OPEN YOUR EYES TO GREATER OPPORTUNITIES
Having the privilege and opportunity to visit a variety of schools has created a larger understanding of context for me throughout Peru. We had one more school visit on our list to see and this school did not disappoint. Fe y Alegría left a lasting impression on me and has planted a tiny seed inside of me that I can hopefully translate into my own classroom someday. This school was extremely organized, clean, had free tuition, and helped students understand and be proud of their culture and language. This school created advantages and disadvantages for all students who attended. Being located higher in the mountains created more opportunities for students from all around, even miles and miles away, to have a chance at an equal education. There was no transportation provided to these students due to the rocky terrain, so students would walk up to two or three hours just so they can receive an education. Although they had such challenges to walk so far, the attendance rate was nearly perfect every day. My classmates and I had the opportunity of sitting in on some of the classrooms to get an idea of what they teach, and I was part of a language and culture class. The teacher asked the students if they were familiar with the Quechua language and many students raised their hands. When the teacher asked if anyone spoke Quechua, only one person did a half hand raise. The teacher asked them what their reason was for not speaking or learning the language. The students said that it was weird, people made fun of them, no one would be able to understand them. The teacher began her lesson on the importance of why you should not be ashamed of where you come from. She explained how even though others will not understand your background, it is your job to be proud and eventually educate people on your culture. The students were handed a piece of paper with different phrases in Quechua. They had to practice writing and speaking with their parents when they were home. From then on out, every day they would learn new things to write and speak to bring their culture to life. The Quechua language was dying because too many people have been discriminated against for their culture, and it is sad to see that this same thing is currently going on in the United States. Discrimination of people because they are not the majority is a major problem all over the world. As a teacher, it is my job to continue to learn about what goes on outside of the classroom and work it back inside the classroom. Students need to be introduced to what is surrounding them and bringing their attention to major problems, such as discrimination. The connections about bringing our own culture to the classroom is strong and can create a tighter bond with the people in our own community. It is important to always be open to growing and exploring because that is what will open your eyes to greater opportunities.
STRIVING FOR GREATNESS
Self-determination is described as, “encompassing concepts such as free will, civil and human rights, freedom of choice, independence, personal agency, self-direction, and individual responsibility.” I believe that self-determination is incriminated in a classroom. Teachers often feel helpless when they are constantly in debt. When teachers reach out to administration and others who are in charge, they find themselves receiving unnecessary items that are not resourceful for building a classroom. Teachers should be given resources that are smaller that can eventually be turned into items that are bigger. In the beginning of a new structured classroom, crazy expensive and innovative items to make kids feel good in a classroom. A classroom is not built around materials. When children are deprived of a good education within the walls of a classroom, then their concepts of human rights and free will are demolished. Children need to be accepted for who they are, where they come from, and treated with respect no matter if they have a disability or not. Every child deserves to have justice within a classroom. Special materials will not be the sole reason that children succeed or fail inside of a classroom. One big reason that leans students to failing is the idea of dehumanization that is played out by the people in power. This topic is difficult to talk about, but seems to be a common error motioned throughout many classrooms that I have worked in. As a child, you are told that you can achieve any dream that you want and you can do that at any age. This is true, and there are many inspiring stories such as Michael Jordan who was cut from his high school basketball team or Giannis Antetokounmpo who was a small boy from Greece who dreamed of joining the NBA and recently was just named the MVP for this year. Through lots of hard work, it is possible to achieve, but if you don’t reach your goal, then you are considered a failure in society’s eyes and this creates a negative mind set. This is dehumanizing and sometimes the results of you not reaching your dreams at such a young age are out of your control. These same dreams can be demolished inside a classroom when a child receives poor grades, but this makes you think on how to possibly teach that child new methods. It is difficult to not single children out when they struggle, but sometimes creating new paths towards a better education is the best route for that child. That can then lead you to helping other students find what works for them to succeed in a classroom. As an educator, I will continue to work and find new ways for children to reach their dreams and work with them until they either grow up or move on to something greater. No matter the age, you can always keep reaching for those dreams. My dad always told me that it will take many times for you to fail before you find that one pathway to success. I will carry that with me and hopefully help children see their potential in new forms that they weren’t able to reach before.