Segregation, Inequality, Concentrated Poverty: How We Got Here

Segregation, Inequality, Concentrated Poverty: How We Got Here.

Should teachers give their own beliefs on sensitive political issues?

Seeing that question in the title, some would say “never!”  But even people who believe they should—or will, even unknowingly-
-know the question is a sensitive one.  Teachers from Santa María Tzejå, the case study village in my book Seeds of Freedom: Liberating Education in Guatemala, have given careful consideration to the question and come out on the side of the truth, including with politics, as they see it, even with sensitive and “hot button” topics.  In an earlier blog I described Enma’s
conviction that students in her sixth grade class should get the accurate history of how the village was destroyed by the

Emma with sixth graders

Emma with sixth graders

Guatemalan army.  She noted her observation that official history texts (in 2007)were “full of distortions.” Magdalena said she believed that children in the older grades were old enough to understand the hard truths of history, including the way the Guatemalan army served the interests of the rich oligarchs.  One teacher told me they got push back from men in the community when they spoke up against domestic abuse (a continuing problem in the village), but continued to awaken in both girls and boys the need for full respect across gender lines.  These teachers were concerned to be both accurate and honest.

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Liberating Education and Race: The Stunning Proof of Change

Emiliano Panjoj is just one example of the potential of indigenous people in the world to succeed, indeed excel, when given the opportunity.  Below, speaking at a meeting.  As a Maya K’iche’ person he grew up in a Guatemalan population of indigenous peoples historically despised by the dominant “ladinos” who were descended, in part, from the Spanish OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAconquerors.  They, who were themselves of mixed DNA, distanced their lives from the indigenous by calling themselves “ladinos,” rather than the more accurate “mestizos” (mixed race).  Their stance was to think of themselves as a superior race—given, as they chose to think, that the racial mixing took place so long ago as to be meaningless in the modern world.  In their stereotypes ladinos named the indigenous as “indios” (Indians), as unfit for anything but manual labor and inappropriate to educate.  In that society the Maya were essentially enslaved to work in the coffee, cane and cotton plantations for the dominant ladino owners.

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