On March 2010, I visited the two elementary schools where my re-
search collaborator Flavia Bellomi works as a teacher (see chapter 2).
The two schools are located fifteen blocks apart in the area known as
Cuartel Noveno, and one of them is adjacent to ‘‘El campito’’—one of
the most recent squatter settlements in the southern part of the Con-
urbano Bonaerense. The area is known for its widespread poverty and
unemployment, its dreadful living conditions, and its high levels of
interpersonal violence.
Both schools are located a short twenty-minute bus ride from the
center of Lomas de Zamora, where Flavia lives with her family and
where I stay while in Argentina. The short distance belies the deep
contrast between the middle-class life of the town’s center and the
utter destitution of its periphery.
Flavia and I arrive at the first school at 7:30 am, and dozens of
children are already lining up outside. After the morning pledge, we
and her fifteen second graders (on a typical day half of her class is
absent) move into her shabby classroom. Only a laminated poster with
the alphabet and a few pictures of the nation’s founding fathers deco-
rate the bare, badly painted walls. All the students have their breakfast
at school, so after the ten minutes in the classroom that students use to
get themselves ready for the day we all head to the cafeteria. It’s 9:10
am when Flavia and her students are back in the classroom. The stu-
dents leave school at 12:15 pm, right after lunch. Breakfast, lunch, and
two recesses leave only one hundred minutes of e√ective class time per
day. During the past year, classes have been canceled because of teach-
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