There is division of education here in Peru. Some students face inequality because of the lack of accessibility and lack of funding schools. These inequalities have the ability to be adjusted for the better in theory, but in actuality, it is a far more complex and difficult endeavor. Yes, schools need money to operate, but they also need passionate teachers, the right equipment, to be placed in an accessible location, a strong foundation, the support of the community, and a mission to allow students to flourish. While studying in Lima, we have talked a lot about what it means for a student to flourish through education. Through extensive discussions and eye-opening experiences, we have found there are different definitions of what a flourishing student looks like depending on the resources accessible to them.
To understand how schools have been trying to lessen the inequalities between students who have access to a lot of resources and those who do not, we have seen and read about varying methods. Paulo Freire, author of Pedagogy of Freedom, talks about the power of curiosity and the role it can play in the classroom. I think curiosity delegates a class and leads a student to the highest potential of learning. If students are not interested in a topic nor enticed to be, the amount of material is irrelevant. Curiosity is a spark to future knowledge and can act as a bridge over the educational inequality gap. Morally, everyone is entitled to an equitable education where their curiosity can be fed and allow each student to flourish in their own way. Somehow, we live in a world where education is not distributed among every individual even though it goes against the moral and political beliefs of many, but what is being done to provide educational equity?
I say equity rather than equality because each student, teacher, and school require different resources. The system a student lives in needs to cater to their needs rather than seeing all students as one body requiring the same materials. Formal classrooms compared to revolutionized classrooms require attention when discussing inequality because, again, they can be so drastically different while trying to achieve individualized goals to allow student achievement. While visiting Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the American School of Lima, the classrooms were set up in a way to cater to the flow of the class. The fourth and fifth grade rooms had group desks with wheels so the room could be adjusted based on the days learning objective as well as brightly colored rooms packed with learning materials to further aid the students. The Casitas program was drastically different. Students who go to the after-school program, like the one at Virgen Del Carmen, are not offered the same resources. The single classroom has approximately 15 desks formed in a semi-circle and floor to ceiling shelves in the corner displaying overplayed games like Uno and Disney puzzles. The Youth Radio and the Pedagogy of Collegiality article touches on the importance of co-creating and building a community which is how the Casita program is set to operate. The kids are always playing with one another building relationships or partaking in activities to help them learn more about important life skills by working together. Even though the Casitas program does not have all the gadgets of Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the educators are still able to provide meaningful life lessons based on what the students need to flourish. The students at Roosevelt and those in the Casitas Program are not receiving equal educations, but equitable educations based on their circumstances.
When returning home to the United States, and to Marquette especially, I want to keep in mind the effect inequalities have on students as well as the beauty in curiosity and equitability. Marquette is located in one of the most segregated cities in the United States including an array of financial statuses. The expense of attending Marquette can be overwhelming, thus the school offers a number of scholarships in order to diminish the inequality gap of who can attend the university. Thanks to many of these scholarships, students are able to pursue their curiosity through their education while enrolled in compelling classes at Marquette. Equitability is present at Marquette in this scenario because students are provided the educational path that caters to their specific interests and needs. When a student is granted the opportunity to explore their curiosities and also given the appropriate resources to excel in their interests, they flourish.
My final week in Lima taught me more than I thought I could ever know about the inequality gap. It was compelling to be in the environments where students learn and engage in their teachings as well as their relationships. I feel lucky to have been a part of the experience and look forward to taking what I have learned here home with me and applying to my future endeavors. I saw first-hand students alive with the fire of curiosity, looking to know more about their studies and continuously searching for more resources to learn more. I hope to see that passion continue to expand as the students continue their education as well as in their lives as a whole. Without my sense of curiosity, I never would have joined a sport in high school that I did not know the rules of, I never would have developed the courage to pursue my interest in International Affairs, and I certainly never would have booked a flight to Peru not knowing a single person joining me in the adventure. Curiosity is a doorway to the rest of the world that deserves to be opened.