Doris de Zambrano

After returning to Cali from that exciting and stimulating time at CIE, I felt full of energy and "power" and as if anything I wanted to do I could do.... but, that is not the way things turned out!


First, the "leftist" (read that as "Marxist!") current going through the Universidad del Valle at that time led them to decide that since I had outside support — from a working husband — I did not NEED to occupy a slot teaching History at the University which could be occupied by someone who needed the pay more than I — So I was unceremoniously kicked out.


Which turned out to be a good thing! I began to look around for an opportunity schooling kids, and quickly decided that the best opportunity would be to start a school of my own, with the support of the recently created family Foundation, and in no time the Secretary of Education assigned me an empty building and there with the help of a couple of teachers who had been in my classes on teaching kids history, we started to invent a school.


Because the kids in that Barrio were so poor, textbooks were out, so I hand-wrote small sheets with minimal information and questions — which they had to learn to read — and then they had to answer the questions which followed, by choosing the number of the right answer.. It was simple, cheap, and easy— and they learned!  But of course I had to continue to invent what to do when they had already learned to read, etc.... field-trips, reading books, writing... The School's name is Escuela de la Fundacion Harold Eder, and it still exists.


Then I was asked to become the Vice Minister of Education for Colombia, So, for a year and half from early 1977 to August 1978, I lived in Bogota and got to know the "official" establishment, and tried to push through some ideas which I liked and to stop those I didn´t — like the unbelievable authority wielded by the so-called "supervisors" who demanded and got "great respect" from school administrators....And endless teacher strikes trying to get better, or more punctual, pay.


When I returned to Cali, my school was running well in the hands of the substitutes, so I decided to do other things — training groups for teachers who wanted to innovate, for example. And I let myself be enticed into doing a research study comparing three Schools of Education — which was interesting, almost fun, but yielded no useful conclusions especially since the Ministry of Education (which commissioned it) didn´t have enough money to publish it.... I eventually, personally, had it typed for minimal distribution!


Then... there was a change of government and I was offered the Governorship of our Department, the Valle del Cauca. So in early September 1982, I became Governor of the Valle del Cauca. (left-swearing in) And less than 2 years later, I was offered and accepted the position of Minister of Education for Colombia. I had always been interested in how people learn and how to teach so that they learn — but in the new position I had to learn how handle organizational, administrative, public-relations problems.


When I left that position I returned to Cali where the University offered me the chance to organize a TV production branch for educational TV — and there I was, without a cent of operating money, trying to invent educational TV programs.... and using outdated equipment which had already served various years making educational support movies, with hand-controlled stops and starts and hand-controlled coordination between the recordings and the videos, when electronics was beginning to become the standard


After that, when my husband Ernesto, who was then the Dean of the Medical School, retired, I retired too (1985) and we started a new life together, travelling, and enjoying ourselves. [1-19]




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