Manolo Diéguez: The construction of memory from the classroom

Manolo Diéguez: The construction of memory from the classroom

For 40 years, to Jose Manuel Dieguez no one mentioned it at Primary School 10 in Parque Chacabuco. That was his last place of work as a teacher, until he was kidnapped in March 1977. “No one bothered to do anything to remember him,” he says. Melissa Correa. No one, ever, until, in 2017, the desire to commemorate a group of teachers and the decision to do it with the kids who filled the same classrooms where once “Manolo”, as everyone called him, taught to read converged. already write. The result was a collective interview that students from that school conducted with a classmate in teacher training of the disappeared teacher. And the result of the interview was the illustrated book Manolo was with the weaponswhich was presented at the headquarters of the Buenos Aires teacher’s union Ademys.

Correa is a tenured teacher at Primary School 10 of the eighth Buenos Aires school district and responsible, together with Sergio Lichtenzveig, of giving narrative form to the material collected by students who, in 2017 and in fifth grade at that school, interviewed Celia, who met Manolo Diéguez during her years of teacher training and took care of “remembering” for him: contacted his family, promoted the placement of a tile in his memory at the door of the Escuela Normal Superior en Lenguas Vivas 2 “Mariano Acosta”, where they both met. But until they reached Celia they traveled a path.

“The book is born from a journey that we began in the teaching assembly of the eighth district with the aim of reconstruct the stories of our missing teachers”, said Correa, who also recognizes there a “task that is not fully developed, there is no identification of the establishments with the workers who were victims” of the last civic-military dictatorship.

The first step they took from the assembly was to “look for them”. In the formal records of the educational establishments of the district they did not find any data on missing workers. Sure: those logs don’t contain that detailed information; quite the contrary, they hide it. Diéguez’s file, for example, had perfect attendance until March 28, 1977, Monday, when he was kidnapped “somewhere in the Federal Capital”, they count in their reconstruction. “Then the file records five unjustified absences, which are those formally necessary to order the dismissal of the worker. That document hides what happened to Manolo, it is the absence of the absence perpetrated by the same State”, stated the teacher.

They found the name of Manolo as a detainee who disappeared during the last dictatorship in the Parque Nacional de la Memoria. “Teacher at school number 23 of the eighth district –coincidentally he works on the other block from 10–, he said there. And that he had been kidnapped on March 28, 1977,” Correa recalled. Finally, they checked that the teacher had worked at school 10: “From that little piece of history, we began to look for more data, to put together memory”the teacher continued.

But there was another path linked to the construction of memory that ran in parallel: the pedagogical one. Then, the teaching team of school 10 worked with fifth grade students on the didactic circuit “School, childhood and dictatorship”. To the tools that used to be used to go through it – reading stories and testimonies, reviewing newspapers and magazines – the investigation on Manolo was added. “We reflected on a lot of questions that appeared to us along the way – the teacher recalled – about what happened at school when there were missing teachers, what their classmates did, if they were looking for them, how the children reacted, did they miss you? ?”. At the end of the tour they found the answer to this last question, Correa assured: Diéguez’s students “loved him very much, they were surprised that he had stopped going to work from one day to the next and with the teacher who replaced him they found out that Manolo had a brother who worked at Parque Rivadavia and they went looking for him to ask what had happened. They didn’t find it.”

The armed struggle

Simultaneous pedagogical work and construction of memory, teachers and students ran into Celia, who “was not only very moved to learn that a group of teachers and students from the school where her colleague had worked wanted to remember him, but also offered to to chat with the girls”.

She went to school one afternoon and answered each of the children’s queries, but first, she was the one who made a query: “Manolo was with weapons, can I tell the boys about that?” Correa recalled. Celia’s inquiry was reflected in the story about Manolo’s story, narrated by Correa and illustrated by Lichtenzveig. “We realized that in the pedagogical proposal on the construction of the memory of the struggle of the 70s there is something that was lost and that is the armed struggle,” the teacher pointed out. The theory of the two demons is very strong today, it cannot be said that a group of people seeking social justice and redistribution of wealth had taken up arms to achieve it”.

They wanted so much to rescue the data that was the title of the story, that once it was “planted” it was corrected, propped up, pushed by another group of teachers -Julia Iurcovich, Paula Martínez, Marta Marucco, Edgardo Maggi, Paulo Manterola, Ivana Roitberg, Laura Cáceres Obando. The authors asked for loans and created a publishing label especially to be able to print and distribute it: “We want the book to be in primary schools, secondary schools and also in tertiary schools, to circulate through the different actors of education because the school must ask itself the teachers that we are missing”Correa concluded.

Source: Pagina12

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