. The only major city I'm not a big fan of is Paris. I like Paris, but it's not one of my favorite places in the world. But I like... I enjoy it, but it's not like I wanna go there all the time. Like, if you say to me "Let's go to Hong Kong", I'm like "Right now! Right now". "Let's go to London?", "Absolutely". “Paris?” Hm, well, well, well... "Ok, is there something to do?". Hummm, so...
P/1 – So you were going to São Paulo, right?
R – Yeah. Cause it's big. And that's why I wanted to live here to experience the largest city in the southern hemisphere, and see what is it like, so I wanted to live here. So I did, I took an apartment, uh, and I found someone that would negotiate, I went to one of these travel, to these agencies. It was unrented, I said "I'll pay everything right now, I wanna pay 5 months", I think I paid, in cash. And that was hard cause it was 1 to 1, do you remember those days?
P/1 e P/2 – Yeah.
R – So it was great for you (laughs), but it was like "Wow, ___ muito caro esse!" (laughs) Mas, I paid everything "à vista" for him, so he said "Yes! We'll do it!".
P/2 – Where was the apartment?
R – In Vila Mariana, Ana Rosa. And I had a view of a park. So, it was great, I had a view of the park. Although it was like a 15 minute walk and I could see all the buildings. I could see up, over the park, to Moema, I could see and I could feel like it was a big city. 'Cause in New York you only feel that when you go up above, right? 'Cause when you're near buildings, in New York, you just see other buildings. And in London, it's a low city, so you don't feel that. Unless you go to Hampstead, and then you look down. But here, I was in my apartment every day and, you know, I can see out. My mother, when she came the first time, she was like "Wow, it feels like a huge city". And I said "Yeah, it is". It's probably like, it is bigger than New York, but you kinda feel it when you can see that. So that was interesting. And so I took the apartment, and then I was.... Said "Ok, what am I gonna do?". First, I decorated the apartment 'cause it was like white. (laughs)
P/1 – And no...?
R – Everything was white! (laughs) I was like, how can you live with everything white? What is this? So, (laughs) yeah, it's true. No, it's true. I had to go to the store, the paint store, I forgot the name in English, so, and buy paint. And people were like "Yeah, so these walls will be blue, those will be purple, that one's...". And it was like "Wow! It's really weird!". And I was like "yeah, just wait, it will be fine". I can't live in white. (laughs) So anyway, I did that, and then that was it. And then I started living, and "Ok, let's get out". So then it was like MASP, Pinacoteca, "metrô", "municipal"... All these kind of things, to see what the city was like. And the cultural side of their life. Drinking, going out, restaurants, humm... And then, after a while, I thought "Well, I should do something". You know, this is, you know, I can't do this forever just waiting for my job to start in august. Alright, so I have another 6 months. So in January, I, no, yeah, end of January, I applied for a job in a language school, it's called CNA. This was a disaster. This was just, like, first of all, that was the first time I came up against Brazilian management. So, there was this woman, who owned the school. And there was something that I did wrong, I don't know whatever it was, like, "sei lá", it wasn't anything major [and] she was yelling at me. I mean, yelling like "No! Não faço isso assim!". And I said to her "If you ever speak to me like that again, I will walk out, I will step..., I will get out and leave", "Who do you think you are? Eu sou dona aqui". (laughs) I said "Look, you're missing the point. If you speak to me like that again I will leave, you don't speak to people like that". And that was the first time I was introduced to Brazilian management, Latino management - it's not just in Brazil, it happens everywhere in Latin America - yelling, and ok man, the bullshit. So anyway, hum, that was a disaster. So (I thought I would not do?), it was like I had a class and I told her, like it happened one more time and I said "That's it". You know, "I'm not leaving today, I'll teach my next class, you find someone else". Then, there was a school at the end of my road called Wisdom, which was dreadful, never ever go to a school like this. But it's like, look, it's next door to my house, all I have to do is read this stuff off the book, and they'll read in Portuguese and I'll read in English. I was just like "This is ridiculous, I don't agree with it, but I can do it!". And including and I remember because I'm a teacher, for Christ's sake. And then there was a student who says "What's the difference between I go with him and she... him or me or with or something", it was about some sort of prepositional issue. So I said "Ah!". I stopped, and I was teaching this for a moment. So, if you need an object here, so let me give an example, he would do like that. The coordinator was there, she's like "No, we don't teach like that". He asked me why you would use this and I had to explain it. “No, no, just do what the book says”. So I said "ok", and I thought "Who cares?". You know, I'm leaving in a few months to go and teach in middle school, in science. Who cares? And at that moment, hmmm, and I was enjoying São Paulo, there were another teacher who worked there. And she worked in a bilingual school in São Paulo and she said "I think you should apply here". And I said "Oh, I'll send in my CV, and we'll see what happens". So I went, and I applied. And they asked me to go and teach a sample lesson and I did, it's called Stance Dual. And I taught for them, it was great, they wanted me straight away! Like, they offered me a job as soon as I finished teaching. "We want you, we're gonna pay you this much money...". And I didn't tell them I was going to Argentina. So they needed someone there [and] I said "Ok, fine, I'll do it". So I did it.
P/2 – Which school? I'm sorry.
R – Stance Dual. It's down, do you know it? Downtown. It's an ok bilingual school. It's ok, it's not one of the, they think that they're top but they're not. I mean, it's a perception thing. So anyway, I taught there, and that's when things started to change, 'cause then I really started to enjoy this city. So I wrote to Lincoln School and I said "Look, I need to have an extension on coming to Buenos Aires. I'm not ready yet, I've had a problem, I found my problem". (laughs) So, but I was in time, I was in the time frame which you have for international schools, you can't just say yes or no, cause you'll be blacklisted, you'll get an "X" against your name and they will not hire you. So it was ok, they wrote back and they said "No, I understand", uh, and I said "It's probably going to be 6 months, I'll be able to sort it out, but most certainly I'll be able to be there for next school term. So, if you find someone else I understand, but if not, we'll keep in touch". They're like "Yeah, no problem". And then I stayed here, and I did the teaching, hmm, but then, a little bit after, and what happened was. So I have two passports. Ok, so, well, this is Brazil, you can only have 6 months. So I take my Canadian, my British passport and I extend it for 3 months, and the police found out (laughs) and then the time's up, so then I, I said "Ok". I said to Marcos, with whom I was sharing the apartment, "I'm flying to Miami, change passports, get the visa and come back!". So I did that, came back (laughs), that's gonna be easy, I've never had to do this, ___ every six months. (laughs) So, after three months, I got to the "polícia federal". And I'm like, ok, so I'm doing the paperwork and, so, ok, this is taking much longer than it did when I took the British passport. So, anyway, do you see how my name is written?
P/1 – No.
R – Ok, so this is what I hate in Brazil. The first time I went to a doctor, I'm in the "polícia federal", or anywhere, if I have to go to a doctor and they come out and go "Lili". "Lili Gordon", and that really bothers me, cause it's a girl's name, right? So, anyway, I go up and it's like "Você tem outro passaporte?", like this, and I said "Huh?". I didn't hear the question. "Do you have another passport?", "Tenho". They said "Look, do you, you could only have six months in Brazil". I said "No, eu posso ter seis meses como canadense e seis inglês". “No, no, no, no, no. Cara, não”. So I was like "Oh, no...". (laughs) At this stage, if this was the US or Canada, right? I would have been arrested immediately. “Ok, come with me”... He's like "Ok. Look, a gente vai dar para você mais um mês para arrumar as coisas". (laughs) This is like amazing! Like, this is amazing! So anyway, I thought "Ok, now I'm gonna have to go to Argentina". Huh, so, hm... I phoned a friend, the one from Brasília, from London, she's back in Brasília now. And her father is very very important. I can't say his position in the government, but he's really important. And she's like "Look, don't worry about this. Come to Brasília this weekend because my father is having a barbecue". (laughs) I said "Ok". So I go that weekend to the barbecue and then, he introduces me to people, so it's like “Fine, we'll get you permanent residency, we'll just do this, this and this”. I said "Are you sure?", and he said "Yeah, don't worry". So, this is John, I can't say the names of the people, so this is so and so. And they said to me "I need you to stay here, on monday and tuesday. Can you stay?". And I said "Yeah", "Do you have this, do you have your passport with you do you have...", and I said "Yeah". But we go and do all the stuff. And he says "Ok, you're sorted out", "What do you mean sorted out?". Let's go back to São Paulo, go to the "polícia federal" and tell them that you're gonna apply for a permanent residency. I said "You're sure?", "Yeah, don't worry". "Don't I need a paper?", "No, you don't need a paper". So I was like "oh, ok, fine". So I go back and then I said to Marcos "you need to come with me now". 'Cause I'm a little bit worried about all this, so you come with me. So we go there, I take the number and I get the same guy. The same guy (laughs). And he's like a tall, black guy. He's this tall, thin black guy. I'll never forget him. So I go out and I say "hello", "Você de novo? Eu já falei com você!". He was being aggressive like this, I said "look, I think you've had a communication from Brasília", "Não tive nada". And I said "But how do you know?". I'm saying this, and Marcos was just translating it 'cause Marcos is really polite and... "No, don't say it like that because I've just come from Brasília!", "Não tem nada para você aqui". He was talking like this. And I said "I think you need to check". This was so funny. He goes to the office, ok, he checks and then he says "Senhor Lyle or Lili, senhor Lili, por favor", and he invited me behind the balcão, sit in the office, "você quer café, senhor?" (laughs). I was like "This is lovely! This is great! You know, this is fabulous!". (laughs) "Então", then I sit down, I get all the treatment, and then everything just starts happening, fill in this, sign that, stuff, pa pa pa. We need a photograph, we need you to fill, there were forms I had to go, I had to get this stuff in Canada , thumb prints, stuff that I'd never done, anything illegal. So the Brazilians consider me to be Canadian, 'cause the last passport I was using was Canadian. So I had to send everything to Canada, I had to have the "Justiça" bla-bla-bla sign something that I'd not done anything bla-bla-bla. And then that was it, I became a permanent resident.
P/2 – What were you gonna do in Argentina?
R – Teach at an American school. I was gonna teach middle school. Hum, and yeah, and it was, like, excited about it. Because you know, I've always heard and I still see and still believe that the schools in Argentina are very good. The level of teaching is good and, hum, it's a great place to work and live, but then, yeah. Once I was a permanent resident. And now, next year, I'm going to apply for the Brazilian passport. (laughs) Yeah, then I could become a Brazilian citizen. Yeah, cause it's been more than 10 years over the residency. The issue with this, though, this is weird, because "pela lei' I can apply, right? Apply by Brazilian law. But once they issue you the passport, once you become Brazilian, or there's a test of Portuguese. And I said "Oh, what kind of test of Portuguese?". And the guy says to me, from Polícia Federal, he says "No, can you write your name? Can you write dates?". And I said "Yeah", "Oh, é só isso. Don't worry, it's easy". I'm like "Ok". It's not like... 'Cause I thought it would be like the US, where they test you on who's Vasco da Gama, who was the first president or something like that, and I'm like "oh, I'm gonna have to study". So anyway, but the problem was that the Brazilians will have me renounce. You know what's to renounce? It's to say "eu não sou mais canadense, eu sou brasileiro".
P/1 e P/2 – Oh! You have to choose!
R – But no, and then I said, so I said to the Canadians, I found the Canadian consulate and she said "No, don't worry”. They always hear this, “don't worry the Brazilians do this, you'll sign to say 'I renounce my Canadian citizenship'", but she said "o dia seguinte você vem aqui e você vai assinar outro saying 'I was forced to sign the renouncement'. E a gente mantém, nothing happens, they sign that, we sign this". (laughs) You know, doesn't make a difference.
P/2 – So you're not allowed to have dual citizenship?
R – Brazilians... I think the Brazilians are allowed dual citizenship when you're born in Brazil and you're applying to, like my friends who were Italian, get it? But if you're coming to Brazil and you're Paraguayan or something like that, then I guess you have to say you're only Brazilian, I don't know, the immigrants. I don't know. But the Canadians say "don't worry about it, just sign it, get it and then sign ours". But then then the woman at the Canadian consulate said "Why would you want three passports?". I said "You never know!". (laughs)
P/2 – And Mr. French, what was it hard to adapt over here once you started living?
R – Oh, language. That was hard. 'Cause I had to do it quite quickly and then, this whole thing I think of, which I still find very difficult is sharing ideas. Hum, in our culture, the way I was raised is that you wait, you listen, you be careful, you listen to what you're saying. And here it's constant everyone at the same time, you know? (laughs) And it's like one interrupting the other and I find it very detrimental to the progress of the country or the progress of the school or the progress of anything, because we're not sharing ideas. It's like "No! Eu entendi, mas also...". But I haven't finished what I was saying, I haven't finished my thought. So there's this idea, I think, that cultural difference. And also to, it's not like it is in the Caribbean, and "Ah, vamos ver amanhã". It's part of the culture here. Whereas I'm like "no, let's plan for the next six months". When I was in Argentina, I saw Guida. And, hum, I said to her, it was a holiday weekend, she was there for a conference, but then I said “but Monday, Tuesday is a holiday”. She said "huuuh!". She said two weeks before "yeah, you're right! Mas vocês sempre são organizados com férias assim". And they make it sound like a negative thing. And I said, like, yeah, I have (RA?). Like Carnival, I sorted out 3 weeks, a month ago, my trip... You know, I'm always like, six months ahead, and they kind of say that, that... "ele é muito organizado, é muito procedural". So I think that's something that I find really hard. Which is that I work within a framework, which is organization. You need to be, in order for something to be happening positively or... You need to be organized, you can't say... And it's also great to say "let's see what happens". When I was, hmm, in London, I used to play this game. I'm sure that, this one can go on the book. (laughs) If you need something. I used to play the travel game. And so on Fridays, when I would finish working, I would at the BBC and if I wasn't working at the university, whatever, I'd go to Heathrow, and (then we're like down?), I'd go to Heathrow and, remember the boards? Tchu, tchu, tchu, right? Now they're all digital. And I'd go like "ok, it's like 4 o'clock, there's a flight at seven to... where is that? Oh, Reykjavík, Iceland. Ok, let's go. I don't need a visa. Ok, let's go". And I'd go, what airline is that, and I'd go to the airline ticket line and I'd say "Ok, I see you have a flight to Reykjavík, have you got space on the flight?", "Yeah", "Is it sold out?", "No, we have space", "Can you sell me a discounted ticket?". And they would be like, ‘cause I knew at the airport they couldn't negotiate and do that, and they'd go like "No, I only have business class, so it has to be a 1000 Pounds", and I'm like "No, come on, sell me a ticket for cheap ‘cause you wanna fill the seats, don't you? And bla-bla-bla". So we'd play this game, and it was so much fun, because you just... You never knew where you were going on friday, but then you would have to negotiate: "But I need a return on Sunday or Monday morning". So that would be part of it. I only went back, I think once, maybe twice with no trip. And I got really cheap tickets, really cheap. ‘Cause I would just negotiate with them at the “balcão”. (laughs) So, why was I telling you this? Why did we go there? The travel game...?
P/2 – Yeah, you were telling the travel game and you were talking about the organization … The difficulties for adapting...
R – Oh, ok. So, for example, I like how my holidays are organized, but also to, like in São Paulo say, "oh! Let's do something different this weekend. Oh! Let's play the travel game". You know, let's do, whatever, something. You don't wanna have everything organized, but if you're planning Carnival. If you're not organized, you're not going anywhere. Or if you are, you're gonna spend a lot more money than you need to, and this, this is hard in Brazil, because the idea of planning far ahead, you know, it's more difficult. So I think that is something culturally. That's very difficult. On the other side when I first went back to London, after having lived in Brazil for almost, over a year, humm, I was with one of my closest friends, she's welsh, but she's been living in London for years, and we went to the supermarket and I was going "Oh, it's so good to see you!". And I'd be like touching her on the shoulder, and getting close to her and she didn't say anything. We were doing the shopping, we came back and I touched her a couple of other times and we got back and she said: "I must ask you, what's wrong with you?". And I said "What?" (laughs), and she said "You're touching me all the time!". And I thought "God, it's true!". And then I started to realize this ‘cause we do so much of that Brazil. So on both sides, it's gone both ways, you know? There's more of a, using the eyes, like in England or in Canada, like you do not look people directly in the eyes, like you know, like you do here. When you're out on the street. So when I'm abroad, the last time I was in Las Vegas, last year, met a friend of mine, and he was waiting for me to (sign?) and he said "I saw, I've been watching you for 5 minutes coming down, and I said 'How do you know it's you?'. It's not only because you're tall, it's because you're checking out everybody, you're looking at their shoes, you're looking at their eyes, you're maintaining eye contact..." (laughs). "You are in America, remember? We don't do that here!". And I was like "Yeah, I know...". So I think on both sides there's... So this part is rubbed off, but it is frustrating that you don't have the same level of organization or, you know, "it will work out, don't worry!". That's hard. And it's hard in the school, too, because the school is a place where you have to be really organized. You're dealing with a lot of people, you know, you're dealing with 500 children. So, you know, hum... That's tricky.
P/2 – What about your favorite things, that were really easy to adapt? (laughs)
R – Ah! The food. Uh... The meat, most certainly, that was great! You know, and massive amounts of meat. Farofa was not something I like initially, I actually hated it. (laughs) My mother's comment is the best: "Why would you eat dried bread crumbs? Why? Why would you do that?" (laughs). And then, and then I started to have it with caldo de feijão and mixing with that I thought "oh, this is good". That's what I had for lunch today, caldo de feijão preto com farofa. “E muita pimenta”. Pimenta is another thing that I learned to like. Before, I was on this hot sauce, but now it's pimenta, like pedaços de pimenta, I learned that in Brazil. Caldo de feijão, I like, hum... I like beans much more here than I had ever liked in my life, so the food aspect was great. Uh, the culture, when you go out, hm, and you share with Brazilians, like you socialize, it's great, it's wonderful. So I think that part was, I felt pretty good about that part. You know? Uh, they're very warm. I say they but you're Brazilians, but they're very open and they're very warm. And, hum, extremely, humm, extremely helpful if you have an in. For example, if you introduce me to your friends, obviously I might be their friend, they're gonna go "oh, come to the beach house and whatever". But between you, if you don't know someone, you're so evil to the other person. And I think that's exemplified in the way you drive, you know. It's this like, this sort of very selfish world that Brazilians live in until they know the person. And I said that's such a contrast, because when you look at Brazilians they're so open and creative and loving, all my friends have said, “oh, cause I'm introducing you to her, she's gonna take you to the beach house, and want you to have a good time and bla-bla-bla”, and doesn't expect anything in return. That's something... Americans expect something in return, they're planning one day "ah, I'll go to his house". You don't operate like that in Brazil, you do it because it's “à vontade”, you wanted to be nice. But in the other way, if you don't know the person, you're quite aggressive, rude and selfish. Like... You know, really. There's a woman in my building, she's an absolute bitch. (laughs) She never says anything to you, she's always rude, she's always like, she never says hello and it's not just [to] me ‘cause I've spoken to Dalton, another one in my building, and she said "No, she's like that". So, the... I've stopped talking to her because I thought "you're just rude, I'm not even saying hello or goodbye to you anymore". So the day the lift comes down, get her on the garage to get the car and she's there and it's that kind of moment where you're like “assustado” ‘cause you're not expecting anyone there, and it's like that. But I didn't hear her do anything. So she opens the door and I go out and then she says something like "obrigada", like that afterwards. So I turned around and walked back and said "De nada". Like that, I thought, "don't, don't mess with me". So that's the way it is though, like she, like many other Brazilians, will be very rude or aggressive to someone until they know who they are. Right, once, until that barrier... You don't get that in my culture. Like, if... If I'm driving with my mother in Canada, she goes mental. Mental. "Get in the line, stay in the line, stop doing that, this is not, this is the way we line up”, “Everyone does it, this is part of the culture, you know how that is, this is the way we do things here”. Whereas in Brazil, we feel that... Just look at the airport, what happens at the airport, there will be a queue, and then someone will go like "olha, eu só tenho uma coisa, muito rápido". And I'm always like "me too, I have something very quick". I'm like number 21 in the line, but I'm in the line. Whereas in Brazil they get away with it. And people... That would never happen in the US, or Canada, or the UK, they'd be like "I'm so sorry, there's a queue here. You have to join the queue and wait". But there's this idea that I'm more important than you. But if I put her doing that, and she's your friend, you would be "oh no... Oh, I understand". It's different. But to one another they're so selfish here. And that's something I'm becoming when I'm driving too. Extremely selfish. I cut people off... When I first started driving in São Paulo, I was at Stance Dual. I'll never forget this. It was my third day driving, I have a car now. And there's like a round and there's two teachers coming down, ok? It's coming down the hill and I'm coming this way, and we're both going that way, there's two teachers in the car. So, I saw that they were just slightly ahead of me, so I sort of decided to stop and wave them on, and then they went down, they waved back. And Otavio, who's the ICT teacher said "Oh, that was very nice! It was very polite". And Otavio said "ok, ele não é brasileiro, ele não é". ‘Cause normally, that... Now, how do I drive? I'm trying like, I'm doing the same thing everyone else is, I'm pushing forward and I'm... So I think that's rubbed off too, and, hm... I'm much more aggressive when I'm driving, much more. So yeah, I think, when someone asks me to describe Brazilians, unfortunately the first word I use is selfish. I do, I say they are very selfish, but at the same time they're extremely lovely and warm! I said, it just depends, if you're in line at the airport, or if you're in someone's house. It depends. And that's very different in Canada or in the UK. ‘Cause you don't feel that the English are rude or whatever when you're out or aggressive or something like that, you feel kinda polite, cold, you could say cold. I'd never call a Brazilian cold, ever. Ever. Very warm. And some worse than others. So I think that was kind of part of it, part of this, I don't know, a cultural shock. But still the hardest thing day to day is the, in the meetings. Still, that goes on. And there's times you just gotta go like "oh, God!". I do, I just think “ok, just let it go on”, I just look out the window. You know, I just wait. I just wait for Guida and Gabriela and all the rest of them to... you know, it's true, it's so funny. And also to being a man. In education in Brazil there's very few men, right?
P/1 – Yeah!
R – Specially in preschool or daycare...
P/1 – Yeah, exactly.
R – Very few. And I'm the only man on the table. And so, other things that happen at the table is we'll be talking about... say we're having a meeting and we're talking about preschool and about an event. And they're like "oh! Gente! Você viu a Silvia ontem? Você viu o comentário dela no corredor? Esta mãe é uma coisa!". (laughs) Guida: "Ah, eu vi isso, e eu ___". And I'm just thinking, I just let them go on and think "we're in the middle of a meeting! We're in a meeting here, and we're having a chat", you know? (laughs) And they go off on these tangents. And then I just look out the window and then Guida would say "Oh, Mr. French está chateado, gente, olha isso!". And I said "but I'm not chateado!". I said "you're like, I'm here to work! And you guys are talking about this mother's... Whatever it is". And so that's the thing of women (laughs). You know, women in Brazil are... And that happens a lot at school, a lot.
P/2 – Yeah.
R – A lot. Uh...
P/3 - Do you think this is a specific… woman?
R – Latin.
P/3 – It's Latin?
R – Whatever. (laughs)
P/3 – It's latin woman?
R – It's latin woman, yeah. Definitely Latin woman. Latin women, they are... But at the same time, it's kind of refreshing, you know? At least you can have, if necessary that side. Like, this would never happen in a Canadian school or... It would happen very rarely. But, hum, it's fun at the same time and it's also not productive, you know? You can't, you need to be productive, you know what I mean? That's what I think when I'm in a meeting, I need to be producing, I'm being paid to produce something, I'm here to work as a team, [so] let's get back to it. It's the same thing that you expect from the students. If you set up a group work, and they're gonna do their group work about building... I was watching yesterday, they were doing, building machines. Simple, complex machines in grade 4. They're having to create a problem, an inquiry, and then build a raw machine to solve the problem. And, so, there was, just given an assignment… One of the groups was like "Oh, I don't know what to do. I like cars and I like pulleys". "Ok, so what about figuring out what kind of pulley you need to move a car to wherever?". Uh, I forgot what I was saying that to, we were talking about getting distracted... Oh, so, in group work, if the students are talking about “por que o Corinthians é a melhor equipe do São Paulo”, “o professor faz o quê”? They'd go and say "Excuse me! We're not talking about football here! We are doing work. I wanna hear you talking about simple machines! I don't wanna be hearing football, I don't wanna hear novelas. I want you to talk about this, and I want it to be in English, so you can stop talking in Portuguese as well". We control it. So, when I control the meeting or I make a comment, it's so "oh, chato ele". (laughs) It's like "Oh, no! It's the same thing you expect of your students, is it not? Or there will be no learning, there will be no production".
P/2 – Mr. French, we are running out of time, unfortunately.
P/1 – No, I think, the problem is, we have another interview of, eh, we have another interview of Ana Maria Schindler.
R – Oh, great!
P/1 – But I think I can go out to see if it's ok __
R – Ok.
P/1 – Or maybe she's not coming or something, so you can go on. If she's there, we have to stop and continue another day.
R – Ok, sure.
P/2 – Is that ok? (laughs)
R – When I was at Stance Dual, I was a teacher straight away. And then, hm, administratively, the school was very weak. And they - how do you say - had no experience of what a real school system, it was just starting. It was like 8 years ago. So, it wasn't long after that that they offered me the job of administration in English and then right after that... Excuse me. After that, I became the “diretor do Inglês”. So I was head teacher, which is a British term to mean head of the school. So, hum, after that, I was going after conferences and things like that and then one day at Saint Paul's, which is the British school here, she... there was a conference about, hum, I think it was about discipline, dealing with discipline in a classroom or something like that, and we were broken up into groups. And we all had name tags, and Guida was in my group. She was gonna do group work with me. So there was a head of Saint Nicolas. I was in Stance Dual and her with bla-bla-bla, and I had had 2 students transferred from her school. When Guida suffered all the problems with the buildings and she lost some students, 4 or 5 students came to my school. And I was quite impressed with, I thought their English was good. The fluency was excellent. And I was impressed with their learning skills that they had in the school, so I was happy about that. And so, I couldn't see her name tag, it was turned around. So we were working, and I said "I'm sorry, who are you? And which school you're from?". And she said "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm from Escola Cidade Jardim, PlayPen". And I didn't know the word Cidade Jardim but PlayPen and I said "Ah, PlayPen! I have a couple of your students". And I mentioned one, who she knew really well, "Oh, I know that family and bla-bla-bla, great". And I said "Yes, so, how's it going at your school?" and whatever. That's how I met her, it was then and there. And then she gave me her card, I gave her my card and hum... And then what happened was I had this exchange program in, before Stance Dual, in Canada as well and there was a principal who was here. And he was saying "Look, what I would like to do is I would like to have some kind of scholarship program built up". And I was thinking "I wonder if there's some schools out there who'd be interested in doing stuff like we're... Helping the kids who don't have a chance to go abroad?". Because we could give free education there for a month or two months, and then somebody would pay for the airfare and some spending money, so it wouldn't be too much. And I said, "Eliana where I was at Stance Dual, she's... She won't ____ but I met this woman Guida and I heard that she's quite good, so let me give her a call". And I phoned Guida and she said "Oh, I remember you, yes, and bla-bla-bla". I said "Look, I have this guy here and he was, you know, he's interested. Would you be interested?", "Yeah". I said “He could visit your school and bla-bla-bla". So off he went and he met her. And at that time, he knew me and he knew my work and I knew him from working in Canada as well, and he was... So they talked about the program, they talked about his school management, they also talked about me. And then later he said to me "I think she's interested in you! I think...". So I said "Really?" and he was like "Yeah, I think so. I think you've got a green light there, she's saying good things about you". And I think Guida did that so that I would... So I then phoned her and I said "Guida, I was wondering maybe if I could come and visit your school", "Yes! Sure!". (laughs) So I went to visit her school one day, I was in the new building, she received me in the new building, she toured me around. We talked about stuff, and then she asked me if I was happy and I said "I'm happy in my job, my work, but I'm unhappy with the administration in the school I'm at". I mean, the way I was working, you would have teacher grade 2, “você 2000 por mês”, “ela 3800 por mês”. “Todo mundo registrado por 800”, ah... And worse, there were a lot of other things. I said “This for me is extremely unprofessional”. And also, the preschool, the English at Stance Dual, the preschool was not very good and when I visited her preschool, 5 classrooms, and I heard their production, lots of grammatical errors. But I thought that's easier to fix than having really bad, not enough fluency. So Guida had this fluency, so she had lots of fluency. And she said, well... And I said "No, I'm kinda happy where I am but I'd be interested in maybe doing some consultancy because maybe, if it works out good, I could come here, who knows? But there's no point in saying "Oh, come here, let's. You see what I'm like and I see what you're like". So I was directing Stance and then I came to her, and I did some “assessoria”, once every couple of weeks. And I worked with her coordinators and her teachers and started to bring things in line, hum, and I saw lots of opportunities there and she did too. She said, basically "I think you would be good because we have a good level of acts but I think I want it to be here", and like, I said to her “You need to change materials and you need to change this, you need to bring the standards out, uh, to take it further”. But anyone would do that, going into any new school, you'd say "Ok, what do you have?" and "Let's make it better". Unfortunately, another thing of Latin America but Brazil specifically, is when a new director comes in or a new president comes in, shhht, you throw away everything and start again. I see that often in Brazil. And this, I would never work like that. You wanna study what's there, "This I don't agree with, this is great and that, let's make that better, let's add to that", you know? Adding all the time. So that was my premise "Let's add to it". And so it was, it was a raising of standards. So that's how I met her and that's how she offered me the job. Hum, and after consulting, she said "Ok, look, I don't wanna carry on with the consulting, do you wanna be the pedagogical director for English?". And then I said "yes, that would be great, I'm ready to leave the other school". And she took me in... I moved officially in July.
P/3 – In the other school you used to be a teacher and...
R – And then I became the director of English.
P/3 – Oh, ok...
R – So I was doing the administration there, you know. And that's what my friends in London said "Well, you weren't teaching, you were teaching here but...", and they said I'd very quickly become head. So my friend said "Eu acho a próxima etapa para você é o Ministério da Educação do Brasil". (laughs) Like, well, if you can do the job...
P/2 – Would be easier on the passport, the Brazilian passport.
R – Yes! Yeah, yes. And then president, yeah. (laughs) No, no. It makes me very upset when I talk about Brazilian public education, I get very mad. I think it's so unfair. I would love to work in the ministry ‘cause then I could say “Let's change it, let's make it fair and equal”. Because I come from a country in which... It doesn't matter in Canada how much money you have and where you live, you're going to get an education that's similar to her who lives in the best part of town with lots of money or her who goes to a private school. The government controls it. Like Finland, like Canada, like Sweden. Not like the United States, not like Brazil.
P/3 – [In] London you had this differences?
R – Oh, absolutely. It's appalling, uh, the differences. There were more kids in the classroom than I was expecting to have and... There was no support for, I had kids in the classroom who were from Turkey. And there was no support at all. Thank God I had studied teaching English as a foreign language! Thank God I had that as well! But... I was saying to my colleagues "Well, how are you doing?", "I just talk about earthquakes and that's it, that's what I'm doing". So I think that that was very difficult. Hm, but yeah...
P/3 – Do you think would be nice to know more about these, about these visions of…?
P/2 – About the, yeah. I was gonna ask this. Did you know a little bit about Brazilian educational system before you came?
R – No.
P/2 – Or just... Oh.
R – No, when I got here. But of course it's something that you look into wherever you go if you work in the field, so, you know, if you found a Museu da Pessoa in London you would go there, and you would find out... But, so I did that about schools, wherever I went. And this disparity between what public school children have in São Paulo – I'll talk just about São Paulo because it's a microcosmus of the rest of the country – and compared to private schools, it's dramatically different. Hum, I did a project a few years ago where we went into the public schools, but we went into a model school. Still, the teachers were not properly prepared and didn't want to in many cases ‘cause I offered to give free... Like, I saw some issues there with the reading, and I said "Look, I can come in and work with your teachers on how to do reading, how to do strategic reading and how to get them...". And they're like "Wow, no, they don't have the time". And I said "No, you're not getting this, I can bring you something, do it for free and they'll learn from it. They'll better themselves professionally". But they... It was a different mentality or mental setting of the teachers and the administrators, that's like "Oh, that's one more thing...". But I think the schools themselves, they don't have the resources, they don't have the physical space that's necessary, they have too many kids in the classroom, hum, there's no expectations on the students whatsoever. Like, our lessons begin with "By the end of the lesson, you'll be able to tell me what is water". And then we hold the children accountable to that, they're engaged to the learning and we talk to them about what it is. Now, "Do you know what did it make you think that water is wet? Why is it wet, why is it whatever?". There, I saw only the teachers having the knowledge and telling the kids what to do, all the time. And I think that that's a dangerous situation, because we have a situation in Brazil where we have a lot of people who don't know how to make a decision, unfortunately. Hum, a lot of people, who don't know how to understand... The discussion I've had with my maid, about the elections, you know, "Who you're gonna vote for?". And she says "Well, I'm, hm, definitely voting for PT and, uh 'Dillema'" – I call her "Dillema" – "'Dillema' is gonna win...". And I was like "Li, why?". And she couldn't rationalize what made her choice. "Well, because PT is good for me". "Why? Tell me why". She couldn't explain it to me. So, this I find really unfair. This is not what education should provide for the people, is to be able to make a decision, to be independent [and] to think around the subject. I firmly believe, and this is very much from my Canadian upbringing, that in order to participate in society, to be in a democratic society, which you have to be able to read and think critically. If you can't read between the lines, or watch the Jornal Nacional and listen between the lines, you do not participate in a democratic society. At all, in any way or form. So, this is what I was arguing, that (Lizete?) does not participate democratically, she's just gonna do what her husband tells her to do or what her father does or whatever. Now, that can also happen with an educated person but at least the person can say "Well, hang on. Wow, what 'Dillema' just said about that? What do you mean reduce this? What about... Hang on, she said that, she's saying something different now". That's what you need people to be able to do. Because otherwise, they won't ever have accountability in Brazil. It's an interesting word, this, we use it a lot in English, accountability, and there's no translation, I love this, in Spanish or Portuguese or French the word does not exist. It takes us 20 minutes to explain accountability. (laughs)
P/3 – What word?
R – Accountability. The word is a very important one in education, because in education you have to be accountable to somebody. So, accountability means that you have a relationship between at least two people. And that you're reliant upon these two things in some way or form. So, teachers in the school are accountable to me and to the students. I'm accountable to the parents, to the teachers, to the students and to Guida. I have to be able to show what we're doing, how we're doing it, why we're doing it. I have to say, at some stage at the game someone is going to say... But that, accountability is based on a partnership, I said to the parents when they came in "I promise you in grade 4, ‘o Inglês vai ser assim’. I promise you ‘Português no segundo vai ser assim’". Unless we have difficulties. So I have kind or arrangements or agreements, and I need to be held accountable. Now, in Brazil, accountability doesn't really work as you know. So you say "Hum, mas sabe uma coisa? Eu não fiz essa coisa porque fulano não entregou as cópias no dia certo". But then my question is "Ok, but hang on. Oh, who is responsible here? You are the teacher". Or the parents would say to me "ok, tudo bem, (tive três dias sem energia?). But who is responsible, Mr. French, for the curriculum? You. So don't sit down here and tell me it's not done because of a photocopy or whatever". So, this word of accountability is very important, and it's a mindset that we have, it's another cultural difference. One of my teachers, that often happens at meetings. So, we'll try to do accountability. Serena, she's from England, she puts up her hand and says "Mr. French, ‘eu acho essa palavra muito difícil para deles aqui porque o presidente deles mesmo não é accountable para as pessoas, então eles não entendem este conceito’". And I'm like "Oh, Serena, don't say that". (laughs) But it's true, it's absolutely true, the president is not accountable. Nobody holds the president and says "You've said this and this, you've only done that". Think of Marta Suplicy, what did she do for São Paulo? Well, virtually nothing, but she said she would do 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. She maybe did 1 or 2. What about the other 3? "Ah, a fotocópia não chegou. Não tive luz". Ok, but you said, you can't... So this is what accountability is all about. So, in education, it's really important. You don't want to be accountable to a prova, that's not what it is. It's not to say "Oh! Shit! ‘Nós temos’ ENEM! Oh, ‘nós temos’ Prova Brasil. We have to...". That's not what it's about. It's about the day to day. So teachers in our school have to be accountable to the curriculum, and the needs of the students. So, today is not about learning about water, it's about understanding what water is, for example. So, in the public school, what you get a lot of, what I saw was this: "Eu sei, eu sou seu professor, o água ser... Hoje você vai saber isso". So he would say "Água é molhado. Água é assim, ok? Vamos fazer desenho". And I was thinking "God!". It was just like, really old. And I think that that's unfair to the students, because there's no... Is there anything critical there? Is there any critical learning? Is there any critical reading? Now, a friend of mine who taught in, she's American e “ela ensinou no” Espírito Santo, she said it was different there. Not “como” the Canadian public schools, she said that it was better, than, you know, in São Paulo.
P/3 –The schools in Espirito Santo?
R – She said. And then I've heard that in the Sul também é melhor. But, I... When it's federally regulated, as it is, and state regulated, I think, hum, to an extent, there are still a lot of students in a classroom. And Brazil, in the public schools, they don't do well in the PISA exams, the worldwide exams. They don't do... They're one of the worst countries. And I think, when I say that education in Brazil is bad, I'm talking about for the majority of people, which is the public schools. I don't mean my school and I don't mean Santa Cruz, but there's very few students who go to those schools, and there's a lot who go to the other one. So, in general, we're talking about a very bad educational system, you know? And it's unfair. And I think that that's hard ‘cause you think, sometimes I just look and I'm like "God, oh God, if only that child could be transported to Canada", they would be thinking differently. It's not to say that everything from out of Brazil is better. I'm not that kind of person, you know, but certainly you think that's, like, my maid's daughter. "God, if she could get, break the cycle", you know? And I'm not saying that I want her to vote for Serra. I would have liked it, but... I don't want her daughter to do that. What I want her daughter to be able to do is to be able to say why what Serra said is wrong and why what "Dillema" said is wrong. I want her to be able to make those decisions on her own. Do you know what I mean? And that's what's very hard here. And it's also hard in Colombia, it's worse in Venezuela, ‘cause of, now, of course, Chavez, and in other countries. China, there's not a... I've just come back from China, I was so disappointed. The guide we had at one stage, university educated, degree in engineering, tough degree, you have to do a lot of reading, and 27 years old. He was a bike tour guide. And we're talking to him about like how it is in China and "Oh, it's great, now it's great, we're all doing really well". And I said "No, you have abject poverty in China, like we have in Brazil", "No!", "You have people in the countryside who don't have food, I'm sorry", "No! It's better now!". And then his answer was "My parents now have a bigger house, my parents have air conditioning. China is better". And I was like "Oh, for God's sake". So, it's, this is a major issue... And the only way it ever may change, unfortunately, is through education. It's the only way. Korea is the best example of that. You know, 12 years ago they said "We're going to reform this", and look where they are today! And countries that are at the top of the scale for where you wanna live, you know, who do the best in the top 10, they're all... Canada, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, they're all countries that people wanna live. But look at their educational results in the world, they're top educational systems in the world. And they're free!
P/2 – How come Korea could change so much?
R – ‘Cause they went through... They reformed the educational system. They said right and...
P/2 - ____ make a change.
R – Yeah, and Chile too. Chile did the same thing, which is making them very strong. And it is possible... The argument in Brazil "Oh, but we're so many people in Brazil, like in the US". I agree. It's easier for Canada and Switzerland and Finland with tiny populations, and Korea to an extent, although Seoul is a massive, it's pretty big. But, hum, you can do it. If you say, you might... If you have the right minister of education. (pause) No, but you need, that's what you need, is... You need someone who's had an experience in education and who can push forward, and be a politician, that's what you need in someone like that. And then, you need a president who will back it. Well, in the campaigns, I mean, I'm bitching about it but you didn't really hear, uh, "Dillema" or Serra, neither one of them talk about how... "Education is important", that's what they'd do, "Education is important". Ok, yeah, but what are you gonna do? No one. “Nem Lula”!
P/3 – They didn't talk about much.
R – No. (laughs) And Lula, if you think about what Lula did, he did change education, yeah. He provided lunch at school, he moved the age of education from 7 to 6, but that did nothing. It took children off the street and it made more money for the states, ‘cause the federal government doesn't pay for it. So things like that are ridiculous. So the statistics start to move, but the education is not getting better. You need someone to come in and say "Ok, right, enough is enough. Stop! We're going to start taking this money from Petrobras or wherever and it's going into education. Enough". That's what they need to do. And they need to make public schools as it is in Canada. That teachers prefer in Canada to work in a public school, not the private. They prefer it. Better money, better conditions, better this, better that, better, uh, better resources. And in Brazil, if you think of São Paulo, you talk to any teacher and you say "Would you rather be in a public school in Itaim or would you rather work in Santa Cruz?". It's a no brainer, it's dead easy a question. So that's what... I think I would change from that, because you, if you can slowly start to change... I mean, we talk about in the school all the time about pollution, “lixa”? “Lixo”? “Jogando lixo”. And I hear my colleagues say things like "Ah, it's... It made me so mad the other day when we were driving and this person threw a thing out of the window, and they were driving an old car". And I'm thinking "Look, they probably are poor and not very much educated but the reason that they're throwing that out of the car is they don't get the concept of why it's important not to do that, and no one's really been through it with them". They hear it on the news, so they see it "Não joga lixo, não joga lixo". That's so superficial. You need to make them understand what it does and how it works. So, you can only do these things through reading and writing and speaking and listening and... So I think that to answer your question, I think that' what has to happen in Brazil eventually. And I think once that happens, then we're gonna start to see major changes in society, which will mean, one day, less maids, more middle class, you know, there will be a more equal balance within the country. Slowly, you will. Because people will say, "Hang on. Wow, I have rights here. Well, you can't talk to me, you can't". They'll understand. They'll be able to think critically with you. Hum, and there's lots of people that have written about this, you know. But I do agree with this. Hum, and that kind of sounds like I'm a communist in a way, but I'm not. (laughs) It's just that I think that that's what you need to do. You need to mobilize and then you need to make it a... They have to, you gotta force them to say "It is a law that you go to school until this level and until this level you must accomplish these things. And if not, you get no certification whatsoever". And then you make it harder in life for them to get through life without certification. Slowly you do this, you know? ‘Cause then they need those certificates. And then everyone will benefit from it, you know? And if you think about education here. I don't know if you know what inclusion means, you know inclusion?
P/2 – Yeah.
R – Yeah, like, I mean, that's something on paper. Brazil on paper is great for inclusion and for indigenous languages. It's fantastic. No, it's brilliant. Like, you live in Acre and you look at it on paper, "Oh! Eu tenho direito disso, disso [e] disso. Eu posso falar minha língua nativa" – which is Ianomari or whatever. And then I always said to those people in Acre "Vamos lá, vamos casar, e vamos insistir, casar aqui in the cartório em nossa língua nativa". Let's try that. It just doesn't work. So, on paper, it's fantastic, but nothing happens, and this is a major problem so the government can come along and say "Oh, we've changed things in schools!". Yeah, but nothing's happening, really. Nothing, really, at all. So I think that, that's... So, this piece, when you look at bilingual education in Brazil there's two... Bilingual education, when we get to, when we talk about it, it's dominated now by schools like PlayPen, graded and Stance Dual etc., that's what we mean! We mean private schools for the elites. And I call this education system elite bilingualism, that's my word for it. It is, that's what I call it. And I say, I write that, I say it openly, I said that at the last conference. Because in Canada... If you want to be bilingual, it's free. Choose immersion schools, it's there, you don't have to pay for it, it's there. Here, you have to have a lot of money. You know how much the “mensalidade” is in our school.
P/1 e P/2 – Yeah. (laughs)
R – It's, you know, not even for the people with a little bit of money, it's the people who are like seriously rich. Who don't think about whatever, you know? So it is elite bilingualism, and, so, there's two groups of people that are ignored in Brazil, and this is important in bilingual education. The two groups that are ignored are the deaf, ok? Who have LIBRAS ‘cause it's bilingual ed! They learn Portuguese and LIBRAS. And the indigenous people. And this is the biggest atrocity, because when we talk about bilingual ed... At the last conference, I had both at the conference. And I said in the opening speech "I have them here because we are forgetting that this is a huge umbrella when we put that word bilingual education up there, guys. And you are all working in private elite schools". And they were like... I had many colleagues who said "Eu nem pensei o LIBRAS é segundo língua!". I was like "Yeah, what planet are you living on here?". Elite bilingualism. So I think that you gotta be careful with this word, you know, in Brazil and I'm very much for that. Although, someone could say "Yeah, but what do you really do about it?". And the answer is nothing. I have a great project idea for the indigenous languages which I'm gonna start next year, our kids go to visit a tribe, listen to a story, translate it into two languages, then we draw stories. So, I've got ideas, but that's not gonna make a... It'll make a small change, it will. But it's not gonna make a major change. It's not gonna allow someone in Acre to go and register a marriage in whatever the language, I don't know the languages in Acre, but you know, whatever the indigenous language may be. They can't do it, they're gonna go to the cartório and they're gonna say "Mas esse vai ser em Português. Cara, você não fala Português?". And we're gonna have to write everything in Portuguese, which is... Now, in Canada, that's changed as well, you know. There are strict rules now. I like the word in Canada, they changed it, we can't call them indigenous, we can't call them Indians, we have to call them first nations. Like, in the US they don't allow the word ‘cause they're like "No, what do you mean 'first nations'? That means that we were second". (laughs) You don't want that. But the Canadians felt so bad about what they did to the Indians, so they said "No". So, in school now it's all taught that they were here first, they owned the land, they're called the first nations and you have in education, centers, circles and cycles, you teach... It's all part of it, the educational system in Canada now. So, if you live in Vancouver, you're gonna learn about the first nations of that region, you know? If you live in Edmonton or wherever, it's all part of the local educational system. And I think that that was great ‘cause it made people really think about... Like, my nephew is growing up in schools and he knows, he's read books, there's this brilliant book called "A salmon for Simon". I never had a book like this when I was a child. It's this little Indian boy and he has, because... The west coast salmon is part of their culture, eating salmon, drying salmon. And it's a whole book about what he finds at the sea, and how he plays with the salmon... And it's understanding their culture through these stories... I never had that at school, you know? There was a respect, and there was a law, but nothing that preserved it as much as that, you know? But,yeah, so it's all... It's a big issue here with education. It's massive. Where I would start though is just saying "Ok, reduce class sizes, improve the teaching". Which means pay them more, send them to courses, invest more money. They need to do that but no one's willing to... I think, they think it's too easy. "Ah, não tenho, é muito caro, nós...". And studying at night too, for kids in high school, “por favor”! “À noite, para ensino médio”, that's ridiculous. You know, they need to have the opportunity to study during the day. Agree or not?
P/2 – Yeah.
R – I mean, it's too tiring. If you watch children in our school, two years old, uh, grade two, eight years old “Nós temos Inglês à tarde. Eles é cansado. E você está fazendo segundo língua à tarde, de meio dia até 3”, it's harder for them, they don't wanna think anymore. Now just imagine a 16 year-old at 8:30 at night!
P/1 – Who has worked the whole day!
R – Who has worked all day, and now is doing “física”! I'm sorry, you do not need to have, you know, a neuroscientist or a psychologist [to] tell you "Oh, let's research this". No, it's just not gonna be as effective. You know?
P/3 – ‘Cause at day they need to work, the problem is...
R – Yeah, you're right, there's many other issues involved here. But if we want a bigger middle class, we need to have this. We need to have better education, but you gotta try... You need to have someone who can have a vision to do this. You do! You need kind of a revolutionary president to come in and say "This is my agenda, we've got to improve the quality of life and the only way to do that is through education". Initially. And you... The hard thing for that president will be, you'll only see those results 9 or 10 years later.
P/1 – Yeah.
R – That's it. It will be... and it's gonna be a hard one. Cause nobody's gonna see anything for a long time but, you know... But yeah, that's what I would do. And... and as long as I've lived in Brazil, as long, I've never seen anyone do anything really beneficial to education. Yesterday, I am sure you saw on the newspaper, about the ENEM being canceled.
P/1 – Yeah.
R – Ok. And my colleagues at school said "Ah! This is disgusting! This is embarrassing!". And they say "This is disappointing", it's a word I heard yesterday. And, hum, I said why? "Well", they said, "because if you think last year the problems that we had with ENEM, that they would have fixed it. ‘A gente espera’..." - “esperou” or “esperei”? - "Esperei, eles vão melhorar. Espera, eles vão melhorar. Vai ser melhor, vai ser assim...". And then I said to her "I'm sorry, you're a Brazilian". As I was like this with her "You live in Brazil, right? You've lived here your whole life", "Yeah". And I said "Why would you, now, expect the Ministry of Education to change the way they've been working forever? Huh?". I said "They don't care about schools, they don't visit schools, they don't invest, they don't pay any attention in it at all, so why would you expect ENEM to be any different? Why would you expect them to care now? I don't understand! I don't expect them to do anything. A problem in the exam, it's just one more, it's normal. It's normal for the way that they operate now. You're waiting for a change this year because you said last year was really bad, I agree, last year was embarrassing. You hope that they don't do that, possibly. But don't expect anything from the Ministry of Education here, don't! You're wasting your time if you're expecting something". If we do, it's a nice surprise, and I think that's really unfair. When my maid says to me "Ah, mas isso é como é aqui, a escola é assim", I have to accept it. Like, this isn't (isn't Washington or the United States where?) you'd have parents say "Excuse me! I know that I live in Zona Leste, ‘aqui no meio do’ ____ and nobody has any money here, but, ‘olha’, we have rights here! This is unacceptable, 44 kids in a classroom, I'm sorry, we want that change". But no one does that. And the Ministry of Education, they don't care at all. They really don't. You know, they really don't. So, yeah, yesterday's results, disappointing, sad that we have to do that exam again in that way, hum... Because I think, someone asked me the other day, when one of my colleagues was taking over from Célia they said "Oh, but I really hate ENEM". And I said "But why?". I mean, it's the first real standardized exam we have in Brazil, it's based on the PISA, it's an international exam, that's good, what do you... Many people are against it because we're using this exam, or they're against, what? What does an exam like that do? You have to have accountability in your school. And they're not testing factual information, they're not asking you "What's the capital of Brazil?". They're asking you to think "Ok, here's a problem, think around it". They're testing thinking skills, right? So, people are afraid of these things, because in the end there was going to be some kind of accountability. The same in our school, we have Cambridge exams and 3 years ago there was a teacher and I said to her "You need to work on the listening skills, I don't see it happening here, I'm worried about this". What happened when the Cambridge results came back? Reading and writing excellent, speaking fantastic, but listening? Crap! Sure, you don't have to think how long I left her in the job. It didn't last very long. No, I'm not for saying "you didn't do well in the test, I'm gonna fire you as a teacher". No, that's horrible. But I knew that that was going on, I spoke to her about it, I asked her to improve, and then comes a result to say, confirmed everything that wasn't going on in the class. So I said "now, it's time for you to go". In the US, they use these results to fire teachers and take away money, I would never do that but... So, there's nothing wrong with ENEM, you know? The structure of it would be great, but uh... “Sei lá”, I don't know. It's a big... “Quando se abre essa lata”, we have this expression. If you open this can of worms, it's huge, it's like a mess is gonna come out. But somebody's gotta open this someday. It's... sSoon! But this new president, she's not gonna do this. At all. She's gonna do like Lula did, something superficial. “Nem” did... Serra wouldn't have done anything either. There's... It's... Do you know what I think sometimes? Hum, I think that the politicians in Latin America, all of them, think "If I keep them stupid a little bit longer, I'll win again". If I... You know? I think that there is that mentality. "If I don't let them really read, she won't know, they'll vote for me again". It doesn't matter if you're petista or PSDB, I think that's how they think. I mean, I hope that's not how they think, you know? Do you know that? Any other questions? (laughs)
P/1 e P/2 – No. (laughs)
R – I'm just talking. Did you go to private schools or public schools?
P/1 e P/2 – Private.
R – Private, private?
P/3 – I studied for 6 months only in a public school, so...
R – Oh... I have a friend who's my age and he studied in Taubaté in the first, I don't know how many years in a public school, and then he went to a private school afterwards, so it was half and half. But he went during the time of dictatorship or something? All right? And he talks about those schools, and he says that although there were some things that were rigid, he said the education was excellent. Years ago in the public schools it was really good. And then when I went to the private school, it was so so. So that's been a huge transformation, in a short period of time, he's 43 years old! No, 40 years old! That's a big change! How did it go from being so good to so bad in such a short period of time? What happened?
P/2 – Also because of the amount of money invested in the schools, ______.
R – Of course. No, I have a friend who's a principal in a public school in Rio and there was a time when they ran out of chalk, “giz”, and they had no more money left in the budget. No. You know, that just blew me away, “We had to like, to get a fund, we had to get the teachers to put in some money, the parents and stuff to get chalk”. And I'd say "You're not serious!".
P/3 – Last year, I think, the federal university didn't have money to pay the light.
P/2 – I would like to ask you about the methodology of the first bilingual school you worked here, was it very different?
R – No, hum... When you talk about methodology in education in Brazil, almost always comes the word social constructivism. Ok? So what I would say was Stance Dual, where I was starting, that's when social constructivism was just beginning to take a hold in Brazil. I was fortunate because when I was at university my, hum... I told you I did psychology. So, my tutor, we have tutors in the university, he was a social constructivist before the word was being used, he was ____ and so everything that we learned about learning, how children learn, how we learn was through that approach, that was his... Of course I learned cognitive approaches as well and I learned behaviorist approaches as well. But, he, my tutor was this way. So, when I got to Stance Dual and they started talking about it, what I found was a lot of yabba yabba yabba. Like, they were telling me what was in a book. And I was like "Yeah, I know that. Ok, so, but hang on, what do you do in this situation, what do you not, how do you construct this?". So I think they were starting to learn then and they were really keen to learn about it. But what they didn't have, and I think this is the different methodology, they didn't and still don't understand the importance of the role of immersion. So, what is immersion education? And that's what Guida understood in her school in the preschool. She understood what immersion meant. Sure, they had issues, they had things that had to be fixed, but there wasn't a problem. Look at the fluency that they had at the 5th, when the kids were five. And that's the same thing that you get in Canada, after kids start when they're 5 years old in French immersion and, by the time they're in grade 3, they have a pretty strong level of French. They're not like native speakers, hum, but, uh... In the other school they didn't have that, that clear methodology, ideology of what is immersion. More, as many schools do "eu acho assim, eu falo todos os dias em inglês, vai ser bom para eles", that's great... But that's not what immersion is about. It's about talking and getting them to talk, it's about putting them in control. But the school was social constructivist at that time and then Guida too, her school was coming out of Montessori and going into social constructivism. And that was kind of a movement in Brazil all in the same time, so when I went to Play Pen, that was common ground, both were social, considering themselves social constructivists. So, I would argue, and Célia, have you done Célia, have you interviewed Célia?
P/1 – Yeah.
R – Because Célia would say the same thing too. It's that it's easy to say "I'm a social constructivist school", but it's very difficult to actually do it! And Célia and I...She came in seven months after me, so it was the same thing. It was like "Oh, that's not an example of social constructivism", and I would say the same thing in the other school. So saying it was one thing. But the change was the difference of understanding immersion. Really understanding how a child processes two languages. Guida and her school, they were much more confident, if a parent said at grade 2 "Olha, minha filha está escrevendo assim, mas o primo dele, minha prima, em Santa Cruz, está escrevendo assim", Stance Dual would flap around, like "Oh, how to answer this?". Guida's team knew what was expected, what immersion would do, what bilingualism would do, so I think that's... Now, of course, I think Stance Dual is like 20 years old now, so they've got more experienced, but... Experience counts for a lot in this game. Cause once you've had like 4, 5, 6, 8 classes of the same, you start to realize and understand and see that... So I think that, more or less that's the methodology. The change of methodology. Both are considered to be the same, I mean, most schools in Brazil will say that they're social constructivists, but I'm so sorry... (laughs) And I love when I do workshops and stuff, I will say things like "Você tem... Oh, we're a social constructivist school...". Wait, this call I must take. Sure. No, go on, go ahead.
P/1 – I would like to know where did you know more about immersion. Because you have studied in a bilingual school, but where did you learn about this methodology?
R – Yeah. When I was studying education, uh, and when I was finishing psychology, that's when I started to study immersion and the effects of immersion education. In the UK, there are no examples of immersion education. Hum, it's disgusting. Hum, in the US, very few. So that's when I started to study it and really read about it. And then, hum, I would question things, specially in the UK, about the way they were teaching languages. Like, how you were teaching French. You live in an imperialistic society in Europe, but you're not doing this... So, this is where that came from. So it really is that. But, as I did it, as I studied more about it, then it was all like "Oh, that's how it worked at my school, I see that, I see this, so it's pretty much that way". That's kind of how I went into it. Through school and then through university. And I think that's... The psychology part is very important, because when you talk about immersion education you have to talk about cognitive science at some stage in the game, you have to talk about how the brain is processing, you have to go there, you know it's... Because parents freak out about it. They're thinking "But, oh my God, mas minha filha só tem três anos, e você vai falar português... Inglês lá. A gente vai falar assim?". Or they come and say "Today in the car I asked him what did you have, 'O que você comeu hoje in recess?' 'Ah, hoje a gente comeu egg, e depois, mãe, a gente teve juice de... What?'". And then they'll say something, they mix it up. And then the mom says "You see, tem confusão na cabeça", so you need to understand psychology. You need to understand how languages are processed and so... That was really my focus in the second, when I did my masters degree. It was two parts. One was about the visual cortex and I wanted to know how children... You know when small children look at a mobile? My first study was: why do they relax? Why does a small child calm down when they watch a mobile, what is it? So I did a... I don't know if any of you studied art or like art, but there's an artist, his name is [Alexander] Calder, do you know Calder? He traded mobiles. Hum... [Marcel] Duchamp is another one. So I took these two pieces by them and I, my argument was perhaps these two understood through kinetic art, how the visual cortex is made, works. Because it was actually through kinetic art that these kids go like "Ah...". It makes them relax, so... And that was my first study. And then the second study, in the second year of the masters, was to say "Ok, now we know how the children's visual cortex works. How do they, their language processing work in their brains? And then how would they process two languages at the same time? And can they? And that's when I went much deeper into... And in fact, what we found is, we did a study with kids in bilingual families and, introducing, we would introduce a speaker. So, your kids spoke Portuguese at home and French. So you're married, I bring her into the house. And then, she spoke both languages, but her first language is Portuguese. Now, my question was: "Would a 3 year old child, would they figure out what her first language?". And they did. In 95% of the cases, they figured out. Because on the first day you'd only speak one language, Portuguese. The second day you'd only speak to the child in French. So, then we'd wanna see, could a kid at 3 years old figure out the stronger language? Then on the third day, you would come and then the researchers would be going like this, they'd have you mix the languages, and they'd be going "No more French". I would monitor, I would watch, and then I'd go "No, more or less Portuguese". And then, on the third and the fourth day what did we wait to see? What language would the child would use more often. The results were basically very clear: that children from 3 years old can deal with more than two languages. ‘Cause they were like, easily figuring out, in 95% of the cases they figured out your first language. 95%! Like, they would figure out my language was English, my first language was English, or in your case, Portuguese. So, then, the argument that we put forward was that children are that young, if they can do that, they can deal with 2 languages, possibly 3 or 4, but 2 is dead easy. 2 is like a walk in the park. So that... That's kind of how it started. But then when working in England as a teacher you don't get that opportunity. I mean, there's, like, they still think, and my colleagues there are "Oh, bilingual education? It's like what, you speak like what, were you like having two classes of French a day or what?" (laughs) "No, no, it's like teaching French and math together", "Huh! Really? Wouldn't that be hard?". (laughs) They don't get the concept at all. Americans are slowly coming around, uh? In certain places, you have it in Minnesota, you have it in certain places in California, you know, you've got pockets of it. But, in general, the Americans, the Australians and the English are so far behind, it's unbelievable. You know who's really good at it? Interesting, hum... New Zealanders! Because they have Maori, they have very strong Maori programs and they have that in the schools. But how... I always ask a question, and see if you can get it. From Canada to Argentina, I'll ask this... “Você fala inglês”? Let's do this one in Portuguese, “e uma de vocês responde”. “De Canadá até Argentina, então Canadá, Estados Unidos, México, tudo... say, existe um país só que é oficialmente bilíngue”. When I say “oficialmente bilíngue, eu significo o quê”? “Eles estudam em duas línguas e você pode andar em qualquer lugar nas cidades, no ruas, e muda um língua para outra”. “As pessoas, mais de 95% da população é bilíngue”. And there's only one country “do Canadá até Argentina”. “A minha pergunta é: qual país”? “Qual país”?
P/2 – “[Que] 95% da população fala as duas”?
R – “Duas. Muda, tem sinalação”...
P/1 – “Canadá”?
R – That's... Everyone, “normalmente as pessoas falam Canadá”. And I would say "Sim, é um país oficialmente bilíngue, tem toda planejamento, mas a minha mãe não fala fluente em ________”.
P/2 – “México”?
R – “México, não”. Mexico it's like Brazil.
P/1 – No idea.
R – You're gonna be surprised. “Não é Brasil”. (laughs) Don't guess that! “Você tem alguma ideia”?
P/2 – “Guiana Francesa”?
P/1 – “Não, pode ser uma das ilhas, né”?
R – No. It's not “Guiana Francesa”.
P/2 – “Qual é”? (laughs)
R – Paraguay.
P/2 – Oh, yeah, because they speak...
R – Guarani.
P/2 – Yeah, Guarani.
P/1 – Oh yes, Guarani.
R – “Guarani e Espanhol” and everyone...
P/1 – Guarani.
P/2 – Guarani. Yeah, I knew that one.
R – Back and forth, 95% of the population does.
P/1 – Now, they speak Portuguese because the frontier of Brazil.
R – And they get the radio and the television from Brazil and, like, Uruguay. The Uruguayans are very good at Portuguese, uff! You have to be careful in Uruguay now. (laughs) Seriously, they really understand Portuguese very well. But Paraguay is the only one, you know? Ok.
P/1 – Thanks a lot.
[Fim da parte 1]
[Início da parte 2]
P/1 - Isla Nakano
P/2 - Marina Galvanese
P/3 - Camila Prado
R - Lyle Gordon French
P/ 1 – So Mr. French, last time you were telling us how you got to meet Guida [and] how you first started to work as a consultant. And I would like to ask you what were the functions of the consultant job?
R – I’ll just jump back a little bit to say two things: First of all, when I talked to you about my career in London, before I came as a teacher in psychology, I forgot to mention that during my work for my masters degree I had gone to Vietnam to work with children who were in a bilingual setting. They were learning English and Vietnamese, but they were in poverty. That is like a, I think in Portuguese is “Fundação or ONG”, that kind of thing. So I went there to do extensive studies and I took time off from the university to do this, and I studied how they were learning a second language if there was a difference… Later I wanted to compare if there’s a difference between poor children or poverty children in an ONG versus children that are in a public setting in Canada or elite in Brazil. So I also had that experience in bilingual education. And I did a lot of papers on this and wrote about that. So that was another piece of the puzzle about that wanting to work in bilingual education. And I think, really, the desire to work with bilingual education came from the kind of education that I had. Like, I had been through that. I was really surprised in England, when I went there, how little language teaching there was in the schools, anyway, I mean, how bad it was, and secondly how virtually there were no bilingual schools. There is a few now, but there was virtually none. And that’s the same in others Europeans countries like France and Germany. It is changing slowly, but I remembered been quite shocked. So, when I came to Latin America I was really happy, I knew why… Why I was going to Buenos Aires? I knew there were a lot of bilingual schools there, a lot. They have more bilingual schools in Buenos Aires than we have, I think, in the entire country of Brazil. That will change slowly. There’s going to change, but there are a lot of schools in Argentina, they have a longer tradition on doing it. That piece that I missed. I don’t know who’s going to write this? Are you going to write this? Who is going to write this?
P/1 – Hum? The book?
R – Yeah. Ok. So.
P/1, P/2 – (laughs)
R – It’s good to focus, to talk about what I did in my degree and things…
P/2 – It’s like to recall your…
R – Yeah, Yeah. And like sketch, like sketch it out. That gives specific details and then focus more in Latin America. Right, so, first of all, happy Thanksgiving. Today is American Thanksgiving.
P/1 – Oh, happy Thanksgiving… (laughs)
R – I got messages this morning from all my American friends. So, happy Thanksgiving.
P/1, P/2 – (laughs)
R – In Canada, Thanksgiving is in October. So there is always this Canadian thing “No, Thanksgiving is over”, so…
P/1, P/2 – So, for them is today. And in Brazil too, everyone thinks today is Thanksgiving. So, at school we are having Thanksgiving today. (pause) So, your question was how did the consultant work start?
P/1 – Can I just ask something regarding Vietnam?
R – Sure.
P/1 – What were your findings? Did you find out that class would actually matter?
R – What I found, first at all, was how much I loved working with smaller children and how easy it was for them to pick up a second language and how easy it was. It was very very easy for them, it was a painless process. But we know, we studied this when we studied language acquisition, kids would pick it up quickly. But there’s a tendency of adults to think (ah, I’m studying Chinese now and I say “Oh God, it is really hard to study Chinese, it is really tough. I have to study a lot”). And then we always say “Oh, ‘imagina para ela’, oh she’s so small. Imagine for her how hard that will be?” So, I think in that moment, it all clicked into places like “Yeah, I never thought about it when I was in school, I just did it”. We don’t think about it, it’s all about seeing them. So, the findings were that there is no difference, I mean, these children in fact, what I found out was that, you know, I still believe this today. Anyone, anyone at all is a potential bilingual. I believe this. In can quote me on this one. It doesn’t matter if you are dyslexic, it doesn’t matter you have down syndrome, it doesn’t matter you are rich or you are poor, it doesn’t matter what learning problem you have, everyone is a potential bilingual. And I would argue a potential multilingual now. I would say, if you look at kids in Canada that grow up in Quebec, let’s say their mother is an English speaking Canadian and their father is a French speaking Canadian, when they get to kindergarden you could put them into a Chinese speaking school. And we have studies about this. When you see these kids just go. So, I would say probably soon we’re going to be saying everyone is a potential multilingual. Europeans are saying that already. That’s because the nature of the European Union is pluralinguistic, right? And there are saying it long before they are doing it, the Canadians. Recently, people like [in] New Zealand and Paraguay have a tradition on doing this. So… (pause). Did I answer the question? Because, I got lost…
P/1 – (laughs) Yeah. Now about the consultant functions at school, what did you start doing at this first period?
R – Hum. As I told you, I met Guida at a conference then followed that up by someone who came from Canada, so we met each other. And at that moment when I went there Samara was the coordinator of the elementary school, and the middle school and the preschool for English, and that was just craziness. One person taking care of the entire English, from one and a half years old all the way up. And preschool, I’m sure that you heard from Daniella Leonardi. Is a job all by itself, it’s a big job. So, Samara was crazy, and initially wasn’t her problem, it was in fact Guida’s for problem putting one person to do too many jobs. So there was just maintenance of the English, from grade one to grade nine, there was nothing new happening. So, when I went into the school, the first thing that I saw, the first class I’ve visited, was preschool five, which the kids are five years old, and it used to be called “pré” at that time. I went into the five year old classroom and I was quite amazed, it was second semester, at the level of fluency compared to the school where I was before, Stance Dual. I was like “This is good, this is very good”. I was extremely happy that Guida followed the rules of immersion which we’ve learned from Canada, which is no first language for the first three or four years. So I had no English until I was coming in, a little bit in grade three, right? But then, ready in grade four. So, the first three years of education you need to be immersed. And that what she does at PlayPen. So, when we got to grade five, when the kids are five years old, I was quite happy “I can do a great work with that”. Because I thought at the other school their fluency isn’t like this, they are introduced to Portuguese too early, and there are many issues with that. So, straight away, I thought “‘Uau’, there’s a great potential there”. So, then when I went to grade one and grade two, I was quite surprised with their writing and their reading skills. First of all, the reading wasn’t been systematically thought in the school. I can see they were doing whatever the book said, and they were reading interesting stories and all that, but they were not working systematically. So, what I said to Guida in consultancy, what we need to do is bring the school in line on how to work with materials without following materials. So we would start with planning. So, we went through planning stage with the teachers. What we found was the teachers were just planning whatever the book told them. This is quite common in education in Brazil. Sadly it happens in many schools. It would be hard to find it nowadays in Canada or England etc. So what we did was what we do abroad. It was saying “Ok, you’ll have to have clear planning objectives, followed by the activities that support those objectives”. So rather than saying “Math, page 32, algebra”. You would say the objective first. Students will be able to “What?” with algebra, then the activity that will support that learning objective. That was the first stage, because the teachers weren’t planning with that clear objective. We changed the planning format, they had to plan with webs. Do you know webs? “Redes”, like you would have language goals linked to the Math goals. They weren’t doing that. They were just teaching Math and English. They weren’t bring English into. But they were forgetting about this. They knew how to do it but no one was “cobrando”. That was the first thing. I just said “Look guys, let's improve our teaching here”. So, we started first with the planning, immediately then after that I started analyze the books. The second thing that I saw was the grammar or the structure needed to be improved. So we have great fluency, good pronunciation, but we needed to improve the structures. So, and I knew in three years where I want to them to get to, so I knew we needed to implement book one, which was not what I wanted, whatever serious that was, and two or three years later pull that book out and bring something else. So, that was the plan, so we had a sequence there. And I never told the teachers the long term goals. I told them the first two or three years goals. Just work on this, because otherwise they’d think “Ah, he’s going to change this book, so, who cares?” They got the information they needed to. The consultant with the English teachers was about to getting this stuff out off the ground. Better planning, better materials and making the students starting… Making this students accountable, or responsible for their learning, making them understand they have a job to do. We also have too much Portuguese been spoken in the classrooms and the teachers were frustrated with that. So, then we started to implement management techniques on how do we reduce the amount of Portuguese spoken during English speaking time. Finally, there was a problem with discipline in the school ok? In classroom management, “gerência de aula”, so, that was the second goal, discipline with classroom management. So we started with discipline program. Márcia and I, I came up with her, we came up with consequences, we had stages of what would happen, which include things like “First you will have a warning in the class. Second warning and the third one you will be sent to the office with the referral, and then we will decide if you got an ‘advertência’. Then there would be a consequence because of that. If you have three ‘advertências’ or two you will have Saturday morning at school”. And I had to oversee Saturdays at school for the first six months, because no one works on Saturdays and someone had to do it. Then when Célia came in we removed the Saturday and she implemented, we implemented, I wasn’t 100% on board but we agreed in the end to suspensions. I’m still not a fan of suspensions because I don’t like to send students home for the day. Like, there’s a suspension today which I am not happy about it, but it’s the rule of the school. So I send you home for the day, and it depends on the family in that case, you know? And it is an inconvenience to the family, which is good because they have to think about what is going on, but at the same time I’m not sure if is the right way to do it. But, anyway, those were the main goals. I started doing this in October, November. And then in November - we work November, December, January, February, March. And after Carnaval, it was when Guida and I set down, and she said “Ok, right”. She knew that I wasn’t 100% happy in the other school, she had seen my work, I knew what she was like. She said “Ok, let’s finalize things, because you can’t be a consultant forever”.
P/1 – And then what were the results? Did you see them straight away?
R – This is a good question. You see something straight away, for example, student’s saying “Why we can’t do this anymore, why can’t we do that anymore”. So, there were those kind of reactions. And having to support the teachers because classroom management, specially, needed to improve and you have to support the teachers with that. So there were some immediate changes. Procedures, for example, through classroom management. It’s very important. If you go to an English class teacher will have a procedure, like, if you want to ask a question you do that, or if you want to go to the bathroom it’s like that, they have these codes. They have things like, the teacher will raise her hand, she doesn’t yell for quiet, she raises her hand or she has a bell or whatever. There are signals all the time or procedures. So, you saw that straight away and then we would test that, because we had assembly, I would have them all sitting down and I would raise my hand and if I saw groups that weren’t doing it I would go to the teacher and ask “Why am I not seeing your students stop talking when I raise my hands?”. The second year we had a presentation downstairs, somebody from abroad, and he just like we did, he raised his hand and the entire assembly went quiet. At that moment my colleagues from Portuguese said “Wow this is good’. So that was something we saw initially. But when you going to measure pedagogical results, so this is really important. If you implement book “X” today or you change grammar programs, or you change reading programs, you don’t see real results for two years. You’ll only have measurable results in three years. It’s a long process. The teachers feel it, but it’s not measurable. It takes a while because the students have to change, the teachers have to change. And it takes a while. But in the third year you measure. So “How long did I have to wait?”. Initially for some quick things like procedures didn’t take too long, or planning. I could see that from the teachers. But to see in the students, I really saw that on the third year. At the start of the third year.
P/1 – And about the techniques, in order for them to start speaking more English in the class?
R – Hum. We came up with the procedures. And it was, every class had a set number of words of Portuguese, depending on the age. It was a group thing, you have to treat students as a group, it always has to be cooperative. So, it doesn’t work if you just keep saying to the students “Please, don’t speak in Portuguese”. It also doesn’t work if you say “I’m sorry. I don’t understand you, unless you really don’t speak a word”. The worst thing when you say things like… (pause) If the students says something like “‘Eu comprei’ water yesterday” and you ask “‘Comprei’?”, “Yeah, yeah”, and the teacher says “Bought. You bought?”. And the student would say “Yeah, yeah”. They won’t repeat it, they won’t try it. They are very lazy. All we, I think all of us. The entire human race is lazy cognitively; we avoid thinking, so language is harder. So, if say to me the word was buy, I’ll go like “Yeah, yeah, great”. They don’t want to repeat it. So, you have to do it in another way. So we had a set number of words per grade level that was the maximum per class for Portuguese. So, for example, we started with a number like ten in grade seven, I remember this one. Ten words. So the teachers would go one first when there would be a single word. “A meu”: two. And she would just keep doing it. And they would just tell, not even discuss with them. When you get to ten there will be a consequence. Not for the students who said it, but for the entire class. And that will be something like “Tomorrow I want a fifty word essay on why your parents have sent you to a bilingual school”, or “Fifty words on what is the importance of learning another language in today’s world”. Sometimes it would be a hundred words. Or sometimes the teachers say “If you don’t bring it tomorrow, double it to a hundred. So, what happened was, by the time the kids were at eight words, they’d start going “Felipe, ‘para’!” (laughs) “Don’t say it!”. And then they would slowly stop. This was punishment in a way, but we had to do something more dramatic, more drastic because the other techniques weren’t working. So that’s one thing that we did. Today in the school, you see that less of that is necessary. But you still hear teachers saying “Please, speak in English”. And we know that’s not effective. It’s not. Because they just won’t. So, you have to control it. And, also you have to make visual for the students. If you say to a student “Please, improve your writing”… You have to show them what to do. You have to make them see things, and say “Oh, look. Oh my God, we have only two left”. That is when they wake up, when they can see it. So, that’s really how we did it. It was not easy. And the discipline problem, the discipline program that Márcia and I implemented… We had parents. A father said to me “Esta escolar é militar agora”. I said “Sir!”.
P/1, P/2 – (laughs)
R – “If you want to go to a military school I show you a military school. This is not military, is consequences with a…” (pause) It was like this: the students had moments of reflection, they would be called, they would be removed. Most of the responsibility was on the teacher, but it really was about reflection, thinking about what the students needed to do. Only after that if they’d continue they would be sent out for an “advertência”. Some of the parents were a little bit resistant to that. But all of the parents were happy. I got a lot of emails saying “I’m happy to hear my son complaining that he has to speak English all the time. I’m happy to hear he is complaining there’s more homework in English”. This complains they wanted to hear, because the difference of PlayPen is: it’s got very strong Portuguese, equal to a monolingual school, but, very good English. That’s what they are paying for. So, the parents wanted to see that or feel it anyway. So… (pause) That’s how we did the Portuguese.
P/1 – And how was the reception of the students. You told us a little bit about the parents, so…
R – Yeah. I said to the teachers first at all “In order to protect yourselves with the discipline and this, just say it is Mr. French. This is Mr. French idea”. So, initially the first year, they were “Ah, chato este cara!”. They’d said things like that in the hallway. But then they were ok with it. The thing is that they could do it. They didn’t have to speak in Portuguese, they were just being lazy. Kids like to be, they like to do whatever is not necessary to do. They like to not study, they like to not read. Reading is a nightmare, to get our children to read… It is really hard. (laughs) (pause) But they were okay with. I also visited the classes on regular basis, initially. I had to work with them. And I would talk to the kids and I’d support them. I wasn’t been hard-handed or yelling at them and things like that. I’d negotiate with them, talk to them, specially the older kids. (pause) And the thing was they had been free too long. I mean, there were a lot of things that they were just allowed to do, you know, specially, in the middle school. And then when Célia started with me, we were like “No, that’s gone”. You know, piercings all the way down, all this things. We were like “No, this is not happening in this school”. So, we were like, changing things like that and some people thought “Oh, military school”. No, there are certain rules that you are going to follow and you have freedom within those rules. And today the school runs very effectively. And everyone is happy. (pause) You know, it’s not a military school.
P/1 – And tell us a little bit how it is to have classes in English, Math classes in English, and science classes…
R – That’s the trick because most people forget what a bilingual school means. So if, again, we look the Brazilian model, and the model is PlayPen, because it’s 30 years and others schools have copied the model. But Guida based her model on the immersion techniques of Canada, so, what you do is, you have to have contents. You have to. That’s the main difference between a bilingual school and a school who has just English every day. Many of the schools now are putting English every day, or four days a week and they say “Ah, também, a gente é bilíngue”. It’s not the case. You have to have content. Why do you need content? Because students need to be able to have academic language. We make a very strong difference between academic language and social language. For example the word more “Can I have more please?” As social language if you are on the plane “Would you like some more coffee?” It’s very different than when I use more in a mathematical sentence “Three and then four more people, makes how many?”. Kids have to think about the word more completely different. That’s a very simple example, it gets much more complex than that. If you just think for a moment, when you are reading a story, you understand a context. Let’s saying you were reading about “futebol”. As you read through the story you will understand not only the names of the people, we understand where it’s taking place, we understand what the sport is, because you read more and more. If you read a Math problem, they are normally…They are not narratives, they are very short [and] out of context. So if it says two boys are playing baseball one is the batsman and the other one is the catcher, you don’t have the full context to understand the story. So, Math problems in this academic language are very, very important. And this is a big difference. But what you have to do, in the Brazilian model, because we teach both ways, so most schools follow this model, is that you have to have one overall curriculum. One Math Curriculum. And you need an “assessor”. Célia and I are two directors to do this. So, I have an “assessor” who says “Well, in Brazil you need this”. And then the English director says “Well, look, abroad we need this, that is not there. Oh, but, that’s good.” The “assessor” says “That’s good. Let’s put just Spatial Geometry in there”. And then you have to decide what you are going to teach in English, what you are going to teach in Portuguese. One thing I’d like to make very clear, because some of my colleagues, this you can put in the book, you can quote me on this one. Some of my colleagues would say things in bilingual education “Não é justo ensinar um tópico novo antes deles saberem na primeira língua”. So, that would be like this, if I’m going to teach Algebra, I have to teach first in Portuguese before teaching in English. Many of my colleagues would say this to you. Not in my school because I’ve stopped this out. But in others schools, I’ve heard it. Or “How can you teach the water cycle in English before they even get it in Portuguese?”, “Oh my God. Tadinhas dessas crianças” It’s the same thing that people say about little kids. And that’s exactly the opposite. If they’re good, strong, influent, bilinguals, you can teach them anything. I have to work harder in English than you have to work to teach the water cycle in Portuguese, much harder. It will take me longer than it will take you because it’s another language, they are processing two things, but they can do it. So, you need one curriculum and then you have to decide the topics and then the trick in curriculum development in monolingual or bilingual schools or trilingual schools is you have a cyclical effect, you go up. So, you don’t see Algebra once, you don’t see this one, you have to make them sure. “Ok, well, look, when are fractions coming back?”. We started in Portuguese; let’s bring it back in English or vice versa. All right? And that’s really the trick there. You need strong directors, so Célia knows very well what’s necessary for Brazil, not just the PCN’s, because they are “fraco”, but she knows what Santa Cruz does and Vera Cruz does, and you need a director like that. I know what they need abroad. And then we have the “assessor” to make sure they are ok on those fronts, all right? So that’s kind how, but again, you have to have academic language. The other thing that’s interesting about the curriculum is… If you look at science curriculums in Brazil in the elementary school grades one, two, three, four, five, the entire curriculum in Brazil. I’m sure if you can remember when you went to school, is “seres vivos”, biology, ecology, environment studies, “água”, “terra” etc. When I first moved to Brazil I was like “Aren’t you guys doing, like, physics?”, “‘Ah, quando a gente fala água a gente fala sobre energia’”, “You are not studying energy”, “No, ‘esse é para o oitavo ano’”, “Why? Why are you not doing circuits of energy? Why are you not doing ‘máquinas simples’?”. Ask questions like “Ok, scissor, stairs. Is that a simple machine or a complex machine?” Why are we not doing this in Brazil? I’m surprised. So, of course, I said we need to have physics, so we’ll do physics in English and that will do complement. And I’m still always surprised by that and I’m surprised that people think physics is very difficult and you can only leave it into middle school, when in fact you have to start earlier on the concepts of physics. When I say simple machines, I mean, the kids on our grade four, I was observing the presentations of the day. The photographs that we were taking in the classroom with me were me looking at simple machines. And the kids were building simple machines. This is the level we are talking about. But people often think in Brazil “Ah, ‘Física’!” And I think that comes from the “conteúdo”, the “ensino” you have in Brazil. Like, “conteúdo, conteúdo, conteúdo”. So, the trick there, the thing that I’m most proud about, is when I went in I changed the focus of PlayPen from a content driven school to a skill based, standard based skill. Skills and standards, skills and standards. “Padrão com habilidade, padrão com habilidade”. Don’t worry about the content. The content will come and go, come and go. The most important thing is skills. Can the students in science make a prediction? Can he create a testable question? So, when I went to observe the kids on the day of the photograph, my question was “What is the testable question?”, because they created an experiment. Now, if you ask Brazilians students in grade four… What is the difference between a research project and a laboratory project? The students should tell you “Ah, in laboratory you have a testable question and in the research you don’t have a testable question.” (pause) Our students will tell you that in grade three. But I guarantee you, If I went into Vera Cruz and said “Ok, ok. But, hang on. What’s the difference here?”. Even the teacher wouldn’t probably not come up with that for me. But our students know. So, the skills are really important. Can the students create a testable question? And they started in grade three. What skills do we need in grade two? What reading skills do we need? So, that’s it. That’s why academics is really important. Some schools do social studies as well. I removed social studies when I went to the school after two years because wasn’t enough time in the curriculum to do social studies as well. We have a kind of integrated with languages but social studies had to come out. And it’s done only in Portuguese.
P/1 – And Mr. French, how was the relationship between the English curriculum and the Portuguese?
R – Yeah. First of all… I was already hired, I was working there and Célia came in. Guida said to me “Well, you’re going to get to meet her and let’s see if you like her.” I did the interview with her. And I was like “Ok, where have you worked before?”. Because I didn’t know what Guida had done, so, I was like, you know… “Where have you worked? How do you view assessment? What do you think about indicators of competency? Tell me what you think about the problems with the PCNs”. I wasn’t easy with her. Because I wanted to know how she was going to respond to this questions. I knew straight away “‘Ela não é fraca’. She was very firm”. And she knew that. Another thing was, she had worked in enough schools, and she knew a lot of people. So, I was really happy, I knew she was strong. Even if you agree or not agree with the position at least she was strong. And she is very strong, so, I was happy about that. When we started working together, initially was great, because she didn’t know bilingual education at all. And she had to learn that with me. But, she knew a lot more about Brazilian education that I knew. And my opinion of Brazilian education on that stage was very low, because when I was at Stance Dual the administrators of Portuguese were very weak, and I was like “There’s no way you do that in a monolingual school in Canada. I kept thinking that. Or England wouldn’t be like that”. So Célia, I said last to her, it’s like… She raised my awareness of how good Brazilians schools can be, and are. She was like “You would never see that”. And she would go “If you went to ‘nossa primeira linha’; Mobile, Santa Cruz here, Vera, you won’t see that”. So, she opened my eyes to that. I’m not saying it was easy, because she is very tough. Or the word I use all the time: bombastic. She is “bombástica”.
P/1, P/2 – (laughs)
R – She is very bombastic. She is. And I am also too. I am very easy going, but there are certain times I say “No, I’m sorry, that’s not right. That doesn’t follow bilingual methodology. “Ah, I don’t care, this is the way it’s gotta be, because this is Brazil”. And there were times that I said “No Célia, you have to think about bilingualism”. “‘Ah, como eles vão fazer isso em segunda língua? É muito difícil’”. Then I have to say “No, that it not the way it works”. But slowly and slowly she would find out. It was always love, hate, love, hate. We would fight and then we would come together. Because the thing is, she is extremely professional. And like me, the most important thing is the school. Sure I want my piece to be ok. But we both knew that we were there for the students, not for ourselves. So I think, I really… I respected that in her. How she would fight with me not for her space, but for the students. What she felt it was right to the students, from my point of view. And I think the real change came in her when she started to respect my work immensely. Was when she started to… After the first conference, and she saw the people that came. And then she heard things from people on a “palco”, “com doutorado”, and I knew that she said “Ah, I see him do that. I see what’s going on. I see. If that guy is saying that… And this is what he is doing already. I see that’s important”. And then, when the goals, when the measurable goals started to be published, they improved Cambridge results, the improved reading results. All that stuff started being published, she was like “Wow, they can do quite well”. And also too when we did OE together. We used to do “orientação educacional” and “junto”. And we would go in and talk about, I don’t know whatever it was, the death penalty or something in the news… I would only speak in English and she would only speak in Portuguese to me. And she was always amazed by this, that the kids would just switch. So, it took her a little while to understand that and also it took me a while to understand from where she was coming from. But it was hard. It was love hate. But when you step back after two years, and go “Wow. Look where we are. Look where we are now”. So, I think overall was good and I think what I respected most in Célia was how she could do OE with the kids, teenagers specially. No question. And how she dealt with the parents when we had difficult subjects, like “I am sorry your daughter is going to fail” or “Perhaps this isn’t the best school…”. She was excellent. And I learned a lot from that. No doubt about it. That was great, yeah. But curriculum development, I had more experience than she had. Much more. And pedagogic development than she had. So, that I would say things, and then she would say “No”. And then, of course I’d came back with research references “Ok, but, what about this, this and this? What about that? What about this school did here?”. And I know what I am talking about. Then she would be quiet. (laughs) Then she would think about it. And then she goes “Wow, I don’t know the answer”. (laughs) It was always like that. And also, Brazilians too have this “maneira” to be kind of like. That was kind of fun. (laughs). It was hard. That was the time that I thought “Oh God. You know what? I Think I should just move to Argentina, you know?”
P/1, P/2 – (laughs). And tell us a little bit about the classes, the OE classes that you were doing together.
R – So the first year, the classes were quite small, so we would do the OE together. And then we would always have topics. I’m trying to remember some of them, but I can’t. That would be something from the news that we would talk about and we would go in or we if would have a problem in the class. A problem with some girls ostracizing other girl, it would happen often in there. The girls…You know how girls are like, right? (laughs) The word I use, girls are bitches at school and they gang up. And these two decided “Let’s not talk to her anymore”. And the next day you come to school and no one is talking to, right? (laughs) It happens with the girls. It’s unbelievable, all the time. So Célia and I would go into class, then we would start to talk to the students about how would be A, B and C. How would you feel in this situation? I like to work cooperatively. Now cooperatively doesn’t mean group work. That’s not what that means. You need to have something to solve in cooperative learning. Recently we had a problem with a boy like this, and so, I would create little games. I’d go into the class then say things like “Ok, we’re going to work in groups today. We have one heart and there are four people who need a transplant. One is a teacher, one is a politician from Brasília, one is a doctor and one is this. You guys have to decide who gets the heart, discuss it in groups. You’re the leader; you’re the tong keeper…”. I would set up like this. She wouldn’t get what I was doing until I started to do the work “Ok, what did you guys find out? Share with the others groups”. The objective, what are these activities, is not for the students to… I don’t care who they give the heart to. Although it was interesting, every single one of the students in Brazil said “A politician no. No way” (laughs) This is a view. It is really interesting. But anyway, the politicians were definitely not getting a heart transplant. But, that is not why you do the activity. You don’t really care who gets. The activity is on the next phase. It is when they share ideas. Because, then you work… Would you know what I would work? I work similarities and differences. What did you find similar to a thinking strategy of someone in the other group? And so, if I have a problem between you two, I specifically at some stage say “What did you find out about student A in the other group?” And you usually get things like “I had no idea that like me she likes politicians. I thought I was the only one”. It’s interesting what you found that is similar. “What did you find that was different about you?”, so then, you bring respect in that way. So, that’s what cooperative learning is all about. And you have to set up these situations that the students will think about it. And you can do this for, what I call, class building, or team building. You want to build a team within the class you want to build a class as a class. You want to build the character in the students. We had a problem recently in grade five with Ethics. An ethical issue so we did ethical centers like this. And yes, you have to come out of curriculum a little bit, you can try to involve science to do this sometimes, but it is not always. It does require outside teaching. I came with cooperative techniques. And Célia came more from talking to the students, and listening to them as a whole class. But I like them to work, discuss, and then come back to me. So, I was doing much less talking, they were doing all the talking. And then, I think Célia also learned from these techniques as well. So, yeah, cooperative learning was something also that was trying to push in the school. It is still very hard because this is what I often say, people would say, whatever I introduce an idea or talk about something “Ah, ‘essa escolas americanas não são muito boas’”. I Look. (pause). Unfortunately most of the research we know from education, that we follow, comes from the United States because they spend a lot of money on that, a lot of money in research. What the Americans can tell us is what is right and what is wrong. What they do in the United States is another story. How they do it, they have major problems in the US. But the research is right and they spend a lot of money on it. So, we can look at the researches and see what they do right, what they do wrong. That is what the Canadians do. They pay attention to the research and they do what’s called best practices. They are like “We don’t have those kind of problems that they are having in the US”, so, that’s I’m always trying to bring into the school. But, sometimes you get this idea that “It’s American, be careful with this American way”. And often, my argument is “I’m not American”. You have to kind of be careful with that at the same time. It’s all about best practices. And I think that’s my favorite word. But, what’s the best practice here? What’s the best possible practice in this situation? What we know from the research, what we know from our classes, what we know from our students, let’s choose the best practice, and, I hate this, I call it in Portuguese “achomêtro”, you know this? I hate this “‘Uau, eu sou professor há cinco anos’. ‘Eu sou professor há oito anos, dez anos’. ‘Eu acho que nesta situação pode ser isso’”, “Ok, fine. Based on what? Why would say we can’t introduce this first? ‘Por que eu acho’? Ah, bullshit”. And then, you press them, and you say “Ok, but, who wrote on that? What have you read on that? Tell me, what’s your research base for that?”. Because if you are going to make a change in the classroom you’re affecting students learning, and you have to be very careful with this, very careful. You can’t just do something “‘Porque, ah, eu tenho muitos anos’”. I would argue that experiences are much better in the class, I wanna a teacher with experience more than one who can repeat me what Vygotsky said. But they also have to understand that what we know, if we take to grade one, when they are five years old, it doesn’t matter where you work in the world, I don’t care what language you are working in, in our script letters like we use, we know that sounds proceed reading and writing learning sounds. You learnt your sounds first, you learn to hear first sounds and experimented with sounds before you learn to read and write. And if you don’t have really good sound awareness, which I call sound discrimination, you won’t be a good reader and writer. We know this. We know this from the research. (pause). So, this sounds, what I said in the research, the best practices and these Americans. They tell us that. They’ve done a research, and other people had done as well, that students need a really strong bases in sounds. It’s not about knowing them. You have to play with them. The kids have to be able to hear them, identify them. If they can’t identify you need to get them to delete a sound. After that, they need to work on segmenting after that blending. I’ll give an example: So, you put things like three little objects in front of them and say “Penguin, Peter, water. Which one are we going to take away?”, and then hopefully they are going to take away water, because it doesn’t start with the same sound because we are working on initial sounds. Another example: “King, ring, telephone. Which one are we going to take away?” Then, the little kids go “Telephone!”, and you would say “Why”, “It’s different”, which is great. And then you move them to segmenting. “Show me elephant on the board. E-le-phant!”, you don’t need them to say the words syllable. I just want to see if they can break the word. They are not looking at any written word right? They are just hearing this, they are playing with sounds. If they can do all this, we know that they will be better readers and writers. We know that. It’s proved. So this is best practices. So, when I introduced this in the school, which is called phonemic awareness, or in Portuguese, the only translation I could come up with was sound discrimination, because at the moment that you use words like phonics and phonemic, the Brazilians start to spit “Oh? It’s not social constructive, this is not constructivism. This is phonetic! No, ‘é muito antigo’!”, and they start like shaking.
P/1, P/2 – (laughs)
R – I’m serious. And in the US you had these years ago. Years ago. We called it the reading words in the United States and Canada. You had what was called whole language and you had phonics. So, whole language means everything has to be in context. So, we had this five years ago. And what did they do? They came back to the middle, to say “Look, everything has to in context”. But you have to teach to a skill, remember I told you. Skill based curriculum. You need this. So, that’s what we do. So, we are not just talking about king, ring and pink. We’ve been talking about the people who leave in the castle this week. We’ve been reading a story about that. So everything is within a context. Well, when you do that, and then after do sounds, with the kids in grade two, you move to phonics. Together with your “conteúdo”, you know, the mix, or there’s a reason to talk about this. It’s not just teaching the word elephant because today is the word elephant. We don’t do things like that. No one does anymore. So, there was this mental thing of like “Oh, ‘phonics é muito antigo’! ‘Esse é Americano’! ‘Não quero isso aqui’”. This was a big war for me at the school, and in the end, you know what I did, don’t you? I’m sure you can imagine it. I just said to the teachers “Ok, when we do this, just put something over the door, I don’t want know we are doing this. Don’t let anyone know”. And them what happened was a year later, was like, the second grade teachers were like “Ah, it’s amazing! How all the kids are reading and writing. There’s so much better than the last year”. It’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s not just funny. And then slowly we’ve started to show everyone what we were doing. One thing that I call myself, it is because you have constructivists and again in English it’s called whole language, I call myself a “phonecquer”, because I like and I believe in phonics. You need it, but you need both together, you need the whole language together with phonics. I’m a “phonecquer”, that’s what I am. So, this idea of bringing something from abroad, it’s when it’s best practices. This is what we see in the research, this is what we see here. Again, you don’t want to give the teacher something ready. All of our work with sounds was created by the teachers, it was created by them. This is what we know, what we should do. Then we worked together as team to build that up. And then, of course, that leads into reading, which is my other passion. I knew one thing, in order to improve, what we know, what best practices tell us is that: the more the students read, the better they are in language. That’s not a very difficult thing to figure out. We all know that. We have a problem in Brazil, we have a problem in Mexico and Argentina, all of Latin America: students don’t like to read. It’s not that they don’t like to read, they avoid reading. And there’s too much… It’s a cultural thing. So, this is the major problem in the school because they had to start reading more. And the teachers didn’t know how to teach reading at all. They taught reading like a language school almost “Read the text and answer the three questions”. That’s the first thing I removed in the school. I said “If any one dares to read the text and then answer the questions, it’s a fireable offence in this school”. There’s no comprehension. The students need to be involved before, during and after. And you need a skill to focus on. So, for example, visualizing, comparing, contrast, a skill in every reading activity, and visual. They weren’t using visual keys. Remember what I said to you before. You start to put it on a board, and they visualize, so it’s different. So, we gave them, what we call mind maps or graphical organizers, so I introduced them ideas. So, the kids would do “While you read through, complete the two circles. What does this character have in that circle? What does that character have in this circle? And where they cross? What is similar between them?”. So it’s not just, anymore, like, what’s similar and different. Now they have to mark it. They have to write it. They have to think the text visually. So, we break the text down. Now, where are we today? We… (pause) Three and half years after creating that program we have students who are in grade four reading grade four texts that you would see in the United States . That would be impossible three years ago. And at the moment that you have more reading, you get what? Better vocabulary in the spoken and in the written, and better grammar. This is the thing that people forget. The more that they read, grammar… (pause) No one sat you down when you were four years old and taught you Portuguese grammar. Not even when you were in grade one. You picked it up. And so, that’s what you have to do. The students have a very little time. They have two hours and 50 minutes a day in English. We have to give them more time and exposure to the language, and reading is one of the best ways to do it, and again, this is not just me saying that. “Eu não acho”. I see it, absolutely, but… (pause) Reference Jim Cummins on this one… It’s all there, all documented, and in first and second language, it’s all there. You just need to read the research, and then see what they’ve done, and then apply it. It’s not so difficult. So those two things I’m very prepared, because you go from a really strong work in sounds and rimming, and then you move these kids into a good reading program, and then writing of course comes as well. So we have in our school now, I’m very happy to report, with the standards and the work on skills, we guarantee that the kids are hitting Americans norms in reading and writing in grade four, many of them in grade three. Because we measure, we measure again standards. So, that’s what they are doing now. We are not trying… A bilingual school, another thing…It’s really important to say. It’s a bilingual school. Let me ask you a question, I do all the talking. Do you think that students who have been in a bilingual school, like PlayPen, since they are two years old, when they are in grade four, are they going to be like a native speaker, are they going to sound and behave like an American or Canadian? Do you think? (pause) What do you think?
P/1 – Well, they might sound like, but I don’t think they will behave, you know?
R – And act…
P/1 – Yeah…
R – No, no. Not socially. But I mean, like, just their language. Do you think it’s our goal to be like an American or a native speaker? No, it’s not. A bilingual goal is not to have two monolinguals. And you will never have two monolinguals. And I tell parents when they come “You’ll never have… Your son will never be like an American speaker.” He’ll have all the abilities to do it if you send him to the United States, and he lives there a couple of years, he should be fantastic. And it will be ten times better than anyone studied in a language school. But the goal is not to create two monolinguals. And it’s wrong. They’re always going to be stronger in one language. Always. You have to be careful with this assumption that’s not what a bilingual schools aim to do. And many parents think that. But, at some stage, you have to say “‘Gente, quando a gente vai começar’ a guarantee ‘alguma coisa’?” It’s “tudo bem” to say “Ah, I don’t have two monolinguals. Leave me alone.” But, when did you start to say “Ok, hang on”. And this is why we need standards, and we have to measure them. So the teachers have to have measurable goals, we have to have measurable standards, so we have to say so. When you take reading, if you think of reading, there are two aspects of reading: there’s comprehension and fluency. So when a student reads out loud, in “voz alta”, how they read with intonation. And we have to test. How they read with intonation. How many words per minute they read. We don’t tell them we are testing. We just say “Can you come and read for me?”, and they read. We give them opportunities to explore their reading. Because fluency and comprehension, we can test those two things in grade three and grade four and then we can compare against the best practice norms of the United States so I can say where are we? Again, I don’t want an American, but I want to get that kind of close, right? I can test the writing and I can apply the same criteria, we call rubrics. I can apply the same rubrics, which are criterias that they would use in the US. And that’s what we do. It’s harder to test speaking because there are no speaking tests for monolinguals, like there is no speaking test in grade two or grade three for Canadians to go through. They just don’t exist. They don’t do that “Come and talk to me”. They have things that they talk about, but it’s more about speech patterns, and phonemical awareness and fluency than anything else. So that’s why we started to test them and we implemented all that. Then we could measure, so that’s why I said that in grade four we pretty much guarantee that to the majority of students who are there. But they have to hit it in grade four. They have to get within the grade four measures in the US. And that’s all through standards. You know, we use standards. And they come from abroad, we use the ones from Canada and the US, and we mix them and adapt them. And again it would be unfair for me to bring just straight curriculum from the US and say “Ok, you going to be great on that”. You have to make changes to it, because again it’s not a monolingual program. You have to kind of make changes and you make those changes together with the teachers, so they feel part of the process, and they have a voice to say “No, no, no. ‘Esse não dá para o quarto ano’”. And you discuss with them rather than me saying “You have to do that”. You got to involve them in curriculum development and standards and writing is a consequence of that, writing is very strong in our school in English. We just don’t have enough time for writing. I wish we did have more time. Because reading… they do a lot of reading at home. (pause)
P/1 – The school was going through so many changes. How was the relation with the teachers? Did you hire new ones? Could you tell us…
R – When you first go into a school, there’s always “Oh my God! He’s going to fire”. There were some teacher that I fired and some that I kept. There are two things that you have to have with me: you have to be a good teacher with me, you have to know your subject, you have to know how to teach, you have to have a good experience. You can’t… If you just came from a language school and you think that you speak English really well, it doesn’t wash with me. And another thing is [that] you have to have a really good pronunciation. So there were some teachers that didn’t have the pronunciation, it wasn’t good enough. They had really good teaching skills and didn’t have that or they didn’t have one piece or whatever, so slowly I removed those people from my team, because in order to get these levels of grade four you have to have people at the lower grades who can work with this stuff. I don’t mind… If she is an excellent teacher, she has good English, but she has never worked with standards and rubrics, I can teach you that. But I am never going to be able to teach how to speak better English. I’m sorry, it’s going to take me too long. So, there were certain things that I’ve been like, “No”. “Ok, she has no experience”. I’m sorry. “She’s got great English. Yes, she went to a good college, but she has never worked”, she can be an assistant until she learns the ropes. So I wanted to have teachers with the minimum of three years’ experience. (pause) So there were some teachers I had to move around, and some I had to fire, but there was an uncertainty. Today, now…Since when I started, I think there’s only two teachers left which started with me. Who were there in that time, two, but this is the best team, I think, she I ever had right now. But did you know what we have to do? In order to get good staff and keep them, I have these rule, again you can quote me on this one: if you don’t feed the teachers, they will eat the students. This is my basic rule.
P/1, P/2 – (laughs)
R – If you don’t feed the teachers, they will eat the students. So, you really got to do that for them, you gotta give them, you gotta help them with best practices, give them things to read, give them time, work with them, be understanding, feed them. Otherwise, whatever you are trying to do it’s not going to happen in the classroom. Or, the worst case scenario, you put too much pressure on the teacher, if I put too much pressure on the teacher that will be directly passed on to the students. And I don’t want my kids stressed. It’s hard enough learning two languages, processing two languages. Doing these two languages it’s hard.
P/2 – How many teachers in the English curriculum?
R – Now? Twenty teachers and eight assistants. There are 30 in total. Yeah… (pause)
P/1 – And do you think the school has a good combination between teachers from a Brazilian background and from overseas background?
R – Yeah. That’s a good question. I think that there should be more abroad, but not all. Why? The ones who came from abroad and if you refresh them every so often, you get a new perspective. You know, and of course, they were working in English with standards from abroad. It’s good to have people who are coming from that environment and they bring in new ideas. Imagine if we were working in Boston, and we worked in a Brazilian bilingual school, if we had teachers coming from Brazil every couple of years, they would say “Oh não gente, agora tem esses projetos. A USP mudou isso, PCN mudou”. You get refreshed new ideas, so it helps with the teaching and teachers share a lot when you put them together. It’s good for the school. You don’t want to have it all one way, you want to have a balance.
P/1 – And tell us a little bit about the Cambridge examination. How was the introduction?
R – Yeah well, Cambridge, they didn’t have in the school. They were doing one or two of the exams and they were doing in way too late. They were doing, say for example, a KET (Key English Test) examination in grade 8th or something like that I was like “No. First of all, if we are going to do it we are going do it appropriately”. When I started we put the young learners and it started in grade two and people were like “Oh, an exam in grade two” and I said “Yeah, they can do it”. They have to write basic stuffs. So, we started with grade two, three, four, and PET (Preliminary English Test) was grade five, and PET is an examination that’s pass or fail, if you don’t make the grade, you fail, you get nothing. All the exams before they would get something, so the kids were like nervous about that. And then, we had FCE (First Certificate in English) at grade eight, and the reason is, you need FCE because is valuable in Brazil, it has value. Where are we now? It was two years ago, I said “Ok, enough is enough. FCE is grade eight and CAE (Certificate in Advanced English) is grade nine”, and this was tough. But I am very happy to report that this year the managing director himself of Cambridge came to us on a visit to Brazil, and he was visiting mostly languages institutes, and CAE would normally done in “segundo ou terceiro colegial” in Brazil. We were doing it in grade nine. He came to visit my school, it was the only bilingual school he visited and it was because of our results. He said “I’m amazed with the pass rates you have here, in grade eight with FCE, cause the kids are only 12, 13 and then 13, 14 was CAE. I want to find out what you are doing”. So, I was really happy about that. The problem that I have with Cambridge is that it’s a language test. I think it’s so unfair for our students, because they can do so much better. When CAT says “Write a 25 word postcards”, our kids are writing a hundred word essays. And they are focusing at on clear ideas, with good organization; Cambridge asks so little from our kids. So, I think that our kids are capable of so much more. And I still pray for the day and I encourage the exam boards to come up with something that will test our kids further. Or come up with a bilingual test or something like that. “O” test that would have at least some kind of content with language. Because we do content in language, remember together. The students learn English through content, that’s how bilingual schools work. So, I’m teaching science and they’re learning English through that. I’m not teaching language like you would teach in a monolingual school or in a language institute. It doesn’t work like that, not at all. Another thing that is interesting about bilingual schools is grammar, because the teachers who come from language institutes will say “Ah, I’m amazed. These kids fluency is amazing. Their vocabulary is incredible”. But sometimes they say “But they get the grammar wrong”. What teachers need to remember is that in a bilingual setting, like in a monolingual school, that’s how you are teaching in English you don’t teach grammar points, you don’t have grade two in Portuguese. “‘Hoje nossa aula é’ simple past, ‘tempo passado’”, they don’t do that, it’s all integrated. And that’s exactly how it works in bilingual school. So teachers who came from a language school background, they are expecting to come and say “‘Essa semana [é] tempo passado’” and we don’t do that. And they don’t learn like that, and so then they don’t repeat it like that. So, it’s a very different concept on how you teach grammar, but it’s very interesting to hear the language school teacher and I do it. If you say to the students I go, they say “Yeah, yeah I go I am sorry I went”, that is all they do. So you have to be much more creative on how you teach grammar, it’s a very, very, very different in immersion. That’s why we have form and function together. So we do something like “Today we’re talking about testable questions”, and we will be throwing extra grammar in there. And they know what we are doing it’s much harder to work in a bilingual school than in a language school. A language schools tells you “We are doing that” that is all. Here I’m doing água, ciclo da água and then I’ve got to start inserting pieces of grammar without telling them that that’s our focus. (pause)
P/1 – Tell us a little bit about the exchange programs…
R – Soon as I became director, officially in July, we implemented the program. And that would start in January. We started the program like that. I’d already worked with Nelson School District, that is, the School District 8, it’s the name of it. I’m good at marketing and I went to them and said “Look, we need to have something where kids can exchange. It will be a short period. Our kids could go and your kids could come.” And they said “Yeah, it’s a great idea, we love it. It will give our kids the opportunity if they want to come down”. And then we made it a half day program. So a half day at school, and a half day in winter sports. So it’s not a full academic load, and only in the holiday periods, so they are not missing school. And it’s their first trip. It used to be in grade five when we first started, the first three years were grade five, and we moved to grade six because of the girls. The girls had a harder time, and weren’t really ready. And when we moved to grade six the program became more successful for both, boys and girls. So, the first group was four students, I remember them well, Felipe Maluf was in the first group. Victor Cano was in the group. Beatriz was in the group. And there was someone else in the group. First of all, we had a stop over in Vancouver, and we stayed at a hotel, and we had, like, this trip in Vancouver. That was a really good fun. And then we got to Nelson and they were each one in their homestays. I was alone and I’ve done programs before, so it was easy for me to take care of them and show them the ropes, enough to ten days and they all settle down. I remember a phone call from Patricia Maluf, she phoned me up to say thank you, but she phoned really to say “How are you? Are you bored?”. And it was such a nice phone call because it was “Are you enjoying yourself? Is there anything you can do? You must be going crazy because the city is so small”. A couple days later Guida phoned saying like “This is great, it is going really well”. So, that was the first year. Second year I went again and the next time I took a teacher with me and I trained that teacher. The third year I took another teacher. Now, I have two teachers that were prepared and they could go on their own with someone else. And that’s how we did. I’ve taken three teachers and those teachers now are going and training another people, so I don’t have to go all the time. It was a success the first year with the four kids, and then just grew and grew. We’ve never had more than 13 or 14 students going. But next year we’ll start to have double classes, so two class of each, so, we’ll see what happens next year. The benefits of this program, I think, are: confidence, self-esteem, “independência”, “autonomia”, much more than language. They come back, they sound like Canadians. It’s lovely to see. Everything we tell the parents about what we do in our school is when you put them in an environment where there is only English they will do well. And they do well. They come back with these accents that are quite funny, sounding like Canadians and stuff. And then they realize that they can live away from their parents. They are under the guidance, this is the whole thing. We have some of our school to help them. They need help to do this. That really was the intention of the program, it’s to create these values that both Célia and I set up in the school. When we went in there we were like “Where is the independence? Where’s the autonomy? We are not seeing that in this curriculum”, and we started that. “We got to have this”, and Canada was part of that. Canada started before Célia came into the school. I am very happy with it now, it is extremely successful. The independence and the autonomy starts from the moment that we said goodbye to the parents at Polícia Federal “Bye,Bye”, there is all the crying. Soon as they get pass that, pass Duty Free, and the teachers asks them “Have you guys all put your passport away?”, “Have you filled away your boarding pass?” and they go like “Ahn?”. And we start with them in the middle of the airport “What’s the flight number? If we were lost, where would it be?”. We start doing that with them straight away. So, why did we do this? And why do we have it in grade nine when we go to Switzerland? Because, I say to the parents “If your son or daughter has been through our school, has done our both trips, when they’re 16, 17 and they are at Vera Cruz, and they say they want to go to the US, you can be totally comfortable that I have prepared your kids to do it alone. Canada was a big success. It is not an expensive program, we kept the costs really low. We did all the negotiations with Canada, so that was great. And we were the first school in Brazil to send kids at the age of grade five, no one had done that before. And it was a success. We’re still the youngest program, because no one sends at grade six. I think that always being the first is good because you get the marketing aspect. And you get more kids, because you appear more in the newspaper.
P/1 – What were the first difficulty with the kids overseas?
R – Well, it’s always been the same difficulties. You get first at all, the homesickness, “saudade”. That the first one. So, that’s why we have a first very form rule: the parents can phone on Saturdays, Sunday, as much as you like, and then you can phone on Monday morning, which they never can because they are getting ready for school. Monday after nine in the morning until Friday night you are not allowed to phone, not once. You are not allowed to use Skype or MSN. You can only use email. Anything needs to go through me or the teacher that is there. Why? Because these mother’s phone and goes “Ah, ‘estou aqui em seu quarto, olhando a sua cama’. Oh, ‘não acredito que você não está aqui’”. And then the kids start crying more and then I have more problems in Canada, and the girls specially. Again, grade one needs procedures, parents need procedures, students need procedures. So, when the procedures are followed its ok. I must say, we never had any major issues with Canada. We’ve had a couple of girls that took longer to settle down. We’ve never had anyone changing homes. We’ve never had anyone coming back to Brazil. We’ve had kids that done really well and kids that do so, so. But we never had a problem. The next program was Switzerland, two years after the first Canada program and Guida wanted something for grade nine. I wanted New Zealand that would be cool, because I thought it would be great for them to go to another country which was bilingual, but it was too far. It was, like, a 24 hour flight, and it was too hard to organize it. And apparently there was a rule that to get a visa as a student, you had to be at least 14. Guida had send her son years ago to this school in Switzerland, Leysin, the LAS school (Leysin American School). So, we went after them, we did a deal with them, and the kids started going to Switzerland. Guida went on the first trip, because she happened to be in Germany so she met them. And as this program is completely different than Canada, because they have monitors, they live at the school, there’s no need for teachers to go. Everything was set up. So, yeah, they did really well, there was another successful program. So, the first group who went to Switzerland was also the first group who also went to Canada. So, when Felipe was in grade nine and his group, they also went to. We had some issues with those kids, because now they are adolescents and there are adolescent issues that go on, teenager issues. The next year we’re going to start Germany for grade nine. Now it’s going to have the option: Switzerland or Germany. Probably, eventually, we will remove Switzerland because it is expensive. So, slowly, we will see. Guida has got her plans on that one. And Canada we’ll carry on forever, I hope this.
P/1 – Do you have any funny, peculiar stories about the trips?
R – [Falta uma parte da resposta] I think one thing I will always remember about the Brazilians, because when you go to Canada you’ve gotta train them, for example “You don’t push, you line up, and you wait your turn”. And things like that the Canadians will be like “What are you doing?”. So, one thing that they learned is in the cross walks. When you cross the street – because here you run – there as soon as you approach the car stops. So the students will be like going into the street then they would jump back and again and again, they would go “‘Olha, cara, os carros param’”, the drivers would get really mad. We had to have a little talk about that. There were lots of little things with language. Also, in Canada, you say “Hi there” and I remember one of the kids saying “Mr. French why do you say there?”. I was like “I don’t know. Yeah, I’ve never thought of it”. Things like that would come up. The Canadians, I must say, the teachers there were extremely happy to have our kids, because they normally get kids from Japan, Korea and some from Germany, but they don’t have the level of English that our kids have. And we also found that was another opportunity for me to say “Can you give an assignment to both kids and then see how my kids do compared to your kids?”, and then we saw we were on the right tracks. Because, remember what I told you, we started to guarantee things in grade four, so by grade six we should see something very similar. And we found in some cases our kids were writing better than the Canadians or very similar. Our average kid was doing ok in the class. So, we’re really happy about that. I was really happy about that. And then, Célia work came out that too, because we have more work in math in Portuguese than we do it in English, so the kids were doing really well. In fact, they found easier there. They were using skills transfer. That is another thing in bilingual education. So if I teach something in English and transfer to Portuguese or vice versa, the skill will transfer and that is what you work on.
P/1 – Now I’d like to talk a little bit about the “congressos”, the bilingual seminars. How was the organization of the first one? How did you come up with the idea?
R – I came up with the idea because I said to Guida “Look, I’d like to have a place where we could share a network, because each school works independently. So we don’t have this”. And I said to Guida “I liked to come up with the conference”. Basically, this is what she said “You can do it. You can do whatever you like, but it can’t cost the school a thing”. I had to initially bring in the publishers and the editors and gets lots of sponsorship. The first conference, she made money. We only had 150 people, but we made a little bit of money. Every conference that we had, the conference would buy something for the school. So, at the first conference we brought Fred Genesee, who is a guru, number one in bilingual education from McGill University. And that brought a lot of attention. It was a lot of work. Every conference I’ve worked alone. No one on the school has helped me, except for Daniela Almeida, she helps me with organizing the lunch, and the coffee break, the physical things. Edson helps me with the payments and Daniela helps me with the organization on the last month. Designing the program etc., I made sure that there was a balance that would be something in Portuguese, every workshop section there would be something in Portuguese, about teaching in Portuguese. That was always hard because there aren’t specialists in bilingual education in Brazil, so we would chose a different topic, and they would talk about it. It was hard work and it was rewarding at the end of it. What the first conference did for the school? That first conference told all the professionals who came from all the others schools: the school is alive and well. And it’s doing well. It’s providing education for people, teachers and students. And that created more of an “‘Olha’” from the professionals. So, what happened was, others schools who’d be in our school for the conference and seeing things, and, of course, I made sure I had good teachers presenting from our school. So, the smaller feeder school started to send more kids to us. That was the first movement, really was. The second conference we went to 380, 400 participants. We could have had more but I kept it. The third conference: 530. Again, we turned people away, we could have more 600, but we were like “No, it’s sold out”. And every year it got bigger. And every year it got more attention.
P/2 – But, did you choose a team?
R – Yeah, there is a team every conference. I have to look back and look at the programs, but there’s a team for every conference. And then it’s open, there’s a call for papers, people are able to send in their papers and then we had a panel in our school who would read and go through the process. We had a group for Portuguese, a group for English, and I was involved in each groups. It was really kind like very professionally done. Of course key speakers were always brought in. And it was always a case I’d say “I’ve worked in this and this school and this, this and this is not happening in Brazil so let’s get someone to talk about these things”. I would basically look to what my teachers had difficulty with and were struggling with and still needed. If my teachers need that, I bet everyone else needs that. And the best thing of the conference for me was, great it brought in more attention and attracted the students, but the best thing was: I created the first kind of networking in Brazil, for discussion of all of us who work in the same area. It was a social networking event, and that had never happened before. Many people got to know who I was and got to know my work. That was good for me it was good for my career. It was great for the school. It was good all around, like, it was a win win for everybody. Who participated, who presented, they did well. People on the third conference were trying to present, I know this, just so they might get seeing by someone else and get hired by another school. That was happening, so you have to be really careful, there was a lot of crap. I enjoy the conference when it happens. Do you know the other thing that happened from the conference? And this I am very proud of because the international schools, St. Paul’s, Graded, any of them, they think they are the best, they are very snob about everything. They started coming to the conferences and saying “Oh, we don’t do this”. I guess we are not a bilingual school, we are monolingual school.
P/1 – Now, do you want to say anything else about the conferences?
R – The conferences, we had three and all they’ve been successful. It’s great for everybody, as I said. I’m just very proud of that work. Extremely proud of that work, and proud for what I did for the school. It really helped the school.
P/1 – And Mr. French, what do you think about the Bienais? And how does it fit the English curriculum?
R – Bienal… First when I went there, I was surprised, because I’d never seen an art project like that. And I think Gabriela really has done a fantastic job. She also has this “olho para a arte”. Gabriela knows how to do it. She’s a great “curadora”. Initially at the first year I was like “God, I have no idea”, because I am creative on many things but I am not an art teacher or a drama teacher. I’m strong with assessment and measures, and language and science. So it was great. The first one I was like “I don’t know what I am going to do”. When we did the one for, I don’t know the little guy with classes… When it was Aguilar that’s when I started to get much more creative and I was onboard, I could understand the idea of what we were doing at the Bienal. It was just fun. And I started to get much more involved with the teachers and the projects. With Aguilar there was always this contrast… I remember one project that I led for the middle school teachers it was this contrast of, he was talking about Brazil, there is a famous American photographer Dorothea Lange in the 1920’s, she went around the US, she gave up her middle class existence and took photographs of the depression to say “My God, I live like this and these people live like that”. So we were studying that and we looked into Aguilar’s work and saw that he is also raising an awareness of what Brazil is. The kids in the middle school did this project. They called in the end “The two sides of the coins”. So it was a quite interesting project, it was a photography project based on Dorothea Lange in connection with… Sorry, I think this was for Lasar Segall, I can’t remember… In the art class they created these “papier-mâché” coins of “dez centavos”. And they had the coins in the room, huge coins, turning. They were all over the room and in the back wall on the window they drew a skyline of São Paulo. So it was all about São Paulo, the two sides of São Paulo. And the students had gone with the teachers and done photography, and they took photographs. But the photographs were amazing, because they would show things like… Do remember the new bridge we have? In Vila Olímpia? There used to be a favela, remember? And they had photographs like favela with bridge. They had a man collecting paper in Itaim “nobre”. They had all this kind of stuff. So they called it the two sides of Brazil. And it was a fantastic project. And we called it an installation. There were social studies, everything involved that you needed. From that moment I started to realize the potential. And we did recycling projects. And that was when I started to wake up and think “That’s more possibility here”. So, the Bienal is important and brings the whole school together. It’s very important for this.
P/1 – How is your relation with the parents today?
R – It’s very strong. I think the parents respect me for the quality not for the quantity of the work. They see it because I involve them. If you don’t have a home school connection, you don’t have a school, end of story. You have to involve the parents; you have to communicate with the parents. And there is never enough communication with the parents, we need to do more. I do that, I communicate with them. I have things that they have to do as part of their learning process. It’s not homework, it’s for them understand what is going on. The teachers have to communicate with them when new projects are starting in English. I think they understand the work. Some of them want more, some of the American families or the Canadian families think that should be more. You always have to remind them what a bilingual school is, we are not creating two monolinguals etc. But I think that they respect my work. And they are happy with the way that we improve, because every year I find something to work on and I make that announcement. “This year we will work in more reading. This year we’ll work more in grammar”. Whatever, I make it clear for them. My feeling is that they like me and respect me, those two things together.
P/1 – How do you see PlayPen in the next five years?
R – Well… (pause) This is a tough question. I knew you were going to go down this road…
P/1, P/2 – (laughs)
R – The way I see this school is that it needs to grow with administrative staff. They need to be more admin in that school, more coordinators, more people, more people to deal with the necessity of the parents and the students. With that the school will grow stronger and stronger. So, I think that’s one thing that will happen. I think that, we’ll see it a change from Switzerland to Germany, for the exchange programs. But the essence will still be there.
P/3 – I think it’s important to tell us about the German language.
R – German language was Guida’s idea, and I was onboard with this because I think once you are a bilingual, adding a third language is easy. The fact that the German Government came after us is another bonus or upgrade for the school. What I would like to see for the future, but I know Guida won’t go this way is to have high school. The next step for the school is to bring in international standards officially. That would mean, I would say, the PYP (Primary Years Program) or the IB program (International Baccalaureate). I think that is the next stage or accreditation. Accreditation, a stamp from somewhere from Canada or the US, that says “We certify your program”. It’s got to go that way. I hope that Guida eventually will take or accreditation or PYP. And I think she’s got to go after this stamp now. We won’t grow in students numbers anymore, we are getting into the max; so I do see that as been a possible future. And the next thing I think it’s got to happen is that piece of land, behind the school, it is going be free soon. I think that is the next thing and I believe that, I know it. It’s going to happen soon. And once that happens, then the physical space in the school will change. And I think that is the next change we’re going to see as a physical space. So I think really [that the] German program will become stronger. Some type of accreditation and the physical space has got to change. It’s got to happen for them. Now if the change of Fernanda coming in, that will bring in a new element. I think that there will be changes in Portuguese. The thing is, it’s all guessing, we don’t know until “‘Ela tem mão na massa’”, at the moment she’s been very… Not saying anything, so I don’t know. But I’ll tell you there will be changes in Portuguese, whether for the better or not, I don’t know yet. Again, remember I told you how long it takes measure, two and a half years, two years at least. The Portuguese is pretty good at the moment.
P/1 – And what will be your role in this new scenario?
R – Well, I will still be director, pedagogical director. So, you know, who knows?
P/1, P/2 – (laughs)
P/1 – Do you plan to stay in Brazil for long?
R – Yeah, absolutely. Personally, I’m going to start, together, with a colleague of mine in another school. I’ll start a company. In the evenings we’re going to start a teacher education program. So we are going to create a teachers college. We are going to take teachers that are already certified whether abroad or here, and then we’ll say “Now I’ll teach you how to work in an international or American school or in a Brazilian bilingual school. We’ll teach you how to do assessment; we’ll teach you how to do this, how to do that”. So, that’s my personal goal, because that will fit into. Because then we will be going “Now have a pool of teachers to pull from”. That’s what we need to create in Brazil. We still need the conferences, yes, we still need to have sharing but we need to have better teachers. And Guida won’t hire abroad. You have to create it. If you don’t have it, you are going to have to create it. And the company opened yesterday, I have one more document I have to sign today. This is my favorite thing in Brazil documents, signing and then going to the “cartório” do line up. So staying in Brazil, yes. I think for the next four to five years for sure.
P/1 – And now a little bit of your personal life. Do you have children?
R – No.
P/1 – Do you plan to?
R – No. (laughs)
P/1, P/2 – (laughs)
R – My partner’s nephew is visiting right now. And he is two years old, and this is the second visit, and he is from Pernambuco. And, it’s fun to have a two years old… For one week or two. They’re staying ten days. Like I said to a friend of mine last night “You can be a daddy for two weeks, it’s really good fun, but having a children is a pivot to lifestyle”. It’s like having an animal, I want to go on holiday, “Oh, What are we going to do with the dog?”. So, these things I’m not willing to do. It’s like, no, it’s not happening. So, having children is not going to be possible.
P/1 – Mr. French, you said you like reading, so, what are your other hobbies?
R – Well, cooking. I love to cook. And I work very closely… This morning, with my maid. Because today is Thanksgiving, so we were doing stuffing, “recheio”, with bread and things like that. So I work very closely with my maid. I like to teach so… My maid is excellent. When I got her she was an excellent cook but now I can have her cook… I just say too her, I want something Thai tonight or I want Mexican food and she knows how to do all this stuff. She is very good at French food now. Very good at service, I thought her how to serve. I like to cook, that is a hobby. And I like to read about cooking. And I like to go to restaurants and try to guess what it is. I like to read, that is one. I am reading more now on my kindle, I download my books… So I read on my kindle. What else do I do? (pause) I think when you work in a school there’s no enough time. I should have more hobbies. I like arts. So I go to exhibitions and things like that, and I buy art work. I get involved but I don’t draw, I don’t paint. I would like to write. I love writing, but I just don’t have time. I would like to write a book on bilingual education in Brazil, but I don’t have time. Oh! Travel! I just finished yesterday, I was already like, next year I have to go to Los Angeles in January for holiday so I have to organize that one. I have to finalize Carnival. Next year we have Tiradentes and Páscoa juntos, I bought the tickets yesterday. So you know it is all ahead. Already now, I am thinking where am I going to go for July holiday, so I am always ahead of the game. I’m super organized with holidays because I like to travel. Its Prague for Carnival and Miami for Tiradentes weekend, and then July, which will be China again. Because, did I tell you that I studied Chinese?
P/1 – No…
R – Yeah, I studied Chinese. So, I’ve been studying Chinese for a year, when we implemented in the school. Again, something else that I’m proud about, we implemented Chinese. We were the first school in Brazil that implemented Chinese as a third language. It was an “aula extra” but it would starting, I said “Let’s do this”. Gilberto Dimenstein on the radio did a piece on this, he mentioned it. Other schools have copied us now. And what happened was, after six or seven months, I thought “You know what? These kids are going to learn Chinese. I don’t know a word of Chinese, so I’m going to study it”. So, I got to the same teacher from the school, he came over to my house twice a week. We did Chinese… So, I’ve been doing it for like, a year and a half, and went to China in July and I was able to use the language. There is another funny story... We were in Hong Kong, my mother and I. I go to Hong Kong whenever is possible. So we fly to Beijing, where most people can't speak English. So, I have a tablet that has all the information in onenote, like the hotel address in Chinese and in English, I got the map… I get in the car, I asked the driver in Chinese if he spoke English and he said “No”, I said I want to go “Here” in Chinese pointing the map and he was saying “Here or there?”. My Portuguese started coming out and my mother says “Your Chinese is really good hum?” He said something about the map, that was wrong… So I was a little bit frustrated by this, you know, I studied so long and it is not working. Again, when you study a language not in an immersion is not the same thing… What I decided, when I was in China after a while, that “I need to come back and do what my students do, which is to have immersion. I need to live here; I need to be with the Chinese family. And I need to go to school. Immersion is the trick. We see it with the kids. I continued to study and then this June, July, I’ll go to China for a month. And I want to go to Shanghai, because Shanghai is cool, so much fun. So Chinese is my new goal. So it will be English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and one day Chinese. But only spoken, written there is no way.
P/2 – German?
R – Not for Mr. French. Guida is studying German and I keep saying that is great because she can do all that. I can talk to the Spanish teacher, she is from Colombia. I can help Daniela with that. The French teacher is from Senegal, I can talk to him if I need to… And slowly and surely I will be able to talk to the Chinese teacher. At least my Chinese is good enough that I can follow every class now at school. What the kids are learning, I am learning, so it is great. They learn some vocabulary I don’t know. There are some words that come up in class that they might ask… “How do you say car key?”. I don’t know… And kids will test me (laughs). When I go to Chinese class I talk to them in Chinese, you know, that is important to language too, making sure students realize the importance, the significance there is respect, they see that. “Oh, Mr. French speaks Chinese”! Whatever… (laughs) Although you don't really speak Chinese. I have what I call eight minute Chinese, I have a conversation up to eight minutes, after that is over. (laughs) As soon as they get to “Where were you born?”, I start going on and on… So, it is about eight minutes. “Helllo”, “What is your name?”, “Where are you from?”, “Is this your first trip to China?”, “Do you like it?”. You know, core talking at a restaurant. (laughs) That is another funny story because I like to eat and go out, I know food. Restaurants were so much fun because my mom is scared of some types of food and she did not want to have things like snakes, dogs. I would eat anything, anything at all. I always would be asking. I remember once I ordered this dish, it was frog and it came in a bowl, I love frog, and it was like soup things. There were green things flooding in the top like leaves and things, and when it came my mom said “It looks like a swamp, “pantanal”, looks like “pantanal”, (laughs) I think there is a frog who leaves in it”. So I started laughing, and she said “What is it?” and I said I can’t remember what I ordered now, lets just try it. As we started eating, I said “It is the frog ” and my mom went “Ah!”. And then there were these other things we were eating that came, we ordered something to drink and they had this little sticks, it is like little pieces of bone and little pieces of meat on the top and it pulled off, “Hum, this is good, I like this one”. She said “What is it?”. And she had the third one. I said “Do you like it or not? Then I will tell you what it is.” “Língua de pato”, duck tongue. (laughs) But it is good, then she would be ok. In the food was fun, there was where the language was good to have. You could see the other tourists suffering because they only pointed to the picture, but I could say things like “This one, half of this, with no spice on it”. I was very proud of it. (laughs)
P/1 – What do you think has changed in the education from your childhood until today?
R – (pause) Well… (pause) Schools and teachers are more accountable to standards. So, there’s more testing, and because of that, when standards and assessment are used effectively, teaching improves. The goals are moving, best practices have come in. There has been more research. Teachers, educators are more aware of what works e what doesn’t work. So there is less “achometro”, there’s more “No, we know this”. I think that’s one major change. The second major change is been cooperative work, group work. We are coming away from this idea that the teacher holds on knowledge and will transmit it. We understand much more that students will learn more effectively when they share their ideas and work collaboratively. We see it in industry. We see creative people like Coca-Cola working together to come up with the new. It’s not just one person saying “I know this, do this”, there’s always a leader. I guess what we see, that American idea that a teacher is facilitator. So you facilitating students breaking down knowledge. That’s another major change. Testing, it’s a business and you have to be careful with that. You’ll never want to teach through the test. So you have to be an administrator that says “No, we can use the test effectively to get us inside, but let’s not teach to it, let’s not make them the main focus our school”. (pause) Oh, as I talked to you before, the reading and the writing process… We understand better how kids read, so, this is really important. The thing is, after all the research we’ve done we still don’t know how people learn. We really don’t. We don’t know. We don’t have any insights to the brain. So, we don’t know. It’s all still a guessing game. We have things that we see that are more effective, but we don’t know if they are really responsible for a real deep learning. (pause) Accountability is one. We as a school, I am accountable to the parents and to the students. The teachers are accountable to the students. The students are more accountable to their own learning. This is a huge movement, not yet in Brazil. Worldwide you see students more accountable. You got to make them responsible for their own learning. Otherwise they just wait for the spoon. Coming away from this spoon feeding business is very important. I think that’s another major change. (pause) Unfortunately, I think another change that happened is parents expecting too much from the school. I think parents expect us to raise their kids, completely. Teach them how tie their shoes; teach them how to do everything. I know their lives is very busy… Most parents in middle class work very hard, both parents, I know there is transfer duty there but they have to take on board more the responsibility, it is not just the school.
P/1 – How do you evaluate the impact of your work at PlayPen in your professional and personal life?
R – What do you mean?
P/1 – Like… What is the main impact of those years at PlayPen?
P/2 – Yeah… Professionally…
R – Professionally, most certainly I’ve gone way up. I had people who never knew who I was, looked at my work because of the conference. I had people, like Cambridge, taking notice of my work because the statistics are been released. They were all “Oh, look at that result there”, so, I have quite few people stand up and say it. I was graded on Sunday last week for Thanksgiving meal, I was in the line, waiting to get food, and the principal of the elementary school, who has been in education for Brazil for thirty years, she said “Stuff at school can be really frustrating but you can be proud. If you think about what that school was ten years ago and where it is now, it is amazing”. So that outside look of my work as well, when people validate your work from outside, is been very good professionally. The conference was the main thing that put me on the center stage. Because all I did was to say what the best practices are, this is what we do in our school, that is what you do in your school and people saw that. I had a mom at school, her son is in grade five now, we did a presentation on the second conference on curriculum development , I was one of the presenters and she came after me and she said “I am so proud and happy that my son goes to the school. It was amazing when I saw your curriculum and what you have done and what you designed”. That kind of stuff on the professional level it has gone way up to the roof. Socially, I don’t know. (pause) I have more friends, but, you never know who is your friend, who wants a job, who wants a reference. (laughs) That happens too. But I’m very proud at the work there, extremely proud.
P/1 – What were the main... I’m not sure if this is the best expression, “learning experience” - it is like “aprendizado” - during these years at PlayPen?
R – Number one, that the Brazilian curriculum can be extremely good. I really learned the ins and outs of Brazilian education at PlayPen, because Célia took in. That’s the number one. I learned more about the importance of integrating contents with the Portuguese. Which is basic a rule in education. The more interdisciplinary that you have, the more learning takes place. The more you integrate science and music, or music and language arts, or math and science, there’s more learning, “redes”, there’s more networks. You create in the mind of the child. Or anyone. So, I’ve learned that more. Team work.
P/1 – And what do you think about PlayPen celebrating its 30 year anniversary, with these memory project…
R – First of all, I think it’s fantastic for Guida, because it’s hard to survive in education. It’s a niche, right? It’s only now. What’s raised again, what’s raised the awareness about bilingual education, what can be done, is that each conference had a lot of attention from the press. When we first come out in Veja, the first time Veja ever did something on bilingual education was after the first conference. And Veja it’s a really good magazine. So, when the parents read in Veja and saw the pictures, they were like “Wow, this is great. Maybe it is good”. (pause) It’s hard to keep the marketing. At that time there were schools opening and closing, they never really growing because parents weren’t going after the information. The fact that Guida survived 30 years with all the difficulties we have faced, that’s an testament itself of perseverance, survival etc. I’m very happy for the school. They’ve gone 30 years, it’s great. And she is the number one. Guida is the only one who has hold the whole school for as long as she had. I’m just very proud for them. I think it is great that they are doing this book. It is fun to read, it is engaging to read.
P/1 - What did you think about being interviewed?
R – It’s like therapy. (laughs) It’s like, kind of therapeutical. Daniella Leonardi said that too.
P/1, P/2 – (laughs)
R – It was fun, because you have to go down on memory. The next day I started to remember other things afterwards. As you walk on the streets, more start coming, other things from school when I was a child. So it was positive, pleasurable experience, made you think about it. Of course, we are always worry of what you going to print. That’s the worry. “What if they only talk about this? What if they mention that word?”. (laughs)
P/1 – Don’t worry, we won’t mention your birthday. (laughs)
P/1, P/2 – Thanks a lot!
[Fim da parte 2]
Escola Playpen - Educação para o Mundo: 30 anos da escola Cidade Jardim (MECJ)
História de Lyle Gordon French
Autor: Museu da Pessoa
Publicado em 31/05/2011 por Museu da Pessoa
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Elenilde Dias Fernandes
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André Lucas Durigan Sardinha
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Milton Teixeira Santos Filho
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