By Alisa, Claudia and Gabriela
This semester in RLIT 6345 Transnational and Immigrant Literacies, students were asked to write a blog post as part of a professional book project.
As children, we hope to receive an education that will equip us with the knowledge needed to understand the world around us and prepare us for the world ahead. As parents, we hope our children receive an education that develops their understanding of the past, present, and future. As educators we rely on the educational programs to educate us on the professional, ethical, and developmental requirements that will enable us, not only to become certified teachers, but also to become effective teachers licensed by the state to teach.
Every child that walks into our classrooms is part of the general public we are to educate. Are our students all the same? Those who walk through our classroom doors possess funds of knowledge about their cultural background. Do our teaching practices promote or hinder the knowledge and experience our children bring into the classroom? Do we promote personal growth, acceptance, value, and understanding? Are our teaching practices targeting the needs of our students? Is the curriculum we teach true to the best of our knowledge? These are some of questions that developed while we read Lourdes Diaz Soto & Haroon Kharem’s book Teaching Bilingual/Bicultural Children. We reflected on our own educational experiences as children, as parents, our assumptions as individuals, our knowledge attained though our experiences as students on the K-12 system, undergraduate students and graduate students.
Although the three of us had very different upbringings, we each share some similarities while in grade school. The three of us writing this agree that we were negatively affected by the system’s beliefs and practices. The three of us were taught by teachers who did not allow us to speak our first language (Spanish). We were not allowed to speak Spanish, we were scorned for explaining or questioning in our home language. We were only seeking clarification. Our teachers had the mentality of sink or swim. Even now as adults whom have already obtained our teaching certifications, we were not educated on the importance of valuing the home language. We noticed that through our collaboration and experiences along with the readings incorporated in our master’s program in literacy instruction, we have realized we were misinformed. We neglected to value our own language and that of the students we teach.
From grade school to undergraduate school we conformed and assimilated to the dominate groups beliefs. We focused on getting the student to the next proficiency level. The students needed to be ready to pass the state assessment. We thought that code-switching was frowned upon. We promoted English in a way that devalued their first language. How we were taught as children, and our personal experiences has shaped us consciously and unconsciously in to the teachers we were.
We reflected having been taught from a whitewashed perspectives. We were forced by, as well enforced, the educational system of assimilation in order to be successful. We brought those prejudiced pedagogical practices into the classroom. We felt that it was more important to assimilate. False information has been passed from the dominant culture, to the submissive minority cultures masquerading as truths. We have taken for granted that what we were taught in school was correct and true to the fullest extent. We by default were teachers teaching the way we were taught. It is not because we do not value our history, culture, or language. It is because we were not educated in ways that allowed us to place value in our history, culture, and language. If we had not been exposed to the readings about teaching bilingual bicultural children, we would not have reflected on the invalidation of our own culture.
We are educators certified in bilingual education by the state of Texas. Yet, we reflected having felt silenced even while speaking. We reflected our prejudiced pedagogical practices. We as teachers needed to become researches of our own history, culture, and language; and that of the students that we teach. We will encounter more diversity within our classroom in the years to come. We must become educated in bilingual/bicultural practices to better understand customs and mannerisms. What we assume is defiance and lack of effort may be a sign of respect while learning.