Archive for the ‘indigenous’ Category

How do they do it? Liberating Educators in the Classroom. Post #1

“Liberating education” has a nice sound to it, but what actually happens in the classroom?  As you read about it here, how does it compare with your experience of education?  Your comments at the end of the post are most welcome.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALet’s start with the big picture.  Consider Paulo Freire’s* masthead challenge, “Education as the Practice of Freedom!”  His clear opposite of that was “Education as the Practice of domination.”  You may remember María Hernandez, a Santa María Tzejá teacher, from an earlier blog post.  (pictured left) As a child she was a student in a classroom in SMT shortly before the Guatemalan army burned the village to the ground.  The teacher at that time was likely a soldier acting as a teacher who told students they would get a swat of a stick for each error they made in math that day.  She made 13 and his one option for her was where she would like him to hit her.  She said, as she told me about this searing experience, “All over my body.”  In that class hers was an extreme experience of Education as the Practice of Domination.  The central notion of that kind of miseducation is teacher dominance of the students, whether by, as in this case, corporal punishment or, more usually, by the authoritarian, oppressive practice of the teacher talking all the time to students who are expected to be submissive and quiet.

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“The Past Is With Us:” (Violent) History in Real Time

Theatre group in 1995How do we engage and challenge teenage students in their guts and heads at the same time?  How do we make history come alive in a way that changes the way they think about themselves and their future?
      Background:  Santa María Tzejá, Guatemala, was burned to the ground in 1982 in the country’s civil war.  The population was separated, with half fleeing to refuge in Mexico and the rest remaining at the village site.  Twelve years later the original population was reunited at the village site.  Here’s where the story begins.

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Open for debate: “Education is not politically neutral!”

For the first several years that I visited the village, beginning in 1985, there were almost no books in Santa María Tzejá, the case study that is the basis for my book.  There were no computers, no internet.  There was no lined-in electricity.  Students in the school received just two notebooks and two pencils.  Teachers had their books from which they could teach the state curriculum.  The goals of that schooling were to give very basic reading, writing and math skills, along with isolated facts about national heroes and a superficial patriotism built around the flag and national holidays.

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