Posts Tagged 'Alli Bernard'

On the 10th Anniversary of the College of Education: Alli Bernard

This year, the College of Education is celebrating its 10th anniversary since becoming a college! In commemoration, our undergraduate students were invited to participate in an essay contest with the following prompt:

Given our rich history, (1) Why do you think it is important that we are designated as a College (for instance, within the University and to our community partners) and (2) Why is our being a College important to you professionally and/or personally?

We are pleased to share the entries with you, please see below for the second-place winning essay by Alli Bernard!

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By Alli Bernard

Being a College of Education as opposed to a School of Education means more than just a fancy name change. Our designation as a College places an emphasis on the need and desire for well-trained teachers in the community because it can ensure the best teachers come out of the program. Being a college instead of a school and having students housed in Education as opposed to Arts and Sciences places an emphasis on their teaching degree, as opposed to their second major. This ensures that students are well rounded teachers who have spent time refining their skills in education practices and their chosen major. Equal time is spent in both majors, and in some cases even more time in education. Our faculty have spent many years teaching in schools similar to the ones in which we work and are committed to helping us grow and learn. This shows that not only does Marquette care about the quality of teachers they produce, but also that the community is receiving teachers who are dedicated to the success of their students. The 100+ hours of field work that students complete shows the investment placed on hands-on work, instead of textbook-based learning. We are given the opportunity to practice what we learn in all our classes, and we grow from that experience.

Personally, being a student in the College of Education at Marquette University shaped my college experience. It gave me a close knit group where I know most, if not all, the students in my year because of our small class size. I also was able to know my professors on a personal level, not just as a face in the room. Instead of being in a 100 person lecture hall with a TA, I was in small classes where the professors took the time to get to know us and our interests. By being a college, students are able to bond over shared experiences. It is through those bonds that I believe I made some of my closest friends, because no one quite understands the life of a pre-service teacher like other pre-service teachers. I have been involved in many different aspects of the college, such as being a freshman mentor, working in the Hartman Center, and going on the college’s faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. I chose Marquette because of the College of Education and itssize, and I believe that I will be happy with this decision for the rest of my life. The college has given me so many opportunities and relationships because it is my primary major, as opposed to being an English major and in a School of Education. I am grateful for all the College of Education has to offer, and I hope that other students find it as helpful and rewarding as I have.

 

 

 

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Alli Bernard

We’re continuing our fall series getting to know our students with Alli Bernard this week. Read on to learn more about Alli’s journey to the College of Education!

alliMy name is Alli, and I am a senior at Marquette. I am studying secondary education and English language arts with a minor in Spanish. I grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, which is a suburb right outside Chicago. I have lived in Milwaukee for 4 years, while I have been a student here. I will most likely stay in the area when I graduate and teach in Milwaukee. I have a mom, dad, and a 14-year-old sister who just started high school. Fun fact, my family owns a bowling alley and restaurant in Wheaton, Illinois (it’s called Fox Bowl)!

My favorite educational experience was getting the opportunity to study abroad in Peru for a month in the summer of 2018*. While there, we took two courses (Philosophy of Education and Critical Inquiry), looking at education from a Peruvian standpoint and background. I think this experience really stretched my knowledge as a teacher and allowed me to experience how education is viewed in other cultures and countries. We were able to spend time in different classrooms as well, which was very valuable because we could see how they were similar and different from our classrooms in the United States. Plus, getting to hike Machu Picchu was pretty exciting!

I am extremely excited to student teach in the spring. I have been looking forward to it for a long time and cannot wait to fully immerse myself in teaching. I have had a few student teachers in my K-12 schooling, and I think it is so different from having the full-time classroom teacher. Everyone gets to learn from each other and build relationships. Although I am also a bit nervous, I am excited because it is the next step I have to take in order to be a full-time teacher (which is the goal). I am excited to ease my way into it and by the middle of the semester, be teaching full-time and handling everything classroom related. It puts me one step closer to my dream (cheesy, right?).

I was drawn to Marquette because of the College of Education. I loved how small it was, because I knew that it would be the best way to interact and get to know my fellow students and professors. I have always preferred smaller settings but knowing that my graduating class is only around 70 people (if even that) is what sealed the deal for me. I also liked that we got out into the Milwaukee community from the very first education class. It helped solidify that I did want to be an English teacher and that I believed I was in the right field. I also liked that it was in a city with an urban setting, because it is something that I have not gotten to experience as much and therefore was intrigued by it.

My inspiration stems from my many amazing elementary school teachers who showed such a love for their students and their work. A special shout-out to my first-grade teacher Ms. Karr, who was probably the initial inspiration for me wanting to teach. I learned so much in that class and had such a strong relationship with her. I want every class of mine to feel as loved and intelligent as I felt every day in her classroom. I am also constantly inspired by the students I have had. Their creativity, strength, and intelligence is what brings me back time and time again. Their desire to learn and willingness to try new things inspires me to be the best teacher I can be to help them grow and achieve their goals.

If this program has taught me anything outside of classroom and teaching techniques, it is that teachers are some of the strongest, most resilient, and necessary people in society. Appreciate all the teachers and educators in your life. They deal with so much and do so much outside of the classroom that people are not even aware of. Teaching is so important and the work that is done truly changes lives. I do not know where I would be today if not for all the amazing teachers I had throughout my schooling.

*Want to learn more about our study abroad trip to Peru this summer? Check out Dr. Gibson’s FAQ’s to see if this is the program for you!

 

Critical Issue: Alli Bernard

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

Alli Bernard

Although the education gap facing Peru is different than that of the United States, the idea is still the same. Boys and girls are not on the same level in terms of ability in performance in schools. And this is troubling.

There are many critical issues that plague the United States and the educational context. Among some of those issues include the gender gap in education and how it affects boys and girls in schools. The gender gap is an issue prevalent in all aspects of life in the United States, from the wage gap to representation in STEM or political fields. The gender gap in terms of education typically refers to the performance gap between girls and boys coupled with the biases teachers have for certain students in certain subjects. This gap is what continues gaps later in life, because education and school is the basis for the future. When girls and boys do not perform on the same level and are treated differently in schooling, it sets up for the gap to continue to grow. The need to close the gender gap in education is becoming greater so that all students can have an educational foundation that allows for future success in careers and life. I would also like to preface that this issue is looking at gender as a strictly binary construct. I know that gender is a construct and there are more than two genders (and that they are not strict in their constraints), but for the purposes of this exploration I will be looking at boys and girls.

Although it might make sense due to the gendered climate of the United States that the education gap would negatively affect girls, the truth of the matter is that both genders are affected in very different ways. As a group, girls “tend to have higher grades, take more advanced classes, graduate high school at higher rates, and participate in higher education” (Applerouth). In a June 2012 study by the U.S. Department of Education, statistics showed that girls outperform boys in almost every aspect of schooling. Girls were in more gifted and talented programs, less likely to be held back a grade level, outnumber boys in enrollment of AP science, and are suspended at lower rates than boys (U.S. Department of Education). The statistics here do not even touch on the subject of race, which has even more implications to the gender gap. White girls are still more advantaged than black, Latina, or Asian girls. What this data does show is that where girls as a group tend to succeed in school, the boys are experiencing a deficit in their education.

In current society, it is easy to look at how the gender gap only affects one group of people, without seeing how it affects everyone else. Without looking at the whole picture, it is hard to imagine what the gap looks like from all sides. Because the education gap is something that affects boys and girls in very different ways, it is imperative that all research and data looks at the gap from all angles. In order to fully address the gap, we need to examine all the areas where boys and girls suffer, in addition to where they both excel.

Unfortunately, much of the research shows that boys fall behind and do not excel at the same level because of outside factors. Their behavior is often less than ideal for a structured classroom environment, and they are often viewed as more difficult students because of their behavior. Disciplinary issues are one of the main problems that boys fall behind in school, especially compared to girls. Boys accounted for 71% of school suspensions (Applerouth). It only makes sense that this time out of school has a negative effect on boy’s education, because the more time they are not in school, the less they learn. This stems from the belief that many teachers hold, which is that boys are harder to control and discipline than girls, simply because they tend to move around much more and want to be active. This idea can start as early as preschool. This time out of school seems to be one of the main causes of the education gap, because while boys are being removed from school, girls are still in the classrooms learning. Because of this high rate of suspension, boys develop negative views of school and continue to act out against their teachers and administration. It is not that boys are not as smart or intellectual as girls, it is simply that their views of school and how they are treated by their teachers. This harsher discipline leads to a dislike and even distrust of school. Part of the reason that girls do not experience the same disciplinary trouble that boys do is because girls are often more successful in regulating their behavior, while boys are more impulsive.

At the same time, boys do succeed on many levels. Boys are starting to catch up and close the gaps. While girls had often done better at reading, a report from the Brookings Institution reported that boys are doing better than ever in terms of educational indications such as reading tests. While girls have remained on the same reading level since 1971, boys are reading much better than they did at the same time (Loveless). This means that while girls have remained consistently at the same level, boys are starting to improve their skills and close the gap. This could be due to greater attention being paid to this issue on the part of the teachers. No teacher should want their students to fail, regardless of their gender, so perhaps this improvement stems from the desire for all students to have the same education and perform on the same level.

Despite the advantages for girls, their self confidence is often pushed down and they tend to underestimate their abilities, typically in subjects such as math. This confidence gap becomes more prevalent as girls grow up and emerges around middle school when girls become more aware of the way they are viewed in society. One of the biggest misconceptions in school is that subjects like math and technology are for boys only, and that girls cannot succeed in these areas. While this definitely affects their views on these subjects, it also places an extremely gendered view on all other subjects. This tells girls from a very young age that they cannot and should not succeed in math, because it is a male dominated subject. This leads to the lack of representation in STEM fields, because girls had constantly been told that they are not good enough for math and science. Opposite this is the idea that humanities are more female dominated subjects, and that girls should be good in those while boys are not as much. This is especially true with English.

Much of the confidence gap also has to do with how society treats and views these school subjects in regards to gender. Males dominate STEM fields in all aspects, while females have to fight to be represented, and the opposite can be said for the humanities. This can cause the girls who are good at math and the boys who are good at English to feel ashamed or embarrassed of their skills. Because this often develops in middle school, it is especially rough because that is a time where students want to fit in and not stand out. This confidence gap and views toward math and science is one of the biggest shortcomings of education for girls.

This education gap is something that can be seen everywhere, and Peru is no exception. The Fé y Alegría school we visited in Andahuaylillas made gender equity a priority. However, because Peru is still a very much machismo society, much of the work of the school is with keeping girls in school and raising girls to be on the same level as boys. This is very different from much of the research of the United States, where boys are the ones who fall behind. In Peru, it was often not necessary for girls to have the same education as boys because they would be in homes and taking care of families. This idea is shifting, and many schools are starting to address it and work to level the playing field. By educating girls the same way they do boys, Peruvian schools are showing that they care about girls the same way they do boys. By shifting the idea of girls only being in the home, it is becoming more apparent that educating the youth is more important than anything. The education gap in Peru among boys and girls was greater than currently is, simply because girls were either getting no education, or were in school long enough to learn the basics of how to read and write. Schools like Fé y Alegría placing an emphasis on equity among education for boys and girls is a step in the right direction toward gender equity in general. As mentioned earlier, education is the basis for one’s career and future. Fé y Alegría recognizes this and in order to make their society more equitable, has striven to provide education for boys and girls that benefits both of them and allows for growth. They work to make sure girls stay in school and are given the help and support they deserve. Fé y Alegría recognizes where the gaps are and work to fill them in.

Although the education gap facing Peru is different than that of the United States, the idea is still the same. Boys and girls are not on the same level in terms of ability in performance in schools. And this is troubling. But it is not enough to simply point out an inequality; one must also provide suggestions for change. In this situation, the most obvious change would be to treat girls and boys equally in the classroom. However, this is not enough, nor does it get to the root of any problem. Additionally, treating them equally might not work, because it is assuming that they operate on the same level and should have the exact same teaching methods-essentially the opposite of differentiation. As teachers, we can recognize when we treat students differently and work toward equity. For example, punishing for misbehavior will not be the same across the board. Gorski and Swalwell give four abilities to developing equity literacy for teachers and students, which are, “recognize even subtle forms of bias, discrimination, and inequity; respond to bias, discrimination, and inequity in a thoughtful and equitable manner; redress bias, discrimination, and inequity, not only by responding to interpersonal bias, but also by studying the ways in which bigger social change happens; cultivate and sustain bias-free and discrimination-free communities, which requires an understanding that doing so is a basic responsibility for everyone in a civil society” (Gorski 37). Much of the gap comes from implicit biases teachers hold in regards to the differences between girls and boys. Female teachers often build stronger relationships and hold their female students with higher regard, while viewing their male students as troublesome. Gorski’s four abilities are something that all teachers should imbed into their pedagogy, because this can also be used for other identities, such as religion or race. By practicing these four abilities, teachers can work toward eliminating the biases and stereotypes of the genders, which is something that is a huge case of the education gap. Very little research shows that girls are smarter than boys (or vice versa) it is the biases and stereotypes working against them that contribute to the gap.

Sara Mead offers her solution as well, which is to look at each student as individuals and not in terms of their gender. She says that instead of learning about the differences in the brains, teachers need, “effective reading curricula, tools for diagnosing students’ reading difficulties and research-based interventions for struggling readers. She also needs tools to help differentiate instruction to student abilities and needs. And she needs effective behavior management strategies, as well as research-based approaches to help children develop their self-regulatory skills and ability to focus” (Mead). By doing this, the teacher can address where boys commonly struggle, but also where girls might also be struggling. This approach does not lump students based on their gender, but rather remembers that each student is an individual who does not always conform to how society believes they should. Tools such as what Mead suggests can help all students, regardless of gender, but also help to close the gap by recognizing where common shortcomings and downfalls are.

Teachers also need to be able to provide resources for their students. For example, showing female scientists and mathematicians and being patient with boys or teaching them how to study and learn can also help to show that there is more to both of them than the stereotypes pushed on them. By doing this, we make it clear that we want all our students to succeed, regardless of their gender. It is not enough to simply know that there is a gap, we must also actively work and educate ourselves on how we can best help and advocate for our students. By recognizing how we treat and talk about boys and girls in school settings, we can work toward closing the education gap.

Works Cited

Applerouth, Jed. “Troubling Gender Gaps In Education.” Applerouth.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 June 2018.

“Gender Equity In Education.” Www2.ed.gov. N.p., 2012. Web. 29 June 2018.

Gorski, Paul, and Katy Swalwell. “Equity Literacy For All.” Educational Leadership (2015): n. pag. Print.

Loveless, Tom. “Girls, Boys, And Reading.” Brookings. N.p., 2015. Web. 29 June 2018.

Mead, Sara. “It’s a Boy Thing (Or Is It?)” U.S. News. 29 June 2018.

Philosophy of Education: Alli Bernard

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

Alli Bernard

For example, much of what we saw in schools was based on relationships among teachers and students and pride in the school. What we perceive to be a lack of resources comes out as the ability to build strong relationships and create a community of support for everyone.

My philosophy of education is founded on the idea that education and learning are cycles in a never ending process that shows us how we see the world around us. This holds true for the students, as well as the teachers. Imbedded in this cycle is how to create a “just” education, which benefits everyone involved in the process. Drawing from the nine blog posts written this summer, coupled with the discussions from seminars, I have noticed some common threads appear that I believe are important in building my philosophy of education for when I have my own classroom. These principles are also ideas that I have found helped me the most in my three years of studying education and through the field experiences I have had over those years. Those principles are- the role of the teacher/student, a curriculum based in exploration, and contextualizing education to student’s lives and experiences.

The role of teachers and students in the classroom is something that has evolved and changed over the time, in my opinion for the better. As some of my professors remind us, teachers used to be sole keeper of knowledge, who would simply pluck the information from their brains into that of the student. The student on the other hand, was meant to remember every fact taught by the teacher, for the inevitable exam or paper. There was no sharing of knowledge, or even acknowledgment that the students had information to share and teach as well. It was a strictly one way relationship with a clear power structure. In order to consider an education truly just, the roles of teacher and student should be intertwined and heavily dependent on each other. The roles should also be less strict than they used to be, to allow for growth and the sharing of knowledge. The teacher must act as a student, and the student must act as a teacher. Teachers need to be constantly learning about their content area in order to be the best teacher they can be. They need to stay updated about what they are teaching their students so they can bring the best and most current information to their classrooms. Students should be able to bring and teach their experiences and knowledge to the classroom and trust that they will be validated. Teachers should at the very minimum teach their content, and students should teach their outside knowledge and experiences to enhance the content knowledge. In this situation, the student should also be learning the content, while the teacher learns from what the student has to offer.

This mutually beneficial relationship allows for inquiry learning, which brings together the role of the teacher/student and curriculum based in exploration. Inquiry learning is a way for students to use their prior knowledge and experiences to build on new knowledge from the content, as well as make personal connections. If done correctly, this shifts the role of the teacher and the student. The student is in the position to teach themselves, and can share with their classmates and teacher all they learned. In this situation, the teacher should model for the students what their work should look like and be available for students as a resource and role model. While in Peru, I saw this practice in play. At Fé y Alegría, I was in an English class, which consisted of students finishing and then presenting projects on the three regions of Peru (coast, jungle, and highlands). The teacher, Maria told me that students completed their own research on these regions, including themes such as food, weather, and tourism. The expectation was that they would teach the class about these regions, instead of Maria.

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

This inquiry based learning is a way to disrupt what Paulo Freire calls the banking model of education. This is defined as a system in which, “knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing” (Freire 72). The banking model is what education and learning used to be, and what I hope to continue to stray from. Teachers who continue in the banking model often find themselves continuing the cycle of oppression, as well as probably boring their students. The cycle of oppression and the banking model are closely linked, because the model relies on the students being passive and accepting what is taught, without any pushback (73). By not allowing students the ability to explore and learn on their own, they end up pigeonholed into one way of thinking, the teacher’s. They are not taught how to question a topic, which in turn leads to them not being able to question the world. This means that they are not able to question things like why systems are in place or why some people benefit while others do not. By using inquiry based learning in the classroom, teachers help students cultivate the ability to question the world, and therefore learn about the society they live in. These students will be the ones who change the world for the better and become involved in society, because they were taught how to ask questions.

It might seem silly that teaching students inquiry based learning and how to ask questions will make them more productive members in society, but because they are given more freedom and ability to explore on their own, students also gain independence because the teacher is not spoon feeding them the information. In the banking model of teaching, students typically learn from a textbook, which can often be out of date. In inquiry learning, the teacher can set up parameters for what students can use to find the information, or allow students to find the information on their own. This allows for students to have the freedom of expression as well, since they are conducting their own research and producing the final product in a way that makes sense for them. From what I have experienced in schools both in the United States and in Peru, students who participate in inquiry based learning as opposed to banking are often more engaged and excited to learn, because of the relationship built between student and teacher that allows for expression and the ability to teach and learn at the same time.

Part of my educational philosophy also includes contextualizing education to student’s lives and experiences. According to educational philosopher John Dewey, experiences are how we make sense of what we see (Dewey 12). They are also a way for students to engage in inquiry based learning and help them develop socially. Context and student’s experiences are very important to how we teach students. Every school we visited in Peru was committed to fitting their curriculum to what would best suit their students. Schools like Roosevelt used the resources they were able to have to create a more hands on curriculum, while public schools like Fé y Alegría taught practical courses such as sewing. Knowing where students live and are coming from is crucial to being able to effectively teach them. By utilizing the resources schools have and contextualizing it to fit student’s needs, we can create a curriculum that benefits students at every level. While teaching sewing to a more privileged school might not be 100%necessary, it would be for a school in which students more often opt for a trade school or job.

We also saw a soccer program run by MLK Socio Deportivo, in which the focus was not on only scoring goals, but also how to be a better person. Points were awarded if the coaches saw a child doing something kind, such as helping someone stand up after they fell or cheering when the other team scored a goal. This shifts the focus of the program from being only a soccer game, to also teaching life skills in a way that makes sense to children. This program was for young children, and really emphasized that there can be fun in things like being a compassionate person, as opposed to giving into drugs or gangs. Along the walls were anti drug and gang messages, so that they were at the forefront of everyone’s mind and sight. I think this program was one of the best things we saw in Peru, and I hope that we can work toward something like it in Milwaukee (and other low income neighborhoods). This afterschool and weekend program gave children a place to play and work outside of violence and destruction. It keeps children out of danger and instead gives them something productive to do with their free time.

Unfortunately, much of the above mentioned with experience and context relies heavily on resources. Schools like Roosevelt inevitably have more resources and money than a school like Fé y Alegría; however we quickly learned that that is not what makes a school good, or just. Just because a school does not have the money for 3D printers does not automatically make it a less than adequate school. For example, much of what we saw in schools was based on relationships among teachers and students and pride in the school. What we perceive to be a lack of resources comes out as the ability to build strong relationships and create a community of support for everyone.

I hesitate to call myself a just teacher or that I teach a just education, because I think it is one of those titles one cannot call themselves, but rather it needs to be worked on and earned. An expression that I am told often is that social justice is a journey, not a destination. Similar to how it is a process, I do not think that simply referring to myself as a just teacher is enough, or even something that I can call myself. Teaching for justice is a journey that will take me many years to even semi-accomplish, particularly because of the systematic oppressors currently in place. Educational philosophy is one of those things that every teacher should have, but few probably do. Theories need to be tested and practiced, because nothing will be 100% perfect on first attempt. Philosophies will change and grow as teachers change and grow. The educational philosophy I have now as a preservice teacher will be different from my philosophy when I have taught for 20 years, which will also be different depending on the school I am in and the demographics of the students I teach. That said, I think it is also important for each teacher to at least have some base line of what they want their curriculum and teaching to reflect. Educational philosophy should reflect who one is as a teacher and who the students are. It is through readings, seminars, and experiences that I have shaped this preliminary educational philosophy and theory.

Works Cited

Dewey, John. Experience & Education. Print.

Freire, Paulo, and Donaldo Macedo. Pedagogy Of The Oppressed. Print.

Educational Processes: Alli Bernard

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

Alli Bernard

In addition to social and political, schooling is also a cultural aspect. In Peru, this is especially difficult when one remembers the history and cultural struggles that have occurred.

Our journey to Peru has come to a close, and I am currently sitting in my bed reflecting on my experiences over the past month. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was 8 years old, after having a fantastic third grade teacher, and this experience has only reinforced that I love teaching, school, and learning. However, school has been and always should be more than that. Attending school is more than simply learning, it is also important to remember that it includes a political, cultural, and social process.

School is not only a place to learn math or science, but also a place to learn social skills. Although not a school but rather a program designed to help children grow, MLK Socio Deportivo’s programs in El Agostino playing soccer teaches social skills that children can bring back with them to school. While the children play, it is also reminded to them of certain social skills and attitudes that young people should know. For example, part of the scoring is determined by children’s actions during the game, such as helping up a fellow player when they fall or cheering when the other team scores a goal. It is social skills such as this that help children succeed in the future. They are learning how to interact with each other and receive positive support and reinforcement from trusted adults. I have no doubt that these skills can be transferred to their school lives, where they also come in contact with students who they might have conflict or other communication with. MLK teaches children that even in a competitive setting, they still have the ability to learn to be kind and considerate people.

Schooling is also a political process. While I did not experience much of this first hand, we heard many stories of how politics governs schools, especially when they are governmentally funded. Because of this, there are often struggles of what is and what is not taught in schools and allocation of resources, among many other issues. The problem then becomes that if the government funds a school, they have the ability to decide what they deem necessary, often without much input from educators or school administration. In order for a school to have the ability to make their own decisions on issues such as this, they cannot be funded by the government, which takes more resources and money than many people have. Something that I found particularly interesting on this matter is that in Peru, there is also no separation of church and state, which means that religion is mandatory in public schools and is part of the curriculum. Schools can opt out of teaching Catholicism by becoming private, but again this takes extra resources. As someone who attended a public, secular school up until college, this fascinated me. Coming from a place where religion supposedly has no place in public schools and then seeing how prevalent religion was in Peru astonished me, because of the influence the state has on the schools. This is just one of many political aspects that affects schooling. We also talked in seminar about how political education involves participating in demonstrations to create change on various levels. Schooling also involves teaching students how to participate in politics and advocate for changes that affect them. (Warren and Mapp).

In addition to social and political, schooling is also a cultural aspect. In Peru, this is especially difficult when one remembers the history and cultural struggles that have occurred. Because of the Spaniard invasion , there has been conflict between the indigenous culture and the Spanish culture. Some of the schools we visited, such as Fé y Alegría in Andahuaylillas, work to emphasis the different cultures in Peru. They teach their lessons in Spanish and Quechua, as well as work with the students and families to embrace their indigenous culture. While we were in Cusco, we witnessed many parades of schools filled with dancers and audience members embracing their indigenous cultures. In traditional dress, coupled with music and dancing, school age children shared their heritage in a month long celebration for the Festival of the Sun. The schools participated in these parades with pride, including banners displaying the school’s name and affiliations. We also saw similar examples at UARM, which holds cultural events every Thursday to promote pride in indigenous cultures. This pride in culture that we’ve seen in different schools emphasizes the idea that schooling is a cultural process in addition to intellectual.

Despite all these processes at play, there is still progress to be made everywhere. Part of the reason schooling is a political, cultural, and social process is because of the systemic structures that exist and allow the inequality within schools to exist and flourish. The goal of schooling should be to make these processes more equitable, which is certainly a tall order. This includes a more just education for marginalized students (Gorski and Swalwell). This means that curriculum should be interdisciplinary and integrative, in order to meet the needs of all students. It is also important for students to get involved in their own education so they can have first-hand experience of the issues facing them. By creating awareness in students and provide them the ability to participate in the struggle for equity and justice, students are able to take a certain sense of control in their lives and provide more meaning for themselves.

I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the different Peruvian schools over this past month, as well as learning about philosophy of education and contemporary issues facing Peru and the United States. Even though much of what we talked about can be disheartening, I am hopeful for the future, students and teachers included.

Race, Language, and Indigeneity: Alli Bernard

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

Alli Bernard

I really liked this aspect, because often when a student comes to school with a minority language or race, they are taught to suppress it, learn English, assimilate, and ultimately begin to lose a central part of their identity.

We have officially left Lima and been in Cusco for almost a week. In this time, we have visited another Fé y Alegría school in a mountain town called Andahuaylillas. Our time here was much different than that of the school we visited in Lima. This school was in a much more rural area and drew students from all over, including students who would walk three hours down a mountain just to attend school. We met with one of the directors, who showed us a video of a young girl and her friend who live so far up the mountain that they lacked what we consider to be basic resources. The two girls would walk over three hours to get to school-in sandals- braving the elements. Seeing the video reminded me how important education is and how we often treat it as a right to attend school, or have a bus, and that for many students around the world that is not the case. We often take for granted our education and view it as a hurdle to cross in order to be successful in the future. While this is also the case for students such as in the video, the stakes are often higher and the value of an education means more.

Something that struck me at this school was the emphasis on preserving the cultural identity of their students, as opposed to forcing them to assimilate. Fé y Alegría’s students come from all over the Cusco region, and many of those students are indigenous and bilingual in Quechua and Spanish. Because of this, the school incorporates this into the instruction and activities. I really liked this aspect, because often when a student comes to school with a minority language or race, they are taught to suppress it, learn English, assimilate, and ultimately begin to lose a central part of their identity. Fé y Alegría tries to make sure that this does happen, because they recognize the importance of being proud of one’s heritage and culture.

The director also talked with us about the embarrassment that many students feel because of their indigeneity and Quechua. In Peru, social status is based on who speaks the best Spanish and therefore (presumably) the least amount of an indigenous language. Because of this, the students who come from indigenous backgrounds felt a sense of shame due to their heritage. Fé y Alegría has worked hard to show the students that this is something to be proud of, not ashamed of. She was also telling us that much of this embarrassment starts above the students, so the school also holds programs and activities for the parents to help them all understand that they can and should celebrate their indigeneity.

I see things very similar to this embarrassment back home as well. Students who don’t speak English as their first language or who are not white can often feel like they are not good enough or need to assimilate in order to succeed. Instead of celebrating their language and culture, we teach them that they should speak more English and act more American if they want to have good lives. This makes me sad because for as much as we claim to want to celebrate what makes people different, when it gets down to it we do not allow students that outlet of embracing themselves.

Talking through ideas such as this led to us the question of if we can philosophize about education without addressing race. The short answer to this question is no. The long answer addresses the idea that without talking about race in terms of education, we put all students on the same level and do not take into account that not everyone has the same privileges, which can largely be attributed to racial disparities. Even if one is talking about something such as test scores, without talking about race there is no context to the scores, such as the school demographics, the context of the school, or anything about the students. By ignoring race in terms of education, we do not take into consideration that all students come from different backgrounds and how that looks in the bigger picture of schooling. Student’s race and culture is just one of many experiences that they have and bring to the classroom and ignoring that ignores the students. Inequality frames how we as future teachers look at our curriculum and the education we provide to the students. Knowing about what students come in to the class with allows us as teachers to create lessons that fit each student’s needs and experiences. Race is so strongly ingrained in our society that it cannot be ignored (Mills). Racial issues and racial justice affect our students at every turn, and if we do not talk about it in terms of education we are doing our students a disservice by ignoring a crucial part of who they are.

My experiences in the Andes intersect with what I saw in Lima because of the idea of language and the power it holds. As I mentioned earlier, having a stronger sense of Spanish often correlates with a higher SES and therefore holds a sense of power over others. The same is said for English, because if people have the ability to learn English it means they can afford the resources that allow for that. Because of this power structure, Quechua is becoming an extinct language. It is has a more negative connotation and holds a sense of shame for many Peruvians. Quechua is often spoken in the mountains in the more indigenous communities, which are often lower class and therefore the connection has been made. Language is a part of our identities and who we are. In both Lima and the Andes, language is something that is unique to communities and should be celebrated instead of being given a social status and stigma. The power of language comes from the people, and it is through the people that these stigmas can begin to be eliminated.

Who is Actually the Teacher?: Alli Bernard

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

Alli Bernard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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