GABRIELA MISTRAL IS BORN ON APRIL 7 – Portal del Colegio de Profesores de Chile


Our most illustrious stranger

Department of Education and Improvement of the College of Teachers of Chile

Today we commemorate the 133rd anniversary of the birth of this extraordinary woman, admired throughout the world, quoted thousands of times and still practically unknown to most Chileans. Beyond her renowned poetic work, she is unknown in her commitment to education, to the social, to a life worthy of her. On April 7, 1889, Lucila Godoy Alcayaga was born in Vicuña – Coquimbo Region. When the time comes to choose a pseudonym, she will honor two of her most admired poets; Gabriele D’Annunzio and Frédéric Mistral.

What is the image that arises in our mind when your name is mentioned or we see your photographs? “Our Nobel Prize for Literature!”, “First Latin American woman to obtain this recognition” (The only one to date). Do we know anything else? Have we read her work? Do we know her texts in prose? Do we recognize her great contributions to pedagogy and education? Do you remember the year she was awarded the Nobel? (1945)

The natural way to start learning about Gabriela Mistral is to focus on her extraordinary poetic creation. However, from the reading of this beautiful and profound work, we can advance in the discovery of her texts, which contain a great social political ideology, advanced for her time, we can also realize that she loved being teacher. We find enormous wisdom in her writings and her reflections about education, pedagogy and the role of educators.

If we go beyond the quote, which is usually mentioned or read on Teacher’s Day, we will find the profound legacy of Gabriela Mistral, who invites us to reflect on our individual and collective work. This great Master was many years ahead of the slogans about the dignity and importance of teaching work. He nurtured his verses from the reality of his work in classrooms in different parts of Chile, where he taught with dedication and passion, typical of his exquisite sensitivity as a poet, added to the energy that stems from his conviction of carrying out the most necessary task. for human growth and the development of a people: education.

Professor Leonora Reyes points out: “With daring and without dogma, Mistral nurtured a redefining public education in which prima cultural diversity of ideas and thoughts, with the leading role of the subjects that constitute it, overcoming the deep social inequalities that worsen our education and society”. [1]

To invite them to read their pedagogical texts, we have chosen excerpts from their recommendations “For those of us who teach”[2]. In this writing, our powerful Master offers 42 tips to her colleagues. As in all her prose, she is blunt, direct and irreducible. Here is a selection of those tips:

  1. Everything for the school; very little for ourselves.
  2. Always teach: in the playground and on the street as in the classroom. Teach with attitude, gesture and word.
  3. Live the beautiful theories. Live kindness, activity and professional honesty.
  4. Enliven the teaching with the beautiful word, with the appropriate anecdote, and the relationship of each knowledge with life.
  5. If we do not realize equality and culture within the school, where can these things be demanded?
  6. The teacher who does not read must be a bad teacher: she has lowered her profession to the mechanism of trade, by not renewing herself spiritually.
  7. To correct there is no need to fear. The worst teacher is the teacher with fear.
  8. Everything can be said; but you have to find the form. The sharpest rebuke can be delivered without depressing or poisoning a soul.
  9. Teaching children is perhaps the highest way to seek God; but it is also the most terrible in the sense of tremendous responsibility.
  10. Nothing is more difficult than to measure in a class where the amenity and joy go and where the chatter and disorder begin.
  11. In the progress or discredit of a school we all have a part.
  12. The modeller’s fingers should be both firm, soft, and loving.
  13. Every lesson is capable of beauty

[1] Leonora Reyes is an academic from the Department of Pedagogical Studies of the University of Chile.

Quote at:

[2] Quoted by Roque Esteban Scarpa, in “Teachers and Children.” 1979. Ed. Andrés Bello. Santiago.

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GABRIELA MISTRAL IS BORN ON APRIL 7 – Portal del Colegio de Profesores de Chile