Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Controversia: Julio Cammarota

How does pedagogy change when working with socio-economically challenged Mexican-American students?

This is a question I found myself thinking when I went to speak to a Latin-American Literature class at Cholla High School, where the teacher pointed out a few of his 'better students' who were earning Cs.

From my experience attending school in Ontario, California (with a similar working-class population that didn't emphasize education), I wondered what is it that educators can do to connect with potentially resistant students.

I had the opportunity to see Julio Cammarota speak at the U of A Little Chapel, where he spoke about the research that he did for his book Sueños Americanos: Barrio Youth Negotiating Social and Cultural Identities.

Cammarota did his research in northern California, working with youth in Latin American communities, talking to them about their different reasons for not continuing with education.

Issues of profiling seemed to be a common thread amongst most of the males & females were spoken to as though them becoming pregnant was an inevitability (a sentiment that I've heard is also echoed in the Mexican-American Tucson community.)

What most seemed to stand out about Cammarota's research was that he found that cultural identity played a large role in how the high school students, with whom he spoke, thought of education. Cammarota found that if the students found a link between their education and helping their family, they were more likely to become invested in education.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting comments and questions, Cruz. I was sorry I couldn't attend Cammarota's talk last week; I was teaching during that time.

    I'm particularly interested by the point you summarize from Cammarota's talk about students finding a link between their education and helping their family. I think that this is essential to helping students succeed, particularly students with families from other cultures. As Americans, we always think about advancement for ourselves. Our parents push us to go further than they did, but that often means leaving them behind. This is not a conceivable option for many cultures (and even for many folks in the U.S.), so helping students see that education can equal advancements for their entire family seems key. Also, helping students negotiate the differing realms of family and academia is important. Students need support in this shift. As a first generation college student, I needed this support, but didn't receive much of it. Students need to be reassured that they won't necessarily lose their identity or their home life by coming to college or by trying to achieve academic goals.