Jorge Ruiz

Musician and professor of hearing and speech 

"Children are an inexhaustible source of creativity, potential talent and passion"

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My real passion is not only music, but communication. I had the opportunity to study a degree, and chose speech therapy. And when I finished, I also studied to become a teacher of listening and language. There I learned many of the things that have become my passion today: The world of education, the world of talent and why the education system fails to develop the potential that all human beings have within. I would like to tell you something that may surprise you, which has to do with my having grown up thinking throughout my educational process that I didn't have any talent. And when I say no talent, I mean literally. Not even the things I knew or thought I could do well, and that I liked; not even then did I think I would be any good, and that my talent our potential would come out. I grew up thinking that I was a pebble, just like all students, and there are a few pretty sea shells among us who are the ones who have talent. And these sea shells usually stand out in something, or get really good grades, or have something really clear that sets them apart, but most pebbles have something too, just something that is not immediately apparent.

In my early 20s I was enrolled in law, after having had a normal, decent education. You don't fail everything, but you don't excel either. But something happened in my life where my body stopped, and told me, through a panic attack: "That's enough." I was having a terrible time; I wasn't happy, enrolled in a degree that I didn't like at all and where I couldn't shine, because, all I had to do was memorize and I couldn't, or I felt I couldn't, express my creativity. Having that panic attack stopped me and made me drop everything. I left school and told myself: "Until you find what you want to do, don't do anything. Don't rush anywhere, or at least not to somewhere that won't take you where you want to go". When you are in your early 20s you become a little odd: everyone around you tells you that you are wrong, that you have to study something or work on something, but they don't tell you what, because they don't know either. So I stopped everything in my life and the only thing I was sure about — my only reference — is that I wanted to write songs because that's what I had done since I was a kid. No one in my family was musical, so it was completely unknown, terrifying ground. And all I heard was the tired saying that the world of music is really hard. Interestingly, I have heard that about all worlds: all worlds are difficult, especially for the one who says it.

If you believe in yourself, in the end things happen, but you have to the whole time — not just at one point, but the whole way. So the story continued: I studied speech therapy, recording demos, I was able to make my first record, then my first company fired me... No one said it would be simple. But I knew how to bounce back and I realized that I had made the same mistake as at the beginning: I was rushing too far towards a place that was not mine, so I stopped again. I finished my degree and then my first song came out — you might know it, it is a song about my philosophy, called "El secreto de las tortugas", and it changed my whole life radically. But I also set up my speech therapy practice, and there I started working with real children and started to see that children are an inexhaustible source of creativity, potential talent and passion. I don't know any children who are not creative, not a single one.

"To recognize potential talent, the individual has to learn to listen to themselves."

The way to express that talent varies hugely, but that does not mean that we are not capable of seeing it. You have to give it something very valuable: attention. I always say that paying attention means "I love you." If they don't pay attention to you, that doesn't mean they don't want you, but they're not appreciating you as you deserve. That's what happens in all areas of a person's life, not only in the workplace or when studying but also in personal and family relationships, and with friends... Nobody wants you not to pay attention to them; I don't know anyone who doesn't want to be cared for, because that means "I love you," and because as a species we grow up together. So love must be there right from the start; we can't be without it. Education is systematically ignoring the treasures we carry within. And this is not something literary or that belongs only to empty discourse; science already knows, and doctrine already knows; it knows that if a person is given space, that person ends up shining.

We all have potential talent. Talent is not there at the start of education but at the end, and we all have a responsibility to let ours and that of others come out. In order to be able to recognize talent, we must make the individual be heard. Not teaching listening, but for the individual to be heard, because that capacity is already in us. It should not be instilled in people, it should exude from them. If we don't prevent the person from being heard, sooner or later they will find their value and want to work on that, to make it a talent they can live from.

The current education system is very cold and allows very little individuality. The education system is a central computer and we are the hard drives. We log on to that computer and capture that content. But it is as if we don't have content to offer to the system. It is very gregarious. You get hooked, they fill you up with content and you go. And I think that must be what happens with an associative system like the internet. A search engine, for example. A search engine is an empty box where, if you have an interest in something, type it and search for it. The system feeds on your interest, which is content, and grows with you. School should be the same. With emotions to hand and ethics governing everything, but where I can ask questions, and my questions mean something to the system, and the system is encouraged by my asking of questions. That's how a society is really regenerated. For me, education is society's element of transformation. A system that does not allow associative learning, on the whole or as an idea, is self-limiting. There are experiences already, and this is changing because teachers themselves are starting to allow that, because it's very easy to see it especially if you've ever been in an elementary classroom, you know that you understand it or you're going nowhere.

Heading up the pop group "Maldita Nerea," vocalist and songwriter Jorge Ruiz is also a speech therapist and a teacher of hearing and speech. He is also a talent ambassador of the "Fundación Promete" and author of the book "Bailarina".