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The Teachers: 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

Establishing a personal relationship with the students improves the learning that occurs within the classroom because students are more comfortable when contributing to discussion and posing new ideas.

We are now in our third week in Peru, which is hard to believe. Our visits to Colegio Roosevelt, La Inmaculada, and Fe y Alegria have given us the opportunity to interact and learn from a variety of students and educators in different contexts. As my classmates and I continue to grapple with the idea of what a fair and just education looks like in both marginalized and privileged schools, we have now started to consider the role of the teacher within these classrooms and how the teachers we have worked with approach their work.

This week, my classmates and I are spending three days in Fe y Alegria II in the San Martin de Porres district of Lima. There are quite a few differences between Fe y Alegria and La Inmaculada, most visibly the amount of resources available, including technology, school supplies, and space. Despite any struggles with resources, the students and faculty of Fe y Alegria maintain strong relationships based on mutual respect and caring. I have personally seen this in the first-grade classroom that I have been working in. The thirty-three students and two teachers seem very comfortable with each other and have created a community that is conducive to both academic and social growth. The two mornings I have spent at Fe y Alegria thus far have seemed to involve a lot of play — painting, music, and singing. However, within these activities, I have noticed that my cooperating teacher has created a child-centered classroom and expects active participation from all her students. For example, after free-play, the students “debrief” by talking about who they played with and what they did together. While this discussion may initially seem trivial, when I thought about it through a Freirean perspective, I began to see its value. In Paolo Freire’s condemnation of the banking model of education, he emphasized the reciprocal relationship that students and teachers should have. In true learning, students “become authentic subjects of the construction and reconstruction of what is being taught, side by side with the teacher, who is equally subject to the same process,” Freire writes in his Pedagogy of Freedom. Freire promotes a reciprocal relationship between the students and the teacher, meaning that the teacher is not the only one who does the teaching: the students’ contributions are also vital to the learning process. Letting the students share their thoughts and feelings about the morning’s activities begins to foster this idea that their thoughts and experiences are valuable. My cooperating teacher ensures that she is not the only one talking all day long. Instead, she gives her students a chance to express themselves, which is a simple way to allow the students to be active collaborators in the classroom.

As Freire suggests, the students should also be teachers in the classroom. However, the traditional classroom teacher also has an important role. When thinking about the question “who is the teacher?” many educational philosophers would argue that the teacher is a reflective being and that reflection is an essential quality of education. Multiple educational writings have included discussions on the importance of reflection, including Marc Clara’s piece “What is Reflection? Looking for Clarity in an Ambiguous Notion.” Using the work of seminal authors, Clara attempts to clarify what “reflection” is and is not. For example, he writes that reflection is a constant meaning-making process and one of his definitions of reflection is: “a thinking process which gives coherence to a situation which is initially incoherent and unclear.” During my class’s discussion on reflection, we too explored the different ways “reflection” is used. While we did not establish an undisputed definition of “reflection,” we agreed that reflection is vital for educators. Reflection is necessary for learning, which leads into another answer to the question “Who is the teacher?” The teacher is also a learner. Whether they are learning from pedagogical theorists like Dewey or Freire, from their co-workers, or from their students, teachers are constantly learning and improving their practice. By acknowledging that they too are continuing to learn and grow, teachers can further build that collaborative, reciprocal relationship with their students.

My cooperating teachers at both La Inmaculada and Fe y Alegria approach their work with a genuine desire to help their students. The fourth-grade English teacher that I shadowed at La Inmaculada promoted a student-centered classroom by providing time for discussions. In addition, he and his students had a relationship outside the classroom, talking about sports or television shows during break times. Establishing a personal relationship with the students improves the learning that occurs within the classroom because students are more comfortable when contributing to discussion and posing new ideas. When approaching his work, this teacher also keeps students’ needs in mind. For example, his students were struggling with forming verbs in the past tense, so he made the decision to spend another day on this concept, even though he had originally planned to move on. As we discussed his decision, he told me that his students will take a standardized English test at the end of the year, but he feels that if he is taking his time with the lessons and focusing on the areas in which the students are struggling the most, they will ultimately do well on the test. His explanation further demonstrated that his first priority is the needs of his students. Further, both teachers approached their work from a place of care and respect. In her chapter “Engaged Pedagogy,” author and activist bell hooks writes, “To teach in a manner that respects and cares for our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin.” My Fe y Alegria cooperating teacher has done this; she uses terms of endearment for her students and always listens to what they have to say, establishing a strong relationship based on care and respect. Although these two teachers are working in schools with very different contexts, the ways they approach their work and their students are similar, and I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to observe and learn from them.

Learning vs. Knowing: 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

But reflection is not just about thinking about what could be improved, it is also about looking at the good and what worked well for students and this goes hand in hand with the idea of a just and equitable education.

This week we started our field placement at a new school called Fe y Alegria which was a placement I mentioned in one of my previous blogs. My friend Gabrielle and I are to be placed with the same teacher/classrooms together working in a science class with our teacher named Rolando. It was a fun first day as we met the 5th and 6th graders we would get to know throughout the week. The 5th graders were definitely the cutest as they were so eager to get to know us and asked us questions in Spanish and English about our interests in sports, music, schools in the US, etc. The classes we observed Rolando in were mostly concepts based in Biology and Environmental Science. They were specifically learning about malaria, where the disease was concentrated, and how it reacted with blood cells. They were also learning about pollution and water conservation. Rolando had students read a short article out loud and reviewed it together as a class, asking students to generalize the main idea of each paragraph. Afterwards they lined up to head to a computer room where Rolando played a video clip focusing on the function of protists and amoebas. They then entered into a discussion about the video and Rolando listed questions that he wanted each student to write down the answer to in their notebooks. We then ended the day by talking more to get to know some of the students and at the end of the class, talked with Rolando as well about his classes and what he thought about his students. During group activities, he allowed his students to sit in the open courtyard and do their work since he believed it helped them think more clearly and be in a setting different than the classroom (I loved that he did this!).

Our first day of observation led me to think about the role of a teacher in the classroom and specifically, who is the teacher? Thinking about this, I like to think that the students and the teacher are both learners and keepers of knowledge. They are both interdependent to each other in that they account each other for understanding the material, reflecting and building/improving upon what is being taught, being open to revision and research, and understanding that both parties are in a continuous cycle of exploring new knowledge. The teachers I have encountered while being at La Inmaculada and Fe y Alegria approached their work in different ways but with similar intentions. They approach it in a way that encourages the most student participation and critical thinking, while also working collaboratively with their peers. There was goal interdependence in that students worked together to understand the material and the teachers almost “backed off” when it came to their students learning and served to be more as a guidance than an all-knowing teacher. Especially at La Inmaculada, students were not afraid to answer or ask questions regardless of being wrong, and seemed more engaged with the material. Talking with some of the teachers afterwards, they seemed to reflect upon student-oriented teaching because they understood that all students come in with differing levels of the subject material and background knowledge. This leads to the focus of our seminar today which was about the role of reflection for a teacher and why it is important to do so. My classmates and I talked about how being reflective teachers can help us learn from our mistakes, review what worked or didn’t and to build or reconstruct upon that, and even think about how students responded to the material. But reflection is not just about thinking about what could be improved, it is also about looking at the good and what worked well for students and this goes hand in hand with the idea of a just and equitable education. It can help serve as the basis for thinking about differentiation for students and notice the cultural identity students come from and how their experiences may be different from our own. We can then use specific theories to make sense of our experiences and understand ways on changing how we teach for our students. By reflecting and changing, we also begin to think about the meaning of liberation in education and how to go against reinforced systems of oppression as mentioned by Freire and other radical scholars.

We also went in depth about the difference between learning and knowing in schools, something that I have been able to observe while at Fe y Alegria. Rolando explained to me how he has really focused on encouraging all his students to speak up more and participate in class. A lot of the times in his science classes, he has mentioned that the same students who are passionate about the subject will only answer while other students won’t, in fear of being wrong or embarrassing themselves in front of their other peers who seem know more information. In our seminar, we discussed that knowing seems to be an encompassing factor among students as it focuses on memorization and the regurgitating of information without actually absorbing the knowledge and connecting it with the world around them. This is something Rolando has focused on getting away from and more towards actual learning, where students can make concrete connections with their knowledge and the world. It is important to form a sense of inclusivity while in reflection and focus more on the learning aspect rather than the all-knowing part. By doing this, it can arouse curiosity and reflection in a productive direction in relation to who we are and making sense of our environment.

The Teacher: Grace Chambers

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.  

Grace Chambers

The teacher must take on the role of both teacher and student, and the student must take on both roles of student and teacher.

The structure of the traditional classroom is crafted with the intention of teachers teaching and students learning. The traditional idea of “the teacher” creates a hierarchical structure in which the teacher holds all the power and all of the knowledge. The banking model of education prescribes that teachers use their knowledge to fill up the minds of their students with “important information.” Even teachers who use more progressive pedagogy can fall into the hierarchy of knowledge. In a classroom, the teacher has the power, and this power can be used to place value on different kinds of knowledge. Teachers who do not value their own student’s lived experiences, prior knowledge, and independent research perpetuate the idea that the teacher is the one who holds the knowledge, and the student’s one and only job is to absorb that knowledge. This is not the way that classrooms should be structured. The teacher must take on the role of both teacher and student, and the student must take on both roles of student and teacher. Students have individual sets of knowledge that they can offer teachers, but only if the teacher is receptive to new ideas and is committed to lifelong learning. A teacher must be a student of the educational context in which they work, constantly listening to their students when they offer insight into the world in which they live. As urban teachers who were educated at a predominantly white, wealthy, private university, it is more than likely that the contexts in which we were educated will be vastly different than those of our students. We must be mindful of this and be willing to accumulate resources, being anything from research to listening to students’ stories. Several of the educational philosophers we have been studying have emphasized theories that encapsulate aspects of the educational practice discussed here. Additionally, we have observed varying types of educational practice at two schools in Lima: La Immaculada and Fé y Alegria.

La Immaculada

La Immaculada had an interesting system for their classrooms. The students had a homeroom that they stayed in all day and the teachers rotate between classes. I observed a handful of teachers because of this process, but I spent most of my time shadowing one English teacher in several different classes. The way English is taught at La Immaculada is cool because students are learning by reading, writing, and speaking about real world issues. This style of teaching is important because students are able to transfer their knowledge about their culture, community, and country into their work. It simultaneously allows students to practice their English and expand their knowledge about critical issues. While I was there, students were writing an essay about how technology could be used to combat global issues. Students read from their text book and watched a series of videos about technology and natural disasters, practiced speaking about the same topic, and then used that information as well as their own knowledge about technology and the world to write their essays. This culturally relevant practice spanned across the school and allowed students to learn a foreign language in a context which they understood.

Fé y Alegria

At Fé y Alegria, students have more structure in their day, but more freedom to explore in the classroom. In my few days at the school, I have observed an art (theatre) class, a computer science class, and a physical education class. Each teacher ran their class based on a model of educational exploration. The art teacher taught students about different types of body motions, the three she focused on were isolated movements, shaking movements, and fluid movements. Each kind of movement was meant to be expressed in accordance with a specific musical instrument, the instruments all made a sound that mirrored the movement of the students. The teacher demonstrated to students how each motion works in a funny and engaging way, and then gave the students to express their knowledge in whole group exercises, small group exercises, and in partnered choreographed dances. The computer science teacher took a similar approach of giving her students new information and giving them the freedom to explore it. They were using a program called AutoCAD, and the students were learning how to create 3D shapes. She showed them which settings they needed to use and gave them a sheet with shapes she would like them to make. They were secondary year 5 students, so she was able to build on their prior geometry knowledge and never told them how to make the shapes. This gave students room to make mistakes and to work their way to success. She supported them in their mistakes and encouraged them when they were successful. In gym class students were dancing in lines behind their teacher who was practicing different steps with them. After they did their warm up and finished their practice, they had the rest of class to practice their jump rope dance projects.

I saw some class time where students were teaching teachers about youth/pop culture. There is a dance called flossing that is really popular among students right now, and in the art class some students were doing it to be funny. Instead of being angry that students were off-task, the teacher took the opportunity to do the dance with their students and encouraged them to use in in their final performance.

My experiences over these past two weeks have varied quite a bit. I have seen different teachers approaching their work with similar philosophies as Freire, hooks, or any of the other writers we have been reading. Through different practice, I have been able to witness commitment to learning and compassion for students in every classroom I was welcomed into.

Who is Actually the Teacher?: 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

Teachers cannot exist without the students, and vice versa. It is through an equal relationship that teachers and students need each other to reflect on and continue to grow in their material.

For much of my life, it was instilled in me that the teacher is the person who stands at the front of the room dictating formulas and other seemingly useless information for students just to regurgitate for a test at a later date. Even some of my college classes are run this way. However, the two days I have spent at Fé y Alegría have disrupted these thoughts and made me think more critically on who the teacher in school settings, and what their role actually is.

On Monday, I was in an art class which was more of a theater class. Students in the first block were essentially left to their own devices and went to practice scenes for a play. Students in the second block were working with body movements and being comfortable with their bodies. We watched a lot of practice with actions such as continuous movement and how the students reacted to it. Being 12 years old, there was a lot of apprehension about being silly and moving in silly ways, especially coupled with the insecurity that comes with puberty. The teacher, Patricia, did an excellent job combating this, by showing students that they did not have to be concerned because she too was engaging in the silly body movements- hers were even more exaggerated than the students. She showed them that it was okay to be silly and do motions that they were unaccustomed to. By doing this, Patricia stepped into the role of a student again by showing them that there was nothing to be embarrassed about. She stepped out of her role as an authority figure who was potentially strict or stern, and instead transformed into the role of a student with the kids in a way that allowed them to feel more comfortable. In this instance, there was no clear student or teacher. As they were discussing different terms, Patricia had students talk with each other and give their ideas, instead of simply feeding them definitions.

On Tuesday, I was in an English class with a very nice woman named Maria. This was not an English grammar or literature class, but rather a class that was taught in English. The first block consisted of students finishing and then presenting projects on the three regions of Peru (coast, jungle, and highlands). Maria told me that students completed their own research on these regions, including themes such as food, weather, and tourism. The expectation was that they would teach the class about these regions, instead of Maria. The second block was more presentations, but it was about holidays and traditions. This had a similar feel to the first block; students picked the holiday they wanted to discuss and were tasked with researching when it was, who/what is involved, why it is celebrated, and all of those basic questions. These classes were geared toward practicing English and public speaking, but also had an academic learning aspect attached.

Through Maria’s class specifically, it became apparent to me that she views her students as just as capable of teaching each other as she is, otherwise she would not trust them to literally be the ones standing at the front of the room teaching. Because of this, I think (and probably Maria does too) that it is not just the teacher who has the knowledge and is all knowing. By allowing students to conduct their own research and teach, Maria is showing that she believes her students can be the same keeper and sharer of knowledge that she can be. Teachers cannot exist without the students, and vice versa. It is through an equal relationship that teachers and students need each other to reflect on and continue to grow in their material. By doing what Maria did, she also placed responsibility on her students to understand that classmats would rely on each other for material. By backing away and not acting as the all-knowing teacher, these teachers become more of a guide and a way for students to ensure they are on the correct track. Obviously there needs to be some teacher guidance to ensure that students are not completely off track, but for the most part much of what I have seen is more student oriented.

I talked with Maria during a short break, and she expressed to me that she enjoys the student teaching more because it allows for students to be creative and have a sya in what they are learning. Although she structures the larger themes (such as the topic of research), she found that students are more likely to respond positively to teaching by their peers. This connects with our discussion about reflection, because it further reinforced the need for teachers to reflect and learn about what does or does not work within the classroom.

Much of this goes back to Freire’s banking system and disrupting the idea of who has the knowledge and who is simply supposed to learn. Teachers and students should ideally exist in a relationship where both can be learn and know. Maria told me that she enjoys doing student led projects because it also allows for the students to teach her about what they learn, because as she admitted, even she does not know everything. This also connects to the differences between knowing and learning, which is where knowing is more geared toward facts and memorization while learning is a continuous action that does not stop when a test is taken. What I like about the projects I watched today was that Maria clearly chose topics that were relevant to the students and their lives. Instead of just spitting out facts about the coast, she instead allowed them a space to learn about it and to teach each other. This freedom and understanding that teaching, knowledge, and learning have changed allows for students to feel more comfortable in classes because they know that there is some freedom awarded to them. It also piques student’s interests because they can choose what to learn about, instead of simply listening to a teacher drone on.

Who Is the Teacher?: Dr. Melissa Gibson

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.  

Dr. Melissa Gibson

Mural at El Lugar de la Memoria, la Tolerancia, y la Inclusión Sociale.

Unless you’re in my line of work, studying teaching and education, you probably don’t spend a lot of time wondering, “Who is the teacher?” That may in fact seem like an absurd question to you. I could ask the question differently to try to get at some of what I’m questioning: Who was your favorite teacher? What made them so? Who have been your most impactful teachers outside of the classroom, and why? What is good teaching, and how do you know?

In the context of this study abroad course, we’re asking these questions not as a matter of policy or to dictate instruction, but as a philosophical question. Because we’ve also been philosophizing about learning—not the neuroscience of cognition but the human experience of learning.

Félix, a community educator in El Agostino and one of the many fantastic teachers we’ve met on this journey.

There are plenty of reformers, educators, and individuals who are rolling their eyes at me now. Who would tell me about job preparation and test scores and knowledge and cultural literacy and on and on. And here is what I would respond, just as I tell my teacher education students:

Learning is a relational and emotional process. The emotional parts of our brain are involved deeply in learning. Thus, the teacher and the student are in a relationship, and the quality of that relationship directly connects to the students’ learning. But they’re not alone in that relationship; they are in a community of learners, the classroom and the school. So what is the nature of a teacher/student relationship and a learning community that actually cultivates learning and deep understand? Questioning and critical thinking? If a teacher is always the omniscient, all-knowing sage leading the classroom, what does that mean for these relationships? And if students can repeat all sorts of information, is that the same thing as learning?

Neuroscience can help us answer these questions, as can instructional design and educational research. But for me, these are at their core philosophical questions. So in this round of blog posts, the students are starting to grapple with these questions to answer, Who is the teacher?

Perhaps a recipe at the heart of good teaching?

Privileged Schools: 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 is one important point that needs to be made, and that is that the students should never be made to feel bad about being in a privileged school, because they can’t help that their parents chose to send them to there.

A privileged school community should take advantage of the fact that they have a pedestal in the way that they are more likely to have an influence of their community. What these schools should be doing is focusing their missions on the improvement and betterment of society since that is what should be a main goal for education in general- educating students for the sake of learning knew knowledge in the classroom that will help them progress through school and educating students in order for them to take the knowledge they learn in class to the help them be positive, successful members of society, in the hopes of them making society itself better. Another action privileged schools should take is to use their platform as a way to inform the public about social injustices in their community or society as a whole.

There is one important point that needs to be made, and that is that the students should never be made to feel bad about being in a privileged school, because they can’t help that their parents chose to send them to there. These schools also shouldn’t make it seem like because the students go to a privileged school they have an obligation to give back to the community or improve the society. This in a way goes directly against Swalwell’s belief that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Instead, these schools should have the students still think about how to improve society, help others, etc., but have them do so because that is what everyone in society should be doing. Students can think critically and take action whether they go to a privileged school or not.

Stepping away from the taking action aspect that schools should be doing, it is also crucial for the privileged schools to stress the idea to their students that even though they are privileged, it doesn’t make them better than others who are not. In Peru there is already a divide between different social classes, so if privileged schools made it seem like they are better than everyone else then it would just increase the issue. Once students see themselves as on the same level as everyone else, then teachers can take their lessons and put the focus on critical thinking and questioning, (inquiry). Because they are privileged, it probably means that they have access to a variety and abundant number of resources, compared to non-privileged schools. With these resources, the students may have a better opportunity to first research problems in their community/ society and then actually take action. All students are capable of asking questions and brainstorming solutions, no matter the socioeconomic status of the school, but more privileged schools may have better technology or access to more resources that can aid them in the deep research on a certain topic. Privileged students having better opportunities to actually take action is in the sense that they may have more funds that allow them to take action farther away from their school, take action on a certain topic for a longer period of time, etc. The idea stated before, that privileged students should feel as they are on the same level as everyone else, is in the perspective that they shouldn’t be made to feel better, that is not to say that they shouldn’t realize and be grateful for the position they are in, or realize the privilege they have over other students, so I guess the idea that privileged schools should be relaying to their students is that privilege does not equal better. Privilege instead is related more to “ease.” It is easy in the resources that the students have, and with that ease comes better opportunities.

The concept of just is sometimes debatable. Some may say that they are acting just when they are volunteering for a day or week, the problem with this belief is that a lot of times the outcome of the activity or volunteering experience is more of the volunteers raising their self-esteem and making them feel better about themselves, rather than doing it because it is the right thing to do and actually changes the way things were before, so that society was improved in some way. This also goes back to the idea of voluntourism. It is important to make the determination that the underlying outcome of the experience is not the improved image one has of her/himself. This idea is related to education because if students are taking action, especially privileged students, then they should continually be reminded that they are working towards improving society/ the community for the long-run not just for a short-term.

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

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

Aditi Narayan

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

Hello Interwebbers!

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

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

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

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

Until Next Time,
Aditi Narayan


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