Posts Tagged 'Mary McQuillen'

Philosophy of Education Final: Mary McQuillen

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.  

Mary McQuillen

There isn’t enough thought about equity when it comes to education because most parents want to provide the best for their children. That is not a crime obviously, it’s a beautiful gift, but one that not all can afford.

I loved being able to observe a number of different classroom environments in such a short amount of time. We were given the rare opportunity to take a step out of our world to be able to look into the world of a totally different country. There are some risks of judgement that come from observation of different cultures, classrooms, and politics. I tried my very best to realize that although we are looking at schools from the tip top of the scale down to the depths of poverty, a lot of the same issues of inequality are consistent in America. I went to a school very similar to Inmaculada and because of that, I have had more opportunities than the average American or human on this planet. I am also white, a native English speaker and I can get by in Spanish. I was able to achieve that due to my parents who constantly supported me, the school system for preparing and challenging me, as well as my genetics because I have no learning disabilities. I think one of the most important topics that we discussed was asking about how to make Education just because it forced me to critique how schools can contribute to furthering inequality. There isn’t enough thought about equity when it comes to education because most parents want to provide the best for their children. That is not a crime obviously, it’s a beautiful gift, but one that not all can afford. Those that are already better off can provide a stronger education for their children’s future and give them more opportunities for success in the work force. Sadly, that means that the children with parents that aren’t able to afford this education will fall further behind. A lot of what SEA, BECA, and other programs as such aim to do, is to provide early intervention for students of poverty in order to get them back on a track towards equality. Obviously equity would be the goal, but it doesn’t happen quickly. This is why they use the Ignatian Pedagogy as a structure to help them.

The Ignatian Pedagogy involved five key elements of learning; context, experience, reflection, action and evaluation. After a wonderful 8 years in a Jesuit teaching environment, I would definitely want to use this pedagogy in my classroom. It begins with the context, it validates the students background and the way they live their life. It then builds off of their context so that the students are better able to comprehend what they are learning because it is always relevant. “Teachers need to understand the world of the learner, including the ways in which family, friends, peers, and the larger society impact that world and effect the learner for better or worse, (Page 2, Jesuit Education and Ignatian Pedagogy). The next focus is on the experience of the students, asking the students to take what they are experiencing and develop it into knowledge. This is more of an active role of education both on the side of the student and the teacher because it takes work to create an environment that promotes learning experiences. It also requires the students to take charge of their own learning to be able to make the connections necessary to understand ideas and how they feel about them. Now there is reflection, something that I find essential for students to accurately process their experiences. A huge reason that we need teachers is to guide us in the right direction of thought, to challenge our opinions, and to inspire us to think beyond what we ever could have before. Next we have action, which is still guided by the teachers but the students need to care about what they are doing for it to be meaningful. These can be little things like changing someone’s mindset or it can be starting a movement for justice. It is simply important for the student to take what they have been reflecting on and to actually do something about it. The final element is evaluation, this is done by the teacher, with the goal of assessing “learners’ growth in mind, heart, and spirit,” (Page 3). The teacher has to put in the work to include all of their student’s background knowledge in learning, find a way to make learning an experience, lead the students in reflection, and then actually grade them on all of that work. I think a lot of the time teachers don’t put in enough work, and there are many different reasons for that. I hope that I never turn out to be one of those teachers who always seems tired and makes their students read in silence all day. I want to be able to inspire my students, push them further and hopefully give them a just education. Sometimes I wonder if I even want to be a teacher, but then I end up finding myself surrounded by children having the time of my life. I guess I’m just sick of all the observation because I want to take charge (surprise, surprise).

I did not spend a lot of time with older students, I spent the majority of my time with students in the primary grades. Luckily, I was able to spend a day with 13-year-old students in Cusco so that I could have a more well-rounded experience. When I was with them, we watched a video on a man who was born without arms but he’s still accomplished his dreams. In Cusco there are a lot of families in poverty, so I felt like this connected well with them because it inspired them to find richness in spirit instead of monetary value. Although the teacher seemed to waste a lot of time making squiggly boxes to write in… and her handwriting was god awful, what was most important to her and to the students was the message here. I could clearly see the way that she was including elements of the Ignatian pedagogy in her classroom on that day. I wish I would have had a better chance to understand what was going on throughout the reflection and understand how she could have moved further with this lesson. I truly believe that reflection is an essential part of learning because it creates a safe place for dissecting the experiences. In my own personal experiences with reflection I am able to evaluate the kind of person that I want to become and how I can move toward that. There are so many different ways to reflect, for some it is more personal and for others it is helpful when there can be group discussion. In my future classroom I hope that I can create a community that allows my students to feel safe to question the way the world works and hopefully make discoveries. I like the way that Clara explains reflection as, “reflection is spontaneous, common, real thinking” (Clara, 262). There should not be one way for people as a whole to understand their experiences because they look at the world through different lenses. I want to ensure that my students understand that they have every right to their own opinions and beliefs, but they should also be prepared to have to back them up. There are a lot of different opinions and beliefs, not any one is right or wrong, but they should have a good reason for their beliefs.

After this wonderful experience, I have been able to learn more about myself in a number of ways. I have learned how important it is to stand for something, to have a purpose, and to follow through on my ideas. I think it’s just all about accountability and being the best possible person we can be, that’s how we make the education system better. I hope that after this wonderful experience I can keep what I have learned in mind. Doing so will help me follow through with making my classroom a safe place for my students to reflect. I think living out the Ignatian Pedagogy in my classroom will be the best way to help my students to be the best they can and impact the world as positively as possible.

Blog 9// my kids are fine… but what about the rest of the world??: Mary McQuillen

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.  

Mary McQuillen

Culturally, schooling was pretty diverse because that is how the country is set up. It is separated into the city, the jungle, and the mountains that all have different traditions, struggles, and even languages.

I have learned so much about schooling in Peru, and more than anything I realized how diverse that Peru is as a country in general. Education is pretty political in every country because of the funding that the government does. It is up to the government to decide how money and resources are allocated for the schools. It seemed pretty similar to how things are set up for us, and that’s a shame. The people with money are able to send their children to the schools with money and a cycle is started. This is one of the many reasons that inequality is perpetuated throughout the US as well as in Peru. One thing that is super different between Peru and the US is that there is no separation between church and state. With that being said, even the public schools are connected to the church, celebrate mass, and include the perspective of the church in all of what they are learning. In the US, that’s not the case, obviously. This was really interesting because teachers can set expectations that follow morality based on the definition of the church, something that teachers in the US can only do if they work for a religiously based school. I think it would make more sense if the church used its power to equalize the amount of funding that goes to different schools. That way they would be able to use their influence on the government in a more beneficial way for the children throughout the entire country.

Culturally, schooling was pretty diverse because that is how the country is set up. It is separated into the city, the jungle, and the mountains that all have different traditions, struggles, and even languages. While I don’t know anything about the jungle other than the abundance of insects, I could definitely see the differences between the schools in Lima as well as the schools in the mountains. The students in the mountains had to walk hours to school each day, they spoke Quechua, and their access to technology is limited. A lot of the young girls would have to wait until they were old enough to walk such a long distance safely before they could start attending school. This meant that they would be behind at the time they started. Then they would usually only make it to third grade because they would have responsibilities or families to take care of by super young ages. So they started school super late and then cut out early. The Fe y Alegria school in Andahuaylillas was focused on being intercultural between the Quechua ways as well as the ways of the Westernized Peru. The schools in Lima were much more focused on continuing to Westernize by learning English. The schooling conditions were much easier because these families had the resources to send their children to better funded schools in the city.

Diversity has become a common theme throughout our time in Peru, and it also has a lot to do with the social processes of education. I think it comes down to money once again, because where there is money there is a different mindset for doing the right thing. It becomes “service”, something that you can put on a sheet of paper and make your resume look better. I’m not saying that this is how it is for all of the people with money in the world, but it does play a role in the way that the do what is right. At Roosevelt, things were as I just described. At Inmaculada, a school that was still on the upper middle class side of things, there was more of a need to connect with the students who may have a lower SES. Then, when it moves down to La Casitas or MLK Deportivo and there is a greater sense of responsibility for each other. Doing the right thing is part of what is the most important to them.

I hate that money is always such a constant driving factor in education. It’s something that most educators don’t have enough of to cancel out the negative factors within education. During my time in Peru, I realized that a lot of our issues aren’t so different. If we look from a different perspective, we can find so many similarities because they are all connected to money, inequality, and not being able to reallocate our resources better. Everyone wants to have the best for their children, and they so rarely think about how important it is to share what they have with the rest of the world. We can’t blame the parents for wanting what’s best for their children, but we can blame them for being unable to see that other people deserve to succeed just as much as their children do.

“OMGGG! Wow, You Know Spanish?!?”// “You’re in America, Speak English.”: Mary McQuillen

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.  

Mary McQuillen

Inequality basically frames the purpose of our educational system, it shows us what different communities need and it inspires us to formulate goals that would move our communities forward.

I absolutely do not think that it would be possible to philosophize about education without addressing race, especially not in America. Different countries have systems of inequality and oppression that are based on different aspects some are money, some are gender, some are race, and a lucky few have a smorgasbord of all of them. In America race has been the elephant in the room since slavery was abolished. If we were to pursue a philosophy of education that didn’t include race we would be just as effective as the people who aren’t racist because they are “colorblind”. I think a large part of someone’s identity comes from their race, it’s part of what makes them special and its also part of what unites people. In my high school there were a ton of different clubs that focused on a cultural identity of a group of people from a certain area and fell under a certain race category. The amount of pride that came out of the Asian American Youth Group’s annual performance using culturally relevant dances, songs, and costumes was overwhelming. The African American Youth Group helped unite students by sharing the stories of their family’s ancestry from Africa. I think there was so much growth for these students in these groups because they were able to find pride and create something special using what mattered to them culturally. That can be a pretty big challenge when the dominant culture tries to shut you down for the most part. Race and culture walk hand in hand and I think most people would agree that it would be downright ignorant not to have an culturally relevant education.

Today we are in Andahuaylillas, (believe me it’s as hard to pronounce that name as it is to spell it) and we visited another Fe y Alegría school. We are very high up in the mountains right now, altitude at an all-time high of my existence. This means a few things… First, one flight of stairs will leave you as out of breath as the pacer test. Second, there are students who, believe it or not, live up there and have to walk for 3 hours to school. Third, socks made out of llama wool are only 5 soles, so I bought 12 pairs. And finally, there is a heavy emphasis on being intercultural focusing on Quechua and Castellano. Quechua is the culture/ language/ people of the olden days, back in Incan times. After being colonized, Spaniards tried to take over and get rid of all of their culture and even the people. The Shining Path (Terrorist Group who had basically no purpose aside from genocide for the sake of genocide) tried to destroy the culture that remained and by doing so, created a lasting negative sanction for the Quechua language and culture. Yet, here they are. The goal of this school is to help bring pride back into the Quechua community by teaching them how to follow their ancestors’ ways but also to integrate some of the dominant Castellano culture as well. For the people of Peru, it would be impossible to ignore the history of the Quechua people in their philosophy of education because it would further isolate the people instead of uniting them. In the same way, it would be impossible for America to ignore the role of race in our history of education as well as of America in general.

Inequality basically frames the purpose of our educational system, it shows us what different communities need and it inspires us to formulate goals that would move our communities forward. As teachers, it is our job to be constantly taking note of what makes each culture unique and incorporating things into our lessons that are relevant to all of our students. This helps keep the students engaged and it also shows them that they belong in the classroom regardless of what makes them different. Before we left for Peru, we read about some of this countries past and the constant hardships that the Quechua speaking people have suffered through the years. This helped put into perspective why there is such an importance on helping the people to regain pride in who they are as a community. For so long they were told that the essence of their culture was wrong and they should reject it, and finally they are being prompted to find pride in who they are as a people. This has been a big difference that I have noticed since coming to Cusco, especially while we were up in the mountains. Back in Lima, most people have assimilated to the dominant culture, “Peru has been a country in which language differences sharply reinforce social stratification (English is Like the Dollar, 124). (FYI I personally have no room to judge so I hope that it doesn’t seem as though I am judging right now) they have done whatever it takes to try and have the best life for their families and their children. To do so, they have had to focus a lot more on perfecting their Spanish language skills and advancing into working on their English language skills. They have had to focus more on obtaining jobs that will provide money instead of focusing on the rituals of their indigenous ancestors. I do not think this is a bad thing, its just a different way of life than the people here in Cusco.

One of the main issues for the Education system in Cusco is that the standards for education are set by people based in Lima. We find this in the US as well, a lot of the lower SES families don’t have the time or recourses to teach their children the SAT/ACT vocabulary words that other families can. It’s basically like that but to another extreme because while people in Lima are focused on English, the people of Cusco living in the mountains are focused on Quechua. I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to learn, both ways are fantastic and help inspire children to achieve success in different ways. I simply believe that there is an issue with the standards that the government sets and expects the students in the mountains to reach when they have completely different background knowledge skills. I’ll tie this into the article that I read and lead in discussion, Dual- Language Immersion Programs: A Cautionary Note, one of the best elements of having a dual language immersion program is that the students have interpersonal exchanges. This creates more connections between the students and gives them the chance to speak with each other in a more informal way. The main issue here is the power that comes with language and if it is ethical to give the privileged students another upper hand in the world. It further aids the native English speaking students, who are given so much praise for learning another language, “At this particular school, the anglophone children recieve a great deal of publicity and praise from both majority and minority teachers, from school district administrators, from members of the school board and from the media for acquiring Spanish-language skills” (393). None of the Spanish speaking students were praised for learning English, instead it is expected. Because when you are in America, you have to speak English right? For their own protection from ignorant a**holes in grocery stores and in order to succeed in any way in this country. So… do we continue to push for dual-language immersion programs and amp up the privileged while forcing the native Spanish speakers to meet the “expectations”?

… I think I’ve made up my mind, have you?

… … … btw, keep in mind its still not my job to “find the solution” to the problems of inequality and injustice in the education system (both universally as well as in the US or Peru), but you better believe its my job to identify the problems and call them out.

Bloggin Through My Placements: Mary McQuillen

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.  

Mary McQuillen

The students come prepared to learn and when they leave, she can go home focusing on the next lesson instead of worrying about their health and safety. Of course, this is not always the case because there are health dangers risks everywhere, but most people are not as fortunate as these children.

I got to know my teacher at Inmaculada a lot better than I’ve gotten to know my teacher at Fe y Alegria because its only been one day! At Inmaculada I worked with Carla who has been teaching for 16 years! This year was her first year as a first grade teacher, she worked in kindergarten for the rest of her career. She teaches English to all of the first grade students in classes A, B, C, and D. They each will have seven hours with her per week which gives them a good amount of time to focus on learning English. She was much more comfortable speaking to me in Spanish than in English, which I thought to be a little strange because she was an English teacher. She began teaching English when she was helping out her sister who was an English teacher, she has had no formalized education to be an English teacher. With that being said, it is no wonder she works somewhere as great as Inmaculada. She has all of her activities planned out way in advance, the students are constantly engaged, and her teaching style is inspirational. She makes learning incredibly fun for the students by incorporating videos, songs, workbooks, stories, and art into her lessons. She never gets tired of teaching the same things over and over, she somehow makes it interesting each time over. I watched her teach the same story to 4 different groups of students and each time she had just as much animation and dedication as the last. I would love to be as good of a teacher as Carla is, she knows exactly what to do to get her students back on track and constantly absorbing information. Obviously, it helps that they have the entire school day to work with the children, and resources are endless. She never has to worry about whether or not her students have had a meal, the last time they’ve showered, or how much time it takes them to get to school in the morning. The students come prepared to learn and when they leave, she can go home focusing on the next lesson instead of worrying about their health and safety. Of course, this is not always the case because there are health dangers risks everywhere, but most people are not as fortunate as these children.

At Fé y Alegría, I am working with students who are the same age as the students at Inmaculada. It’s a completely different experience here because the students speak no English, and spend most of the time playing and drawing. The focus is not so much on the content that the students are learning, instead it is on the attention to detail for each transition that they go through. The students spent half an hour moving from a large group into two different groups, which I thought at first seemed pretty wasteful of time. After thinking about what the possible reasons behind this could be I realized that they were working towards perfection, and taking all of this extra time was probably pretty helpful in the later grades. It seems like there was a lot of thought put into this! I then spoke with Kelsie about her experience and she said that the exact same thing happened with her group! So I knew at this point that this was an intentional decision made by the teachers. There is also a lot of emphasis on the student having ownership of their own work. The students are currently creating a book of poems that they have written together. They are coloring their own book of poems and will give these to their parents. They spend a lot of time going over the poems because the teachers want the students to understand why specific poems were chosen and how important it is that the students could come up with these poems on their own. They also came up with the name together and voted on it as a group so that the decision was theirs. Upon looking around the room, every decoration was hand drawn by the students, laminated with tape, and put on display. The teachers want the students here to feel proud of what they have done, because they were able to produce something beautiful. I think this is a great message for all of the students because it shows them how to be accountable for their work, take pride in it, and continue to pursue their dreams.

More money, still a lot of problems: Mary McQuillen

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.  

Mary McQuillen

End of the day, the amount of privilege that someone is born into does not define the kind of person they will become. Through education, there is an ability to intervene and show students the path towards a better future.

So I just spent a week at one of the nicest elementary schools I have ever seen. It was beautiful, they had everything that a school should have for their students including top of the line technology, quality teachers, and resources galore. There were multiple soccer fields of astro-turf for the children to run around on, computer labs for intercambios, and just about every kind of program that a child could dream of. It is a little scary that this isn’t even considered to be one of the top 10 most expensive schools in Peru, its 32nd! I have to admit it was awesome to work there, all of the students seemed to be excelling beyond their ages academically. They were a joy to work with, had fantastic manners, and made teaching easy. The only real issue that I bore witness to in the classroom was the constant chatter in the background, which isn’t bad for 5 year olds. A well rounded education requires students to be more than just intellectually fit. In my Jesuit high school, we had to fulfill RIPLOC in order to graduate. This meant we had to be religious, intellectually competent, physically fit, loving, open to growth and committed to doing justice. I think that a privileged school has a responsibility to the world that has been so kind to them. In the article response by Ruben A. Gaztambide-Fernández and Adam Howard they state, “It may seem counterintuitive that economically advantaged individuals would be concerned with and committed to social and economic justice, since they are the ones who benefit most from inequality” (P2). In saying this, the author is identifying the irony of educating students who have privilege how the system benefits them and hurts others. Underneath that irony, there is a goal of wanting to help make the world a better place, does that mean that people who have more should give away all of their extra money to people who have less? Not necessarily.

End of the day, the amount of privilege that someone is born into does not define the kind of person they will become. Through education, there is an ability to intervene and show students the path towards a better future. It teaches them valuable moral lessons that will help them to become wonderful people down the line. Although it may seem ironic at first, underneath it all I believe that people want to be good. To do good they have to be shown, especially if they are not exposed first hand to the issues of the world around us. People are always saying that the first step is to educate on the issues because most of the time people have no idea what is going on in the world. I went out to the club on Saturday, and I probably shouldn’t be telling you that I did that, but it’s a fact. Anyway, while at the club I was talking about my time here, which consisted of a number of visits to el Augustino. I told this to someone, and the guy literally looked at me with shock and was like “YOU WENT TO THE GHETTO!?”. Me being the person that I am, I got up in his face about Patty, my little friends at the casitas, and how they are going to be better people that this rich douche will ever be. He clearly didn’t get a just education that pushed him to be better, do better, and strive to eliminate some of the inequality in this world. A lot of people won’t have teachers or a school community that challenges them to look outside of their lush lifestyle and learn how to use their privilege as a platform to appeal to more people for justice.

To have an education that focuses on expectations of becoming a person responsible for their choices in the world and understanding what the consequences are is beneficial for the entire world. It is the goal of many teachers because “any classroom that employs a holistic model of learning will also be a place where teachers grow, and are empowered by the process.” (Engaged Pedagody, 21). Most teachers want their students to succeed in becoming well rounded people, because that means that they have succeeded as teachers. This means that they have to provide opportunities for learning that goes deep down into the mysteries of the world. They won’t always have the right answers but they need to be open to challenging questions about the norms of society, critiques about different systems, and constant confusion about why the world is the way it is.

For the most part, we will have had to grapple with some of the hard concepts along with our students. We will learn so much from all of their different opinions, beliefs, and background knowledge that they bring into our classroom. They will push us to find answers in different places and inspire us to try to be the change that we wish to see in the world. We will have to lead by example and that is not always an easy task. It means that we need to be genuine, honest, and transparent with our students at all times. I hope that I will be able to do this with my students the way some of my teachers have done so with me. Every time a teacher answered my question with a question instead of turning me away, I was engaged. Every time I was pushed to look deeper, criticize harder, and think more I took steps in the right direction, helping me to become who I am today. Not that I’m the best person in the world, but I have good intentions and an open heart and I hope that I will remember that when a student comes to me with difficult questions about poverty, crime, evil, and pain.

So educating the social elite means that we challenge them to be more than just intellectually competent, and rise so much higher to be well rounded citizens of the world.

Dewey and Freire @ Bat: Mary McQuillen

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.  

Mary McQuillen

Our purpose is to lead the kids on a journey to help them make sense of the world based on their instincts. Teachers should help the students to achieve moral and intellectual growth by showing them the path and setting them up for their own discovery.

Dewey would have absolutely loved the way that Roosevelt has their curriculum structured. He would applaud them for having such an active role for the students and for allowing them to go in depth in their learning. His whole entire theory is that for the most part, students have four different types of instincts and we should teach to them. He believes that students have a social instinct in which they appreciate the formation of relationships in their lives. Roosevelt has a number of after school organizations that reach a wide variety of students to bring them together with their peers, this ranges from sports to robotics teams. They have a huge emphasis on collaboration and provide many different areas for students to work together. The next instinct is that they have an investigative instinct in which they have a desire to make things. All of this allows opportunities for inquiry learning, a huge goal of Roosevelt. They have a room called the “Idea Room” stacked with 3D printers, tools, and every sort of material that could inspire students. Then there is the Expressive, artistic instinct that is on the constructive side as well. This ties into the idea room, but it goes even further in the arts programs that the school provides. They have a ginormous auditorium for theatre for the students to perform on, they showcase artwork of all the students, even the younger ones, and they have a great music program too. The last instinct is the language and communication instinct, and since Roosevelt is an American school all classes are spoken in English. Since a number of the students are Spanish speaking to begin with, they end up becoming bilingual through this process. This helps them because it widens their range of schools for the future. So in Dewey’s perspective, this school would receive two thumbs up.

Then on the other side of it, Dewey would say that there are a lot of issues with the schools in areas like Augustino and even Fé y Alegría because they don’t allow the student to work in as many inquiry based learning activities. Instead of focusing on the experiences of the students they pay much more attention to the content. I think that this is part of the issue with Dewey’s whole mindset. He praises the schools that have the money to be able to provide every learning opportunity possible, but in doing so he ends up limiting the amount of students that can be reached. He also made a whole big generalization about the instincts because he excludes all of the students to have learning disabilities or don’t fit into the category of what he describes as a capable student. But that’s just me getting off track because I don’t really like his ideas because he’s just full of it…. In his world, and in the schools founded based off of his pedagogy, the most valuable thing for a student is the experience and the teacher’s role should be as a helper or a museum curator. Our purpose is to lead the kids on a journey to help them make sense of the world based on their instincts. Teachers should help the students to achieve moral and intellectual growth by showing them the path and setting them up for their own discovery.

Freire also calls for experience to become a larger part of the learning process, he talks about banking education and how can end up creating an oppressive society. Banking education refers to the storing of information as a sort of deposit system, “in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize and repeat,” (72). In his opinion, the education system has been overrun by the mindset that the students need the teacher to learn instead of having it be a sort of partnership or a connection that the student and teacher can make together. He believes that students should be able to pose the problems in that occur in their lives and that through the problem posing education they will be able to free themselves and better understand the world around them. He would be in awe of all the work that Roosevelt does for its students, the opportunities are endless, the activities are unlimited, and the students have the ability to tackle problems that matter most to them.

I don’t really know how he would respond to the other schools that we have been to, partially because I am working with such young students at De La Inmaculada and Fé y Alegría that I am not even really sure of what the approach is for these students. What I have noticed so far that I really love at DLC is how the students work together so well to uplift the student who has special needs in the class. They encourage her, they play with her, and they make her smile non-stop. I think that this shows that they tackled the problems of inclusivity and tolerance pretty early on and that’s something that Freire would be proud of. When it comes down to it, I can feel a strong sense of community in each of the different schools that we visited except for Roosevelt. I’m not calling them out by any means, but I’m simply passing on what I have observed so far. The people of El Augustino work together so well to create a safe environment for the children through the Socio Deportivo and Casitas, the students at DLC showing love to one another, and the amount of pride Lenny has for Fé y Alegría show me something below the surface. They deal with their problems in a different way, without as fancy of equipment or special rooms dedicated to ideas but through critical thinking and working as a community and I think that Freire would be pretty impressed.

Blog Número Tres: Mary McQuillen

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.  

Mary McQuillen

When we walked around I was placing blame and asking myself how the government doesn’t give these people more money, and I had to remind myself where the money in America goes.

People recognize the need for change in the education systems, if they didn’t there wouldn’t be nearly as much talk to address these issues. Poverty is something that a lot of people are unable to ignore, no matter how hard they try might try. Today we went up to Pamplona Alta, a place that the wealthy Peruvians continually try to forget. Most of Lima lives in shanty towns and communities that are located high up on the hills. This began with an invasion of the area on January 6th, a number of years ago. They “invaded” the land and converted it into makeshift homes, some more finished than others. It was quite shocking to see the living conditions that most people live in every day. They have to drive/ walk/ hitch a ride all the way up to the top of the hill and then when the road stops they have to walk up the stairs. This is their only means of getting to and from their homes, which is an issue for them in many different ways. When there is an emergency like someone is giving birth at 2 in the morning, their husband has to carry them down the plethora of unsafe, steep, concrete steps in the dark. Then they must wait for a taxi to take them in to the city to the nearest hospital because there is only one medical post for over 60,000 people.

Unfortunately, this also means that mundane things become a heavy work load, specifically when it comes to water. People of Pamplona Alta have great big jugs given to them from the municipalities, they are located by their homes to store their water. To fill up one jug of water costs 15 soles and will last a family of 3 or 4 people only a few days. To put this into perspective, Lauren, a woman who lives in Pueblo Libre (near our host stay, a middle class area) has to pay 20 soles a month to have water in her home. Education is also a mess up in Pamplona, there is only one public school up near that area and it fills up quickly. After that, families have to pay to send their children to private schools. Most of these families aren’t able to do that because they don’t have any money to spare after buying food and water, so the kids don’t go to school. There is a Fé y Alegría school in the area but there are so few teachers who want to work there or have the ability to work there that some classrooms are empty. I’m really glad that we read the article, “Extreme Poverty in America” before we came to Pamplona Alta because it helped give me some perspective. This article listed some pretty horrifying statistics that made me ashamed to be pointing my finger anywhere else, one of these being, “By most indicators, the US is one of the world’s wealthiest countries. It spends more on national defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France and Japan combined.”. When we walked around I was placing blame and asking myself how the government doesn’t give these people more money, and I had to remind myself where the money in America goes. It’s really humbling, sometimes we need to quiet our judgements and focus on the good instead. People in this are genuinely care about each other, I watched a taxi driver help a woman carry a full gas tank up a very long and steep staircase. They have a community there and its pretty incredible to witness.

There just so happens to be a great big wall, labeled the Wall of Shame that separates Pamplona Alta from a very rich area. The article we read on this wall grouped it with a number of other walls that, “outline physical spaces in a way that controls, excludes and limits access to resources, land and even cultural identity.”. I just wanted to make one that I learned yesterday clear, this wall was created because if they weren’t people would build their homes in other people’s backyards. Some of these people live on private land that belongs to someone else right now. So the reason it was built was to create a border between how far people could push into standing neighborhoods. Even if these are really rich neighborhoods, that isn’t right because the land belongs to someone else. This is why the situation gets sticky, I definitely do not think that this wall limits cultural identity because I saw a lot of artistic expression in the community. I obviously think that it is unfair that one side of the wall has more than they know what to do with and the other side of the wall is struggling to get by, but I haven’t come up with a solution for where these people should go because there simply is not enough space. Within Education there is this perspective of compensatory education, which has the goal of helping students by using inputs of education such as funding, teachers, curriculum, school day length and attempting to equalize the outputs of test scores, graduation rates, life expectancy, earnings, and incarceration rates. The idea makes a lot of sense, but as we talked about in lecture, the Coleman report clearly outlines that the inputs do not equalize the outputs. But this doesn’t mean we should stop trying to work on the inputs because it’s the right thing to do. At the end of the Compensatory Education the author wrote, “To the millions of children that Title I and Head Start have served, though, it has made important differences in their lives, their families’ lives, and in their schools.” The article evaluated how effective the programs Title I and Head Start were in education, while they will never be able to equalize the inputs and outputs, they still made a difference.

So then the question we are left with is, how do we help educate the people of Pamplona Alta? We don’t need to keep up with the compensatory education with the goal of equalization in mind, but we should keep on trying to make life better for the students. In Pamplona Alta, that specifically means more teachers and schools. It made me rethink how I felt about the privatization of education in Peru because even if the people might not be well trained they still are well intentioned. At this point, there are so many children who are out of school up there and its simply an injustice. I personally feel as though the state should make some sort of incentive for the teachers to get them working up in Pamplona Alta. Then again, there are more than enough issues back in America so who am I to make these suggestions in Peru?


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