Posts Tagged 'Marquette Meets Peru'



It’s Just Not Fair

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

By Allie Bosley

Hola! We have just come to the end of the first leg of our trip. This morning I hopped on a plane and flew to Cusco for the final week of studying abroad before I head back to Milwaukee! This past week went by so fast, and yet we packed a lot in. We spent time with the Casitas kids, we took a tour of a public grade school and we visited PEA, an alternative night school in El Agustino. It has been a week of learning and understanding for me, and I think there’s a lot that I can take away from the experiences that we had.

book-4299797_960_720.pngThrough the visits and experiences we have had in different school settings, accompanied by the readings we have done in class and the questions Dr. Gibson has posed for us to think about, I have begun to think about educational inequalities. The schools that we have been to thus far include Colegio de la Inmaculada, Tupac Amaru, Colegio Roosevelt, and Programa Educación Alternativa. We also saw interactive schools like Las Casitas and MLK Sports Program. There were vast differences between these four schools that I would consider to be inequalities. At Roosevelt, an American school primarily for children of ambassadors, business people, and those in high power that move to Peru, there was state of the art technology around every corner. With the school being about $19,000 per year, they had the ability to build a new grade school with advanced learning classrooms, an incredible library, and more, and they have plans to tear down their high school and build a new one within the next two years. This was easily the nicest school that I have seen while here. Colegio de la Inmaculada was a very close second to Roosevelt, with very nice amenities for their students including an expansive zoo, multiple courts and fields, and very nice classrooms. We also visited Tupac Amaru, a public school that was started by the parents in that district. This school, which is not zoned for earthquakes, teaches the students many different trades to prepare them to search for a job post graduation. Lastly, we sat in on classes at Programa Educación Alternativa in El Agustino following our trips to Las Casitas. This school is for those that did not finish their high school education for a multitude of reasons and is at night so those with jobs can still attend. While this school is funded by the government, they still have little resources for their students to use. Throughout all of these schools we have seen different approaches to education. We have seen traditional, straight-from-the-book learning, project-based learning, and everything in between. I think that some of these methods work better than others, but it’s also about the individual. I find that education is sometimes presented in a way that takes away the individuality of students and that is where the inequality stems from. Even though there are these inequalities, I do think there is room for growth and fixing.

We, as a class, have talked a lot about flourishing in education. I think it can be hard to flourish when there is inequality, but I do not think that it is simply a material problem. As humans, often times we want to throw materials at a problem that we think will help without thinking about the ins and outs of using a material. For example, you wouldn’t donate Smartboards to a school with no wifi because they would be useless, and yet people still do, when really the school needs water filters and white boards. I think that educational inequalities can only be fixed by providing effective material goods alongside non-material goods like love and self-esteem and more. This is a problem with many moving parts, and it’s incredibly challenging to get them all to work together. One of the deepest issues I see with educational inequality is the political and moral problems surrounding it. There is a clear notion that the status quo must be kept and in order to do that, the educational inequalities are kept in place. There is enough money and resources in the world to get children just education but it doesn’t work that way because once you give people the power they rightfully deserve, those currently in power lose what they have.

When we look at the different educational contexts here in Peru, you can see how each experience is a little different. There is the more serious types of classroom setting, gym settings, team sports, after school and more. In each of these situations you see different types of learning being done. I think that there is not one type of learning that is more beneficial than others, but together they make a whole learner. If a student is only getting the guided-learning classroom approach without the sports than they are going to lack in the play aspect, that encourages curiosity and learning how to work together with their peers. On the other hand, if a student was only getting the interactive learning, then they would lack the fundamental skills needed like reading and math. In these different contexts there is also differing power dynamics. Often times, we see the teacher teaching and the student learning. What I find to be most beneficial in my experience as a learner is the teacher and the student learning from each other. When we as students see that a teacher can be vulnerable and is willing to learn from their students as much as they can teach them, even if it’s not about the content specifically, it makes for a healthy classroom dynamic.

Looking at my educational experience with the knowledge I have now, I can see how truly beneficial it was for me to be in multiple activities as a kid but also now as a college student. If I only focused on school or extracurriculars I don’t believe I would have had the same success thus far. I can also use this knowledge for my future career, to hopefully encourage students to try new things and take all aspects of their lives seriously because they shape us into the people we are now without even seeing it in the moment. I would encourage teachers to educate their students on their representation and on their individualism so that they have the knowledge in the future of advocate for themselves and others.

As I embark on the final week of my trip, I’ll be seeing one more school and after school program as well as hiking Machu Picchu and visiting small towns near Cusco!

“Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.” — MLK Jr.

Learning Skills versus Content

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

By Gabriela Oliveras-Bonaparte

Buenos días a todos,

My mom tells me that when I was beginning to talk as a child, my first words were in Spanish. As soon as I started pre-school in Wisconsin, the hope for being completely fluent in both Spanish and English began to slip away. At Atwater Elementary School, we began to learn Spanish in school starting in first grade. Spanish was the only class in which I was the smartest student in the room. But although I was confident in the classroom, when in Puerto Rico, I would become embarrassed or shy when speaking Spanish. In learning a new language, one must leave their insecurities behind and they must be willing to make mistakes and be vulnerable in order to master another language. Coming to Peru, in almost all the different educational settings I have observed, I have seen people trying to learn a different language. So far it’s been exclusively students trying to learn English. I like to think that this is peoples’ wish for communicating with others in order to make connections and relationships. That is the one commonality I have seen across all the different educational settings I have been in over the course of these three weeks.

1_qaxXymGng4h_ekCHYK1AtA.jpeg

Right outside the kindergarten at Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt (An American School)

This past week, we spent Monday and Wednesday going to PEA, which stands for Programa de Educación Alternativa (program for alternative education). This is a school that runs from 6:30 to 10:30 at night for people ages sixteen and older. It serves a diverse population who are need of finishing their high-school education. In addition to spending time in PEA, this past week I was also fortunate to tour two schools. The first school we saw was Túpac Amaru. This is a public school on the edge of Lima serving a very large student population. Because it is public, they are not allowed to ask for any money from the parents of the students they serve and instead they get a small amount of money from the government to keep the school running. In contrast to Túpac Amaru, we also toured Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which is an American school in Lima. At Roosevelt the population seems to be the richest of the richest children who come to get some of the best education Peru has to offer. This school is private and they accept students based on applications; English is also the primary language in which subjects are taught.

Just from this week alone, I have seen many education inequalities in terms of materials. In a school like Túpac Amaru, there are very little resources. Their library was the size of a small room, and they had very little technology but had machines and tools for a shop class, sewing class, and cooking which can be described as trades. In PEA, I saw very little technology; in fact, the one projector that I did see was something the professor brought himself to use for his lesson. In contrast, Roosevelt had everything from two big libraries, 3D printers that students could use, and each child has a laptop or an iPad made available to them. The contrast with this material inequality is extreme, but it is difficult to define education inequality as solely material based. There are so many different factors that go into educational inequalities that focusing in on the material aspect is unfair for students and communities.

In the book “The Global Achievement Gap,” Tony Wagner talks about his idea of what the global achievement gap is and ways in which he believes this inequality can be fixed. He defines the gap as follows:

“The first of these well documented, widely discussed, and the focus of education reform efforts for the past decade or so is the gap between the quality of schooling that most middle-class kids get in America and the quality of schooling available for most poor and minority children and the consequent disparity in results. The second one is the global achievement gap, as I’ve come to call it, the gap between what even our best suburban, urban, and rural public schools are teaching and testing versus what all students will need to succeed as learners, workers, and citizens in today’s global knowledge economy.”

He identifies that there is an inequality in terms of the quality of schooling available to children and later goes on to talk about how globally there is a misconception of what is taught in schools versus what students actually need to know in order to be successful in life or to flourish. In fact, the global achievement gap somewhat stems from the lack knowledge and mastery of these seven skills he poses. Just to give a quick run-down, the seven skills are as follows: critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration across networks and leading by influence, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, and lastly curiosity and imagination.

These skills are what I believe to be universal in the sense that they are good for almost any career one would like to pursue and are just all-around good skills to have. It is funny that I have not really seen these skills explicitly being taught in a traditional school setting. I believe that some of these skills get touched on but definitely not all. The only time I have seen these seven skills being taught was in my summer camp leadership training program. We use critical thinking and problem-solving skills every day between trying to figure out how to make a homesick camper feel better to what to do next when its starts pouring on a campout.

Collaboration across networks and leading by influence come into play when working with co-counselors or different units and always trying to “lead by example.” Agility and adaptability can be seen when counselors are constantly making adjustments to their day along the way based on their campers’ wants and needs. Counselors are constantly pushed to take initiative in starting up a game for a group of campers among other things. In order to be an effective counselor, there is a lot of training on how to communicate effectively and we also need to write camper reports as well. Also, counselors have to always assess information and analyze situations their campers provide. Finally, when working in a business of children, counselors are constantly being asked to let their creativity and imagination run wild.

I guess what I am trying to say as that, yes, I do think these skills are very important and that they can set up students for success if they master them. But maybe in order to for students to reach their full potential according to these skills, one must think to go outside the four walls of a traditional classroom. The question that I still have is how something like this can be implemented in a way that is equal or fair for all students?

Goodbye Lima

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

By Ashley Dorlack

As I sit in my new “home” in Cusco, I cannot help but to reflect and begin to digest the past week and all my time spent in Lima. The busy sounds of car engines and horns bumper to bumper and the sounds of children singing and laughing together in play, the smells of dirt and the oh so many dogs in the city, the sights of rich history, architecture and loving people, the taste of ceviche and rice at every meal, and, most importantly, the feelings I feel when thinking about this city all feel like home. Saying goodbye to our host family and our friends at Casitas this week was truly heartbreaking, but I know that they will all be with me wherever I may go. A piece of my heart is still in Lima.

1_Rop_Ub4lpWsWHeGXa7wO5w

A Classroom at Roosevelt

For our last week in Lima, we traveled to Tupac Amaru and Roosevelt; two different schools, one public school and one elite private school, that we were able to observe and tour. Tupac Amaru, who welcomed us with open arms and even our own “paparazzi,” educated lower income students through focusing on the trades, including sewing, mechanics, cosmetology, and woodshop, to ensure that they will have the skills upon graduating if they are not financially able to go to college. The school has more traditional values with some valuable twists, such as collectively deciding upon rules prior to class taking place to ensure the students’ utmost autonomy. Roosevelt had an immaculate campus, with nearly every resource available to their students. From multiple libraries, countless computer and “maker” labs, and extracurricular activities with facilities on campus, to small class sizes, well trained and sought-after teachers with experience, and innovative, problem-based learning techniques used campus wide, Roosevelt was overwhelming to say the least. Aside from touring the two schools, we were able to participate in an alternative night school, P.E.A., in El Agustino. At this school, education is rethought to provide an education for students who otherwise were either set up to fail in the traditional school system or took a different path earlier in life and are studying to earn the equivalence of a G.E.D. We also were able to return to our Casitas, the after school program in El Agustino, which offers significant and effective ways to view students and their role within the classroom. The utter differences between these three schools and after school program was astounding, and the undeniable systematic inequality is at the forefront of my mind whenever I think of Lima.

1_J0ZvsB8M5_UE2pzo2BpRbw

A Classroom at Tupac Amaru

In my opinion, educational inequalities are not fixable if the political, social and economic inequalities are not also addressed. It is well documented that students in poverty suffer both academically and physically, which also thus negatively influences their education. This cyclical effect on educational outcomes is not just from inequality of educational offerings, which is evidently present, but also results from the economic disadvantages and other obstacles that were systematically designed to keep the poor in poverty and the rich more rich. Educational inequality is far more than simply a material problem; it’s about the system by which we are building up our students’ self-esteem while exposing them to inquiry of real life problems. If it were solely about materials, it would be easy to equalize resources for every school in the world. But, it is the systemic racism against minorities within all systems, including political, cultural, social, legal and moral, that perpetuates the educational inequality. Justice is far more than a short term band aid on a ubiquitous problem; it is a constant battle that we must fight for the rights of each student. Every student is simply human, and it is about time that we implement this in our school to universalize the value of our students regardless of their backgrounds or what big government or systems tell us to believe about our students. They can do anything with the right tools and guidance.

When solely examining education, since it is our duty to provide a just, robust education for all students regardless of their area code, the aims of our current education system are wrong. The educational gap, stratified by race, class, gender and ability presented in a hierarchy calls for justice in order for flourishing to occur. Systematically, the educational system is put in place to encourage students who are able to memorize and regurgitate information on standardized tests that are biased towards wealthy white members of society anyways. In order to thrive, I argue that a focus on inquiry, through problem solving and critical thinking, beneficial differentiation, cultivating curiosity within the classroom, and true collaboration between teachers and students must occur. This then encourages flourishing, or students living out their purpose and the ultimate growth of the whole person and their soul. This flourishing looks different for everyone, which once again reinforces the need for a new system that attempts to shape all students to fit into an identical mold; this is not education! This is conforming to a system and true flourishing will never occur!

Some potential approaches within the classroom to aid in the fight against educational inequality include learning alongside your students, providing outlets that are otherwise deprived of students within school, and problem posing education. By simply teachers not acting as authoritative, omniscient figures but rather as inquirers alongside their students, barriers are broken down that elicit more meaningful, productive learning and discourse. This humanizing relationship allows for mutual care for students and teachers alike beyond an academic setting and allows for students to best learn. By cultivating this type of relationship with students, teachers are able to have more open conversations with students, positive school interactions, and simply to show students that teachers also share the common humanity with their students. Additionally, another way to approach educational inequalities is to provide students with opportunities to engage with manual labor and craftsmanship. Often times, the downright depressing traditional classroom is depriving students not only of true flourishing, but also of working with their hand to produce. This type of engagement allows for the critical thinking process to shape students interactions with the craft and provides more than traditional schooling. Finally, by using essential questions and problem posing as a form of inquiry within the classroom, the teacher can craft authentic learning experiences that will engage students in critical thinking prepare students for their future. Since our dehumanizing system relies heavily on memorization and recitation, students are objectified as test scores and are turned into zombies who give up their autonomy. However, by challenging students to reach their full potential through real life problem solving, they are able to truly flourish, despite the system sometimes not wanting them to.

How Do We Even Begin to Fix Educational Inequality?

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

By Mary Kate Jezuit

education-1959551_960_720It is hard to believe our time in Lima has come to an end. Despite long days packed with visits all around the city, and of course lots of traffic, the time flew by. Throughout this time in Lima we have really gotten the chance to see so many sides of the city and its people through the lenses of various education systems. It is quite obvious that there are substantial educational inequalities present in Lima, and this was made very clear through our visit to Tupac Amaru, a public secondary school, in comparison to our visit to Roosevelt, a private American school. The material differences stood out like a sore thumb, with Tupac Amaru having only a few older desktops as a lab and bathrooms that cannot be used because they will just be destroyed whenever the next bad earthquake hits. On the other hand, Roosevelt had a one-to-one laptop program and wanted to rebuild a building that was already in high quality condition. These material inequalities obviously give students at schools like Roosevelt more tools and opportunities to enhance their education and make the most of it, but even without all these material benefits, I believe there would still be a difference. The problem of educational inequality is not solely materialistic and cannot be solved by simply providing schools in need with more materials. It is a systemic issue, that I still believe is fixable, but only with a lot of effort from many different ends of the system.

Gloria Ladson-Billings writes about the inequalities in education in her article, “From Achievement Gap to the Educational Debt: Understanding Achievement in U.S. Schools.” She argues that instead of solely focusing on this gap, it is important that we understand how it has come to be overtime through various “debts” that accumulate from the all-encompassing education debt. Ladson-Billings is writing from a U.S. perspective, but when reading this article, I noticed a lot of parallels with what we have experienced here in Peru. Though the education debt or achievement gap in Peru may not be as connected to race as it is in the U.S., it definitely still exists between classes. Ladson-Billings discusses historical debt, which emphasizes how education has been limited or forbidden for various groups in the past, meaning they are already behind white students who have always had education accessible to them. I noticed this in context in Peru when we were at Tupac Amaru and they told us that the school was initially formed by parents because their children were not receiving an adequate education, so they had to ensure this themselves. The next debt is the economic debt which highlights the funding disparities between schools for white students and students of color. In Peru, this can be seen by public schools receiving the bare minimum of government funding, while private schools are thriving due to funding from tuition, which inherently disadvantages students who cannot afford to pay for school. The sociopolitical debt refers to how communities of color are excluded from the civic process, making it harder to advocate for themselves in the government. In Peru, lower-class communities are often forgotten or purposefully blocked out of politics as well, which has to do with why schools like Tupac Amaru or in El Agustino struggle to get more funding or resources. The final debt she discusses is the moral debt which is essentially what we owe to different groups of people based on the relationship that existed between the two parties. This is the most complex of the debts, but in the case of Peru it seems evident that there is a moral debt owed to the lower-class communities that have been historically marginalized and disadvantaged by higher-classes. Addressing these debts is one way to begin to address the overall educational debt. Often times, I think that people believe the most effective way to address the debts is through big policy changes, but I argue that these debts can still be addressed in individual classrooms, perhaps even more effectively. Dr. Gibson shared a quote with us during seminar that resonated with this idea, “all we can contribute is our grain of sand.” It is easy to get overwhelmed with believing that policy changes are too difficult and systems are too far gone or corrupt, but if we focus on what we can do on our own, no matter how little it may seem, I think it can still add up to make a difference.

We have seen the educational debt being addressed in various traditional school settings throughout our trip. For example, La Inmaculada is addressing the moral debt through their pastoral program and establishing relationships and sharing resources with poorer schools. I believe the historical, economic and sociopolitical debts, can be addressed through simply making students aware of them from a young age and discussing their implications and what they can do specifically to address them. This can inspire students, who are the next generation of politicians, scientists, engineers and so many other careers, that can make a dent in these education inequalities. This is all feasible in a traditional school setting, but one other important thing I have learned this week in Peru is the significance of non-traditional education and what we can learn from it. Through going to PEA, the alternative night school, to seeing how the people at Lombriz Feliz taught their communities about composting and the environment, I have realized that non-traditional pedagogy can still have a place in a traditional classroom. One thing I noticed in both cases of non-traditional education was the difference in the relationship between the student and the teacher. There is often a rigid power dynamic with the teacher at the top and students at the bottom in a traditional classroom, but in the alternative school settings there was more of a peer relationship between the teacher and student. This made it easier and more evident that both parties to be learning side by side. If educators can implement this type of mentality in a traditional school setting, or at least have a more balanced power dynamic, the classroom will feel more enjoyable and like a safe place to learn. This can also impact the fixing of educational inequalities because this takes no physical materials to put into action in a classroom and can therefore be done no matter how much funding or resources a school is starting off with. A student’s experience ultimately does come down to the atmosphere and teachers of the school, and I think if teachers are dedicated to making their classroom a safe place where they are learning alongside their students and using a social-justice oriented education they are doing the best they can to fix the achievement gap. This is obviously easier said than done, but I believe it is all about contributing your own grain of sand, but by putting everyone’s grain together we can create a whole beach.

Adios Lima

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

By Brooke McArdle

Lima, Peru…the Plaza de Armas de Lima by dayI truly cannot believe how fast our time in Lima has flown by. It seems crazy to me that soon we will be on a plane to Cuzco, having completed three of our four weeks in Peru. My time in Peru has been amazing and also challenging for a variety of reasons. I have enjoyed getting to know the culture and the people, as well as picking up on whatever Spanish I am able. In addition, I have definitely felt linguistically inadequate several times on this trip, which is difficult to deal with, especially in settings were everything is in Spanish. With all of these different experiences and feelings, my third week in Lima is drawing to a close and I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about the different educational contexts here and also have been able to connect them with what I’ve experienced not only as a pre-service teacher, but also as a student.

We have been able to partake in a variety of educational experiences, each uniquely structured to fit the context and students which they serve. Two of the different experiences we worked with this week were: Tupac Amaru and Lombriz Feliz. As I discussed in my previous blog post, Tupac Amaru is a public school, geared to prepare their students to work in a trade for the betterment of their local community. Contextually, this approach for schooling is practical because the goal is to help the community flourish as a whole. Having students who can participate in and help their community with their trade has a positive effect on the advancement of the community. One of the things that we have talked a lot about in seminar and that has stuck with me is the idea of creativity and curiosity in education. In the article, “Shop Class as Soulcraft,” Matthew Crawford discusses the importance of manual labor in education and its connection to cultivating creativity. Crawford describes the connection that exists between the self and the product of manual work, specifically how the product of manual labor emulates its maker, a humanizing process. Therefore, Crawford makes the argument that this manifestation then enables the maker to engage creatively with their world. Consequently, he argues that critical thinking stems from manual labor and crafts, both of which we deprive students of in our schools. At Tupac Amaru, the trade is the center of the curriculum and students are encouraged to connect with their trade to explore their creativity and expression. For example, in the metalworking classroom, students welded scorpions, elephants, or bicycles, which were, as Crawford would argue, expressions of themselves. While there is a practical aspect of this type of education, it also enables students to explore their world through their own abilities and interests, making their education even more relevant for the students.

In addition to this experience, we also visited Lombriz Feliz this week. Lombriz Feliz is a community composting organization just on the outskirts of Lima. They were started in 1991 with the intent of minimizing waste and organizing their waste management. A group of German missionaries worked side by side with the community to begin a composting program. Since then, Lombriz Feliz has thrived, producing organic humus that helps plants better grow in the desert climate of Lima. The organization has also been asked to educate other communities, including wealthier communities, about how to compost successfully. One of the things that I really enjoyed learning about Lombriz Feliz is how the community came together to recognize and solve a problem. With the help of the missionaries, the community worked democratically to better itself. The Chavez and Soep article “Youth Radio and the Pedagogy of Collegiality”discusses the implications of educational relationships rooted in interdependence. The authors explain that the Youth Media program is meant to encourage shared interest and investment in a final product, which then creates not only a more robust product but also a relationship and community. The experience at Lombriz Feliz is based on this type of teaching and learning experience. The ideology behind Lombriz Feliz is communal advancement not only through participation, but by working together. Their composting requires the active participation of community members to continue the process. Consequently, the educational structure of Lombriz Feliz is relationally based and emphasizes the importance of both personal and communal contributions.

The approaches of Tupac Amaru and Lombriz Feliz demonstrate different approaches to learning than the traditional banking system of education that Freire discusses in “Pedagogy of Freedom.” Personally, I believe that a classroom should incorporate components of both. I think that capitalizing on student creativity and curiosity is essential, which Crawford suggests can be accomplished through manual labor and crafts. Allowing students to actively participate in their education through creative engagement is crucial in helping the students to maximize their full potential. Additionally, redefining the relationship between teachers and students is also important for allowing this creativity and potential to take shape in schools. Education should not be about menial bits and pieces of information but about creating confident and capable learners who are able to engage with others and their world. Consequently, teachers should provide relevance, emphasize personal value, and exist to guide students in their own self-actualization.

In connection with my own educational experiences, these are two aspects that I wish I would have seen more of in my primary and secondary education and even at university. Personally, I think younger grades tend to emphasize creativity more. I remember these classes being filled with the type of hands on work that Crawford describes, where I was encouraged to explore and create what I thought was relevant to my education in the context of the given assignment. As I got older, however, rote memorization and templated assignments and essays became the new normal. Similarly, throughout my whole educational experience, I have had few teachers who have treated their classroom as a collaborative space where teachers and students work together to learn. Instead, the teacher is the sole authority and the students are expected to observe and respect this hierarchy. With my experiences in mind, I want to take both of these aspects, cultivating an environment ripe for creativity and working side by side with students, and implement them in my future classroom because I feel that these are two key components for helping my students thrive.

What is the Purpose of Education?

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

By Lou Hasebroock

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

DIFFERENT SCHOOLS, SAME PEDAGOGY

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

STRUCTURE OF EDUCATION

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

CONNECTIONS OF EDUCATION

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

 

How Education Has a Varying Purpose

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

By Emily McGlennen

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

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

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

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

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

 


What is a Marquette Educator?

Follow us on Twitter

Archives