Posts Tagged 'Aditi Narayan'

What is Learning?: Aditi Narayan

This summer, seven of our undergraduate teacher education students and one intrepid faculty member spent a month in Peru studying the educational system and discussing their own philosophies of education. 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

My father used to tell me that the best way to truly know whether one has learned something, is to teach said thing to someone else.

Hello Interwebbers!

Every teacher all over the world, whether they know it or not, strives to be a lifelong learner. However, when I think about it, from the moment we are born to the moment of our death we are all learning many things at once, whether we know it or not. As an active life-long learner myself, I strive to make every moment a learning opportunity, constantly asking questions such as: “Why do we have the problems in our country that we have?”, “What can I do to solve them?”, “Why is Lima a desert city despite the fact that the city borders the Pacific Ocean?”, and more. As I talk about learning and being a lifelong learner, I sometimes wonder: what is learning all about?

If I were to type “Learning” into any search engine, a definition of “Learning” would not be the first link that appears on the screen. There are so many different types of learning, from a psychological standpoint, that I wouldn’t know where to start. Dictionary.com says that ‘Learning’ is the “act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill…of systematic study in any field of scholarly application”. The only part of this definition that I slightly disagree with is the part about ‘scholarly application’. I disagree with this because we did not need scholarly application to learn how to do everyday things such as brush our teeth and tie our shoes. Yes, I agree that scholarly application is part of learning as students in school and university, and even as teachers since we are constantly looking for the most updated versions of information to teach our students. Academics is only one small part of the entirety that is learning.

My father used to tell me that the best way to truly know whether one has learned something, is to teach said thing to someone else. After returning from our trip to Peru, after all the field placements that i have done in schools so far, after reflecting so much on my education in the past, I think I have finally understood what he meant. Teaching and learning come hand-in-hand. One cannot occur without the other. One cannot learn without the ability to teach and one cannot teach without the ability to learn. I saw many examples of this in one of the science classes that I observed at the Fe y Alegria #2 school in Lima. The seventh grade students were talking about different ideas about cleaning, protecting, and saving their environment along with their slogans that they created. Each group had to draw out a poster with their highly-decorated slogans on them. Two people from each group, of about four people in each group, would stick their poster to the board and give a brief presentation about their slogan and what their message is. While they spoke, I listened to what they each had to say. Each of the speeches were quite similar, seeing as the content was about el medio ambiente (the environment). However, the students gave many different reasons as to why they, as peruvian citizens, should be taking care of the environment around them and in their country. Some said that reducing the pollution in the air will help them breathe as well as clean the water so that they can drink it freely. Some said that cleaning the litter from the streets and in their neighborhoods will uncover the beauty of their homes as well as preventing stray animals from eating small pieces of rubbish that are harmful for them. They all said that we are citizens of this world, that the world is our home. Just as we take care of our homes, we should be taking care of the Earth by keeping it clean and healthy to live in. They all learned about climate change and the effects that it has on the Earth.

They finished with a reflecting discussion on what they had learned over the course of the day, and how they can relate that to what they learned in the previous week and in their daily lives. According to Marc Clara’s article “What is a reflection? Looking for Charity in an Ambiguous Notion”, “…reflection refers to a real and extremely common psychological phenomenon that happens continuously in all spheres of life” (pg 262 or 2 of 11) Reflection is another important part of learning. This process helps us understand the meaning behind what we had learned. This ability to reflect on content understanding greatly helps students and teachers understand the content and, more importantly, how each topic connects with one another. From my experiences in the US and Peru, the class lessons are set up with three fundamental steps: (1) Review from the previous lesson; (2) Learning new information; (3) Reflection on new information and how the new information connects to old information.

The rest of the lesson plan set up has an infinite amount of possibilities. I saw that in every classroom I have ever been placed in. Another example from Peru was in La Inmaculada. During the week we were observing at the school, I observed a second grade English class where the unit was all about different types of sports or fun activities and the ability to say whether one likes or does not like said activities. Before the teacher sets the students off on their tasks of the day, the teacher asks them to tell her different activities or sports that they learned about in class. After that, she asks them whether they like or ‘don’t’ like those sports and they had to respond with “I do” or “I don’t”. (I used ‘don’t’ because the teacher only used ‘I don’t like…’, instead of ‘I do notlike…’). In the last five minutes of class, she has the students stop their activities and asks them the same questions, which the students are all too eager to answer. Something as simple as a small review of the day’s learning helps the students remember the content from class when they leave, and they are able to remember when they return to class.

There are many different types of education systems around the world, but more schools around the world are separating themselves from what Hooks calls the “banking system”. This is the old school, traditional version of education: The teacher lectures and the students blindly take in the information as they take notes. What does this say about the learning? Students ‘learn’ to pass the exams and move forward. Hooks describes in her article that challenging this “banking system” of education to educate for the freedom of learning more about the world around us, is the way to better the overall learning experience for the students and for the teacher.

At the end of all this, I can’t help but wonder if I will ever be able to answer the question, ‘What is Learning?’. There are so many different definitions of Learning and so many different types, that no one would know where to begin. From my time of learning, exploring, discovering, and philosophizing, I believe that learning is the lifelong process of acquiring knowledge/ a skill(s) through experience.

Until Next Time,

Aditi Narayan

Social, Cultural, Political, and Intellectual Aspects of Schooling in Peru: 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

I sit here writing this on my laptop, just days after arriving home, and I can’t help but marvel at all the adventures I had over the past month. Has one month really gone by so quickly?

Hello Interwebbers!

Welcome to the reflective blog post about our trip! We set out on this journey to learn about Peru’s educational system and its political, cultural, and social processes and compare it to those processes from the US educational system. We dove head-first into our exploration the friday after arrival, and our exploration still continues today as we think about our experiences from this wonderful adventure. We spent the first three weeks in Lima, where we visited a number of schools and after-school educational programs around the city. As a group, we visited schools with varying political, cultural, and social processes.

One such comparison is the Fé y Alegría (Faith and Happiness) schools and La Inmaculada. Let’s start by describing La Inmaculada, because we spent a week at the school in different classrooms. Each of us were split into different classrooms, with the exception of Gabriel who partnered with my roommate Kelsie, and we took part in the school routine and the overall school system for five days. La Inmaculada has the primary classes split up like this: There is one main homeroom where the students leave their school bags, jackets, etc. This is also where they have their fundamental core subjects: Math, Reading, Writing, etc. Other subjects like science, English, music, computation, and communications are all in separate classrooms where the students have to change classrooms. I was in a second grade English classroom. Everyday, the second graders would file in, ready for the day’s lesson. The teacher would start the day singing a ‘good morning’ song in English, and then start her lesson. Learning English is a very big part of the societal upbringing in Peru. What I mean by that, is that people who learn English are perceived to be more literate and really educated in comparison with those who did not study English. The mere fact that someone can speak English in Peru can increase their societal status and increase their chances of getting a great job with a lot of money.

La Inmaculada is one such school that has relatively high tuition fees for the students who attend the school. It is not nearly as high as Colegio Roosevelt (which is a school for kids of rich Peruvians and Diplomats), but it definitely excludes those from the region on the other side of the mountain. La Inmaculada has enough money for a zoo, for a large garden that the students take care of, as well as several buildings for classrooms. We mainly visited this school because this school is run by the Jesuit institution that is based in that area of Lima. The school’s motto and objectives are based off of those of the Jesuit faith. Did I see any implementation of the Jesuit faith in the school? No. This was partly because we were only there for half of the school day, and therefore do not get to attend their mass or religious studies classes. However, I did not see the Jesuit message being embedded in the pedagogy. And how could I, when I was with a teacher who was instructing seven and eight year olds on how to speak, read, and write in English? I’m sure the other girls have much different experiences at La Inmaculada. However, as the only non-Christian in the group, I am still confused as to how the Jesuits differ from other sects of Christianity. We attend Marquette University where the message is “Be the change you wish to see in the world” (Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi). The Jesuit faith is imparted into our curriculum by our multitude of opportunities to serve others. The Christian faith and the Jesuit faith are culturally prevalent in Peru and in La Inmaculada. I wish that I was able to learn more about the various ideologies of the Jesuit faith before embarking on this trip.

The Fé y Alegría schools , on the other hand, were completely different experiences altogether. The students are from poorer families and, depending on where the school is around the country, they may have to take long walks/transportation rides to get to school. We got to observe a variety of classes at Fé y Alegría #2 in Lima. I spent most of my time in science classes, where the seventh grade students discussed with their classmates about the best ways to better their environment in their communities. This school teaches their students from a young age that smoking is bad for the health and for the environment. Many of the students that presented their thoughts to the class talked about how the smoke that people exhale are dangerous for other people to inhale. Another key topic was the littering. Along with talking about the unsanitary dangers of smoking, they explained to the class how people generally throw their cigarettes on the ground when they are done smoking and how that is not healthy for the environment. Animals could eat it and become sick, the toxins could get into the water system and toxify the water even more. I was incredibly impressed with how passionate these students were about their knowledge about cleaning their city and keeping their environment as clean as possible. The students were split into groups to create posters with slogans on them. They came up with inventive and cool slogans that I would happily hang up on the walls around the city of Milwaukee, leave alone in Lima.

One thing I noticed in all of the Fé y Alegría classes that I observed, all the lessons were heavily group-based, and the students took part in projects and lessons that relate to their lives outside of the classroom. I got to see a greater variety of subjects at this school than at La Inmaculada where the English teacher attempted to use the sports that students like to relate to them (the unit was about the names of various sports and describing the weather), but that is one main difference that I noticed. I observed a Phys. Ed. class on the first day where the students were choreographing jump-rope routines in groups to songs they had picked out. They had to display their sense of rhythm with the jump-rope as well as incorporate other interesting moves with the rope that they had learned in class. The Arts/Theater class that I observed on the last day was fascinating. The teacher was teaching the students about the various aspects of theater. I enjoyed it immensely as I did their stretching exercises with them to wake the muscles up to be ready for the activity. The students were in four different groups where they each had to create a skit based on a place (school, library, park, hospital, etc.). Three out of the four groups chose the hospital as their place of inspiration while the last group chose the park. They got fifteen minutes to discuss their idea before the teacher called for the work to stop. One by one, the groups walked up to the stage (the other side of the room) while the rest of the class eagerly watched. The hospital scenes were quite exciting! Someone dies in one skit from a mugging, another person almost dies and was revived in an ambulance, and there was plenty of action! The park scene was serene and peaceful, like you would imagine any other park scene. There was a girl walking and a boy, acting as her pet dog, walking beside her on an invisible leash. She stops to pet him and says “Buen perro!” (“Good dog!”). They walk by some girls casually chatting when the ‘dog’ lifts his leg to tinkle on one of girls. We laughed as the girls jumped away in shock and disgust, and the girl with the dog kept saying “Mal perro!” (“Bad dog!”) and the boy grins as they walk away. The rest of the group acted as bystanders who laughed as the other girls freaked out after the dog had ‘peed’ on them. They created these scenes themselves based on what they have seen in movies/TV programs and/or in real life. Like the other classes, these students heavily relied on their background knowledge and past experiences to help them learn what they had been taught. There are only two buildings for this school: the pre-k and kindergarten school, and the grade school (1–12). The grade school is one building with many students of many different ages. I have no idea how they fit that many students into the school, but they manage somehow.

While the political aspects of both schools are completely different (economic situations of the families, location of the schools, etc.) they each have their own social and cultural differences. When it comes to making these processes more equitable, it takes a lot of thought and consideration of all of the aspects that are a part of each school. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know how they would be able to make these processes more equitable. My only idea is for the government to put more funding into schools nationwide. That way, each school would have the resources that the students need in order to learn, grow, and thrive in the world outside of home.

I sit here writing this on my laptop, just days after arriving home, and I can’t help but marvel at all the adventures I had over the past month. Has one month really gone by so quickly? I realized as I reflect back on my memories of our travels and educational discoveries that I learned so much about how education in Peru works in comparison to the educational system in the US, and I took plenty of tips on what to implement in my own classroom: What to teach, what to discuss, and what to learn from my students. Teaching is just an extension of the learning experience. Being a student is all about taking in the information and studying until one can understand the subject matter. Being a teacher is all about being able to take that subject matter and instruct to someone else to test your own understanding of the subject matter. Teaching and learning, the relationship between instructor and students, is a two-way process. We each get a chance to teach each other as well as learn from one another. That’s what life is all about.

Until next time,
Aditi Narayan

Blog Post #8: Indigeneity and how it affects the world: Aditi Narayan

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

Aditi Narayan

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

Hello Interwebbers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

Aditi Narayan

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

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

Aditi Narayan

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

Hello Interwebbers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,
Aditi Narayan

Blog Post 6: Who is the teacher?: 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

The process of teaching and learning is like a pair of cogs. They connect to one another and keep each other forever moving in the constant pushing motion in between each of the teeth. The idea that a teacher is meant to only teach and the student has to only learn is so outdated and absurd, in this day and age.

Hello Interwebbers!

Who is the teacher? That is a very big question that puzzles all who try to answer this question. This question has us thinking, initially, about the men and/or women who have instructed us on all the foundational subjects that we needed to understand in order to grow as human beings in this perpetually progressing world. Other teachers could be our parents, who teach us how to survive. They have taught us how to walk, talk, read, write, how to tie our shoes, ride our first bicycles, and more. They take care of us until we learn to take care of ourselves. Life is a very difficult teacher. Every moment teaches us something about how life works and how we work as beings living our lives. The word ‘teacher’ means something different for everyone. We have all had at least one teacher in our lives so far, whether it be a physical being or an abstract idea. So who is a teacher?

We have read many of Paulo Freire’s ideas on education and pedagogy. He writes about how teaching and learning come hand-in-hand in Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics Democracy and Civic Courage (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9K8OLyuF8_TZWNRZmF1aFhQWEE/view). He heavily disagrees with the “banking system” (page 5 of 21) of education, where the teacher inputs the information and the students take in said information without formulating much of an output, or product of their learning. An example of this is a classic lecture-hall type lesson: A man or woman stands in front of a group of students rattling off all the information as the students take notes. As you can probably tell, I greatly disagree with this form of teaching as well. Freire tells us about how teaching cannot happen without learning and vais versa.

When education students start their studies, they make an unspoken vow to actively be a lifelong learner. We learn about how to teach students to learn in different ways. In the process, one thing that I have learned is that, while the students are supposedly being more actively involved in the learning process, they teach us, as teachers, how to be better. There is a balance maintained between students and instructors being the teachers and the learners. The process of teaching and learning is like a pair of cogs. They connect to one another and keep each other forever moving in the constant pushing motion in between each of the teeth. The idea that a teacher is meant to only teach and the student has to only learn is so outdated and absurd, in this day and age. Learning is all about asking questions about anything and everything. Teaching is all about testing one’s own understanding by guiding others in their understanding of the same topic.

The teachers that I have observed in the various schools here in Peru carry their classes in different fashions. The first reason for this is because I observed in different classrooms with different grade levels in different schooling systems. I was in a second grade (primary school) english classroom in La Inmaculada. The teacher, Sandra, gets her students’ attention with a video with a song in English. The students are accustomed to singing along with the song in English and paying attention to the lyrics and what the lyrics mean. The teacher is constantly learning about how her students learn and how she can take advantage of their behavior and large personalities to aid in her lessons. Over the last couple of days, I have seen my teachers at Fe and Alegria connect the lessons to the students’ lives. One science teacher, also named Sandra, started the lesson on orbitals and quantum numbers by asking the students about various ways that students use common NaCl (table salt) in their lives. This discussion led to how the sodium and chlorine ions create an ionic bond that is salt. Teachers all over the world create different environments in classrooms all over the world. From what I have observed, I realized that teachers are very passionate about what they are teaching their students and how they create their lessons to be innovative and creative. I hope, and strive, to become a great teacher where my students and I teach and learn from each other.

Until next time,

Aditi Narayan

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

Blog Post #4: Education beliefs and experiences → Perú vs. USA: 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

This project was so much more than creating a video to present to the class. It has become a tool for the students to address the problems in their communities and present their various solutions to the problems they posed.

Hey Interwebbers!
The seven of us, after travelling to Peru, have experienced a series of educational contexts. In La Inmaculada, the logistical aspects of the school differs from other schools that I have volunteered in. The students switch classrooms from the primary grades onwards, whereas students in primary grades only switch classrooms for other, non-core subjects such as music, art, physical education, and other programs that the school may provide. The students are encouraged to learn through the inquiry-based activities the teacher provides for them. I am with the second graders during their English class. Throughout the week so far, I have noticed how the teacher allows the students to work on the activities at their own pace. While she does warn the students to ‘hurry up’ when she feels that some have become distracted by a side conversation, she maintains the idea that, as long as the students are working, they can work at their own speed. Dewey and Freire would both agree with this, since every student learns at their own pace and, therefore, does work at their own pace. Dewey says in his book The School and Society, that “…You want something at which the children may work; these [materials] are all for listening…That tells the story of traditional education” (page 9 of 41). You may take a look at the copy that I have here (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4YrkLKx4DUzcUhxcC1LTEF1SjA/view).
The traditional education that I grew up with as a child seemed quite unlike what I have seen here. Of course, the lessons are different since the students are learning English as a second language. Despite going to speech therapy, I had to adjust to the speed of the majority of the class, in terms of the speed at which I should learn and complete the tasks given to me. Learn for the test and then move on. This was school. At home, I was told to learn for the sake of learning new things. This idea would help me understand what I am studying long after the test is over. Of course, that was much easier said than done as I had already acclimated to the system of how “Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor” (Freire, page 7 of 14). You can check out what Freire has to say about education systems here (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4YrkLKx4DUzbzNrSUtSaENIdzA/view).
At schools like Colegio Roosevelt, an American-based International school in Lima, the teachers follow the same common core and next generation science standards that teachers back home are using for their lessons. I did not get to see a class in action, unfortunately, but I can imagine that the students use their innovation and creativity to produce a completed product worthy of presentation. We were told about how a middle school class were instructed to create a short documentary based on a topic about Lima that they care about. Each student picked a different topic, each of those ranging from the pollution to the separation of status in Lima. The students took a full two months to gain the knowledge that they need, based on their research, to create and perfect their small documentaries. These videos were first presented to the class in a common area. Then the students presented their videos to the heads of various organizations that aim to fix the problems that the students researched. This project was so much more than creating a video to present to the class. It has become a tool for the students to address the problems in their communities and present their various solutions to the problems they posed.
The education beliefs that I have encountered here in Lima very much align with my own: education is one of the most important tools to a happy and successful present and future. Each student is going to grow up to be someone important in their community and society someday. They need the tools in order to grow and thrive in the world that they live in. School is not just a thing that everyone does just to say that they have been educated. While the government here in Lima would be the first to cut public funding for schools, like the US, many of the public schools are privately funded by families of students and alumni of the school. However, I have never heard any one student complain that they did not want to be at school. For many, school is a safe place where the students can be happy, play, and be children. The world outside of the walls of the school campus is a different story altogether.

Until next time,
Aditi Narayan


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