Archive for the 'Summer Series' Category

Educational Processes: Alli Bernard

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.  

Alli Bernard

In addition to social and political, schooling is also a cultural aspect. In Peru, this is especially difficult when one remembers the history and cultural struggles that have occurred.

Our journey to Peru has come to a close, and I am currently sitting in my bed reflecting on my experiences over the past month. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was 8 years old, after having a fantastic third grade teacher, and this experience has only reinforced that I love teaching, school, and learning. However, school has been and always should be more than that. Attending school is more than simply learning, it is also important to remember that it includes a political, cultural, and social process.

School is not only a place to learn math or science, but also a place to learn social skills. Although not a school but rather a program designed to help children grow, MLK Socio Deportivo’s programs in El Agostino playing soccer teaches social skills that children can bring back with them to school. While the children play, it is also reminded to them of certain social skills and attitudes that young people should know. For example, part of the scoring is determined by children’s actions during the game, such as helping up a fellow player when they fall or cheering when the other team scores a goal. It is social skills such as this that help children succeed in the future. They are learning how to interact with each other and receive positive support and reinforcement from trusted adults. I have no doubt that these skills can be transferred to their school lives, where they also come in contact with students who they might have conflict or other communication with. MLK teaches children that even in a competitive setting, they still have the ability to learn to be kind and considerate people.

Schooling is also a political process. While I did not experience much of this first hand, we heard many stories of how politics governs schools, especially when they are governmentally funded. Because of this, there are often struggles of what is and what is not taught in schools and allocation of resources, among many other issues. The problem then becomes that if the government funds a school, they have the ability to decide what they deem necessary, often without much input from educators or school administration. In order for a school to have the ability to make their own decisions on issues such as this, they cannot be funded by the government, which takes more resources and money than many people have. Something that I found particularly interesting on this matter is that in Peru, there is also no separation of church and state, which means that religion is mandatory in public schools and is part of the curriculum. Schools can opt out of teaching Catholicism by becoming private, but again this takes extra resources. As someone who attended a public, secular school up until college, this fascinated me. Coming from a place where religion supposedly has no place in public schools and then seeing how prevalent religion was in Peru astonished me, because of the influence the state has on the schools. This is just one of many political aspects that affects schooling. We also talked in seminar about how political education involves participating in demonstrations to create change on various levels. Schooling also involves teaching students how to participate in politics and advocate for changes that affect them. (Warren and Mapp).

In addition to social and political, schooling is also a cultural aspect. In Peru, this is especially difficult when one remembers the history and cultural struggles that have occurred. Because of the Spaniard invasion , there has been conflict between the indigenous culture and the Spanish culture. Some of the schools we visited, such as Fé y Alegría in Andahuaylillas, work to emphasis the different cultures in Peru. They teach their lessons in Spanish and Quechua, as well as work with the students and families to embrace their indigenous culture. While we were in Cusco, we witnessed many parades of schools filled with dancers and audience members embracing their indigenous cultures. In traditional dress, coupled with music and dancing, school age children shared their heritage in a month long celebration for the Festival of the Sun. The schools participated in these parades with pride, including banners displaying the school’s name and affiliations. We also saw similar examples at UARM, which holds cultural events every Thursday to promote pride in indigenous cultures. This pride in culture that we’ve seen in different schools emphasizes the idea that schooling is a cultural process in addition to intellectual.

Despite all these processes at play, there is still progress to be made everywhere. Part of the reason schooling is a political, cultural, and social process is because of the systemic structures that exist and allow the inequality within schools to exist and flourish. The goal of schooling should be to make these processes more equitable, which is certainly a tall order. This includes a more just education for marginalized students (Gorski and Swalwell). This means that curriculum should be interdisciplinary and integrative, in order to meet the needs of all students. It is also important for students to get involved in their own education so they can have first-hand experience of the issues facing them. By creating awareness in students and provide them the ability to participate in the struggle for equity and justice, students are able to take a certain sense of control in their lives and provide more meaning for themselves.

I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the different Peruvian schools over this past month, as well as learning about philosophy of education and contemporary issues facing Peru and the United States. Even though much of what we talked about can be disheartening, I am hopeful for the future, students and teachers included.

Inequality and Indigeneity: Gabrielle Wroblewski

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.  

Gabrielle Wroblewski

There was not an emphasis on self-worth or self-identity, so if one thinks about it, is that because it is thought that the students already have high self-worth since they come from a higher SES. Inequality is embedded in the purpose and potential of education for all schools, but inequality is also what makes schools different form each other.

Education cannot be philosophized without addressing race because race is apart of everyday life. In the United States there is major focus on race and inequalities that are in accordance with it, with one of them being education. Education in a way can be tied to race because of geography and socioeconomic status, for example. In Peru, there is not as big of an emphasis on race as there is in the United States, instead it is the focus on social standings. In the “Reconstructing Race” article, it talks about how in Peru, it is not the biological features that are looked at and discriminated against, it is instead the ethnicity. Looking at the connection between race and education in the United States, it is evident that socioeconomic status is greatly involved. A lot of times, it is minorities who have a lower socioeconomic status compared to white people. When one has a lower socioeconomic status, that is tied to education opportunities. More often than not, people from a lower socioeconomic status have a more difficult time going to a school that is deemed as high quality. They might end up in a school that doesn’t have as good of quantity or quality of resources, the educational experience of teachers might not be as good, the inclusion of differentiation might not exist, etc. This is obviously a problem because if SES and race are so closely related, then it is setting up the minority students for having a harder time in school or even for getting into a “good” school. There is such an importance of being aware of the demographics of the students in the classroom and their background. It should always be the goal of the teacher and the school to set their students up for success, but a lot of times the minority students are set up for failure for a number of reasons such as standardized testing, discrimination, language, etc. There is such a focus on standardized testing in schools that it becomes the main goal for many schools. The problem with standardized tests, is that they include concepts that are not relatable or recognizable to all students of all backgrounds. They are geared towards white students and usually those that are privileged. When thinking about the students’ backgrounds this includes making sure the material taught in class is relevant and meaningful to the students’ lives. What is relevant and meaningful will not be the same for all students.

The question, what is education’s purpose and potential, is affected by inequality. Many would agree that education is one of the main factors in trying to end inequality between race, SES, etc. In Peru there is a lot of inequality between cultures and ethnic backgrounds. For instance, people who live in the highlands are more likely to have a lower SES background and not have as many or as good of opportunities as those in Lima. In accordance with this, those in the highlands usually are Indigenous, so this ends up making the Indigenous peoples have a lower SES and not as good opportunities than people along the coast, in Lima, with higher SES, for example. When we visited Fe y Alegria in Andahuaylas, the representative explained to us that the focus of the school was to make sure the students had high self-worth and didn’t feel inferior because of their Indigenous background, or the fact that their first language was Quechua. Fe y Alegria makes sure to teach its students about self-worth, self-identity, while teaching the students in both Quechua and Spanish. Schools with students coming from a higher SES background, such as Rooselvelt, had a focus on being positive and influential members of society. They wanted to make sure the students learned through experience because that would set them up to be active and socially beneficial members to society. There was not an emphasis on self-worth or self-identity, so if one thinks about it, is that because it is thought that the students already have high self-worth since they come from a higher SES. Inequality is embedded in the purpose and potential of education for all schools, but inequality is also what makes schools different form each other.

Like stated before, inequality is seen in Peru when looking at those who speak Quechua and Amyra in the highlands, compared to those who speak Spanish in Lima, along the coast. Cusco is in the highlands, so there is a large population of people who still speak Quechua, however it is not as noticeable as it was in the Andes, in the town Andahuaylas. Cusco is very touristy which I think also makes it hard to see indigeneity in this city. However, the month of June is when Cusco celebrates itself, so there are parades with people wearing traditional dress and there are traditional dances that are performed. These activities show that the indigenous culture of the highlands is still celebrated and kept alive in the Cusco region. The biggest difference I saw between Andahuaylas and Lima was that in Lima, everyone basically speaks Spanish, and English is taught in schools. This relates to the article about English being equivalent to the American dollar. People in Lima generally have a higher SES than people in the highlands, and one of the ways to have a higher social standing is to not only speak Spanish, but also speak English, so that seemed to be the goal in Lima, schools in particular. In Andahuaylas, the focus of learning English was not as prevalent. What I saw more of was keeping the Quechua language alive, and not being ashamed by it, and alongside it, learning Spanish, so people can participate more easily in society. Another difference between Lima and the Andes region is that in Lima, I didn’t get a strong impression of “indigenous culture.” What I mean by this is that when comparing Lima and Cusco, Cusco still celebrates its traditions in food, music, dance, dress, whereas in Lima, there is a more striving towards a Western image, it seemed like. My thought is that this is because of the negative connotation Quechua and being indigenous has as being of lower status. Inequality is seen everywhere in the United States and in Peru, educationally, racially, geographically, and culturally. Education has traditionally been the answer for the first step towards ended inequality, but when there is inequality in education, then a new answer needs to be thought of.

Blog Post #8: Indigeneity and how it affects the 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

Even today, parents hesitate to send some of their children to school in fear of the trek being too dangerous. The indigenous communities in the mountains maintained their distance from the outside world in their chilling isolation.

Hello Interwebbers!

We are in Cuzco as we speak, and I am writing this blog post after a long discussion with my peers. The word ‘indigeneity’ came up quite a lot. It is a difficult word to say seeing as we do not use this word in our common conversation. I, for one, have not heard of the word before this trip, as far as I can remember. What does indigeneity mean? There have been many different definitions written out throughout the years by organizations, including the UN. Each of the definitions try not to restrict the meaning of the word, but at the same time attempts to categorize the various aspects of what indigeneity means.

Based on my experience here in Peru, indigeneity is all about the culture and lifestyle of the indigenous peoples of any given nation. I am still unsure of the economy of indigeneity in the Cusco region. Having not been in Cusco for very long, I have not been able to gage the various disparities between the cusquenos as opposed to the indigenous people of the mountainous regions. When we stayed in Andahuaylillas, we got a little bit of an idea as to how there are problems for those who live the indigenous lifestyle and cultures while living in impoverished conditions. Many of the people in the indigenous-populated regions are very poor, and based on history, have been forced to live high in the freezing mountains where nothing grows and depend on the sale of animals and/or textiles to maintain their livelihoods. When the Spaniards tore through South America looking for riches beyond measure, millions of indigenous people were slaughtered by war, starvation, or disease. Others fled for the mountains where they knew the spaniards could not reach them. Even today, parents hesitate to send some of their children to school in fear of the trek being too dangerous. The indigenous communities in the mountains maintained their distance from the outside world in their chilling isolation.

In Lima, within the city, there are a certain amount of economic status levels. However, most, if not all, of the families have a home to live in and have water to use for cooking, cleaning, bathing, etc. In regions like Pamplona Alta and El Agustino, the people there have built their homes and communities from the bottom up, similar to the indigenous people, but they try to create their homes and their communities like the cities around them. There are various educational disparities as well in the educational systems in the various socioeconomic societies in Peru. We have visited schools with extraordinarily high school fees, to schools which cost little to none for students to get an education.

Today, on June 12th, we visited a Cusco Public School. It is funded by the government, but run by a catholic priest to instill religious morals and beliefs. The preschool and elementary students get free breakfast in the morning and the school days have different timings for each level. The students apply to get into the school, but attendance is free. However, the parents pay 20 soles a month for other extra-curricular activities such as sports, english classes, arts, etc. When we sat in on a first grade class today, I was happy with how the first grade students included Spanish and Quechua names for the pumpkin soup that is native to this region of Cusco called, “Sopa de Calabaza” in Spanish and “Lawa de Calabaza” in Quechua. This created a sense of inclusion within the students. Many of the parents here in the city may speak Quechua, but may prefer to have their children learn Spanish in schools instead where it is needed more. The one thing that I found exclusive about the school is that the parents of the children must be Catholic and the children must have been baptized under the catholic church. Peru is a very Catholic nation, taking after the Spaniards that took over and converted many of the people to Christianity and Catholicism in particular. The students who attend the school live mainly in the city and can walk to school, while those students who live further away have to take public transportation. However, they do not have students who live further up in the mountains due to the sheer distance and time it would take to get to school.

I noticed that the first grade teacher encourage the students to use the Quechua name for “Sopa de Calabaza”. Quechua is part of the rich Peruvian history, and is currently a dying language. More and more people prefer to communicate in Spanish rather than Quechua, for fear of being perceived as ‘uneducated’. One thing I learned while living in Lima is that appearances are EVERYTHING to the Peruvian people. Everyone, from the people in the mountains, to the people living in places like El Agustino, to the people living in the city all prefer to dress well when being out and about. So, when people speak in Quechua, some feel ashamed that they do not understand the dominant language, which is Spanish. I still remember Emerson, an education student from the Universidad Antonio Ruiz Montoya, telling us that he went through this experience with Spanish. He told us that he spoke Quechua at home as a child, but when he started to attend formal school, everyone spoke Spanish and he didn’t understand much of anything. Eventually he learned Spanish, and strives to create a better equality and equity for students all over the country. If they learn English, the opportunities even go so far as to increase someone’s chances at getting a job and improving their socioeconomic status.

In the article called “English is like the dollar”, the authors talk about how speaking English has become the “Golden Ticket” to escaping poverty and hard times. The process of Globalization has caused English to become the dominant tongue all over the world. Students all over the world study English as a second language in order to better their chances at moving to a country like the US and getting a good job. In Peru, it is actually required by the national curriculum to teach English starting in pre-school and primary school. However, the article talks about how peruvians travel, or even move, to the US in hopes of finding their new lives, only to be hit with great disappointment that spanish speakers in the US are treated like Quechua speakers in Peru: like second-class, uneducated citizens who refuse to assimilate with the dominant culture and society.

We talked about how US students are praised for learning a new language, while students all over the world are required to learn more than one language over the course of their education and their lifetime. These students who are learning English as a second language, which is a difficult language to learn as a first language at the best of times, get no praise or even recognition for their hard work and their efforts. Many peruvians have apologized to us because “their English is bad”. I tell them that they are still learning the language and that, with further practice, they will be able to know the language better in the future. I tell the university students who told me this to think not of where they are now, but where they desire to be in the future. We get praised here for learning Spanish because we are from the USA, a country that doesn’t even have a national language. Everytime someone from here speaks to me in English to practice their English with me, I provide encouragement and praise. English isn’t an easy language to learn. There are so many rules and just as many exceptions to each rule. Grammar is confusing and formal vocabulary is not the same as common jargon spoken in the US or the UK. They deserve the real praise and reward. They are the majority assimilating to the minority of those who refuse to learn another language.

Until next time,

Aditi Narayan

Blog Post #7: Educational philosophy without topic of differences: Is it possible?: 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

There were many parents who did not see the point of sending their girls to get an education. Some parents allow their daughters to attend school long enough to be able to write their own names, before taking them out of school to help with household chores.

Hello Interwebbers!

If we address education only in terms of the logistics and the pure subject matter of academics, cutting out the social and cultural aspects of what we learn over the course of our education and our lifetimes, we would not be philosophizing about education. This is merely the act of talking about the information that schools teach their students: Math, reading, science, etc. If we were to philosophize about education, we would talk about the differences in the ways that schools all over the world teach the subjects and how we can use our knowledge to better ourselves and our communities. From a philosophical standpoint, it is not possible to talk and think about education without addressing the many differences that we encounter in our lives, including race.

Throughout this whole trip, we have experienced different ways in which we can philosophize about education based on how the inequality affects the way we conceive of education’s purpose and potential. The Fé y Alegría number 44, for instance, is a perfect example of this. When we went to visit the school, we talked about how the students have so many differences that range from different languages to communities. While the school teaches the students the various courses that they need to know (Math, Reading, Writing, etc.), there are many programs for the students and the parents to interact with one another as they learn. The school is trying to increase on the equity between boys and girls, so that girls may learn as much as boys do. With each passing slide from the presentation, I learned more about their mission and what it means to be part of Fé y Alegría.

We learned about a girl and her friend, who walk for hours just to attend school. One of the girls, Dina, lives in a small house up in the mountains with her mother and father. It is so cold up there, and they have a small fire that they use for cooking and for heat. Dina has problems washing herself because the water is well past freezing cold. The water burns her skin to the point where she was near frostbite. Her skin around her hands, cheeks, and feet would turn black. Her parents explained that they are living too high up for plants to grow. So, she comes to school dirty, and her classmates keep asking her why she comes to school covered in dirt. There were many parents who did not see the point of sending their girls to get an education. Some parents allow their daughters to attend school long enough to be able to write their own names, before taking them out of school to help with household chores.

The family said that they raise alpaca for a living, since they are the only animals in the region that can live at that high of an altitude. The teacher giving the presentation explained that this video that we watched about Dina was the reality for so many other students at this Fé y Alegría school and others like it. We learned that the students who attend this school come from impoverished families who either live close by or hours away. I asked if there was any type of motor transportation that could take the students to school. According to the teacher, there aren’t any roads that far up in the mountains, and the gas to fuel the bus would be very expensive, about 30 soles per tank, which the parents cannot afford to pay.

The students and teachers at this school learn about values as well, such as respect, acceptance, and understanding for all people from different walks of life. This particular school started their program as a bilingual language school, where they would initially teach in the students’ native language, but slowly integrate Spanish into the curriculum to the point where the subjects would eventually be taught in Spanish. Most of the teachers were not from this region where the students are from, so it is difficult to communicate with the students. The students were absolutely terrified to communicate with their teachers. Some girls would go so far as to cover their faces with their scarves as they attended school, to avoid speaking at all. The students very quickly acknowledged the differences between them and the teachers, who were considered to be outsiders. Slowly, but surely, the students started warming up to the teachers. They started to talk more and have more fun learning in their classes. Despite the variety of languages, the barriers went down as the students learned a formal written form of Quechua in their primary years, how to speak in Spanish later on, and how to integrate their knowledge into their lives in their secondary school years (for those who attended secondary school).

Another problem that the school faces is the age range of the students in each grade level. In a first-grade primary class, there could be students ranging from ages 6 to 15. There are many parents who refuse to send their children to school at a young age from such a great distance. The walk alone is dangerous, and the children would have to make the trek on their own. This is a great problem for girls especially. There are many young women who start primary school at age 15 and feel embarrassed and ashamed to be sitting in the same classroom as young children who are significantly younger than them. Some drop out of school after primary, but those who choose to move on to secondary school can take classes during the nights or during the weekends, because they will be expected to work as they get older.

These are just a few things that I learned from the meeting in Fé y Alegría that pertains to the idea that there are many differences surrounding the students and teachers at this school and others like it, that serve the impoverished population that live higher in the mountains. As far as race is concerned, that is a worldwide problem that needs solving. Even in the US, there are still problems with race in our schools, workplace, and in our homes. Even between men and women, there is prejudice and discrimination in the American society, despite the various movements, such as feminism, vocally fighting to generate more equality and better equity for everyone. This education must start in schools from the beginning. Our men and women of the future need to understand that we are all human beings and are to be treated with equal respect. Carter Godwin Woodson, author of The Miseducation of the Negro: An African-American Classicdescribes how African-American students have been getting beaten with the short end of the stick for a long time in the education history. The text describes various laws that did not allow the ‘Negro’ population to vote (I use the word Negro because it is used quite frequently in the text). These laws permitted ignorant (uneducated) white people, specifically white males, to vote while keeping educated black citizens out of the voting booths.
Charles Mills explains in his book, The Racial Contract, that “White supremacy is the unnamed political system that has made the modern world what it is today…What is needed … is a recognition that racism… is itself a political system, the particular power structure of formal or informal rule socioeconomic privilege, and norms for the differential distribution of material wealth and opportunities, benefits and burdens, rights and duties…” What all that means is that our society and economy, for a long time, has been based around the idea that there is a particular population of people that will always succeed over others, no matter how much the minority population tries. Mills refers to the majority white, or Caucasian, population in the United States. There are still many work places that would hire a white person over a person of any other race simply because they can relate to the typical employer the most. Generally, we like to gravitate towards people who look like us, have similar backgrounds and act like us. However, it becomes a problem when people think that it is acceptable to deny other people their rights to a job, rights to proper healthcare, rights to vote, and other such important rights simply because of the color of their skin or sexual orientation or sex (man/woman/other), that is when we need to reevaluate how we think of people.
I would like to instill in my students in the future that we all are citizens of this world. Our blood looks the same, our bones and organs look the same, and how we treat each other should with equal amounts of respect. This also applies to how we take care of the environment, and how we can create a better society as a whole. With the idea of racism and segregation still looming over our heads, it is our job as teachers to instill into the minds of our students that we need to speak up and take actions about the problems we face. It is not acceptable to treat one person with respect and another with complete disrespect. If we want to see a new and better world, we must start with those who have just arrived into it, mold their minds to create a whole new world of equity and justice for all.

Until next time,
Aditi Narayan

“OMGGG! Wow, You Know Spanish?!?”// “You’re in America, Speak English.”: Mary McQuillen

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.  

Mary McQuillen

Inequality basically frames the purpose of our educational system, it shows us what different communities need and it inspires us to formulate goals that would move our communities forward.

I absolutely do not think that it would be possible to philosophize about education without addressing race, especially not in America. Different countries have systems of inequality and oppression that are based on different aspects some are money, some are gender, some are race, and a lucky few have a smorgasbord of all of them. In America race has been the elephant in the room since slavery was abolished. If we were to pursue a philosophy of education that didn’t include race we would be just as effective as the people who aren’t racist because they are “colorblind”. I think a large part of someone’s identity comes from their race, it’s part of what makes them special and its also part of what unites people. In my high school there were a ton of different clubs that focused on a cultural identity of a group of people from a certain area and fell under a certain race category. The amount of pride that came out of the Asian American Youth Group’s annual performance using culturally relevant dances, songs, and costumes was overwhelming. The African American Youth Group helped unite students by sharing the stories of their family’s ancestry from Africa. I think there was so much growth for these students in these groups because they were able to find pride and create something special using what mattered to them culturally. That can be a pretty big challenge when the dominant culture tries to shut you down for the most part. Race and culture walk hand in hand and I think most people would agree that it would be downright ignorant not to have an culturally relevant education.

Today we are in Andahuaylillas, (believe me it’s as hard to pronounce that name as it is to spell it) and we visited another Fe y Alegría school. We are very high up in the mountains right now, altitude at an all-time high of my existence. This means a few things… First, one flight of stairs will leave you as out of breath as the pacer test. Second, there are students who, believe it or not, live up there and have to walk for 3 hours to school. Third, socks made out of llama wool are only 5 soles, so I bought 12 pairs. And finally, there is a heavy emphasis on being intercultural focusing on Quechua and Castellano. Quechua is the culture/ language/ people of the olden days, back in Incan times. After being colonized, Spaniards tried to take over and get rid of all of their culture and even the people. The Shining Path (Terrorist Group who had basically no purpose aside from genocide for the sake of genocide) tried to destroy the culture that remained and by doing so, created a lasting negative sanction for the Quechua language and culture. Yet, here they are. The goal of this school is to help bring pride back into the Quechua community by teaching them how to follow their ancestors’ ways but also to integrate some of the dominant Castellano culture as well. For the people of Peru, it would be impossible to ignore the history of the Quechua people in their philosophy of education because it would further isolate the people instead of uniting them. In the same way, it would be impossible for America to ignore the role of race in our history of education as well as of America in general.

Inequality basically frames the purpose of our educational system, it shows us what different communities need and it inspires us to formulate goals that would move our communities forward. As teachers, it is our job to be constantly taking note of what makes each culture unique and incorporating things into our lessons that are relevant to all of our students. This helps keep the students engaged and it also shows them that they belong in the classroom regardless of what makes them different. Before we left for Peru, we read about some of this countries past and the constant hardships that the Quechua speaking people have suffered through the years. This helped put into perspective why there is such an importance on helping the people to regain pride in who they are as a community. For so long they were told that the essence of their culture was wrong and they should reject it, and finally they are being prompted to find pride in who they are as a people. This has been a big difference that I have noticed since coming to Cusco, especially while we were up in the mountains. Back in Lima, most people have assimilated to the dominant culture, “Peru has been a country in which language differences sharply reinforce social stratification (English is Like the Dollar, 124). (FYI I personally have no room to judge so I hope that it doesn’t seem as though I am judging right now) they have done whatever it takes to try and have the best life for their families and their children. To do so, they have had to focus a lot more on perfecting their Spanish language skills and advancing into working on their English language skills. They have had to focus more on obtaining jobs that will provide money instead of focusing on the rituals of their indigenous ancestors. I do not think this is a bad thing, its just a different way of life than the people here in Cusco.

One of the main issues for the Education system in Cusco is that the standards for education are set by people based in Lima. We find this in the US as well, a lot of the lower SES families don’t have the time or recourses to teach their children the SAT/ACT vocabulary words that other families can. It’s basically like that but to another extreme because while people in Lima are focused on English, the people of Cusco living in the mountains are focused on Quechua. I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to learn, both ways are fantastic and help inspire children to achieve success in different ways. I simply believe that there is an issue with the standards that the government sets and expects the students in the mountains to reach when they have completely different background knowledge skills. I’ll tie this into the article that I read and lead in discussion, Dual- Language Immersion Programs: A Cautionary Note, one of the best elements of having a dual language immersion program is that the students have interpersonal exchanges. This creates more connections between the students and gives them the chance to speak with each other in a more informal way. The main issue here is the power that comes with language and if it is ethical to give the privileged students another upper hand in the world. It further aids the native English speaking students, who are given so much praise for learning another language, “At this particular school, the anglophone children recieve a great deal of publicity and praise from both majority and minority teachers, from school district administrators, from members of the school board and from the media for acquiring Spanish-language skills” (393). None of the Spanish speaking students were praised for learning English, instead it is expected. Because when you are in America, you have to speak English right? For their own protection from ignorant a**holes in grocery stores and in order to succeed in any way in this country. So… do we continue to push for dual-language immersion programs and amp up the privileged while forcing the native Spanish speakers to meet the “expectations”?

… I think I’ve made up my mind, have you?

… … … btw, keep in mind its still not my job to “find the solution” to the problems of inequality and injustice in the education system (both universally as well as in the US or Peru), but you better believe its my job to identify the problems and call them out.

Race, Indigeneity, and Language: Kelsie Lamb

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.  

Kelsie Lamb

Just as educators in Peru must keep the context of indigeneity and inequality in mind when formulating a fair and just curriculum, those in the United States must also deeply consider the effects of race when philosophizing about education.

While exploring and discussing the context of education within Peru, one of the topics that has come up is that of social inequality, which can result from economic, racial, and linguistic difference. Because of Peru’s complicated history as a conquered, colonized, then liberated nation, questions of race and culture still plague their society. For example, when the Spaniards arrived, they attempted to eradicate the indigenous people’s cultures. Only those who were European were seen as full citizens and treated with basic human rights. The effects of this are still felt today, as many people who speak the indigenous languages of Aymara and Quechua are marginalized and may feel ashamed of their culture. The consequences of the racist laws and regulations that the Spaniards put into effect years ago are still felt today, including within schools. As I have seen over the past few weeks, educators in Peru, just like those in the United States, must seriously consider racial inequality within their philosophy of education.

In Peru, historically, racial issues arose because of the perceived dichotomy between the “superior” Europeans and “uncivilized” indigenous peoples. For many people, these cultural differences and ideas about cultural superiority are what gave rise to these racial inequalities. In Marisol de la Cardena’s piece “Reconstructing Race: Racism, Culture, and Mestizaje in Latin America,” she says that some Peruvians believe that “culture was the imprecise, yet powerful force, that determined race.” Language is intimately linked to culture, so, in this case, it is intimately linked to race as well. Since Quechua and Aymara were the languages of the “inferior,” those who spoke these indigenous languages were also seen as “inferior.” Mercedes Nino-Murcia describes how the consequences of this colonial idea is still present in the 21st century, in her work “English is Like the Dollar: Hard Currency Ideology and the Status of English in Peru.” According to this piece, many Peruvians view knowledge of the English language as important to one’s eligibility for work and to determining one’s social status. As I saw during my field placement at Colegio de La Inmaculada, the school placed a great emphasis on English classes, and believed that their students would greatly benefit from a bilingual education. And as I participated in language exchanges with students from UARM, in which we spent a half-hour speaking in Spanish followed by a half-hour of speaking in English, they too believe that English is essential to their careers — one student even mentioned how he saw English as his future. As we left Lima behind last week and entered the highlands of Peru, we once again witnessed the importance of bilingual education in schooling. At another Fe y Alegria school, this time in the small Peruvian town of Andahuaylillas outside of Cusco, we had the opportunity learn about their unique and important bilingual curriculum. However, the classes at this school were taught in both Quechua and Spanish, as opposed to English and Spanish. This Fe y Alegria has chosen to embrace the beauty and value of the Quechua language and indigenous culture in an attempt to increase the pride and self-confidence of its students. While many Peruvians consider English a necessity, there is also a growing movement towards preserving, respecting, and celebrating the indigenous culture.

Similar to the feelings of shame some Peruvians may feel, Carter Godwin Woodson argues that “the lack of confidence of the Negro in himself and his possibilities is what has kept him down,” in his book The Mis-Education of the Negro. Woodson argues that society has “educated” African Americans to accept their “place” as second-class citizens, and not challenge racist institutions. Within our city of Milwaukee, issues of race and schooling are especially apparent because the city is so segregated. Further, the prevalence of racial issues throughout the globe means that discussing race when philosophizing about education is not only important, but also essential. Part of this is because of how inescapable the issue of race is — it can (and does) affect job opportunities, amount of schooling received, one’s geographical location, incarceration rates, and so much more. Charles Mills writes in his Racial Contract Theory, “Racism…is itself a political system, a particular power structure of formal or informal rule, socioeconomic privilege, and norms for the differential distribution of wealth and opportunities, benefits and burdens, and rights and duties.” As Mills argues, race and racism are prevalent throughout society, and, therefore, cannot be ignored. As we consider the importance of education and the role of schools in today’s society, it is important to keep in mind racial issues and how racism has affected and continues to affect our students. Just as educators in Peru must keep the context of indigeneity and inequality in mind when formulating a fair and just curriculum, those in the United States must also deeply consider the effects of race when philosophizing about education.

Pedagogical philosophies that consider differences and race within the classroom are getting at the heart of inequality. As we have been discussing throughout these weeks, modern-day disparity is rooted deeply in societal structures, such as what Mills discussed in his Racial Contract theory and what we have witnessed regarding attitudes towards language in Peru. Because of the persistence and prevalence of inequality, it is important to consider inequality when thinking about education’s potential and purpose. From a Freirean perspective, inequality affects the potential and purpose of education immensely because it is from this widespread inequality, in the form of oppression, that Freire developed his ideas about the liberation goals of education. Often, education is seen as important because it equips today’s youth with the knowledge and skills they will use to build a better future for themselves. But what a “better future” looks like is not always discussed. In his chapter “The Moral and Political Aims of Education,” Harry Brighouse poses the following question for educators to consider: What kinds of people should we hope our students will be? I hope our future students, with guidance and support, will be people who both recognize systemic inequality and actively work to promote equality. Because I hope my students become people dedicated to justice and equality, the ways we combat inequality becomes the foundation guiding education’s potential and purpose, and the way our philosophical ideas regarding education are put into practice.

The Power of Language, Culture, & Race: Emily Chang

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.  

Emily Chang

It was especially tough during the winter seasons and when it rained since it would be cold and dreary and they didn’t have sturdy shoes. It reflected upon me how much these students value their education and how it would serve as an opportunity for a better life for them in the future.

It has been a whirlwind of a week ending our time in Lima and moving onto Cusco! Our days at Fe y Alegria proved to be another great experience for us because we looked into the various types of school systems evident in Peru. I had an amazing time with these students since they were so open to having us in the classroom and excited to get to know all about us. We left with smiling faces and full hearts understanding more everyday how the school seemed to play a big role in students’ lives. The next morning, we had packed our belongings, popped our altitude sickness pills, gave tearful goodbyes to our host mom Chela, and left for an early flight to Cusco with our university advisor Margaret and a student from the university who we considered our “hermana mayor” (big sister), Marisol!

We made our way to the hotel and I immediately fell in love with Cusco. There were cobblestone streets, small shops, and beautiful alleyways filled with rainbow colored flags (the flag of their city) and with locals selling or holding ALPACAS! The streets were filled with parades and loud music because apparently June was a month of celebration for Cusco so it was fun to see locals and tourists out and about watching the buzz that seemed to flow all throughout the city.

The next day, we drove down to a Jesuit retreat house in a small, sleepy town in the mountains called Andahuaylillas, where we would be staying for the next couple of days. We visited another Fe y Alegria school but noticed a difference right away since it was in a very rural area. One of the directors of the school gave us a presentation on this particular school, their mission, and their vision for their students. It was a closer look into the lives of these students since they lacked basic necessities such as electricity and water and some lived way up in the mountains. That meant some of them walked 3 hours just to get to school (2 if they were walking fast or were running!) since they had to hike down. It was especially tough during the winter seasons and when it rained since it would be cold and dreary and they didn’t have sturdy shoes. It reflected upon me how much these students value their education and how it would serve as an opportunity for a better life for them in the future.

There were many interesting parts that stood out to me about this specific school. One was that their mission statement talked about equity alongside serving the needs of their students. Most of the other schools we saw didn’t incorporate that directly into their mission statement, but it stood out to me to see how much they emphasized it since all their students do come from various types of living situations and backgrounds. Indigeneity is a relevant aspect throughout the Cusco region, especially so at Fe y Alegria and this was shown through the fact that this was also a bilingual school. It was not in the sense of English and Spanish being the main languages taught, but instead Spanish and Quechua (the indigenous language of the Incans), so they taught classes in both to preserve their culture and language. The school stressed upon preserving their cultural identity and incorporating this into the mindset of their students, something I believe is so important to integrate in education since it opens our mindset to differentiation and accepting cultural differences. The director explained to us that a lot of students were afraid or embarrassed of their indigenous background since it was rejected in Peru’s society and castellano Spanish was always more valued even by parents. So Fe y Alegria has worked to prevent this and to show students and even parents to be proud of their heritage and their language through several days that celebrate their culture. This connected with one of our readings as it talked about the strong influence of parents in the lives of their children and especially so when it comes to how they will thrive in the future (Lareau). It was interesting to see this since after reading one of our other articles, bilingualism in Peru in Spanish and quechua is not as highly looked upon as Spanish and any other language such as English. This brought a discussion between me and my peers over the connection between social class and the definition of bilingualism in Peru and even in the US and what it signifies.

I loved though that Fe y Alegria attempts to help students understand and construct their cultural identity because culture influences how we think with or without knowledge. There is also an emphasis on keeping girls in schools since most start later since it was not safe nor reasonable to have them walk such long distances at a young age, or they would stop after primary school since they were needed in the household to help their mothers. They have been improving their rates of keeping girls longer in schools but it is still something they are working on.

Looking at this has brought us to discuss if it is possible to philosophize education without addressing race and inequality. I don’t believe it is possible to do this since it doesn’t take into account individual differences or how students from different races fit into the bigger context. Not everyone comes with the same privileges or opportunities. Culture/race is a key part of the context that make up a student and the experiences they are having are what they bring to the classroom. Inequality affects the way we conceive of educations purpose and potential because it can hinder or be an open way for revision and reconstruction. There are different levels of inequality and each one requires a closer look at how educators can frame/create a more effective education for all instead of for a specific group of students.

The experiences I have had in the Andes intersect with my experiences in Lima since it centralizes around the power of language and identity. In Peru, learning English and Spanish is a privilege and signifies a higher SES, while quechua has suffered from discrimination and signifies a lower class. Language shapes identity and is relevant in both areas, especially through the various schools we have visited and seeing how students view themselves. Regardless of social class though, both areas have shown there is an importance in the sense of building cultural knowledge and globalizing their mentality in whatever language they are learning and whatever background they may come from. Language and culture are something that uniquely identifies who they are and the power comes from believing how they can build upon and use those to succeed in their future endeavors.


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