One of the few bright spots of this pandemic has been talking again, often, with my old Roleplaying group friends. I sorely missed having conversations with them. During one of those conversations, somehow, and due to a few of us having been on the same high school, we ended talking about a teacher called Amaro Soladana Carro.
The Venn Diagram between the people that would read this post and the people that went to the I.E.S. Leonardo Torres Quevedo (is not my secret answer for anything) will give you a very, very thin slice of overlapping, I expect. In that high school, Amaro Soladana Carro was a (Spanish) Language and Literature professor, where he taught me the subject during my first and third year.
I consider him the single most important professor I ever had (second, in importance will be the teacher described in Know Thyself)
As a teacher he cared about the subject, he cared about teaching correctly and, more importantly, he cared about students realizing their potential. He was of the push rather than support type, therefor I will presume that he wasn’t to the liking of quite a few alumni. In fact, during my first year, I wasn’t in the frame of mind to like him either. But, by my third year of high school, I was quite receptive to his teachings.
Two of those teachings, the ones not related to the subject he was in charge of, have stuck with me always.
The first one was about the need to do things, to be active, to not let us slide in sopor. Like with the next teaching, I think it was the first time I heard the idea of sleepwalking through life. Also, like the next teaching, Amaro used to repeat this often and, having three classes with him a week, you would hear it a lot. It took time to fully sink in, and I had to read Nietszche’s views about being a person of action (You can’t think sitting down), before it became part of who I am.
I have in the past force changes in my life when I thought I reached a plateau that was stopping me from improving. That is also why I like to keep improving my skills, my knowledge, my behaviour; why I critique myself often; why, even if I sometimes act defensively, I will look inwards and change as needed (a bit slow at times).
The second teaching was also a revelation at the time, and one that I use frequently. Amaro used to call our brains computers: he compared the ability of brain to take information and process it to the ability of passing data to a computer (program). The same way you let the computer do its job, you should let the brain do its work; let your subconsciousness connect the dots.
How many times I have found the solution of an issue, formulated a plan, having that Eureka moment while I was not directly thinking on it? (a lot, will be an imprecise answer). At times I go ahead and take the decision to drop something just because that idea: I let my mind do the work uninterrupted, without me throwing spanners in the machine.
I think to have those two teachings given to me at a relatively young age has been very beneficial to my development, both professional and personal.
I can’t let any discussion about him finish without mentioning one moment that has become etched in my brain. During the third year we did an analysis of A un Olmo seco by Antonio Machado. We did the analysis not only from a technical perspective (the type of poem, the literary techniques, the word usage), but also from the context of the live of Machado around the time he wrote the poem (context is important for everything!!!!!).
When we read it after the full analysis (I had read the poem before) the emotional impact of it was so profound that it has remained with me since then. I think is the only time I have gone to a teacher after a class to say thank you … and, because I was a youngster, to ask why we did not have that during the first year. He did reply: back then you were not prepared for this. How right he was.
So this is a salute to my most important teacher: Amaro Soladana Carro.