“I work to promote creativity among my students, and I encourage them to value our culture and identity. I have students that have pursued many different areas of study, and they have become professionals with a more humane and creative vision of the world.” – Rodrigo Ayres de Araújo, Brazil
What do comics have to do with learning? If you ask Rodrigo Ayres de Araújo, also known as Baron Pirapora – an award-winning teacher, comic artist, short-animation producer and game developer – it is creativity that sets great students and learning apart. And it’s also creativity that sets Ayres de Araújo apart as an educator. “[Becoming a teacher] was the most interesting way to use my talent as a designer towards a specific goal, which was education,” says Ayres de Araújo.
With nearly 17 years of teaching history and geography, he is best known for his use of games, animations, comics about history, and other productions that he creates for students in his classroom. His cartoons, which are free for download on the Internet, have won multiple awards and are used by teachers and NGOs from nearly all of the states in Brazil. And his work as a teacher has been recognized globally, as well. His project, “Gameficação de Sorocaba,” which combines the teaching of geography and technology with the production of games and cartoons, won the Microsoft Innovative Teacher Award in 2012 for the “Innovation in Content” category, and he was a finalist in the 2012 Partners in Learning Global Forum. His list of awards is too numerous to mention, but his work is clearly making an impact on his students, and on education in his country. “I work to promote creativity among my students, and I encourage them to value our culture and identity,” Ayres de Araújo says. “I have students that have pursued many different areas of study, and they have become professionals with a more humane and creative vision of the world.”
I hope you enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Rodrigo Ayres de Araújo.
What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?
I saw the world of education as an opportunity to use my comics towards a concrete goal, which is teaching. My comics have evolved to cartoons, and from there, to games.
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education or inspired you the most?
My parents were my favorite teachers. My father is a prominent history and philosophy teacher. My mother is a biologist; she was a teacher for over 25 years, and both of my parents taught many thinking minds. I also hold in highest regard a teacher called Álvaro Mestre Ramos, who made me realize the importance of history and cultural movements. Another important teacher in my life was Maria Lúcia Amorim Soares, who encouraged my creativity and my potential.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
I try to keep innovating year after year. This year I am going to mentor teachers and students, as part of the Education 3.0 initiative in the North Coast of the São Paulo state. We are going to “gamify” the coast!
What is your philosophy as an educator?
What type of learning environment do you create in your classroom?
Why is using technology an important part of your educator toolkit?
Because technology is a tool that enables us to produce something.
Explain how technology has changed education for you?
My students took the leading role in the learning process.
What are three things every student must have in order to be successful?
Creativity, responsibility, dignity.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?
Low wages, labor issues, infrastructure problems, legislation –and stopping students from using their cell phone in the classroom.
Where do you find inspiration and new ideas for the classroom?
Movies, comic books, the Internet, and games.
What lessons have your students taught you?
What is your key to success?
How can teachers or school leaders facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
They need to have courage and faith in initiatives such as Education 3.0 and Microsoft Innovative Educators.
In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?
The possibility of using games in the classroom is an important step towards the future, and I am proud to be one of the pioneers.
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
The fact that the students are taking the lead and producing something new by using ICT.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
Ink and brush. Even though they are dealing with a simple technology, it has a powerful identity embedded, which will allow the students to broaden their horizons and become acquainted with a new world of behavioral and technological possibilities, with no prejudice towards them.
What is your country doing well currently to support education?
Brazil needs to invest in education and in technology in the classroom, as well as improve the working conditions for teachers (salaries, security, and infrastructure).
How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?
Scanning workbooks, working with tablets, empowering teachers for Education 3.0.
About Rodrigo Ayres de Araújo
- School name: Former employer, Achilles de Almeida High School
- Birthplace: Sorocaba, Brazil
- Current residence: Ilhabela, Brazil
- Education: History/Graduate program: Games, production and programming
- How many years have you been in education? 17 years
- Awards (If any): Author of the “Gamefication of Sorocaba” project, which was selected as one of the finalists in the Teaching and Learning Award, 2013; Awarded first place in ‘Innovation in Content’ category in the PIL Brazil Forum, 2012; Finalist in the PIL Global Forum 2012; Author of the video game based on Brazilian History, which won first place in the ‘Moedas Criativas’ event, promoted by ‘Cidade do Conhecimento’, USP, 2012; Author of the Amazônia Biodivertida video game, which was a finalist in the Games For Change Festival, 2011; Selected as one of the participants of the E-GAMES Edition from SENAC, (Amazônia Biodivertida video game), and many more.
- Website I check every day: Facebook/ barão do Pirapora
- Blog url: www.baudobarao.blogspot.com
- Favorite childhood memory: “Turma do gato Branco”
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Taubaté.
- When was the last time you laughed? Why? I laugh all the time.
- Favorite book: A Viagem do Descobrimento, by Eduardo Bueno
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Read.
- What are your personal interests or hobbies outside of education? Movies and games.
- What’s one piece of technology in your classroom that you can’t live without? Video projector.
- If you had to write something on the chalkboard 100 times what would it be? “Creativity.”
- What is the worst excuse you’ve heard for not completing an assignment? “I had pork for dinner last night and I felt sick.”
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