Archive for the 'Teacher Education' Category



Coming To An End

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

Buenas noches! I am officially back in the States and able to reflect on my last week of my study abroad trip to Peru. We spent the last week of our trip in Cusco after being in Lima for the first three weeks. We had the opportunity to sit in on classes at a Fe Y Alegria in Andahuaylillas, play with kids at a Ludoteca after school program, and participate in an Andean ritual and visit a sustainable house in Cuyuni.

From the time I got off the plane, to the end of the Andean ritual, I could tell how drastically different Cusco was compared to Lima. Cusco was much more traditional in look and feel compared to the very urban feel of Lima. Men, women and children were dressed in traditional clothing and were more ‘reserved’ in nature. I think there is a strong sense of culture in Cusco and this was really important for me to understand upon traveling here so that I could better comprehend the way of living and especially the way education works. The context that you are going to experience and learn from is very important so having background knowledge is pertinent.

1_vHZ3W4yfMZerk5ffgUXTMQ.jpegThe school that we had the privilege of visiting was called Fe Y Alegria 44! It is a privately funded, public school in Andahuaylillas. This school is bilingual and they speak Spanish and Quechua. Something that I immediately recognized in the school was how lively, colorful and fun all of the classrooms were. They seemed to encourage learning along with the playfulness of being a child which I thought was different from classrooms I saw in Lima where most of the art was based almost solely for learning purposes. Something else that I thought was very encouraging was the way that they approach the use of both languages. In one of the classrooms, the teacher asked them about Quechua, if they know it or not, if anyone in their family speaks it and what they think of the language. These questions were not asked in a demeaning or negative way but rather in an explorative and curious way to get the kids to think about questions they may not have thought much about. From the few days I spend experiencing the Andes education system, I found that their ways of teaching harbored positive thoughts, actions and ideas and while there are a lot of differences between the Andean education system and Lima’s, I think they are equal. They are equal because the kids are learning important skills such as math and science but also skills like healthy coping mechanisms, self-esteem and more. In some ways, I think that the Andean education system may be a step above Lima’s regardless of the material things that some of the schools in Lima have.

In all of these context we talk a lot about flourishing and about being a whole person and how to get to that point. In education one of the most crucial things a student can have is self-determination. In all of the schools that I visited in the past month, there is one thing that didn’t change throughout, and that is the will of these students to succeed in all aspects. You could see through their attentiveness, thoughtfulness and eagerness that they did not take their education for granted. I think that the students and the families of these students know how helpful a solid education can be and how challenging it is to get into the public colleges that are free so they work extra hard to set themselves up for success. Even if there goal is not to continue on to college but to get a job right after, they work incredibly hard to learn the trade skills that they need to get hired. I also think that self-determination in an education system means advocating for themselves and having the self-esteem to do well for themselves.

Throughout this trip we have also talked about power operating within these contexts. In the Fe Y Alegria, power was operating in a very positive way. The students were learning from the teachers and the teachers were learning from the students. Their classrooms were very respectful, safe environments where the students seemed excited to express themselves in whatever medium that might be whether that’s theater class or astronomy. The Spanish language is much more social than English so there is always a little bit of chatter in the classrooms but the teacher never punishes kids for that. They ask them kindly to be quieter but do not make a scene. I think the way these classrooms are run can happy, intelligent children.

When I look back to the schooling that I experienced verse the schooling that I got to look in on in Cusco, I think there’s a lot of similarities. Most of my teachers taught with the same energy as the teachers in Cusco but I also had teachers that did not foster a healthy classroom environment and you could see that in the success of the students. In my future career, I would want to work with teachers to give them tips and tricks to inspire students to do their best and to want to come to school because I think often times if kids don’t feel like their in a welcoming environment then they aren’t going to want to learn.

It’s to believe my month long study abroad trip is truly over but I have learned and experienced so much that I cannot wait to use in my future. Thanks for sticking with me throughout my journey!

Schools…Are They Failing?

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 Brooke McArdle

We spent this past week in Cuzco, moving around a lot to visit our last school and afterschool program, as well as visit various ruins and experience more of the Andean culture. I did not know what to expect from Cuzco and I did not realize how much I missed the sun! During our time in Lima, we had only a few hours of sun on one Saturday; however, in Cuzco, I think it was sunny almost every day. Our bus trips up, down and around mountains as well as our train rides made me feel like I was in another country because it was so different from Lima. The geography, languages, weather, and culture all differed from what I had experienced in Lima with my host family and while visiting our different educational contexts there.

Cuzco was mountainous, open and sunny, whereas Lima was congested, the air was polluted, sky cloudy, and car horns could be heard at all hours. Spanish, while it was dominant in Lima, seemed to wrestle with Quechua in Cuzco, linguistically and culturally. These differences were only replicated and echoed in the schools and educational contexts in both Lima and Cuzco. One thing that we saw in both contexts was how privatization impacts education. In Lima, we worked at La Inmaculada for a week and in Andahuaylillas we spent time at Fe y Alegria, both schools have some degree of Jesuit influence. Fe y Alegria is a public school, but more so of a charter school, as the Jesuits fund the social programs for the school.

books-3946080_960_720.jpgThe mission of La Inmaculada, in the spirit of Jesuit pedagogy, is whole person formation with an emphasis on social justice. One of the ways La Inmaculada cultivates this is through the service learning program, which I’ve mentioned in another blog. The purpose of the service learning program is to build relationships between students from Pamplona Alta and La Inmaculada. One of the key aspects of the Jesuit Pedagogical Paradigm is experience, a way to tie in what students learn in the classroom to their personal lives. Creating relationships with students in Pamplona Alta provides students at La Inmaculada with not only friendships but insights into what they learn about in school. This was one of the important aspects of Jesuit education at La Inmaculada.

A central component of the mission of Fe y Alegria was perpetuating and reinforcing the existence of Quechua culture in students’ lives. During our orientation to Fe y Alegria, we watched a video that detailed the importance of integrating Quechua culture into the curriculum. Classes for the younger students begin in Quechua and bilingual education (Quechua and Spanish) begins in older grades. Students learn traditional practices from Andean culture, like dying yarn and weaving. In one of the classes that I observed, the teacher asked the students about their connection to Quechua. She asked how many of the students’ parents spoke Quechua, and majority of the students raised their hands. She then asked how many of the students spoke Quechua, and one student raised their hand. She then proceeded to ask her students why they did not speak Quechua. From the students’ responses and what we have learned about the perception of Quechua and Andean culture, it was clear that parents did not want their children learning Quechua because of the dominance of Spanish and the perception that Spanish is better. The Jesuit mission at Fe y Alegria is to break these perceptions and stereotypes about Quechua and work with families and students to incorporate it into students’ lives. Although both La Inmaculada and Fe y Alegria have Jesuit influence, their missions differ because of their contexts. While La Inmaculada works to provide its students with experiential learning and emphasize the importance of relationships through its service learning program, Fe y Alegria concentrates its attention on the importance and relevance of Quechua, the culture and language prominent, but also preyed upon, in the Andes. The different contexts of Lima and Cuzco play an important role in determining the direction and aims of education for schools in these areas.

In addition to context, privatization was something we saw with La Inmaculada and Fe y Alegria. The article “Worldwide, Public Education is Up for Sale,” by US News, discusses the possible ramifications of privatization. The article discusses how public education is under attack and notes how many people argue that public education is failing so as to advocate for increased privatization of education. However, the article discusses how privatization does not necessarily mean better quality education and better outcomes. It offers the example of Chile, where privatization led students “to self-segregate by religion, social class, race, and family income,” which hurt students and outcomes (page 3). Cabalin’s article, “Neoliberal Education and Student Movements in Chile: Inequalities and Malaise,” also looks at Chile and the impact of neoliberalism and privatization. Cabalin discusses how neoliberalism in education has resulted in the increased privatization of education and thus, disregarded the concept of a just education. In Chile, privatization resulted in more segregation and the further allocation of privileges to the wealthy. The resulting stratification has not bettered the quality of education. In turn, it has generated more inequality. Since the Jesuits play an important role at both La Inmaculada and Fe y Alegria, it is important to consider these schools within the context of privatization. At these schools, the Jesuit mission and its goals for the students are woven throughout the curriculum and schooling experience. Without the Jesuit influence, I doubt the students at La Inmaculada would build relationships with students from Pamplona Alta and I question whether Quechua would hold a privileged place at Fe y Alegria.

In the United States, I’ve heard privatization discussed in the context of outcomes, namely the idea that children educated in private schools perform better. However, this is a misconception, and one that has consequences for equity in education. In Peru, private influence at La Inmaculada did seem oriented to outcomes but with the shadow of Jesuit pedagogy, embodied in supplemental programs, lurking in the background. Conversely, at Fe y Alegria, Jesuit influence seemed more concerned with the incorporation and survival of culture and language native to the Andes, in addition to student success and outcomes. To me, this was another contextual difference between Lima and Cuzco, and one that is incredibly important. The emphasis on preserving and respecting culture is something I loved seeing at Fe y Alegria and it was not something that was only espoused, I physically was able to see it at work in the classroom. As a teacher, care and recognition of culture is something that I want to always be aware of and working towards because I think it is one of the ways that teachers can connect to students and their families in a genuine way.

A New Educational Context

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

By Hannah Denis

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

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

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

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

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Students getting breakfast ready at Fe y Alegría

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

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

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

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

Peru Has Changed Me

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 Isabella D’Agostino

1280px-Flag_of_Peru_(state).svgMy time in Cusco was an absolute dream. I got to go to Andahuaylillas and visit the school Fe y Alegria and the after school program Ludoteca, participate in an Andean Ritual and visit a sustainable house, visit the Pisac ruins, hike Machu Picchu and the trail to the sun gates, and I was able to do that with my amazing best friends that I made on this trip. I have learned a lot, but one major detail that I learned was that the Andean context is much different than the Lima context, especially in schools.

Fe y Alegria is a school run by the Jesuits in the “downtown” area of Andahuaylillas. Fe y Alegria is not the actual school name, but it is used as an overarching name for 23 primary schools and 5 secondary schools all throughout Cusco, but we visited the one in Andahuaylillas. Fe y Alegria’s school motive goes beyond education, but goes towards being a school for the parents as well. The school starts by being taught in Quechua until the third grade, then it starts bilingual schooling in Spanish. One question that arose to me after learning of the bilingual school is: why make it a bilingual school instead of a dual language school? Dual Language Immersion Programs: A Cautionary Note Concerning the Education of Language-Minority Students by Guadalupe Valdes states that dual-language programs bring two different language groups together. By having the students learn Quechua first then having bilingual schooling in Spanish, they are not bringing two languages together, they are incorporating the two languages in the students’ schooling.

One major difference I saw between the culture of Lima and the culture of the Andes is that the Andean culture is more celebrated in everyday life. From the second we arrived in Cusco, we saw parades of people in the center of town. We saw children dancing wearing their colorful clothing. That vibrant sense of culture stayed with us all throughout our time in Cusco, and we got to see how culture affects schooling in Andahuaylillas at Fe y Alegria.

The Andean school context is very rich in Quechua culture and that is what makes schooling unique in that way. Quechua is the Andean language that is looked down at by many cities in Peru, but it is important to keep that culture alive because it comes with many religious and festive attributes that is all over Cusco. The students at Fe y Alegria learn to love speaking Quechua, but also learn to love and appreciate the people that do not. That is another difference that I saw between an Andean school and a Lima school, because in Lima, English is pushed as a second language to Spanish.

The students at Fe y Alegria have much more hardships relating to school then the students of Lima that we visited. The students walk about 2–3 miles to go to primary school, and since that walk increases to 4 hours when going to secondary school, there is a huge drop of students to continue. 30% of women continue to secondary school since the walk is so long and dangerous that there is fear of being alone, facing violence, and being a victim of rape. The only schools in Lima that I visited with that concern is the schools in El Augustino and IE Tupac Amaru, while La Inmaculada and Roosevelt, being the wealthier schools, have no problem with school transportation.

I wish I got to spend more time in Fe y Alegria and Ludoteca because the education differed in a cultural way than in Lima where to me, the education was focused on a way to become educated to get a job. Fe y Alegria and Ludoteca really focused on helping the students build their relationship to Quechua and using that relationship to better understand their purpose in the world. I want to say that I believe that education in the Andes is equal to education in Lima in that way, but in my opinion, schools in Lima are built to mold their students for jobs, instead of molding students to become the best they can be culturally and educationally. I do want to make clear that the living situation of the students is completely different in the Andes and Lima, and that also plays an affect in why the schools in the Andes learn more about culture and why schools in Lima learn more about working.

After reviewing my time in Peru, I thought back to the article that we read, A Voluntourist’s Dilemma by Jacob Kushner. This article has stayed in the back of my mind for the whole trip, because I wanted to make sure that I/ anyone did not feel like I was only here to volunteer and to try to fix the different educational gaps in Peru. I did not go to Peru to take pictures with Peruvian children and tell the world that I am saving them. I did not come to Peru to have a privilege check. I came to Peru to simply learn how I can be a better teacher in the United States. I firmly believe that everything I learned from my time in classrooms in Peru will benefit my life, my classrooms, and my students in the future.

I have learned so much from being in Peru, and I cannot even put into words on how grateful I am for this experience. I have learned how to combine and appreciate different cultures in my classroom through the schools in Lima and Cusco. I have learned how to take different home lives and incorporate them into the students’ learning. I have learned the real meaning of equity vs. equality, and I now know how to make my classroom an equitable classroom, a classroom that is fair and impartial.

If you have the chance to come on this trip, DO IT. I am so thankful of what I have learned, and I am so proud of who I have become.

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?


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