Archive for the 'Higher Education' Category

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Andy Holmes

This fall, we are continuing our series getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Andy Holmes, one of our doctoral students in the Educational Policy and Leadership Department and a clinical assistant professor/ educational specialist in the Physician’s Assistant program here at Marquette!

aholmesI am originally from Janesville, WI. After high school, I went to Valparaiso University for my undergraduate degree and National-Louis University for a Master’s in Education. I taught English in the Janesville school district for a while and then moved into a curriculum/ librarian/ innovation specialist position; I also coached drama, swim and soccer. I initially started working on my doctorate in 2015 after I learned about UW-Milwaukee’s Information Studies program at a conference. About a year later, I got a job at MSOE as an educational technologist, traveling back and forth from Janesville. In 2017, after my family moved with me to Milwaukee, I started working as a clinical assistant professor and education specialist here at Marquette in the Physician Assistant (PA) program. My wife and I have two children: a son who is starting high school this fall and a daughter who is in 10th grade at Brookfield East. They are on the debate and forensics teams together—and they assure me they’re going to be the state champs!

When I think about the year ahead, it’s often difficult to separate my work from my academic pursuits. I’m excited to be officially enrolled in the Educational Policy and Leadership department’s Ph.D. program. I feel like I have found my niche and I am passionate about the readings and topics, along with the Jesuit mission. The big draw for pursuing this degree was that in searching for a dissertation topic in information studies, I found myself continually circling back to education. Working in the PA program, I’ve recognized a pressing need for education specialists within healthcare. This degree marries my two disparate roles: I look forward to exploring ways in which I can innovate PA education.

Outside of the classroom, I love to ref soccer with my son—it’s a way of getting exercise and spending time with him. I enjoy reading with my daughter and going on walks with my family and dog. When I think about my family and their relation to my work, I have to say I am inspired by my wife. After my undergraduate experience, I graduated with a theatre degree, went back home and started working at a restaurant, where I met my wife. I started subbing in the local schools, and she encouraged me to get a teaching degree, then a Master’s… she always pushes me, challenges me. My wife works hard to make sure our family values are aligned with what is good and right in the world. She runs everything in our home: my kids and my wife are my reason for everything!

Teaching wasn’t my first-choice career. Somewhere along the line I’ve learned that I have an affinity towards nurturing people, to develop higher-order thinking, to see when students have those “a-ha” moments, and those sparks of inspiration. I just love knowledge and the transfer of knowledge. I’ve learned that I have a passion for social justice that I did not initially recognize in myself. I’m excited about the topics and EDPL’s social justice slant on education. I lean towards those topics and critical theory speaks to me. Most people can talk about a favorite teacher or subject, but when I think of my favorite educational experience, it’s paradoxical. It’s both the best and my least favorite life experience: the journey from high school teacher to higher education professor. It’s been both exceedingly difficult and wonderfully mind-blowing. I’ve learned there is so much possible in the world, and I’m excited to see what comes next.

Interested in learning more about graduate programs in the College of Education? Check out our website– or, better yet, come see us in person!

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Jasmine Babineaux

The College of Education is excited to continue allowing our readers to better know its faculty, staff and students. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Jasmine Babineaux, one of our graduate students in the Student Affairs in Higher Education program. Read on to get to know her better!

jasmineI was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana! I moved to De Pere, Wisconsin in 2015 to pursue by Bachelor’s Degree at St. Norbert College. I graduated this past May with a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Business Management. I’ve been in Milwaukee for a full month now. My grandparents raised me from a baby! I have a 1 year old brother named Levi and a sister who’s 6 months younger than me.

I’m a Graduate Assistant in the Office of International Education. I have two favorite educational experiences: studying abroad in South Africa for a couple of weeks and in London for a semester. Also, attending the LeaderShape Conference the summer after my sophomore year of undergrad was a turning point in my personal growth. That experience still guides me to this day. For this academic year, I’m looking forward to brainstorming places to do my practicum experience!

My decision to attend Marquette was divinely ordained, honestly. I came to the Open House with a friend who is from Milwaukee and was planning on moving back here. One of the faculty members and current students sealed the deal for me. I felt seen and that I would get the most intentional graduate school experience from the SAHE Program that aligned not only with my professional aspirations, but also with my character. I have always loved Milwaukee, the richness of culture, and the big city aspect. I planned to move back to the south, but for some reason I was lead here.

Outside of the classroom, I perform my poetry and write social commentary, I take salsa dancing classes occasionally, collect plants & name them, spontaneous road trips, I host a podcast! Check out my podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Anchor: Respect Her Mind

My inspiration is my baby brother; my best friend, Jordan; my mom & grandparents; young people in general. Other inspirational figures are Ericka Hart and Elaine Welteroth – their work speaks to me in ways that I can hardly explain.

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Tyanna McLaurin

This fall, we are continuing our series getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Tyanna McLaurin, one of our Student Affairs in Higher Education graduate students and the Assistant Director of Service Learning at Marquette!

tyannaI was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. I had the pleasure to going to a variety of schools when I was younger so I’m can adapt quickly to new spaces and I’m unafraid of change (well, somewhat). My favorite educational experience was living overseas as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. While the experience was not part of a “formal education,” it was indeed a life changing time for me. I learned so much about community work. Much of what I learned stays with me today.

I’ve been out of school for a long time, so the start of every semester is exciting. I’m challenging myself to be open to growth and to do my best. I know I got this! I work as the Assistant Director of Service Learning. I love working in higher education and want to continue on this career track. The Student Affairs in Higher Education Program was attractive to me. I like the relationships I can build with faculty and the support of students.

Outside of the classroom, I do so much. I work with Milwaukee Film-Black Lens Program as the Community Outreach Coordinator. Milwaukee has the 9th largest film festival in the country and I get to spread the word within and among my networks about this gem. History, specifically, African/African American History, tends to be my inspiration for my work and passion. I’m never surprised by social unrest or ‘isms that plague American society. This was all foretold through history. I use history to remain knowledgeable and keep going.

Want to learn more about our graduate education programs? Head on over to our website for more information– or, even better, come visit us on campus!

 

A New Educational Context

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Hannah Denis

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A festival taking place in Plaza de Armas on Thursday June 13th.

Peru is a country filled with rich cultures, many languages, delicious food and a complicated history. To end our time in Peru, we left Lima and took a short one hour flight to Cusco. During our time in Andahuaylillas and Cusco we were able to experience these differences in culture, languages and history. Lima is located in the desert while Cusco is located in the highlands. Throughout our time in Peru, we have learned that those from the highlands have been discriminated against. Many people in the Cusco region don’t speak Spanish, but instead speak the native language of Quechua. They also have a different culture than those living in other parts of Peru. On Wednesday, we went to Cuyuni, a small Andean community and participated in an Andean ritual which gave back and thanked Pachamama, mother earth. When in Lima, I felt it was just another big cosmopolitan city; however, in Cusco I felt the culture, history and traditions everyday. At Plaza de Armas, the main square, parades and festivals take place every day in the month of June.

Monday and Tuesday morning we spent time at Fe y Alegría in Andahuaylillas and in the afternoon we went to the town’s Ludoteca.

Ludoteca is an after school program run in conjunction with Fe y Alegría. Ludoteca provides a safe place for students to play with their peers. Fe y Alegría are Jesuit run schools and social programs throughout Latin America. They focus on providing a quality public education. The Fe y Alegría schools in the Cusco region are very interesting and unique. In most rural schools, Quechua is taught in grades K-3, followed by Spanish in the upper grades. By 6th grade, the goal is for students to be fluent in both Quechua and Spanish.

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Students getting breakfast ready at Fe y Alegría

One of the goals of Fe y Alegría is to reinforce students’ culture and then build upon it. Parents play an integral part in their children’s education. Parents come into the classrooms and teach their children about their culture, such things include weaving and dyeing of textiles. Fe y Alegría found that their students were anemic because they only ate meat and potatoes. In order to address this problem, they built greenhouses at the school. Along with this, Fe y Alegría serves a nutritious breakfast and lunch to all of its students. In the primary school at Fe y Alegría there are about 400–500 students. In contrast, at a rural school there may only be 10 students. On Monday at Fe y Alegría in Andahuaylillas I sat in on a primary school science class where they were learning about the planets and our solar system.

On Tuesday, students around the age of 11 made origami, practiced theater and learned about the history and culture of Peru. The history and culture class was particularly interesting. I found it a little confusing that although the school in Andahuaylillas is located in the Andes, Spanish was the only language taught in the primary school.The professor opened the discussion by asking how many students out of about 20–25 spoke Quechua. Only three students raised their hands. She followed this up by asking how many of their parents spoke Quechua and most if not all students raised their hands. She asked her class and wanted them to think about why they hadn’t learned it. It was then their homework to answer two questions: what is cultural identity and why are some traditions being lost. Along with this, it was their homework to practice Quechua. Overall, I really enjoyed our two mornings spent at Fe y Alegría and wished we could have spent more time. I believe that education is context dependent. Comparing Fe y Alegría in Andahuaylillas with the schools in Lima you will immediately see differences, differences that I believe are context dependent. For example, in many Fe y Alegría schools in rural Peru, both Quechua and Spanish are taught. In Andahuaylillas there was a strong emphasis on community, history and culture. However, at La Inmaculada there was a different tune to this story. Both English and Spanish were taught and the school was rooted in the Ignatian Pedagogy. While both Fe y Alegría and La Inmaculada are Jesuit, I felt the Ignatian Pedagogy was being incorporated in different ways. If these schools were transferred directly to another city, they would be missing critical components that these students need. At Fe y Alegría, Colegio Roosevelt and La Inmaculada there are obvious distinctions. For example, at Fe y Alegría, parents and community involvement in teaching history, culture and language is a great asset. At Fe y Alegría I think of the schools involvement with the parents/community in teaching their students about history, culture and language of where they live. Fe y Alegría is also a public school where Colegio Roosevelt and La Inmaculada are both private schools serving the middle class and wealthy. At La Inmaculada, there was a sense of social justice in their pastoral programs which aimed at seeing the equality among people. There was also social activism within the classrooms whether talking about Venezuela or how the school can become greener. At Colegio Roosevelt, I saw a heavy focus on up to date technology, extracurriculars and the arts. If you were to bring either Colegio Roosevelt or La Inmaculada into Andahuaylillas or a rural community, the students wouldn’t flourish. These schools are catering to a certain group of families and students.

In seminar this week, we focused on different broad aspects of education such as privatization vs public education and dual immersion vs bilingual education along with two different child rearing approaches. Lareau, “Invisible Inequality” looked at two different child rearing approaches: concerted cultivation vs accomplishment of natural growth. While neither one of these is deemed better than the other, both have an effect on how children develop. Lareau focuses of three key factors: organization of child’s daily life, language use and social connections. While none of these happen directly in the school, all of these will have a huge impact on schooling. Over time, public education has become more and more criticized. Both Balarín, “Default Privatization of Peruvian Schools” and Ravitch, “Worldwide, Public Education is Up for Sale” look at the privatization of education around the world as one solution to the “failing” of public schools. The main problem is that schools are failing which is solely being measured on quantifiable results. They believe that the solution is privatization since the public sector cannot fix the problem. I believe that privatization is just a band aid to a much bigger problem. If all schools become privatized, there is the possibility they will become a business rather than a place for education and growth. In addition to privatization, there are problems with neoliberal approaches to education as discussed in Cabalin, “Neoliberal Education & Student Movements in Chile”. Cabalin defines neoliberal approaches as policies that “promote the continued privatization of the education sector, which values the right of school choice over the right to an equitable education, and also presents education as a commodity, where schools are presented as a product to buy and sell”. He argues that these policies have only created further segregation, stratification and inequalities. Based on our experience at Fe y Alegría, a public school serving rural communities, I would agree and argue that a neoliberal education is not beneficial to Andean communities. At the core, people shouldn’t have to pay for something that is a human right. In Fe y Alegría, La Inmaculada and Colegio Roosevelt we have seen bilingual education in practice. This is just one way schools can teach a foreign language to their students. Another approach to teaching a foreign language is dual immersion education. In dual immersion education the majority student group learns the new language from the minority group. They are then all taught together. A negative of the dual immersion education is that it creates unseen power dynamics and consequences for those who aren’t the majority in the school.

Throughout my time in Peru, I have been able to draw connections between the Peruvian education system and the educational system in Milwaukee from the vast inequality to the similarities in teaching. My time spent at Fe y Alegría was enlightening to see how a school can combine culture and history while supporting their families and surrounding communities. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent both at Fe y Alegría in Andahuaylillas and La Inmaculada, both providing different insights into different contexts within Peruvian schools.

Goodbye Lima

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Ashley Dorlack

As I sit in my new “home” in Cusco, I cannot help but to reflect and begin to digest the past week and all my time spent in Lima. The busy sounds of car engines and horns bumper to bumper and the sounds of children singing and laughing together in play, the smells of dirt and the oh so many dogs in the city, the sights of rich history, architecture and loving people, the taste of ceviche and rice at every meal, and, most importantly, the feelings I feel when thinking about this city all feel like home. Saying goodbye to our host family and our friends at Casitas this week was truly heartbreaking, but I know that they will all be with me wherever I may go. A piece of my heart is still in Lima.

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A Classroom at Roosevelt

For our last week in Lima, we traveled to Tupac Amaru and Roosevelt; two different schools, one public school and one elite private school, that we were able to observe and tour. Tupac Amaru, who welcomed us with open arms and even our own “paparazzi,” educated lower income students through focusing on the trades, including sewing, mechanics, cosmetology, and woodshop, to ensure that they will have the skills upon graduating if they are not financially able to go to college. The school has more traditional values with some valuable twists, such as collectively deciding upon rules prior to class taking place to ensure the students’ utmost autonomy. Roosevelt had an immaculate campus, with nearly every resource available to their students. From multiple libraries, countless computer and “maker” labs, and extracurricular activities with facilities on campus, to small class sizes, well trained and sought-after teachers with experience, and innovative, problem-based learning techniques used campus wide, Roosevelt was overwhelming to say the least. Aside from touring the two schools, we were able to participate in an alternative night school, P.E.A., in El Agustino. At this school, education is rethought to provide an education for students who otherwise were either set up to fail in the traditional school system or took a different path earlier in life and are studying to earn the equivalence of a G.E.D. We also were able to return to our Casitas, the after school program in El Agustino, which offers significant and effective ways to view students and their role within the classroom. The utter differences between these three schools and after school program was astounding, and the undeniable systematic inequality is at the forefront of my mind whenever I think of Lima.

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A Classroom at Tupac Amaru

In my opinion, educational inequalities are not fixable if the political, social and economic inequalities are not also addressed. It is well documented that students in poverty suffer both academically and physically, which also thus negatively influences their education. This cyclical effect on educational outcomes is not just from inequality of educational offerings, which is evidently present, but also results from the economic disadvantages and other obstacles that were systematically designed to keep the poor in poverty and the rich more rich. Educational inequality is far more than simply a material problem; it’s about the system by which we are building up our students’ self-esteem while exposing them to inquiry of real life problems. If it were solely about materials, it would be easy to equalize resources for every school in the world. But, it is the systemic racism against minorities within all systems, including political, cultural, social, legal and moral, that perpetuates the educational inequality. Justice is far more than a short term band aid on a ubiquitous problem; it is a constant battle that we must fight for the rights of each student. Every student is simply human, and it is about time that we implement this in our school to universalize the value of our students regardless of their backgrounds or what big government or systems tell us to believe about our students. They can do anything with the right tools and guidance.

When solely examining education, since it is our duty to provide a just, robust education for all students regardless of their area code, the aims of our current education system are wrong. The educational gap, stratified by race, class, gender and ability presented in a hierarchy calls for justice in order for flourishing to occur. Systematically, the educational system is put in place to encourage students who are able to memorize and regurgitate information on standardized tests that are biased towards wealthy white members of society anyways. In order to thrive, I argue that a focus on inquiry, through problem solving and critical thinking, beneficial differentiation, cultivating curiosity within the classroom, and true collaboration between teachers and students must occur. This then encourages flourishing, or students living out their purpose and the ultimate growth of the whole person and their soul. This flourishing looks different for everyone, which once again reinforces the need for a new system that attempts to shape all students to fit into an identical mold; this is not education! This is conforming to a system and true flourishing will never occur!

Some potential approaches within the classroom to aid in the fight against educational inequality include learning alongside your students, providing outlets that are otherwise deprived of students within school, and problem posing education. By simply teachers not acting as authoritative, omniscient figures but rather as inquirers alongside their students, barriers are broken down that elicit more meaningful, productive learning and discourse. This humanizing relationship allows for mutual care for students and teachers alike beyond an academic setting and allows for students to best learn. By cultivating this type of relationship with students, teachers are able to have more open conversations with students, positive school interactions, and simply to show students that teachers also share the common humanity with their students. Additionally, another way to approach educational inequalities is to provide students with opportunities to engage with manual labor and craftsmanship. Often times, the downright depressing traditional classroom is depriving students not only of true flourishing, but also of working with their hand to produce. This type of engagement allows for the critical thinking process to shape students interactions with the craft and provides more than traditional schooling. Finally, by using essential questions and problem posing as a form of inquiry within the classroom, the teacher can craft authentic learning experiences that will engage students in critical thinking prepare students for their future. Since our dehumanizing system relies heavily on memorization and recitation, students are objectified as test scores and are turned into zombies who give up their autonomy. However, by challenging students to reach their full potential through real life problem solving, they are able to truly flourish, despite the system sometimes not wanting them to.

What is the Purpose of Education?

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Lou Hasebroock

2019-01-15-10-44-55-1200x800This past week, my classmates and I had the privilege to go to a middle-class school to understand and maybe incorporate their ideas into our own lives. This school was ranked as a Class B, which is not nearly the top like Class A, but it is higher than most of the schools in Lima. This past week I had to take a step back to understand their way of teaching and how they wanted to impact children in the best way possible. I did quite a bit of observing, which gave me the opportunity to find the similarities and differences in these classrooms with the classrooms that I have worked in back in the United States. I believe there are many different routes a teacher can take to educate children on ‘what the purpose of education is.’ As children, education was traditional and structured where it reached the point where the routine we could complete in our sleep. As a child, I did not know any better and thought the boring lectures and unnecessary assessments were completely normal and I thought those routines would help me for my future. After studying classroom etiquette and pedagogy, my childhood classrooms were not proper ways to educate and help all children flourish within the classroom. In my opinion, the purpose of education is for someone to be introduced to new information, figure out ways to expand or reinforce said information, and then apply that information to their personal life whether that be inside or outside the classroom. This is a vague statement for ‘what is the purpose of education’, but like I stated previously, there is no correct structure to this posed question. There are many different methods that can be used to fit your style of classroom to help your students flourish in their own ways.

DIFFERENT SCHOOLS, SAME PEDAGOGY

On top of visiting and working as teacher assistants in La Inmaculada, we also had the opportunity to work in the Encuentros after school program called Casitas. We would act as another set of hands to assist the ones in charge. At my Casitas, it was mostly female students, and this was based in a lower income neighborhood. The program was another idea that was set up to help children stay out of trouble from the streets and create a better community of inclusion. These kids begin the program at a very young age and are presented with limited items, but their smiles and energy do not seem to notice what they do and do not have. This educational program compared to La Inmaculada is very clear if you were to compare them side by side. The resources accessible for each program are completely different and yes, there will be opportunities presented to those who go to the Class B school, but their ideas for the purpose for education are on similar pages. The children with different programs will have a completely opposite experience when it comes to education, but the underlining meaning for education is relatively similar. The few teachers that I worked with from both programs found ways to incorporate the life outside of a classroom and integrate those ideas to inside of the classroom. I noticed that the ideas of Jesuit pedagogy are implanted in these classrooms. It is stated that, “Jesuit education moves the learning experience beyond rote knowledge to the development of the more complex learning skills of understanding…” During my Casitas, this idea of education is present. At the end of the program we would sit in a circle for a period of reflection. The children would go around saying something they enjoyed from today, what they didn’t like, and what was something they were proud they accomplished. This period of reflection created an opportunity for the teacher in charge to step in and show each student how they are valid in the outside world and how they can use their talents to help the community in their own unique way, I found this exercise comforting to know that at such a young age the kids are learning to find what upsets them and they are working to create a better life. At La Inmaculada, the students are learning about the environment and finding eco-friendly ways to create a more sustainable life that they live in. Although these programs are on a different scale, their purpose of education is to create an impact and hope that the children take those lessons outside of the classroom to continue to become flourishing students.

STRUCTURE OF EDUCATION

When it comes to structure of a classroom, I do not believe that education should be different for privileged youth and marginalized youth. Yes, resources will be scarce for the lower income communities, but from my experiences in both programs I have seen many examples on how people teach different levels of children. When painting the image of two separate classrooms, many people have the instinct to turn away from those who have limited resources and will immediately judge the worst intentions. Painting the picture of La Inmaculada, there are a great amount of basketball courts, soccer fields, probably five different levels of classrooms for primary and secondary students. Their resources are abundant and they are learning to speak English in every classroom. These students are pushed out of their comfort zones to learn and understand the language and culture of the communities throughout Peru. For the Casitas program, the classroom is just one room. It is a brick room that has a dark and sad feeling attached. The children have chairs and a few run-down board games and other toys to use in their free time. These kids speak just their native language. Although these children are on opposite ends of the spectrum, they should not have their education restricted because they do not have access to the same resources. I believe the idea of power plays a role in these contexts because the funding is dedicated to the higher elites than those who need more help on providing stable buildings for students to even be placed in. The power behind education is what prevents the restrictions in the first place in society. The power tends to lead to money, and those without money usually correlates with a lack of power. This system has always been unfair, especially if there are brilliant students who come from a lower income neighborhood. Their education is being restricted when they cannot afford to attend a school with more resources. Education has always been a tricky subject to talk about, and equality is what we learn to strive for in our societies and constantly placing a barrier between wealth and education will not help students reach their full potential if they live their life with a label.

CONNECTIONS OF EDUCATION

Throughout all the different classrooms and programs, I have been in, I always found myself comparing my own experiences in the United States, to the work I have experienced here in Peru. The classrooms here were constantly incorporating outside information that would intertwine with their basic level classes such as Science, Math, or English. At La Inmaculada, the students had access to a miniature zoo on their campus. This provided them the opportunity to be outside and physically analyze the animals and their behaviors, they also had access to a hiking trail up the mountain where the students could look at the different bugs and plants and their lifestyles. I did not have this opportunity, nor have I ever heard of someone have access to a zoo at their primary and secondary school. Often, we did take field trips, but that was once a year and we were not able to get as much information out of the experience. Other connections I have seen is the creation of understanding other people’s feelings, language, or culture. Growing up, we learned many historical cultures, but we never truly experienced or immersed ourselves in other neighborhoods or communities that have a different culture than us. Here, the students have that opportunity which can create a deeper understanding for the children at a young age. Something that I have learned during the Casitas program is that no matter how little of resources that are accounted for, you still make the most of what you have and incorporate more imaginary scenarios so the children can begin that creative side at such a young age. In the Engaged Pedagogy article, it narrates that, “This is one of the joys of education as the practice of freedom, for it allows students to assume responsibility for their choices.” These children showed me how to have fun and enjoy the little things that surround me. I learned how to create a more inclusive classroom for all students at a low income and high income school and how to overall create a better life for any student I may work with in the future.

 

How Education Has a Varying Purpose

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Emily McGlennen

There is no singular purpose to education. The objective of an effective education varies based on geographical location, economic status, and available resources; however, defining an effective education is also complex. Some would say a valuable education rests on the shoulders of the educators and their ability to cater to the academic needs of the students, yet it can also be argued the development of the entire student is just as important as solely developing an academically intelligent individual. According to John Dewey in Experience and Education, there should be a strong attention to human flourishing. Many schools are caught up in the standard methods of teaching but sticking with the status quo hinders a student’s ability to truly flourish.

1_aeSxpIw6uq2plazsEGw89QWhile in Lima this past week, we have seen varying methods of teaching in schools. Each day this past week we went to La Inmaculada in Santiago de Surco, Lima, as well as to Casitas in El Agustino, Lima. La Inmaculada focuses on flourishing by helping students achieve academic excellence through a private education, bilingual courses, and the encouragement to go onto university after graduation. The school has implemented technological courses, so students can learn topics on different platforms and through a more hands-on method. Additionally, students were encouraged to work on projects in groups to develop teambuilding and cooperation skills. While shadowing a class taught in English, the teacher asked the students to work in groups and write down the ways their school is environmentally friendly and in what ways the school could improve. The groups wasted no time in effectively determining better practices to protect the environment including the installation of solar panels, low-flow toilets, and creating more campaigns on campus. It is amazing to see students coming up with ideas of how to improve the school’s impact on the environment. The students wrote up their proposals in concise reports and submitted them to Father Oscar, a highly influential figure at La Inmaculada.

La Inmaculada caters to students who are far more privileged than students on the other side of the Wall of Shame, which separates Santiago de Surco and Pamplona Alta. Pamplona Alta is home to some of the poorest people in Lima, yet the neighboring district educates some of the most well-off residents. The Casitas in El Agustino have a very different experience. They stand as after school programs for under privileged students of the area and are tucked in the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood. There are a few scattered about which allows easier access for the kids, but each casita spends their time with students differently. The first one I attended had no structure and I would not consider an afterschool program. The kids ran freely about the small brick room playing games and screaming at one another until we were able to calm some of them with a Disney puzzle. These students do not have the privilege of a proper classroom nor the attention of the teacher to assist them with studies like the students at La Inmaculada. Privilege means access. The Casitas kids are not taught English and are not talked to about the possibility of excelling in school and the potential it has to lead to university and a higher paying job. When the more privileged students of La Inmaculada are being told the world is their oyster while the kids in the Casitas Program are enrolled to be kept out of trouble, there exists a sort of marginalization of the youth. Rather than encouraging students to see the potential in themselves so they can achieve whatever they set their minds to, the Casitas kids are there to be kept out of trouble that could be found on the streets of El Agustino.

I agree with the author of Educating the Spirit of Activism, Quentin Wheeler-Bell. He explains the importance of developing the whole person through a holistic education, thus ensuring the growth of the student mind, body, and spirit. Wheeler-Bell also explains the necessity of self-actualization because without it, one’s full potential is not being recognized so as a result the student will fail to excel and push themselves toward a higher goal. There is also the questioned raised of putting the power to learn in the hands of the students. This can be great thing because it allows for a more tailored educational experience, yet how much power can truly be given to a young child who may rather sit back and do nothing? Power is a means of transforming the educational system, but the system cannot be altered unless organizers are willing to listen to the needs and demands of students and teachers.

By having these experiences this past week, I have been reminded a lot about my personal education at a Montessori school. Mind, body, and spirit are some of the main focuses of the curriculum because these variables were understood to be key factors in the development of kids. Certainly, academics are important, but so is social, moral, and behavioral development which I benefitted from greatly. Compared to the kids attending the Casitas Program, I was privileged in my elementary education because the pillars of Montessori were a part of my everyday schooling. I am very grateful to have gone to a school that values the development of the whole person as well as being supportive and encouraging that anything in my future was possible. These values are definitely ones I will carry with me in my professional career and in my personal life. I am appreciative of my experience at the Casitas Program and La Inmaculada because it reminded me of the importance of seeing the whole person.

 


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