Martin Salvetti

Technical Secondary School No. 5, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Martin Salvetti

Martin Salvetti did not plan to be a teacher, but teaching found him anyway. He began tutoring to earn extra money to get through university, and kept on going.

Salvetti had returned to his own school to tutor, so he was a similar age to his students. He could empathise and saw opportunities to improve their education experience. He set up a weekend football club involving students and staff. They interacted differently with each other in this new setting, and he observed how effectively the students learnt while being actively involved in something. Despite the diversity of the students, who all come from different parts of Argentine society, the experience was universal. This insight has formed the basis of his teaching since.

Acknowledging the benefits of Salvetti’s learning through doing approach, the school engaged with an arts programme, organised by a group of charities. Through this, they won funding to support a radio and cinema project, and a band. Despite many challenges, the radio project persisted, and in 2007, Salvetti and his students won a national competition for their work, and were able to invest in broadcasting equipment to share the radio with their community. They did their first broadcast in 2008.

Since then, the radio station has thrived. It now broadcasts 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Schools come from across the region to visit and learn from Salvetti’s students. The content broadcast provides learning opportunities for the students, and valuable information and entertainment for listeners. Topics covered are chosen by the students and include road safety, sexual education, and bullying. The station features poetry and creative writing created by the students.

The station is a platform to campaign for positive change. Content has featured interviews with Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, whose children have“disappeared”. The students have run programmes to explore religion and children’s rights, as well as raising awareness of environmental issues such as effective water usage.

As Professor of Materials Knowledge, Technical Drawing and Internal Combustion Engines, he brought together students from electronics, mechanics and metalwork to establish the “One car for one horse” project. The students repair salvaged motorbikes and cars, and exchange them for the horses being used for labour, and which are subjected to cruel treatment.

Whatever he is teaching, Salvetti connects learning to awareness of global issues. So, when the students are studying materials, they compare recycled and non-recycled, and renewable and non-renewable materials. In this way, Salvetti’s practical lessons act as a gateway to much wider knowledge, and offer students a sense of themselves as part of a wider community.

Salvetti’s work has been independently evaluated and demonstrated to link to a reduction in drop out rates. Students who were otherwise at risk of dropping out have gone on to open motorbike repair shops, and been inspired by the radio station to have a career in music or theatre.

I love teaching because I discovered that it is what I know how to do and because I actually enjoy doing it. Teaching allows me to be part of the intellectual and emotional development of people...and that is what I love.