Archive for the 'Summer Series' Category



The Birth Lottery of Inequality

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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Hello from around the world at Colegio Roosevelt.

It’s Just Not Fair

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 Allie Bosley

Hola! We have just come to the end of the first leg of our trip. This morning I hopped on a plane and flew to Cusco for the final week of studying abroad before I head back to Milwaukee! This past week went by so fast, and yet we packed a lot in. We spent time with the Casitas kids, we took a tour of a public grade school and we visited PEA, an alternative night school in El Agustino. It has been a week of learning and understanding for me, and I think there’s a lot that I can take away from the experiences that we had.

book-4299797_960_720.pngThrough the visits and experiences we have had in different school settings, accompanied by the readings we have done in class and the questions Dr. Gibson has posed for us to think about, I have begun to think about educational inequalities. The schools that we have been to thus far include Colegio de la Inmaculada, Tupac Amaru, Colegio Roosevelt, and Programa Educación Alternativa. We also saw interactive schools like Las Casitas and MLK Sports Program. There were vast differences between these four schools that I would consider to be inequalities. At Roosevelt, an American school primarily for children of ambassadors, business people, and those in high power that move to Peru, there was state of the art technology around every corner. With the school being about $19,000 per year, they had the ability to build a new grade school with advanced learning classrooms, an incredible library, and more, and they have plans to tear down their high school and build a new one within the next two years. This was easily the nicest school that I have seen while here. Colegio de la Inmaculada was a very close second to Roosevelt, with very nice amenities for their students including an expansive zoo, multiple courts and fields, and very nice classrooms. We also visited Tupac Amaru, a public school that was started by the parents in that district. This school, which is not zoned for earthquakes, teaches the students many different trades to prepare them to search for a job post graduation. Lastly, we sat in on classes at Programa Educación Alternativa in El Agustino following our trips to Las Casitas. This school is for those that did not finish their high school education for a multitude of reasons and is at night so those with jobs can still attend. While this school is funded by the government, they still have little resources for their students to use. Throughout all of these schools we have seen different approaches to education. We have seen traditional, straight-from-the-book learning, project-based learning, and everything in between. I think that some of these methods work better than others, but it’s also about the individual. I find that education is sometimes presented in a way that takes away the individuality of students and that is where the inequality stems from. Even though there are these inequalities, I do think there is room for growth and fixing.

We, as a class, have talked a lot about flourishing in education. I think it can be hard to flourish when there is inequality, but I do not think that it is simply a material problem. As humans, often times we want to throw materials at a problem that we think will help without thinking about the ins and outs of using a material. For example, you wouldn’t donate Smartboards to a school with no wifi because they would be useless, and yet people still do, when really the school needs water filters and white boards. I think that educational inequalities can only be fixed by providing effective material goods alongside non-material goods like love and self-esteem and more. This is a problem with many moving parts, and it’s incredibly challenging to get them all to work together. One of the deepest issues I see with educational inequality is the political and moral problems surrounding it. There is a clear notion that the status quo must be kept and in order to do that, the educational inequalities are kept in place. There is enough money and resources in the world to get children just education but it doesn’t work that way because once you give people the power they rightfully deserve, those currently in power lose what they have.

When we look at the different educational contexts here in Peru, you can see how each experience is a little different. There is the more serious types of classroom setting, gym settings, team sports, after school and more. In each of these situations you see different types of learning being done. I think that there is not one type of learning that is more beneficial than others, but together they make a whole learner. If a student is only getting the guided-learning classroom approach without the sports than they are going to lack in the play aspect, that encourages curiosity and learning how to work together with their peers. On the other hand, if a student was only getting the interactive learning, then they would lack the fundamental skills needed like reading and math. In these different contexts there is also differing power dynamics. Often times, we see the teacher teaching and the student learning. What I find to be most beneficial in my experience as a learner is the teacher and the student learning from each other. When we as students see that a teacher can be vulnerable and is willing to learn from their students as much as they can teach them, even if it’s not about the content specifically, it makes for a healthy classroom dynamic.

Looking at my educational experience with the knowledge I have now, I can see how truly beneficial it was for me to be in multiple activities as a kid but also now as a college student. If I only focused on school or extracurriculars I don’t believe I would have had the same success thus far. I can also use this knowledge for my future career, to hopefully encourage students to try new things and take all aspects of their lives seriously because they shape us into the people we are now without even seeing it in the moment. I would encourage teachers to educate their students on their representation and on their individualism so that they have the knowledge in the future of advocate for themselves and others.

As I embark on the final week of my trip, I’ll be seeing one more school and after school program as well as hiking Machu Picchu and visiting small towns near Cusco!

“Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.” — MLK Jr.

Learning Skills versus Content

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 Gabriela Oliveras-Bonaparte

Buenos días a todos,

My mom tells me that when I was beginning to talk as a child, my first words were in Spanish. As soon as I started pre-school in Wisconsin, the hope for being completely fluent in both Spanish and English began to slip away. At Atwater Elementary School, we began to learn Spanish in school starting in first grade. Spanish was the only class in which I was the smartest student in the room. But although I was confident in the classroom, when in Puerto Rico, I would become embarrassed or shy when speaking Spanish. In learning a new language, one must leave their insecurities behind and they must be willing to make mistakes and be vulnerable in order to master another language. Coming to Peru, in almost all the different educational settings I have observed, I have seen people trying to learn a different language. So far it’s been exclusively students trying to learn English. I like to think that this is peoples’ wish for communicating with others in order to make connections and relationships. That is the one commonality I have seen across all the different educational settings I have been in over the course of these three weeks.

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Right outside the kindergarten at Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt (An American School)

This past week, we spent Monday and Wednesday going to PEA, which stands for Programa de Educación Alternativa (program for alternative education). This is a school that runs from 6:30 to 10:30 at night for people ages sixteen and older. It serves a diverse population who are need of finishing their high-school education. In addition to spending time in PEA, this past week I was also fortunate to tour two schools. The first school we saw was Túpac Amaru. This is a public school on the edge of Lima serving a very large student population. Because it is public, they are not allowed to ask for any money from the parents of the students they serve and instead they get a small amount of money from the government to keep the school running. In contrast to Túpac Amaru, we also toured Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which is an American school in Lima. At Roosevelt the population seems to be the richest of the richest children who come to get some of the best education Peru has to offer. This school is private and they accept students based on applications; English is also the primary language in which subjects are taught.

Just from this week alone, I have seen many education inequalities in terms of materials. In a school like Túpac Amaru, there are very little resources. Their library was the size of a small room, and they had very little technology but had machines and tools for a shop class, sewing class, and cooking which can be described as trades. In PEA, I saw very little technology; in fact, the one projector that I did see was something the professor brought himself to use for his lesson. In contrast, Roosevelt had everything from two big libraries, 3D printers that students could use, and each child has a laptop or an iPad made available to them. The contrast with this material inequality is extreme, but it is difficult to define education inequality as solely material based. There are so many different factors that go into educational inequalities that focusing in on the material aspect is unfair for students and communities.

In the book “The Global Achievement Gap,” Tony Wagner talks about his idea of what the global achievement gap is and ways in which he believes this inequality can be fixed. He defines the gap as follows:

“The first of these well documented, widely discussed, and the focus of education reform efforts for the past decade or so is the gap between the quality of schooling that most middle-class kids get in America and the quality of schooling available for most poor and minority children and the consequent disparity in results. The second one is the global achievement gap, as I’ve come to call it, the gap between what even our best suburban, urban, and rural public schools are teaching and testing versus what all students will need to succeed as learners, workers, and citizens in today’s global knowledge economy.”

He identifies that there is an inequality in terms of the quality of schooling available to children and later goes on to talk about how globally there is a misconception of what is taught in schools versus what students actually need to know in order to be successful in life or to flourish. In fact, the global achievement gap somewhat stems from the lack knowledge and mastery of these seven skills he poses. Just to give a quick run-down, the seven skills are as follows: critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration across networks and leading by influence, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, and lastly curiosity and imagination.

These skills are what I believe to be universal in the sense that they are good for almost any career one would like to pursue and are just all-around good skills to have. It is funny that I have not really seen these skills explicitly being taught in a traditional school setting. I believe that some of these skills get touched on but definitely not all. The only time I have seen these seven skills being taught was in my summer camp leadership training program. We use critical thinking and problem-solving skills every day between trying to figure out how to make a homesick camper feel better to what to do next when its starts pouring on a campout.

Collaboration across networks and leading by influence come into play when working with co-counselors or different units and always trying to “lead by example.” Agility and adaptability can be seen when counselors are constantly making adjustments to their day along the way based on their campers’ wants and needs. Counselors are constantly pushed to take initiative in starting up a game for a group of campers among other things. In order to be an effective counselor, there is a lot of training on how to communicate effectively and we also need to write camper reports as well. Also, counselors have to always assess information and analyze situations their campers provide. Finally, when working in a business of children, counselors are constantly being asked to let their creativity and imagination run wild.

I guess what I am trying to say as that, yes, I do think these skills are very important and that they can set up students for success if they master them. But maybe in order to for students to reach their full potential according to these skills, one must think to go outside the four walls of a traditional classroom. The question that I still have is how something like this can be implemented in a way that is equal or fair for all students?

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.

Reflections on the 2019 MUSCLES Camp

Marquette offers a summer camp addressing literacy and social communication skills for children on the spectrum, aged 6-11. The MUSCLES (Marquette University Summer Communication, Literacy, and Enhanced Socialization) camp occurs during three weeks in summer. An interdisciplinary initiative of the Colleges of Education, Health Sciences, and Arts and Sciences, the camp not only serves local children but also employs students. We caught up with Megan Smith, Class of 2019, to find out more about her experience.

MUSCLES 2019 meganBy Megan Smith

As a student, I connected with Dr. Walker-Dalhouse in class through her course and my work experiences in the College of Education. She invited me to participate in the camp two years ago, but it didn’t work out given my work schedule. What overall drew me in was through working with students on the autism spectrum, I had observed the fact that there are so many misconceptions about what student on the spectrum can and cannot do. Through my own curiosity, I discovered that there is not a lot of research out there, just speculation and was concerning to me as an educator. Thus, when I was told about the research, I was eager to participate.

My favorite part was watching the kids make friends and accept on another and not see differences. They look at the world through their eyes and see only similarities (an aspect that we as humans forget to see). The most challenging was learning each of their personalities in such a short period of time. I felt like I just ‘really’ got to know them, and camp was over.

I feel this will help me teach ALL young scholars. Through understanding how a variety of learners see the world and how they learn, I can better meet all students where they are and help guide them to success. This practice helps me see there are multiple ways to succeed at one task.

Prior to the program, I had always taught social skill and academic skills such as reading in isolated time periods I knew that cross-curricular teaching was possible, but I had never felt confident but now I truly see the benefits and that children grow and prosper when taught via a cross-curricular curriculum.

 

 

 

 

 

How Do We Even Begin to Fix Educational Inequality?

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 Mary Kate Jezuit

education-1959551_960_720It is hard to believe our time in Lima has come to an end. Despite long days packed with visits all around the city, and of course lots of traffic, the time flew by. Throughout this time in Lima we have really gotten the chance to see so many sides of the city and its people through the lenses of various education systems. It is quite obvious that there are substantial educational inequalities present in Lima, and this was made very clear through our visit to Tupac Amaru, a public secondary school, in comparison to our visit to Roosevelt, a private American school. The material differences stood out like a sore thumb, with Tupac Amaru having only a few older desktops as a lab and bathrooms that cannot be used because they will just be destroyed whenever the next bad earthquake hits. On the other hand, Roosevelt had a one-to-one laptop program and wanted to rebuild a building that was already in high quality condition. These material inequalities obviously give students at schools like Roosevelt more tools and opportunities to enhance their education and make the most of it, but even without all these material benefits, I believe there would still be a difference. The problem of educational inequality is not solely materialistic and cannot be solved by simply providing schools in need with more materials. It is a systemic issue, that I still believe is fixable, but only with a lot of effort from many different ends of the system.

Gloria Ladson-Billings writes about the inequalities in education in her article, “From Achievement Gap to the Educational Debt: Understanding Achievement in U.S. Schools.” She argues that instead of solely focusing on this gap, it is important that we understand how it has come to be overtime through various “debts” that accumulate from the all-encompassing education debt. Ladson-Billings is writing from a U.S. perspective, but when reading this article, I noticed a lot of parallels with what we have experienced here in Peru. Though the education debt or achievement gap in Peru may not be as connected to race as it is in the U.S., it definitely still exists between classes. Ladson-Billings discusses historical debt, which emphasizes how education has been limited or forbidden for various groups in the past, meaning they are already behind white students who have always had education accessible to them. I noticed this in context in Peru when we were at Tupac Amaru and they told us that the school was initially formed by parents because their children were not receiving an adequate education, so they had to ensure this themselves. The next debt is the economic debt which highlights the funding disparities between schools for white students and students of color. In Peru, this can be seen by public schools receiving the bare minimum of government funding, while private schools are thriving due to funding from tuition, which inherently disadvantages students who cannot afford to pay for school. The sociopolitical debt refers to how communities of color are excluded from the civic process, making it harder to advocate for themselves in the government. In Peru, lower-class communities are often forgotten or purposefully blocked out of politics as well, which has to do with why schools like Tupac Amaru or in El Agustino struggle to get more funding or resources. The final debt she discusses is the moral debt which is essentially what we owe to different groups of people based on the relationship that existed between the two parties. This is the most complex of the debts, but in the case of Peru it seems evident that there is a moral debt owed to the lower-class communities that have been historically marginalized and disadvantaged by higher-classes. Addressing these debts is one way to begin to address the overall educational debt. Often times, I think that people believe the most effective way to address the debts is through big policy changes, but I argue that these debts can still be addressed in individual classrooms, perhaps even more effectively. Dr. Gibson shared a quote with us during seminar that resonated with this idea, “all we can contribute is our grain of sand.” It is easy to get overwhelmed with believing that policy changes are too difficult and systems are too far gone or corrupt, but if we focus on what we can do on our own, no matter how little it may seem, I think it can still add up to make a difference.

We have seen the educational debt being addressed in various traditional school settings throughout our trip. For example, La Inmaculada is addressing the moral debt through their pastoral program and establishing relationships and sharing resources with poorer schools. I believe the historical, economic and sociopolitical debts, can be addressed through simply making students aware of them from a young age and discussing their implications and what they can do specifically to address them. This can inspire students, who are the next generation of politicians, scientists, engineers and so many other careers, that can make a dent in these education inequalities. This is all feasible in a traditional school setting, but one other important thing I have learned this week in Peru is the significance of non-traditional education and what we can learn from it. Through going to PEA, the alternative night school, to seeing how the people at Lombriz Feliz taught their communities about composting and the environment, I have realized that non-traditional pedagogy can still have a place in a traditional classroom. One thing I noticed in both cases of non-traditional education was the difference in the relationship between the student and the teacher. There is often a rigid power dynamic with the teacher at the top and students at the bottom in a traditional classroom, but in the alternative school settings there was more of a peer relationship between the teacher and student. This made it easier and more evident that both parties to be learning side by side. If educators can implement this type of mentality in a traditional school setting, or at least have a more balanced power dynamic, the classroom will feel more enjoyable and like a safe place to learn. This can also impact the fixing of educational inequalities because this takes no physical materials to put into action in a classroom and can therefore be done no matter how much funding or resources a school is starting off with. A student’s experience ultimately does come down to the atmosphere and teachers of the school, and I think if teachers are dedicated to making their classroom a safe place where they are learning alongside their students and using a social-justice oriented education they are doing the best they can to fix the achievement gap. This is obviously easier said than done, but I believe it is all about contributing your own grain of sand, but by putting everyone’s grain together we can create a whole beach.

My Trip to Washington, D.C.

Capitol ViewBy Kathryn Rochford

Happy July, everyone! I don’t know about you, but I love getting patriotic when the Fourth rolls around. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel with my family to our beloved nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. It was a trip full of many tourist activities, delicious food, and most importantly, amazing learning opportunities. It allowed me to reflect on how far we’ve come as a nation and how far we can go in the future.

Here are my thoughts on my trip to Washington D.C.

It is our job as educators to teach our students the curriculum of course, but also to instill values and skills in them that they can use throughout their lifetime.

Day One

The first day of my family’s trip, we went to Mass and then to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. This first day there left me a bit dumbfounded as I marveled at the architecture style and the massive amounts of history that occurred in this very city. The Museum of American History was a fun one to go to, especially for me, as I have always had a fascination with history. I also enjoyed this museum a lot because it had a superhero exhibit and anyone who knows me knows that I am a massive superhero fan, especially with Marvel movies and comics. It was fun to be able to enjoy it with my siblings and take in the pricelessness of all the artifacts.

Day Two

On this day, we started off by going to the African American Museum, which is also the newest museum in D.C. It was the most interactive museum we went to, with all the modern technology making it fun for all ages, especially my younger siblings. I really enjoyed learning about the history behind African American culture, fashion and influence on media. My favorite exhibits were those on sports, with all the replicas and videos on practically every famous African American athlete, as well as the exhibit on music, with all the awards, replicas and costumes from the artists. The music exhibit also had an interactive table where you could press a song you wanted to hear and hear it, with some music dating as far back as the early 1900’s.

On this day, we also went to the Air and Space museum. As a person who has never been very into science and engineering, this place kept me interested with the number of artifacts housed in such a historic building. We enjoyed watching the Apollo 11 film by CNN as it held new footage from the moon landing that was nearly 50 years ago. It was almost like I could live it myself; you could feel the excitement, anxiousness and nerves of every person in the video: the spectators, mission control and the astronauts. What a historic day to celebrate here coming up soon.

Day Three

The White House was a fun stop my family had in D.C. since we had planned and gained access to go inside for a tour. The stark realization that so many of our country’s leaders have walked those halls blew my mind. I remember spending almost too much time looking at all the intricate details, architecture and decorations, and soaking in the view from the red, green, and blue rooms overlooking the rest of the National Mall. If you ever get the chance to travel to D.C., I recommend trying to get into the White House as it’s an impressive experience.

The Capitol Building was another unforgettable stop on my family’s trip, especially since we called our local Congressman’s office and were able to get a tour from his interns. This aspect of the tour was a bit different as all the other ones we did had been self-led. I enjoyed having people my age that we ask questions of and getting to know what their favorite parts of the job were. I even thought it was funny since the interns had a bingo list of all the Congressmen and women they would run into throughout the summer. My favorite part of the tour was when we stopped in the center of the building and were able to see paintings of Washington, key moments in our nation’s history, and even unfinished sculptures of Lincoln (symbolizing his unfinished presidency), along with  women who have shaped this country (leaving room for the first female president, of course).

Day Four

My favorite part of the entire trip was touring the Library of Congress. As a lover of literature and an English major, I was utterly speechless throughout the entirety of the time we spent in there. I could write a whole blog alone on what it meant to me to see everything in there, and every fun fact I heard, but I’d like to focus on two things.

First, the statues I have pictured below. If you look closely, you’ll notice one is an older man and one is a younger man: this was meant to symbolize the importance of lifelong learning. What a fitting idea for a library that houses such important works, but also for teachers to understand! I feel it’s important to recognize that we will learn as much from our students as they will learn from us. It is our job as educators to teach our students the curriculum of course, but also to instill values and skills in them that they can use throughout their lifetime. We truly have the most important job as we mold the minds of future generations; what a powerful sentiment and an important responsibility.

library of congress

Secondly, if any of you are fellow book lovers like me, my wildest dreams came true when I found out you can get a Library of Congress library card. It takes about 10 minutes, but then you can go into the iconic Reading Room and hold the history of our country in your hands. To say I was dumbfounded is an understatement. I could hardly speak for thirty minutes after we left; I was too busy processing everything.

So, to sum everything up, Washington, D.C. was one of the most fun vacation spots I’ve ever been to with my family. It truly is a city that can entertain all ages, but the history alone in that one city is important to feel and experience on one’s own. Learning more about our country helped me to go into this holiday week with a deeper understanding of what it took for our country to gain its independence, and an even deeper appreciation to live in such a place. This Fourth of July, I hope you were able to take a moment to reflect on what it means to you to be here, to be in a country that values our freedom, and remember the sacrifice it took for thousands of men and women to keep it that way.


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