This dissertation explores the meaning the rural inhabitants of the North of Cauca region in Colombia make of the rural primary school teacher. It examines the themes and metaphors used by rural teachers, community members, and youth to describe the teacher's present image, their perspectives on the possible changes, and the implications of these perceptions for future educational interventions.
The themes and metaphors that emerged alluded to two general images. The researcher has named these the portrait of the teacher as a hero and as an ordinary human being. The first, she proposes, is an ideal image that comes from people's collective memory. The second, she attributes to their real life experiences. The heroic image of the teacher is depicted through metaphors such as that of an apostle, a pillar of society, a second parent, and a community catalyst. The real image refers to the short-comings of teachers to fulfill this heroic image. The point of reference for the heroic image is the teacher's archetype that comes from a glorified perception of the past. It contains symbols, archaic images, and motifs that are embedded in people's collective memory. The researcher suggests that the teacher's true image is neither its ideal and heroic image nor its real and descriptive one but an amalgamation of both.
She recommends the incorporation of this complex and dual image in teacher training programs. She suggests that, beginning teachers be encouraged to reflect on their own impressions of the teacher figure, to analyze the sources of these perceptions, and to situate their viewpoints in the cultural context in which they are embedded. This process of critical reflection allows teachers to become aware of their own contradictions and prepares them for the complex reality of their profession.