For All Teachers

Antonio Machado, one of the most-loved Spanish poets of the early twentieth century, taught for many years in what we would today call high school. “Juan de Mairena” was his fictional alter ego:

Mairena was — notwithstanding his angelic appearance — basically rather ill-tempered. From time to time he would receive a visit from some paterfamilias complaining, not about the fact that his son had been flunked, but about the casualness of Mairena’s examination process. An angry scene, albeit a brief one, would inevitably occur: “Is it enough for you just to look at a boy in order to flunk him?”  the visitor would ask, throwing his arms wide in feigned astonishment. Mairena would answer, red-faced and banging the floor with his cane, “I don’t even have to do that much. I just have to look at his father!”

Antonio Machado, Juan de Mairena, XVII