Posts Tagged 'Emily Chang'

Comparative Analysis of a Critical Issue: Emily Chang

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

Emily Chang

Language signifies power, and some more than others because of its relevance in society.

A contemporary educational issue that exists today is embedded within bilingual education and the value of learning a second language. This issue is a part of the US educational context and there have been various readings and research on this topic that looks deeper into the experiences from students and schools, especially those with a minority background. Bilingual education and dual-immersion language programs serve as a way to promote the acquisition of a second language and can be beneficial for students, but there are also conflicts that arise when not everyone is receiving an equitable type of education. This is especially relevant when it comes to putting together disadvantaged and advantaged groups in the same setting because within the US context, the ones that are still benefiting the most are those that already come in privileged. Language and power are interrelated and affect the relationships between these groups, particularly from the quality of instruction and encouragement they are receiving. It is also one of the many factors that can affect achievement in school for all students as a result from the support of the school administration or from their community (Valdes, 395). It is important to help minority students feel included and involved in the educational process and show them that there is purpose and meaning in the progress they are making.

Although there are cautionary approaches that should be taken towards bilingual and immersion programs, there are positives to this side that benefit both mainstream and minority students. Based on second-language acquisition theories and general interventions to address educational gaps between students, these programs were formed to alter the outcomes and help all students succeed within the school environment (Valdes, 410). Bilingual and immersion programs are based off second language acquisition theories, specifically by Long and Swain. Both had hypotheses that emphasized the importance of language availability to comprehensible input and opportunities for meaningful output with teachers and other students which bilingual and dual-immersion programs promote. Having these opportunities leads to something called, “negotiation for meaning” among students in second language acquisition (Lightbown, 150). This means it forces students to express and form their thoughts in the target language in a way for the native speaker to understand and is useful for task based instructions where there is a common goal for completing that task. By including this within programs, there is a sense of community and encourages collaboration among students despite their differences and their backgrounds. It prevents isolation that minority students may normally feel at other schools and a middle-class environment along with more availability to resources and opportunities (Valdes, 412). It also provides instruction for minority students in their first language and an access to a quality curriculum. Their academic successes show that low achievement is not just found in students from lower SES levels or backgrounds and depends on the type of instruction and support they are receiving (Valdes, 411). With the success of most programs that show the benefits from both mainstream and minority students, there are still aspects of bilingual and immersion program policies that are attempting to address two very different groups in a more equal way rather than equitable way.

The biggest factor is that there is less emphasis on the culture and identity of language-minority students, and just by introducing native language programs will not solve their problems (Valdes, 416). There should be an emphasis given to the quality of instruction and the way the target language of instruction is received by both minority and mainstream students. It should be modified in a way that is comprehensible and sufficient enough to respond to the needs of students who are in their early stages of language acquisition. There are also external factors that affect the interactions among these students as well, especially of intergroup relations and the impact of society on a larger scale outside of the classroom (Valdes, 417). Although students may recognize differences and the discrimination that exists, and they continue to befriend and interact with each other, mainstream students still come in with mixed feelings towards minority students and continue to make them feel different, but in more implicit ways (Valdes, 417). I have experienced and observed this in schools in the US where all students may interact with each other in the classroom, but conform to their own groups, excluding their minority peers for weeknight or weekend plans once out of the classroom or after school. A lot of the times they will not even say hi to each other in the hallways and students will not interact unless they are in the classroom. It is an indirect way of sending a message to these students and is harmful when it comes to realizing they are different in way that is based on their backgrounds and because they are less privileged than their other peers. This is not just relevant in the US but also from my experiences in schools in Peru as well.

At a public school in Cusco, they highlighted the importance of a quality and equitable education that welcomes the diverse needs and backgrounds of its students. Although this was in place, school personnel and even the director did not seem to fully be aware of the sensitivities that students who were different would feel among their other peers. The teacher in one of the classrooms we observed said that all the students were Peruvian except one, who was from Venezuela, and proceeded to point him out which had all the students look at him. Although the students were not unfriendly and the Venezuelan boy seemed used to the response he was getting, it was clear that he knew he was different and that his peers would not see him as one of them, even though everyone spoke the same language. It shows that even though schools may be committed to social justice, a curriculum may appeal more to majority students in subtle ways and goes hand in hand with the relationship between power and identity.

Identity and ethnic group affiliation is important especially among dual-immersion and bilingual programs because there is the mix of majority and minority students learning target languages. Culture and identity influence how students think and affects their willingness or reluctance to act certain ways in school (Lightbown, 66). It is also a key part of the context that students are a part of and the experiences they are having in and out of the classroom, because identity and culture capture the way students interact with the world. In a study done by Norton on immigrant women in Canada, she writes how motivation was not enough to understand their relationships with language learning and the world. “There were social situations in which they were reluctant to speak and these were typically ones in which there was a power imbalance,” (Lightbown, 66). Those experiences limited the chances they had to participate and continue practicing the target language outside the classroom. Identities that are determined on students can impact their performance and the way they learn which can be harmful in a student’s learning process. It could also lead to limited interaction or feelings of powerlessness even though students may not openly show it (Lightbown, 66).

Language signifies power, and some more than others because of its relevance in society. In many areas, especially in Peru, bilingual schools are becoming more common because of the high value there is placed in knowing English. As globalization spreads, learning English becomes a necessity for them and also the opportunity for a better life (Nino-Murcia, 122). Learning English comes more from an instrumental motivation perspective for Peruvians because it is a way for higher social status, better employment opportunities, and power in society. It also makes themselves distinct from everyone else. An eye-opening point in the experiences that students have within bilingual and dual-immersion programs are the expectations that are set for them. For minority students, this is a part of the struggle with identity and background within these settings. In many cases, acquiring English is an expectation for minority students which signifies that there is less emphasis in the encouragement and praise they may receive (Valdes, 417). In turn, their motivation to learn English may be more extrinsic because they are depending on what their parents want and an opportunity for a better future. With less emphasis and focus on how much minority students achieve in their L2 acquisition, it can have a detrimental effect on their learning process. This could be due to the fact that English is universal and more and more people are learning to speak it to gain advantages in life. Meanwhile, majority students are praised and are rewarded for being able to speak a second language like Spanish and people are more easily impressed at their progress because it is less of an expectation to be able to know a second language.

In Peru, I have learned that being bilingual in English and Spanish is highly valued and looked upon because it is signifies a higher SES, while being bilingual in an indigenous language like quechua and Spanish has suffered from discrimination and is not as valued (Nino-Murica, 125). During my observation in the English classes at La Inmaculada, I was able to ask some students what they thought about learning English and many of them gave similar responses. They highlighted that it would help them find better jobs in the future and better opportunities in life. One also mentioned how his parents encouraged him to study abroad in the US for a month which he did, and he explained how much it had helped him understand the importance of learning English even more once he returned back to Peru. At Fe y Alegria in Cusco, we learned that it was a bilingual school but with Spanish and quechua which was incredibly unique to see. The school stressed upon preserving the culture and language since it will always be a part of them. Although students came in embarrassed or hesitant towards their cultural background because Peru’s society looks down towards indigeneity, the school has worked to show students and parents to be proud of their heritage through several cultural celebration days and emphasis on the learning of the language.

In schools in the US and Peru, language shapes the way students see themselves and how students interact with each other. This also leads to a sort of power struggle among identity and language in bilingual and dual-immersion schools as students try to understand their role in the social world. A way to address the issues within bilingual/dual-immersion programs are to start by providing quality instruction in both languages for all students in a way that recognizes their achievement and success within the classroom. But it should also provide an environment where students feel welcomed and celebrate each other’s differences. By actively addressing equal educational opportunity through interventions on the school administrator’s part and committing to the benefits of all students, it can be a start to addressing these issues especially for minority students. By being aware of the implicit hierarchy of power that is present among classmates, there can be a step towards equity and social relations along with the community that they live in. Education is more effective and just when learning is relevant to the world around them and there are culturally relevant teachers who give quality instruction, encourage collaborative learning for both groups of students, and teach students to inquire about the world around them. Language acquisition is a complex process and affects the way we view our own identity, our self-esteem and motivation, and the way we interact with others. As a result, especially among bilingual/dual-immersion programs where there are mixed groups of students, it is important to emphasize meaningful teaching where students are recognized as relevant, contributing citizens in and out of the classroom even thought they may come from an array of backgrounds.

Works Cited

Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2017). How languages are learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mercedes Niño. “‘English Is like the Dollar’: Hard Currency Ideology and the Status of English in Peru.” Freshwater Biology, Wiley/Blackwell (10.1111), 1 May 2003, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467–971X.00283.

Valdés, G. (1997). Dual-language immersion programs: A cautionary note concerning the education of language-minority students. Harvard Educational Review, 67(3), 391–429.

Philosophy of Education: Emily Chang

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

Emily Chang

The students in turn, also become the teacher by bringing in their own outside knowledge, their background, and taking what they have from their own experiences or the new knowledge they have acquired and bring it to everyone else.

Education and the learning cycle are an ongoing process that culminate who we are and how we perceive of the world around us. There are various ways in which students learn best within their environment, and addressing a more equitable education based off experiences for students helps us look past the surface level and more in depth at what they are capable of, or what they can bring into the classroom. It is a way to avoid the “banking concept” where the teacher is the dominant, all knowing person in the room, while the student has no knowledge in the subject area and accepts their inferior position, uncomfortable with the fact that they can contribute their own knowledge (Freire, 72). An important way in which we have discussed how students can confirm their beliefs about the schooling process and a teacher’s role in the classroom is through relevance of the context of what they are learning. One of the important parts about learning is to be able to relate the context with the world around them and understanding that what they are learning is actually important and useful. Education is a continuous, inquiring process for both students and teachers alike because we are constantly acquiring new knowledge from the ever-changing world around us. And everyone starts out being a student before being a teacher or having knowledge about a subject. Having experimental experiences that relate with the context of what students are learning creates a whole new contribution to their wellbeing and their inquiry process as a whole and not just their academics. Experiences increase motivation, attention to identity, and what captivates their interests. Schooling is just the base of an infrastructure in a student’s life on the kinds of knowledge they want to acquire, how they want to better themselves and the world around them, and what ignites their passion to make a change.

The challenge of empowering students comes from arranging quality experiences where students will work best and still be able to transfer the context of what they are learning into real life experiences in meaningful ways. Experiences are how we make sense of the world around us and engages students to further inquire in their learning process and even aid in their social transformation (Dewey, Experience and Education 13). Experiences provide a constant state of questioning where students connect learning with what they already know, what they want to know with their experiences and the experiences they want to have (Hooks, 20). By experiencing what they are also learning, students receive a much deeper and more profound understanding because they are hypothetically or literally putting themselves in the mindset of others or thinking in a different way than what the typical classroom structure offers, which opens up their eyes to the differences in the way the world thinks and lives. Creating experiences also leads teachers to think about differentiation and take into account students who come from different backgrounds because students make sense of experiences differently; so, thinking about environments where students will flourish best in and think freely is part of the creating process.

An example of how even simple experiences effect learning was during my time at La Inmaculada when I sat in on an English language lab class. The students were in a computer lab practicing their speaking/conversational skills through headsets with their other classmates. I also had the opportunity to participate with them and the activity had students discuss the topic of photography and how it could be used to make people aware of global issues around the world. The students were all engaged and it was an activity that gave them an experimental experience because they were speaking without any focus on any particular grammar form, but they were still thinking critically about the topic, conversing about their thoughts in the target language, and relating it with issues that were relevant in Peru such as traffic and pollution. It had students speaking to each other conversationally as if they were talking with their friends, and the topic had them connecting to problems that were relevant to them and around the world. It was interesting to observe as students discussed, changed, and added to their peers’ comments and helped each other by correcting or supporting their statements. Interactions within experiences are important because students find themselves looking at a concept from a different mindset, adding to their current knowledge and integrating within their own identity/outlook. “An experience is always what it is because of a transaction taking place between an individual and what, at the time, constitutes his environment, whether the latter consists of persons with whom he is talking about some topic or event, the subject being talked about being also part of the situation,” (Dewey, Experience and Education 10). In the English lab where students were connecting with their world today and interacting with each other, they were more interested in the topic and asked critical thinking questions that went beyond what they were just doing in the classroom. Through simple experimental experiences like this, the context becomes a part of their world and leads towards growth and awareness in their own mindset.

Another example of a pedagogy through experience is the study abroad program that we have participated in and other study abroad programs some of us participated in before. As we prepare to become educators, we have acquired knowledge, theories, knowing how to plan different types of lessons, and read our textbooks about education. But all this comes together and becomes clearer when comparing our field experiences with those in a different country where the education aspect is similar but classroom pedagogies, the backgrounds of students, expectations, and how lessons are carried out are drastically different. Through my experiences at the schools we were in, interactions with students, teachers, and program directors, and through discussions and not just straight lectures, I was able to have a deeper perception and understanding of what a culturally relevant pedagogy really is along with the social justice issues that are relevant in both Peru and the US. It was also easier bringing in concepts I have learned in the past 3 years of my Education classes into a more active light. Dewey writes, “Every genuine experience has an active side which changes in some degree the objective conditions under which experiences are had,” (Experience and Education, 8). We become more aware of the differences and the connections with our readings become more apparent leading to an active over passive thought process with what we are observing and connecting.

Through experiences that connect with our learning, it not only has students thinking critically but also makes the material relevant for them. Without relevance, students see no purpose in learning and begin to lose interest. As a result, it is important to provide quality input that students can relate to, to increase their motivation and strive for a long-term goal of innate curiosity that will continue to push them to want to learn more. Motivation is highly important in the learning process for a student because without it, there is no drive to continue discovering new knowledge and to value the content even after the lesson has been taught. If students only retain and regurgitate information that does not connect with meaningful experiences, the individual loses sight on the value of the subject matter and knowing how to take away reflection and purpose for future experiences (Dewey, Experience and Education 13). Motivation determines the level of active intervention in the learning process and influences students in a way that has them form goals and increase the duration in which they will continue to maintain their skills or knowledge of the content (Anjomshoa, 130). This is something I noticed especially while at Fe y Alegria in Lima, as there were a couple boys in the classroom who were greatly interested in biology and brought in outside knowledge they knew about cells into the classroom, since they had done outside research with help from the teacher. This type of intrinsic motivation where there is an innate desire to extend their learning outside the classroom is something I have also personally experienced this past year as well in some of my Spanish classes. One of my professors helped me understand the meaning of motivation, particularly in language learning, along with how motivation aligns directly with the experiences we have in the target language. I believe that motivation that comes within a person is more meaningful than motivation that is guided by other outside factors, since it is a desire to want to learn more for your own sake than for something else. It brings on more meaningful experiences that impact you for a longer period of time rather than in the moment. It refers to what Hooks calls “engaged pedagogy” where there is also an emphasis on the wellbeing of the teacher in order for them to give proper guidance and empower their own students (15). It starts from the inside, changing our own selves, because that starts inspiring others to change for the better too.

An example that Dewey uses connecting motivation and experiences is with the acquiring of language, and he relates with how motivation of learning comes from the social experiences people have with others. “There is all the difference in the world between having something to say and having to say something,” (Dewey, School and Society 50). This was something that resonated with me particularly as a teacher who will be teaching another language, since classroom settings emphasize more on the semantics of language and less on the pragmatics or the conversational, less structured aspect of learning a language. Like the English lab example, learning is more productive when there is purpose and a motivation to bring in their own input.

A supporting example I looked into at how experiences aid in our learning process, comes from a study done by one of my Spanish professors who explored the relation in motivation, interaction, and development of speaking proficiency in another language after a study abroad experience. With certain pretests and posttests, his study indicated that students with integrative motivation that study abroad and those who have an innate desire to learn through communication with other speakers of the target language, increase their interaction with people of the target language, culture and with the language in general more outside of the classroom (Hernandez, 607–608). Implications show that although the study abroad experience definitely increases motivation and interaction with the target language, there are still ways to incorporate similar experiences into the classroom for those who do not study abroad by creating similar, natural environments for students. Although there may be limited resources, time, and money for teachers to create certain types of experiences, they can still use it as an infrastructure to create and incorporate an opportunity for students to still give their own output through inquiry projects and cooperative activities. It can also aid in the development of more comfortable, less structured discussions on certain topics that has students participating more naturally. These types of activities lead to experiences for students that also may have them look into moral or ethical issues in society and how they relate the context of what they are learning with the environment around them. Students could look more in depth at the issues that exist within their community and address those problems in ethical ways which leads to meaningful and quality experiences.

Alongside this though, there comes the question of who the teacher really is in the classroom. In a pedagogy that incorporates significant, profound experiences, the “teacher” would be both the student and the educator in this sense, because the teacher continues to inquire and learn in order to create those quality experiences for students. The students in turn, also become the teacher by bringing in their own outside knowledge, their background, and taking what they have from their own experiences or the new knowledge they have acquired and bring it to everyone else.

In conclusion, by using experiences as a forefront to schooling, students and teachers receive a broader input and output to make sense of the world and with what they are learning. From my experiences at the schools in Lima and Cusco, it is evident that more students are eager for experiences that have them inquire about the world around them and where they can have meaningful reflections on what they experience. The learning process becomes more complex and opens the mindset of students beyond the classroom and gives purpose to schooling. Without the relevance of experiences, students would not get past the surface level of particular topics and issues that are relevant around the world. A pedagogy through experiences is the base for a liberating, empowering, and more equitable education because it addresses all the aspects that students can control in the way they learn with guidance, and differentiates for them in a way that is less structured and more towards what helps them learn best through connection and experience.

Works Cited

Anjomshoa, L., & Sadighi, F. (2015, February). The Importance of Motivation in Second

Language Acquisition. International Journal on Studies in English Language and

Literature (IJSELL), 126–137. Retrieved from https://www.arcjournals.org/pdfs/ijsell/v3

i2/12.pdf

Dewey, John. Experience and Education. New York: Macmillan, 1963. Print.

Dewey, John. The School and Society: Being Three Lectures. Chicago: The University of

Chicago Press, 1899. Print.

Florence, Namulundah. Bell Hooks’ Engaged Pedagogy: A Transgressive Education for Critical

Consciousness. Westport, Conn.: Bergin & Garvey, 1998.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder, 1972. Print.

Hernández, T. (2010). The Relationship Among Motivation, Interaction, and the Development of

Second Language Oral Proficiency in a Study-Abroad Context. The Modern Language

Journal, 94(4), 600–617. Retrieved from http://0

www.jstor.org.libus.csd.mu.edu/stable/40959582

Equitable Education: Emily Chang

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

Emily Chang

It has also taught me the importance of trying to understand the experiences the student has outside the classroom and how their strengths can be brought into the classroom, because every student is intelligent in their own way and incorporates education into their own lives in various ways.

As our time in Peru comes to an end, I begin to reflect on the various schooling systems we have experienced and the different schools we visited in both Lima and Cusco. We have had the opportunity to interact with multiple grade levels, subject areas, and teachers, all of which I learned so much about and how the role of education plays in the lives of students from various backgrounds. In our past seminars we have been discussing how schooling is a political, cultural, and social process in which educators should incorporate these on top of an intellectual process as well. We have been able to observe this while in Peru and talked about how we can make these more equitable in our classrooms.

We spent the last couple of days at a public school in Cusco where it had primary and secondary grades and we spent two days in each type of classrooms. The first day we arrived, students were out in the open area playing soccer, volleyball, and mingling with their friends while wearing colorful ponchos and hats. We first sat in on the primary grade with 5 year olds who were eager to learn and enthusiastic to answer questions from the teacher. They had a collaborative activity where each group was assigned a word and each student had to take letters from their workbooks to form their specific word and then paste it on a poster. When we observed the older grades, they had a question and discussion type of class among their peers and with the teacher. Taking into account all the processes that schooling seems to look after, I reflected upon how we have seen all this during our time in Peru. In the upper levels, I have seen various subject area classes where teachers guide students through the learning process by promoting critical thinking problems, encouraging collaborative work spaces, having bilingual programs or celebrating culture days, and relating the context of what they are learning with the world around them.

Looking back at all the past schools we visited and observed, I began to understand the deeper meaning behind what an equitable education really means and how to incorporate it into the processes of schooling. From our readings and our seminar discussion, we talked about how it could possibly start with celebrating diversity and including a multicultural curriculum that looks past the surface level of cultural relevance and in a more meaningful way. The difficulty though starts with a teacher’s understanding of the effects of inequality and injustice of different cultures and the biases that surround them. By understanding these effects, educators can create environments within their classroom where students appreciate diversity and recognize the importance of equality and share this knowledge with their students through subject areas. By incorporating “equity literacy” as one of our readings called it, into the learning process, students widen their horizons on various topics around the world and how they can connect their learning with the understanding that they can address this inequity as well. It is a beginning to integrating into our mentality the understanding of how cultural differences can be a strength rather than a weakness, and is a beginning and end to a truly meaningful culturally relevant curriculum that includes principles of equity. I have learned that making various processes more equitable means getting a closer look into each individual students’ talents and takes into account the knowledge that they bring into the classroom. It has also taught me the importance of trying to understand the experiences the student has outside the classroom and how their strengths can be brought into the classroom, because every student is intelligent in their own way and incorporates education into their own lives in various ways.

Getting a closer look into the different schooling systems in Peru, interacting with students from a wide variety of backgrounds, and talking with some of the teachers into the type of pedagogy they preach, has broadened my horizons in how I can use what I have learned here and bring back to the US. Because there was such an array of experiences and reflections that were so different, I was able to reflect upon the idea of privilege as well and the meaning of education that differs from student to student depending on the school and the area they lived in. Most of the schools we visited stressed the importance of equity alongside social justice which was great, but I still found it surprising that only the school in Fe y Alegria in Cusco included it specifically in their mission statement. Overall, my experience in Peru has been incredible and I have learned so much about the diverse aspects that go into being an educator and how we can help our students thrive in school settings and as participating citizens that are culturally and socially aware of the world around them.

The Power of Language, Culture, & Race: Emily Chang

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

Emily Chang

It was especially tough during the winter seasons and when it rained since it would be cold and dreary and they didn’t have sturdy shoes. It reflected upon me how much these students value their education and how it would serve as an opportunity for a better life for them in the future.

It has been a whirlwind of a week ending our time in Lima and moving onto Cusco! Our days at Fe y Alegria proved to be another great experience for us because we looked into the various types of school systems evident in Peru. I had an amazing time with these students since they were so open to having us in the classroom and excited to get to know all about us. We left with smiling faces and full hearts understanding more everyday how the school seemed to play a big role in students’ lives. The next morning, we had packed our belongings, popped our altitude sickness pills, gave tearful goodbyes to our host mom Chela, and left for an early flight to Cusco with our university advisor Margaret and a student from the university who we considered our “hermana mayor” (big sister), Marisol!

We made our way to the hotel and I immediately fell in love with Cusco. There were cobblestone streets, small shops, and beautiful alleyways filled with rainbow colored flags (the flag of their city) and with locals selling or holding ALPACAS! The streets were filled with parades and loud music because apparently June was a month of celebration for Cusco so it was fun to see locals and tourists out and about watching the buzz that seemed to flow all throughout the city.

The next day, we drove down to a Jesuit retreat house in a small, sleepy town in the mountains called Andahuaylillas, where we would be staying for the next couple of days. We visited another Fe y Alegria school but noticed a difference right away since it was in a very rural area. One of the directors of the school gave us a presentation on this particular school, their mission, and their vision for their students. It was a closer look into the lives of these students since they lacked basic necessities such as electricity and water and some lived way up in the mountains. That meant some of them walked 3 hours just to get to school (2 if they were walking fast or were running!) since they had to hike down. It was especially tough during the winter seasons and when it rained since it would be cold and dreary and they didn’t have sturdy shoes. It reflected upon me how much these students value their education and how it would serve as an opportunity for a better life for them in the future.

There were many interesting parts that stood out to me about this specific school. One was that their mission statement talked about equity alongside serving the needs of their students. Most of the other schools we saw didn’t incorporate that directly into their mission statement, but it stood out to me to see how much they emphasized it since all their students do come from various types of living situations and backgrounds. Indigeneity is a relevant aspect throughout the Cusco region, especially so at Fe y Alegria and this was shown through the fact that this was also a bilingual school. It was not in the sense of English and Spanish being the main languages taught, but instead Spanish and Quechua (the indigenous language of the Incans), so they taught classes in both to preserve their culture and language. The school stressed upon preserving their cultural identity and incorporating this into the mindset of their students, something I believe is so important to integrate in education since it opens our mindset to differentiation and accepting cultural differences. The director explained to us that a lot of students were afraid or embarrassed of their indigenous background since it was rejected in Peru’s society and castellano Spanish was always more valued even by parents. So Fe y Alegria has worked to prevent this and to show students and even parents to be proud of their heritage and their language through several days that celebrate their culture. This connected with one of our readings as it talked about the strong influence of parents in the lives of their children and especially so when it comes to how they will thrive in the future (Lareau). It was interesting to see this since after reading one of our other articles, bilingualism in Peru in Spanish and quechua is not as highly looked upon as Spanish and any other language such as English. This brought a discussion between me and my peers over the connection between social class and the definition of bilingualism in Peru and even in the US and what it signifies.

I loved though that Fe y Alegria attempts to help students understand and construct their cultural identity because culture influences how we think with or without knowledge. There is also an emphasis on keeping girls in schools since most start later since it was not safe nor reasonable to have them walk such long distances at a young age, or they would stop after primary school since they were needed in the household to help their mothers. They have been improving their rates of keeping girls longer in schools but it is still something they are working on.

Looking at this has brought us to discuss if it is possible to philosophize education without addressing race and inequality. I don’t believe it is possible to do this since it doesn’t take into account individual differences or how students from different races fit into the bigger context. Not everyone comes with the same privileges or opportunities. Culture/race is a key part of the context that make up a student and the experiences they are having are what they bring to the classroom. Inequality affects the way we conceive of educations purpose and potential because it can hinder or be an open way for revision and reconstruction. There are different levels of inequality and each one requires a closer look at how educators can frame/create a more effective education for all instead of for a specific group of students.

The experiences I have had in the Andes intersect with my experiences in Lima since it centralizes around the power of language and identity. In Peru, learning English and Spanish is a privilege and signifies a higher SES, while quechua has suffered from discrimination and signifies a lower class. Language shapes identity and is relevant in both areas, especially through the various schools we have visited and seeing how students view themselves. Regardless of social class though, both areas have shown there is an importance in the sense of building cultural knowledge and globalizing their mentality in whatever language they are learning and whatever background they may come from. Language and culture are something that uniquely identifies who they are and the power comes from believing how they can build upon and use those to succeed in their future endeavors.

Learning vs. Knowing: Emily Chang

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

Emily Chang

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

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

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

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

Challenging the System: Emily Chang

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

Emily Chang

In general, I noticed that students in all the classes were very respectful towards their teachers, were engaged with the material they were working with, and seemed to prefer collaborative learning. They were all about learning together and interdependence where the mentality seemed to be that they understand or fail together.

As we our week at La Inmaculada comes to an end, I have had the opportunity to experience a variety of teaching styles for various subjects, and from teachers with different backgrounds. It has been interesting to see the diversity and I have learned more about the students’ roles in the classrooms as well. My days in the English classrooms have been engaging as I could be the most helpful in this area and had the chance to observe 3 types of teachers: one from America, one from New Zealand, and one who was not a native English speaker. They all had similar goals in what they wanted their students to achieve, but the delivery of their content was different.

The American teacher, Matthew, had a collaborative approach to teaching with groups reading an article about economics together in English then working together to summarize using specific forms of the past and future tense. He had a friendly relationship with his students and they were not afraid to ask him questions or for revisions. Johanna, the teacher from New Zealand actually mentioned to me that she did not have a teaching license but just a TOEFL certification instead. She structured her lessons as more towards a lecture in the beginning focusing on the writing process, and then had students create a guided outline before starting an essay. The class also went to an English language lab which was super interesting to be a part of since students had headsets and practiced their speaking and conversational skills with other students in the class over a certain theme/topic. This is something that I had wished was incorporated into my Spanish classes when I was in high school as our practice with speaking abilities was very structured/limited and less like in a natural or normal environment with other students. Maia, the other teacher was not a native English speaker and was Japanese. She was pretty strict in the way she taught and focused a lot of their learning through the use of their laptops and less emphasis on interaction. I personally was not a huge fan of her teaching style since students didn’t seem to be engaged with one another, but they were still eager to learn and frequently asked questions for clarifications.

In general, I noticed that students in all the classes were very respectful towards their teachers, were engaged with the material they were working with, and seemed to prefer collaborative learning. They were all about learning together and interdependence where the mentality seemed to be that they understand or fail together. In my math class, one boy was confused with something in the problem and I noticed that another boy came over and began to help him while the lesson was still going on; and the teacher didn’t seem to mind at all! What was unique about this placement vs. my placement in the U.S. were that students were very friendly and not afraid to go out of their way to ask me questions if they needed help. A lot of times in the schools I’m at in the U.S., the students don’t reach out as often or try to get to know me too well since I am not the main teacher. It is a lot more effort on my part to get students to talk with me. But here, students in my English classes reached out to me even during their breaks to ask me questions for their homework or schoolwork. It was also appreciating to see when they tried to practice their English or spoke in Spanish with me as well to get to know me.

Being at a school like La Inmaculada has brought me to ponder our discussion question which is what is or should be the role of privileged school communities in an unequal society. It also focused on what it would take to educate the global elite. Looking at our meeting with the Jesuit director of the school, he mentioned starting with instilling important and humanizing values and creating an atmosphere of inclusivity. This is definitely important to think about and referring back to our readings, I think about the importance on being open to revision and reconstruction as well to respond to the constant changes and inequality that exist in the contemporary world. By confronting inequality along with educating and valuing diversity, those who are privileged could increase their ways of looking at the world from different points of view (Greene). Changing from a stage of denial to the goal of integration where people begin to include diversity as a definition of their own identity may give awareness and a more active role in how they can change such a rigid system. There is also the importance of educating the privileged and elite about not just knowledge from their books, but also knowledge of the world around them, the community that they live in, and the process of self-actualization (Hooks). By addressing these factors, teachers can hopefully inspire and educate students on the inequality that exists within society to encourage them to make changes and challenge reinforced systems of superiority and divide.

Approaching Learning Through Experience: Emily Chang

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

Emily Chang

As a result, the teacher became the student and the student became the teacher and created a relationship where they were co-teachers and learners, unlike the banking concept I had previously talked about with very strict lines of superiority.

The educational contexts we have encountered have provided a captivating and eye-opening experience for me thus far. From our readings and seminar discussions, we have discussed an occurrence that we tend to see in schools today called the “banking concept.” This concept is when schools create a fine line between the student and teacher, where the teachers are dominant in the area of education and knowledge, while students know nothing and come from no background knowledge. This in turn, has had students accept their inferior position and uncomfortable with challenging a teacher or contributing their own skills and knowledge into the classroom. But there is an importance in linking that divide and finding meaningful connections between education and personal experiences together. This is what we have been able to see through the educational contexts we have encountered from our first field placement this week at our first school. We as educators have the challenge of arranging quality experiences in which students will thrive and increase their integrative motivation to produce an intrinsic need for wanting to learn more in the future. Our readings would point out that organization is also important in the educational contexts we have encountered, but in a way that is experimental instead of structural to help promote growth. As a result, educators should try new and innovative ways to link their education with the real world.

This week, we started our first field experience at a school called La Inmaculada which is a school located in between wealthy and poor neighborhoods in Lima. The school starts from kindergarten and goes all the way up to high school. We were placed individually into classrooms and organized by our majors and whether we were primary or secondary education. I was placed into a classroom with seniors and it was an interesting first day as I noted the differences throughout the day between schools in the U.S. and Peru. The first thing I noticed was that students stayed in the same classroom all day while it was the teachers that moved from class to class. A lot of instruction and learning was also student-oriented rather than teacher-oriented which was refreshing to see as a lot of times it is the opposite in the U.S. The teachers encouraged more student output as well and they were eagerly involved with whatever subject material they were working on. I observed specifically a history class and a math class, both of which were different in teaching styles but similar when it involved with having students give their feedback and co-creating knowledge with one another.

The history class consisted of a lecture about white utopia, the effects of colonialism, and social stratification. Each student read a paragraph and would then give their input or general idea of what they thought the passage was trying to say, then the teacher would add supporting details and clarify anything that seemed confusing but still build off what the student had said. It was interesting as the teacher encouraged more of what the student thought of the passage first, and then backed them up or explained with more details. In the math class, the teacher did example problems and had one problem for students to solve on their own. Students were allowed to work collaboratively or alone and then he chose one student to demonstrate how to solve the problem on the board. As a result, the teacher became the student and the student became the teacher and created a relationship where they were co-teachers and learners, unlike the banking concept I had previously talked about with very strict lines of superiority. If a classmate didn’t understand something, the student up at the board had to break down the problem even further or explain it in a way that clarified it, showing a mutual, cooperative learning aspect between students. These kinds of environment that teachers form go hand in hand with some of our readings, as they talk about combining meaningful experiences with education to promote not just individual growth, but also social, emotional, moral, and intellectual growth, and this all happens from learning through experiences. Using this educational context, the teachers here show how they are attempting to end hierarchies between teacher and student and more towards social equalization (Freire). In our seminar, we discussed the limitations with using experiences to promote growth and interaction within students since it does take an extensive amount of time and money. But I think there are still ways to include these so that students can hone their instincts in the direction of growth and capability.

As teachers, we can use it as a base and try to incorporate or create versions of those quality experiences with a long term goal of arousing curiosity to go out on their own and discover the world around them. A supporting example I thought of was a research project in my Spanish class I had last semester where I created a study on the effects of motivation and intercultural competence after studying abroad. After researching, there was a section we had to talk about that explained how our anticipated results from our study could help in language pedagogy for a teacher. As a result, my sources and my professor helped explain to me how creating similar/natural environments and incorporating real life situations or input within the classroom for students who hadn’t studied abroad, could still increase their speaking abilities, their motivation, and understanding of their identity just a much as those students who had studied abroad. Overall, our seminar discussion and first field placement have brought for interesting observations about teaching and providing the best environment for learning and instruction for students. I am excited to see what else I learn and to continue making observations in my field placement at La Inmaculada!

On a side note, I had an awesome time this weekend spending time with some kids from La Casita for their International Day of Play and getting to play with them. These kids have so much spirit and affection for us that I always leave with a big smile on my face and wanting to stay with them longer. On Sunday, my friends Caroline, Grace and I decided to take advantage of our free time and go surfing! It was so fun (and funny to watch my friends fall off their surfboards) and I’m glad I had the chance to catch some waves after being away from the beach for so long. Maybe we’ll end up just becoming professional surf instructors instead??? I’ll keep you updated 😊


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