Blog Post 5: Can the elite population help to save their world?: Aditi Narayan

This summer, seven of our undergraduate teacher education students and one intrepid faculty member are spending a month in Peru studying the educational system and discussing their own philosophies of education. They are writing and reflecting on their journey, and we are following along! Read on for excerpts and blurbs from Dr. Gibson and the students’ blogs. You can read more on Marquette Meets Peru and check back for updates here.  

Aditi Narayan

It is important for these children to learn about the good and the bad aspects of the place where they live. This gives them the opportunity to learn about the problems that people in their world face and create solutions to help the people that need it.

Hello Interwebbers!

One thing that I have learned and witnessed over the course of my stay here in Peru, is that there is an unequal society, where the wealthy have more money than the poor combined and the poor have to struggle greatly to make ends meet. There are people here in Lima alone that, technically and legally, do not own the land that they are living on. In regions like El Agustino and Pamplona Alta, people decades ago set up their homes there in the hope of eventually owning their own land so that they can move out of the impoverished area. Living in these hills where they don’t have running water and very little means of sufficient help for medical emergencies was always supposed to be a temporary plan. There are schools, like Colegio Roosevelt, which teaches children that come from very rich families. It is important for these children to learn about the good and the bad aspects of the place where they live. This gives them the opportunity to learn about the problems that people in their world face and create solutions to help the people that need it.

Hooks wrote in his book that, “To educate as a way of practice is a way of teaching that everyone can learn…a classroom [is] diminished if students and professors regarded one another as “whole” human beings, striving not just for knowledge in books, but knowledge about how to live in the world” (pages 1–3). Every school should, ideally, teach the students using this holistic approach to education. It is important for students to understand right from a young age that, despite our differences, we have a responsibility to do what we can to create and implement solutions to problems in their community, society and world. It does seem easy, when living in a more privileged environment, to simply forget about the world outside the bubble around you and your elite community. However, with the right education, with conversations about the more tricky and controversial subjects, and with discussions on how to solve the problems in our world, the privileged students in schools are able to use their abundance of resources to create a better world for themselves and for those around them.

“Faced with the facts of economic inequality, the wealthy are confronted with a particular set of moral, social, and political questions, not least of which is the question of how to preserve a sense of being a “good” human being. … being good and having moral standing is a social outcome that is premised on the unequally distributed ability to do certain things, to enact certain roles, and to mobilize particular discourses. … the complicated ways in which privileged students understand what it means to have a commitment to social justice, … the possibility of as well as the potential for educating students with economic privilege toward social justice commitments… the important symbolic role that economically disadvantaged groups play in the imaginary of students who attend elite private schools and what this illustrates about the ways in which they are complicit in sustaining social inequality” (Fernandez, Abstract). Fernandez describes the economic inequality on a general level.

From the view as a student studying abroad here in Peru, I have been able to see how there is a general disparity between the various educational systems in the different economic levels. I spoke to my host mother’s granddaughter who is in the fifth grade at a school in Miraflores. She talked to me about her English education at the school(s) that she has been attending since Pre-Kinder. She was telling me about how students start their english education from Pre-Kinder and continue through their schooling. They learn British english, as the rest of the world does, and they study english in a very formal level with various grammatical patterns and plenty of vocabulary to make anyone’s head spin. In comparison to what I have seen, the students in Las Casitas did not know English, as far as I could tell. The main priority is to teach them the various subjects that they need to know in order to help them get good jobs in the Spanish-speaking Peru. The las Casitas program, along with the other partnering programs in the El Agustino area teach various ideals that will help build up their faith and hope in life. The students from elite districts can help create ideas to help the various physical problems happening in the environment: Building new roads, new ways to have running water, raise money for a bus service to pick up the students for school, etc. There are so many ways that we can help each other. We just need to look within ourselves and understand the world around us.

Until Next Time,
Aditi Narayan

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