The Cultural identity and education and the concrete and theoretical context?
Differentiated contexts by the way of living, thinking and behaving. That is all I have being in contact with since day one immerged in the world of teaching-learning processes.
I remember my first day of work in the public elementary “Carmen Millán”. A school where economic status can be noticeable for the eyes of the new English teacher but not for the eyes of the rest of teachers working there since the establishment of the school. The difference was even more perceptible when I watched the teacher of History to grade some students´ homeworks. She graded the beautiful, expensive and well-made work of Brandon with a ten while the homework of Catalina was graded with eight. Catalina´s task was not the most beautiful work I have ever seen, but it was full of creativity, glue was everywhere, and she made “los niños héroes” look like really young kids. I was wondering why Catalina has an eight and Brandon deserved a ten. I said to the history teacher that Brandon´s work looks professional but it was impossible that he had made it, and this is what she told me:
“I know Brandon´s mom made Brandon´s homework but I cannot give a low score because she is part of the parental committee and she gives money to the school when it is needed”
And why Catalina does not deserve a ten if her homework is product of her own creativity? – I asked.
“Because it looks ugly and I do not like her, she is rude with her classmates and she always smells disgusting”
This is the perfect example of intolerance, and the wrong choice for that person when she chose her profession.
The teacher that has the passion and love for her/his profession should know what is going on in the world of each student, the reason of his and her actions and within this specific example, we cannot use prejudices and give grades just because.
The labor of a good teacher is practicing justice every day in her/his life and get students involved inside this moral value so they can practice it later on in their lives.
Now that I am working in senior high-school, ideological issues are different, difficult and at some point I have thought all most impossible to change. The challenge lies in the way I have tried to make my students feel and understand that we can be at the same level. I can learn from them and they can learn from me, as part of my work, but without losing the proper respect we deserve from each other. Students get confused with this situations because they are used to feel inferior to teachers and all they have lived is the fear to the teacher that has the power to choose, to punish and to yell.
I do not like the language (bad words) my students use in class, but it is part of their culture. They were not punished or corrected since the beginning of their instruction in other schools. Even they feel excused saying that they talk every day at home like this and if it is not a problem for their parents why it has to be a problem for me when others teachers allow and use that words at school. -“It is all about values and respect” I have said many times to my students. They seem to get it and I am being constant, I do not care if they feel attacked but they have to understand the importance of behave properly in some situations that need the seriousness of a proper language.
Every student is a different world and four months have not been enough to meet each student background. At least I know part of the general circumstances they share in common and it is useful when it is necessary to land ideas and reflections that can be significant for them in their own context.
All the previous learning students have is useful too in order to construct and guide new learning. “Las clases son más divertidas e interesantes con usted porque nos pregunta sobre nosotros y lo que pensamos y sabemos” –This was the comment of one of my students from history class when I was leaving the classroom. It is important to involved students in this way so they can feel part of the construction of the content in every class. Every comment can make the difference because at some point students´ examples can be more understandable for their classmates.
About the concrete and theoretical context, I consider important the alignment between theory and practice. Something that is not practice cannot be meaningful; for example, we can take a theoretic driving course and understand every concept, but if it is not practiced we cannot take control of that leaning in a real driving situation. It happens the same with students of any subject. In English for example, the student already knows how to structure grammatically one sentence in simple past and answers correctly several exercises, but the teacher asks –What did you do yesterday? And the student does not know how to answer orally, it is noticeable the lack of oral production and oral practice.