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What is the Purpose of Education?

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

By Lou Hasebroock

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

DIFFERENT SCHOOLS, SAME PEDAGOGY

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

STRUCTURE OF EDUCATION

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

CONNECTIONS OF EDUCATION

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

 

Cell Phone Chaos: How Social Media Has Changed Middle School

iphone-410311_960_720By Sabrina Bartels

When I was a sophomore in high school, I was becoming a pro at participating in both Debate and Forensics meets. Our team would meet at our high school early in the morning, get on a school bus, and then head out to a different school to compete. During this time, many of my fellow speakers acquired cell phones, since our meets rarely ended on time, and gathering all of us on the bus was quite an adventure. I, however, did not get a cell phone. When asked by my Debate coach why I didn’t have a phone, I cheekily responded, “it’s because I’m Amish.”

Fast forward a few weeks to parent-teacher conferences. My Debate coach – who was also my Politics teacher – sat down and met with my mom. As they were talking, my Debate coach commented, “You don’t look like what I expected.”

My mom was used to this. She laughed and said, “Because I’m Caucasian and my daughter is Asian? It’s because she’s adopted.”

My Debate coach laughed too and said, “No, because Sabrina told me she was Amish! I was expecting you to come in a bonnet and a buggy.”

My mom was mortified. And I’m sure it comes as no surprise that it took a LONG time before I got a cell phone after that stunt.

It’s funny to think back to that instant and to a time that I did not have a cell phone constantly on me. It’s even scarier to think of how cell phones, and other methods of communication, have evolved over my lifetime. When I was six, I remember my dad had a pager so that we could reach him at work in case of an emergency. That was pretty high-tech! It wasn’t until I was in high school that more people started carrying pagers and cell phones. And by the time I started college, almost everyone had a flip phone. By the time I graduated four years later, iPhones were the new trend. It was startling to see that people could check their emails or Facebook from their phones, or take amazing pictures without the aid of a digital camera.

When I think back to those times, I become more and more appreciative of the fact that my parents held off on getting me a cell phone as long as they did. Working in a middle school, I see how easily it is for people to get consumed by their phones and social media. A lot of my students are constantly on their social media, whether that’s texting, tweeting, Snapchatting, or taking pictures for Instagram. And to be fair, it’s not just teenagers (I must admit that I’m scrolling through Facebook while I write this post.)

There was this fascinating article written by a teacher named Benjamin Conlon called “Middle School Misfortunes Then and Now, One Teacher’s Take.” In it, Conlon details how social media and cell phones have completely revolutionized the whole middle school experience. It’s fascinating to read his example of what an embarrassing middle school incident was like in 2008, versus 2018. What was once a one-time incident that could easily be forgotten can now be turned into a meme or another viral video.

We often say that teens have it much easier than we did back in the day, and in some respects, it’s true. Technology has made information more accessible. But in the same respect, it’s a double-edged sword. Technology has made it harder for students to leave the stress of school at school. When I had a fight with friends at school, it started and ended at school. The only way we could contact each other was calling each other on a landline phone. Now, students can text or Snapchat each other, post rude messages on Facebook, or spread hateful comments on Instagram. They feel invincible, hidden behind their computer or cell phone screens.

How can you help your middle schooler through their social media struggles? Here are my suggestions:

  1. It’s really okay to wait for a phone. To be fair, I am not a parent. I know a lot of parents have told me that they gave their middle schooler a cell phone because they walk home. That makes sense. However, that doesn’t mean they “need” a smartphone. A flip phone or a prepaid phone that allows your student to call or text someone in an emergency is just fine, gets the job done, and causes a lot less drama in the process.
  2. Talk about password privacy. The amount of middle school drama caused by students sharing each other’s passwords and then posting things “for” their friends is ridiculous. Teach your student that passwords are absolutely private. Only family members should be able to go on your social media.
  3. Check your student’s social media. I had a parent this past year who religiously checked their child’s Facebook and had his email linked to her phone so that she could track what her son was writing to others. Some people thought that was a complete invasion of privacy. This mom saw it as her son thought twice before he sent or posted anything he didn’t want her to see. This also allowed her to see what others posted, and who his friends were on Facebook.
  4. Set specific rules up. Some parents have rules that their student only gets their phone from 4-7 pm at night, and it must charge downstairs overnight. I really do think this is helpful. The number of students who have confessed to me that they stay up all night watching YouTube videos or texting is pretty high.
  5. Practice what you preach. I am just as guilty of this, but I usually do try to make a conscious effort to put my phone away when I’m with my family and friends. This is especially true when my nieces and nephew come over. I don’t want them to think that they can get away with sitting on their phones the whole time because “Aunt Sabrina gets to.” This also promotes time for kids to get to know their parents and family members more. That interaction is super important!

Also, remind your students that you have been there, you’ve lived it, and – better yet – you survived! That in itself can be more reassuring than anything.

How Education Has a Varying Purpose

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

By Emily McGlennen

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

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

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

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

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

 

Happy Fourth of July!

fourth of july

The Same Number of Students

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

When the question about the importance of education is posed, I feel that the answer for many is often confining. Many times I feel that the social construct and ideas about education are too influenced by stereotypes and stigmas surrounding gender, race, socioeconomic status, et cetera. One thing I’ve taken away from my experiences this week is that the answer, while completely individualized for each person, could be broadly described as “progress.”progress

The idea of progress from education looks very different, as we have seen, across different contexts. For instance, we spent last week at La Inmaculada, a Jesuit school, where progress was directly tied to the tenets of Ignatian Pedagogy. For example, the idea of whole person education through service was one of the components of the mission statement that Father Oscar emphasized. He, and Javier later, discussed the service learning experiences that all students participate in at La Inmaculada. He described the relational aspect of this type of service learning, not necessarily the idea of doing physical work or service to benefit those who are less fortunate. Instead, the service learning program relies on and works to build meaningful relationships between the La Inmaculada students and students from surrounding areas. In the article “Educating the Spirit of Activism: A ‘Critical’ Civic Education” written by Quentin Wheeler-Bell, the author describes the problems with what he calls “isolated activism,” or the passive, private acts of affecting change while distancing oneself from social movements on the larger scale. Isolated activism is exemplified by volunteering and donating in a privatized way. Conversely, Wheeler-Bell outlines the spirit of activism, which is, in a sense, an enlightened view about injustice and social justice. He notes the importance of conscious action and understanding injustice on order to cultivate a spirit of activism. Consequently, to act on an injustice and affect social change, students need to be aware of injustices, their causes, and potential problems in cultivating change. I think this idea of the spirit of activism relates to the Jesuit Pedagogy and the idea at La Inmaculada that service is much more than the volunteering and inconsequential acts of physical labor; instead, it involves a relational component that better enables students from both contexts to understand the injustices that surround them in a more robust way. This is one, among many, of the ways that I see La Inmaculada and the Jesuit mission emulating the idea of progress stemming from education.

Our visit yesterday to Tupac Amaru, a public school in Villa Maria del Triunfo, I think also demonstrated the purpose of education as progress, but in a different way because of the socioeconomic context, in addition to the other contexts, of the students. What we learned from our tour was that one of the primary reasons for education at Tupac Amaru is to provide students with the life skills needed to contribute to their family and society. The chapter written by Harry Brighouse, entitled “Moral and Political Aims of Education,” discusses a variety of aims for education. One aim that I think connects well to the context of Tupac Amaru is contributory effectiveness. Brighouse describes contributory effectiveness as enabling students to use their talents to become contributing members of an economy and society. Therefore, this aim emphasizes not only self-reliance but cooperation and how they are codependent on each other, meaning that communal flourishing is dependent on individual talent but also collective participation. Tupac Amaru was focused on preparing students for the trades. For example, their curriculum was structured similarly to a technical school, with paths in sewing, woodworking, cosmetology, metalworking, and cooking. From early on, the students get to have a variety of experiences in different trades, but as they progress, they begin to specialize. This specialization is meant to prepare them to be contributing members of society, where they can utilize practical skills to support themselves, their families, and their community. This, while different from the education context we saw at La Inmaculada, is also a form of progress, though tailored specifically to the socioeconomic status and needs of the community in which the students live.

At Tupac Amaru, I noticed that the trades seemed to be implicitly gendered. While boys and girls were present in all of the trade classrooms we visited, I saw that trades deemed traditionally female by society had more girls and vice versa. Although the students get to choose their trade and path, I wonder how much power and influence they personally have in this decision. In the Brighouse article, he describes the constraints of education, namely parental and child-centered. For example, I wonder how much a girl’s decision is influenced by their parents’ preferences and expectations. Additionally, I would add another category of constraints to the ones that Brighouse poses, notably, societal constraints. Undoubtedly, traditional views for what trades girls and boys should pursue infiltrate the minds of students everywhere, not just in Villa Maria del Triunfo and not just in Peru. Therefore, I was curious about where majority of the influence for girls’ and boys’ decisions comes from and how much agency is present for the students versus what is implicitly or explicitly imposed upon them.

In addition to La Inmaculada and Tupac Amaru, we have also spent time at PEA (Programa Educacion Alternativa) and Casitas in El Agustino. PEA is a secondary alternative education program for those ages 16–40 who have not completed, but want to complete, their secondary education. The students come three times a week from 6:30–10:30 p.m. to learn. The purpose of PEA is to allow students, who may not have fit into a traditional educational context, to have the ability to complete their education. Additionally, once finished with the accelerated program, it opens doors for the students to attend technical schools and obtain a better job. Casitas is an after school program for children with the purpose of keeping the students off the streets and engaged in positive activities that steer them away from violence and drugs. Therefore, both of these contexts also can be seen in the framework of progress. PEA is an alternative program with the hope of providing students with access to progress, not only in their individual learning, but also afterwards. While Casitas may not appear to aim for progress like traditional schooling with a set curriculum, the idea of having a place for children to go after school guides the students to engage with positive activities and practices, thus keeping them from slipping.

My experiences in Peru so far have shown me that educational contexts may look different but tend to center around universal goals for their students. The contexts we’ve observed have helped me to understand the different purposes of education specific to varying contexts. While I’ve paid particular attention to the idea of student progress, there are many others as well. All of these different experiences have definitely made me question educational equality and the purpose of education. At La Inmaculada, I felt myself quickly assimilating to the overt display and prevalence of wealth, as I did at Roosevelt today. Whereas at Tupac Amaru, I was struck by the government’s inability to fund basic necessities for the students. One example of this difference was that at both Tupac Amaru and Roosevelt, each school has about 1,800 students. The available resources for students at each school differed dramatically. Size of the campus, extracurriculars, curriculum, and opportunities for students each fit the contexts of the community in which the schools served, but disproportionately enabled students of a higher socioeconomic status to have ample opportunity to succeed and pursue autonomy in their own education; conversely, students at Tupac Amaru had limited options to pursue a trade from which the community could universally benefit from. To me, it was frustrating to see how schools with the same number of students are better equipped or not to provide for their students in different ways. Additionally, it made me wonder about how the idea of progress connects and is affected by the lack of resources and educational inequality.

The Purpose of Education is…

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

educationThe purpose of education is to shape and prepare you for the real world. Unfortunately, in our society, and especially in the society of Lima, Peru, the purpose of education is prosperity.

When talking to many different students from Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, my first day in Lima, they explicitly told me that their families wanted them to go off and get a good education so they can earn a degree, get a job, and come home with the means to benefit their society and come home with money for their family. That mentality is very prevalent in communities that we have encountered with, such as El Agustino and the public school IE Tupac Amaru.

We spend a lot of our time in El Agustino in their Casitas program and their PEA program, and these programs have opened my eyes on how people view education when it is strictly means for them to make money for their families. The Casitas program is an after school program meant to keep children off the streets while their parents work. On the other side of the spectrum, PEA is an alternative school meant for students, from ages 16–40 years old, who do not fit into the traditional educational system. Both programs enhance the ideal that education provides you with money, but they do that in many different ways.

Casitas is a way for students to stay in school while their parents are working, and ultimately provides them with protection from violence and trouble. The program itself is formed in a social way rather than a traditional “do your homework” program, but nevertheless, it keeps the students occupied and keeps them on track to focus on school and to ultimately be able to graduate and earn money. The PEA program provides students a second chance of earning a high school diploma, and provides them with the means to get a job after graduation. You can get a job without a high school diploma, but PEA provides students with the opportunity to get a higher paying job, and a stepping stone to getting a technical degree if wanted.

The public school, IE Tupac Amaru, provides the same mentality, that education is a way to obtain money. Most of the classes that are provided at the school are trade classes. There is sewing, cosmetology, metalwork, woodshop, etc., and they are meant to teach their students viable careers for after school. The students choose at a very young age what they would like to learn, and then continue with it until they graduate. In first and second grade they are assigned a workshop, and in third grade they pick one for the remainder of their studies. Students still learn traditional subjects, such as math and science, but they are taught in ways that are interesting to them. For example, in a metalworking class, math would be incorporated into their lessons. The Moral and Political Aims of Education article by Harry Brighouse states that the aims goal, flourishing, provides sufficient evidence that by teaching the students trades, it gives them extremely valuable lessons that leads them to live thriving lives.

I have so far only talked about how one part of Lima views education. In the wealthier areas, education is viewed as privilege rather than as a means of earning money. At La Inmaculada and Roosevelt, students are given the ability to pursue more than trade jobs at school. They have the ability to take art classes, dance classes, music classes, and those classes indeed need wealth in order to happen.

La Inmaculada and Roosevelt both have very high tuitions, and with those come an expectation for their students to thrive in not only math and science, but in foreign languages, arts, and sports. The expectation to thrive is pushed by the learning of English at a young age, and the stigma of wealth on the schools often forms a power structure within the different educational systems. Wealth is a form of power, and if only the wealthy are going to elite schools to learn things other than trades, they are going to be the ones who have more ability to work at higher paying jobs, while the trade students will be the ones who work for lower paying jobs to get by. A Concept of Power For Education by David Nyberg explains that it is not the students’ fault that they are born into a society that pushes wealth as power, but it is in their power to choose whether to use their power to benefit the educational system as a whole. La Inmaculada and Roosevelt both have programs that bring students into other communities to see how the societies are there, but it is useless unless the students fully open up to the other community and not only benefit themselves, but the people they are partnered with.

Money and power have huge impacts on how the educational systems in Lima are divided, but for right now, nothing is going to change until the idea that inherited money is your only way to make more money changes. Privileged students are the ones who have the ability to go to private schools and learn abstract things, while the non-privileged students are constricted to learn things that just would provide them with money.

Educational equality, the view that everyone should have good education, is 100% not prevalent in Peru, and that dictates what the real purpose of education is. Prosperity is the end goal, and to be honest, I am confused how we got away from the original end goal of preparing students for the real world. The educational opportunities of each school are so different, but they are close in distance, and it kills me to see the clear divide from privileged education to non-privileged education.

If I have learned one thing from my first two weeks in Peru, it is that education should not be structured differently for privileged youth than for marginalized youth, but that is not going to change until the power structure of wealth in education changes.

Care for the Souls of All Students

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

 

The purpose of education is to create an equal humanity of one’s self flourishing; to care about each student within your class beyond the classroom by showing each student that they matter, regardless of their background. As a future educator, I have firsthand witnessed the importance of building a positive relationship with students, and I truly believe that these relationships are at the core of education. In order to discuss educational philosophy, regardless of one’s ideas of discipline, policy, autonomy, or otherwise, no classroom will be successful with the absence of genuine relationships in which each student feels fully accepted and valued. This “flourishing” creates a sense of community and equal humanity, which can then be fostered within the classroom. If a classroom does not first promote flourishing of ALL students, by no means will it ever be able to focus on activism, humility or diversity; all of these important issues stem from caring for others, which should be at the forefront of every classroom. Regardless of whether a child lives in Pamplona Alta or Santiago de Surco, each child deserves to know that THEY MATTER.

This week, we spent the majority of our time at La Inmaculada, a private school in Santiago de Surco. This school was one of the nicest campuses I’ve ever seen- from over 10 gyms and countless sports fields/courts to having their own ZOO at the school (yes you read that right), I was very overwhelmed. (Check out this to see the school: https://youtu.be/CZt0iIJPOtc) While I enjoyed my time teaching there so much, I could not help but think about Pamplona Alta, the site we visited last week. Lima’s “wall of shame,” which is exactly what it sounds like- built by the wealthy community to keep “young towns” like Pamplona Alta secluded both physically and economically- sits directly on the campus as a constant reminder of privilege. La Inmaculada does wonders, however, promoting community between both sides of the wall, not in the form of handouts or “volunteerism,” but just by becoming peers with children in their communities and equaling their common humanity. There is still more work to be done.

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One of the many fields at La Inmaculada.

We also spent time at our Casitas this week, which is an after school program in El Augustino, and played soccer at our Casitas with MLK. I was lucky to attend the same Casitas each time I went this past week, which allowed me to build bonds with the children and to fully immerse myself in their program. On the surface, our Casitas looks like a different world compared to La Inmaculada; covered in dirt, limited resources, and children from all different backgrounds with a different story. Yet, these children were laughing and playing and so genuinely happy to see us, and the Casitas program structures educational experiences to encourage students to reach their full potential. While the Casitas and MLK program is different than a traditional education classroom, I believe that all educational contexts promote human flourishing through a child-centered education. All educational contexts do their best to provide an enriching education, through differing means and perspectives, to promote growth of each student. While all contexts view what is “best” or “necessary” for the students differently, all contexts do their best to know that each student is cared for at the core of their being.

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The “wall of shame” seen from La Inmaculada’s campus. (On the left side of the photo)

Education, regardless of social class, should be equitable and provide all youth with equal opportunity for success. Privilege itself is a position within a hierarchical structure; it is inherently socially and contextually dependent. This puts the privileged individuals in a position of power that complexly changes through contexts and situations. Privilege must be recognized and be at the forefront of any privileged school, as without this recognition, inequitable and unjust systems will continue without question. Such complacency and comfort must be challenged in order for an equitable educational system to ensue and for community to be successful. If we chose to educate differently, privilege is further perpetuated and automatically creates a distinct divide between privileged and marginalized youth. By educating differently, this idea of “the other” as being a separate group that is less than one’s own is created, thus enforcing class divisions and continuing the broken system of classist ideals. And while I do believe that the educational aims and context must be equitable across social and class lines, the means by which this education is achieved is inherently different. In schools that have privileged students, like La Inmaculada, more resources, funding and support is provided to the school community that allows for opportunity and experience that otherwise could not be achieved. Since they have the resources and support, both monetary and emotional, to deny them of such opportunity is inequitable, thus contradictory to the educational system. However, it is the duty of these schools to provide such meaningful experiences to enhance their activism and care for humanity, regardless of socioeconomic status. This experience cannot be demeaning to the marginalized populations, however; if a school only focuses on the economic aspects, privilege is only enforced. This experience should be utilized to teach students to acknowledge their privilege, provide personal reflection to help students grapple with what their privilege entails, and show the importance of the value for a whole individual, regardless of their background. When experience is tied to education, personal growth is achieved even on the molecular level; we are changed through experience! For example, La Inmaculada has student projects in which students partner with students from neighborhoods like El Agustino, creating a mutual relationship that promotes collaboration and genuine peer relationships. This experience of working alongside those who are less advantaged provides eye-opening educating moments that can be carried through every aspect of their lives. Each child has a unique perspective, experience, and talents that are equally beneficial regardless of socioeconomic status, and through education, each student must be cared for deeply and beyond a school setting. This care for the whole of the person, deeply rooted in Ignatian Pedagogy, must be rooted in every educational setting to ensure success. Both privileged and marginalized youth deserve to have an education that enforces their importance as a person and allows them to flourish through activism beyond the classroom, meaningful peer and authority relationships to demonstrate an equal humanity, and self actualization.

Here in Peru, education is similar to my own educational experience in the United States. It differs drastically from town to town, just like back home, and different experiences, more qualified teachers, and ample resources and funding is provided to schools if they are in a certain district, while literally down the street, a school may have nothing. This is similar to the infamous “Marquette Bubble” that we live in at home. Yet, teachers care deeply about their students and simply want to help them succeed both inside and outside of school. My educational experience here on this trip is similar to service learning and field experience at Marquette. It has allowed for hands-on, minds-on practice to extend my learning beyond the classroom. Thus far, this trip has transformed my pedagogical approach to teaching in ways that I never thought possible. Through experiencing schooling here firsthand, I have been shown the importance of hands on experiences and how it aids in teaching. This taught me the importance of engineering experiences to challenge my student’s thoughts to promote activism, critical thinking, personalized learning, and learning beyond the classroom confides. Schooling is not simply about learning content through a teacher; it is a system that allows us to craft experiences that enable children to flourish. By humanizing schooling, we respect who our students are at their core and through solid relationships, we are able to provide meaningful education for each of our students. Care beyond academics promotes personal growth and allows for student flourishing. A holistic education, or alignment of the mind, body and soul, provides the full, adequate care for our students, but also makes us as educators vulnerable, since we are human ourselves. This humanization of a system that is in place to keep the status quo creates opportunity for mobility and the idea that they are more than a system; they are human and equally able and deserving to a just education.

 


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