History of South America

And who was Walter Peñaloza Ramella?

One ​​of the things we look for with our biographical series “And who was it?” is to make known to the teaching community -and by extension to society as a whole- that the history of our education has produced outstanding personalities at an intellectual and academic level. And not only in past centuries, but they have lived among us, in these days of crisis in the sector. Their lives and careers, like small canoes sinking in the vast ocean of darkness and ignorance proposed as a model and way of life by the mass media - the main enemies of national education with their predilection for the immediate, the vulgar and the useless - constitute a treasure that must be rescued for study, knowledge and use, within a mental scheme aimed at banishing poverty in which ignorance plunges us and building a country that is modern and at the same time, educated, mentally clean and dignified to be respected. Let us remember the trajectory of one of the most important personalities of Peruvian education in recent years. And who was Walter Peñaloza Ramella ?

Wálter Peñaloza Ramella was born in Lima, on December 7, 1920. He is one of the brightest personalities of the Peruvian intelligentsia. He was a distinguished teacher and educator, as well as a brilliant philosopher.

He studied his Secondary Education at the Anglo-Peruvian School of Lima (today San Andrés), and those of the Higher level at the National University of San Marcos, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Philosophy and, later, a Doctor in the same subject. He began his teaching activities at the age of 20, at the College where he studied and, later, he was a professor of History of Peruvian Culture and of Supervised Studies at the Colegio Nacional Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, which at that time had a University level.

he also joined, through public competition, the demanding Leoncio Prado Military College, as a professor of History of Culture and, later, of Psychology and Logic. In 1945 he was called by the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos to teach the Greek course at its Linguistic Institute, and the Aesthetics and Logic course at its Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences. At the University of Peru - Dean of America he was, for many years, Principal Professor of the Theory of Knowledge Seminar.

Wálter Peñaloza Ramella stood out as a teacher in several universities in the country and abroad, such as Venezuela and Puerto Rico, among others. He was also, for several years, Ambassador of Peru in the Federal Republic of Germany; Director of Evaluation of Universities in the National Council of the Peruvian University (CONUP); and a prominent member of the National Commission that proposed the Education Reform in Peru, promulgated in 1972, a historic entity in which he worked together with the great teacher and educator like him, Dr. Emilio Barrantes Revoredo, and the relevant philosopher Augusto Salazar Bondy.

he was also Head of the Cabinet of Advisors of the Ministry of Education, in 2002-2003. In 1991 he was unanimously appointed Rector for Life (ad honororem) of the National University of Education Enrique Guzmán y Valle - La Cantuta, in recognition of his extraordinary performance as Director, a position he had held for 10 years, since 1953, in his initial condition of Escuela Normal Central La Cantuta – Chosica, where, as a disciple and follower of José Antonio Encinas , the greatest Peruvian teacher of our time, he made radical changes in university education in general and in teacher training in particular, a task that he captured years later in his brilliant work La Cantuta – An experience in education. This enriching and renovating proposal for Peruvian teaching and education led by Wálter Peñaloza Ramella is also called The Cantuta Doctrine.

Maestro Peñaloza managed to set up, in La Cantuta, a doctrine and a comprehensive training curriculum for future teachers, with new content, new methods and a new orientation that embodied the demands for modernization and democratization of education, in irreconcilable opposition to oligarchic obscurantism and conservatism. This conception of teacher training was raised as part of the requirement of university training for teachers at all educational levels, university autonomy, equal pay, the right to unionize teachers, among other proposals.

Intellectuals, scientists, poets, musicians, playwrights, highly qualified teachers of all specialties, as well as different tendencies of philosophical, educational and politician, such as Luis Jaime Cisneros, Leopoldo Chiappo, José María Arguedas, Washington Delgado, Ernesto Viacava and many others.

Walter Peñaloza He has numerous published works, among which "Knowledge Studies", "Educational Technology", "Comprehensive Curriculum", "A trial about the Baccalaureate" and "The purposes of Education".

Our teacher Peñaloza was awarded, among other distinctions, the National Prize for Philosophy – 1943, the Vasco Núñez de Balboa Award in the degree of Commander – Panama, in 1950; the Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun of Peru, in 1965; Grand Cross of the Distinguished Service Order – Germany, in 1969; Professor Emeritus of the National University of San Marcos, in 1974; Life Rector of the National University of Education La Cantuta, in 1991; and the Tribute of the National Assembly of Rectors, in 2005.

As follows, notable teachers who were his students expressed themselves about him, among them the renowned teacher and outstanding writer Oswaldo Reynoso Díaz, one of the most hurt by the departure of him:

Probably, we will never agree on when he taught us the most:if when from the classroom he gave us his amazing mastery of the theories of Science and Pedagogy, or when in the streets he firmly and consistently defended the university autonomy of La Cantuta and the dignity of the teaching profession.

Walter Peñaloza he is certainly one of the most illustrious Peruvians of the 20th century, he could be compared, without a doubt, with Raúl Porras Barrenechea and Jorge Basadre Grohmann. And it is that he was a builder of ideas, an organizer of thought, a cultivator of science, but, above all, a teacher of courage and truth.

Wise and courageous promoter of the Educational Reform of the 70s, he gave life to the only serious and transcendent project that republican Peru has known in terms of Education.

he introduced a new educational theory based on the comprehensive curriculum, the dignity of the teaching profession and the commitment to serve Peru. The eminent linguist, philosopher and educator-thinker Luis Jaime Cisneros has said of Wálter Peñaloza Ramella:“If anyone in the 20th century had a clear image of what education meant for State policy, Peñaloza headed that list; he always knew that the success of the educational task is reflected in the quality of learning and he did not hesitate to recognize that the teacher's task was one of great social responsibility. With him we learned that education was the support and guarantee of a democracy. Defending, then, the urgent need to assume the change in our pedagogical system is, without the need to specify it, a way of assuming and continuing his legacy”.

On October 31, 2005 he died in Lima, at the age of 84. His death was deeply felt, and the turnout for his wake at the Casona Sanmarquina in Parque Universitario was massive.

To better understand and value our illustrious teacher and compatriot, we recommend the work “La Cantuta Model:An Experience of Higher Education in Peru”, by Dr. Humberto Ñaupas Paitán, his outstanding disciple and passionate supporter-follower.

Derrama Magisterial is honored to have had him very close to us, as a speaker at the Encinas Education Forums and International Congresses, as a speaker at Round Tables and training and updating events, such as fervent assistant in activities carried out in our Horacio Auditorium of the Headquarters, where, in 2003, he was awarded our highest institutional distinction:the Medal of Honor José Antonio Encinas .