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A Reciprocal Process
By Fernando Mesquita

What is teaching like today? Who should do it? And who shouldn't? This Education World series features essays on teaching by teachers as they answer the question, "If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a teacher?"

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To me, being a teacher is not just an act of generosity, but a reciprocal process in which both teachers and learners improve as human beings. Learning and teaching beyond the school's expectations have always been my main goals. I consider myself a very successful teacher because I enjoy every minute of this hard work.

Achieving the goals of learning and teaching has enriched and fulfilled my life and, therefore, if I had to, I would do it all again. I certainly would, without a doubt, despite all the conflicts, internal and external, I have to go through as a Brazilian educator. Dealing with such problems as poor discipline, school violence, and students who need support in all aspects of their lives -- not just cognitive, but also social -- have only made me more aware of my responsibilities and of my role as an educator.

I see my role as that of a mediator of knowledge, a psychologist, a caregiver, and a promoter of social change -- in sum, an educator in the broadest sense.

It is very gratifying to see the results of my interactions with my students, especially when I find out that they have learned more than the subjects I teach. A change in attitude -- from passive to thinking critically; the learning of values; the preparation for sensible decision making; and an awareness that we all have the power to change things in our country through education and dialogue are the most important concepts I want my students to learn.

My students sometimes ask me why I decided to become a teacher, and not a lawyer or an engineer. My answer to them is: I chose to be where I am and to do what I do because to me it is like a mission and I am glad I can make a little contribution that perhaps will affect lots of people in a positive way.

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Fernando Mesquita

Fernando Mesquita is a Brazilian teacher of English as a Foreign Language, certified by the University of Cambridge and the Brazilian Ministry of Education. He has been teaching for six years in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mesquita is an 8th grade teacher at Colgio Andrews and a 7th grade teacher at Colgio Padre Antonio Vieira, where he also creates social studies projects and links the English language with relevant reflections of society.

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