Sometimes, Jorge Manolo Villarroel is Spiderman. Sometimes, he’s the Flash or even the Green Lantern.
But he a teacher – one that lives his childhood dreams out by dressing up as superheroes for its pupils who attend his virtual courses.
His classes have become so popular that siblings fight to find out from that costumed teacher. They, in turn, frequently offer him technician help.
“They arrive at the virtual classes before me, and the first surprise is to guess which superhero will appear on display,” explained Villarroel.
With a child’s enthusiasm, Villarroel speaks at 33. His room is filled with the masks and costumes of his characters, along with pictures of ChristRoman Catholic saints, revolutionary Che Guevara, and his or her parents.
Villarroel, who lives in a more impoverished neighborhood of the Bolivian capital, teaches art in the San Ignacio Catholic School in a more prosperous region. His students range from 9 to 14 years.
“Hey, teacher! It would help if you anchored the picture… Proceed to the display of your cellphone and try to find a small one,” a student told Villarroel; the teacher, dressed as the Flash, explained to his eldest pupils how to gather a mosaic of geometric figures using colored leaves.
“For years, they’ve entered our grownup world. Now it is time for people to start up to their world, which can be chat,” he explained. “When they talk, they may be restricted, but in conversation they enlarge, they become the teachers and show me applications.”
The course starts with a Zumba-style warm-up (Villarroel is also a Zumba instructor), followed by a prayer and then superhero music, to place the proper atmosphere.
Forty-five students follow online classes. Villarroel himself gets. “I had to improvise since with all the quarantine. I couldn’t escape.”
With his glasses, Occasionally, he looks as much like a disc jockey before a computer as a superhero. His dog Coquito yells obliviously on his lap.
“Education stagnated in traditional molds. After the pandemic, everything will change, including education,” he said.
Many schools are teaching online since March.
But in Bolivia, the poorest country in South America is expensive, slow and available only in cities and cities. In most poor rural areas, electricity is just arriving and television still new. Some complain that virtual courses are open to people who have the money to buy a computer or phone, worsening the already large spread between the rich and deprived of the country.
“Even in my school, there are kids who do not have a great cellphone,” Villarroel acknowledged. “But we’re in a time of change.”