Although many of the lessons at Carlos Aguilar do not seem to be taught in the best manner, the values instilled in the social studies and science unites have really impressed me. Ecuador is a relatively small country, but it holds one of the highest ecological biodiversity in the world. It is on the equator (hence the country’s name) which gives the tropical weather on the coast (west side) and Amazon rainforest (east side), but also includes the Andes mountain range down the center of the country. The fourth region is the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles off the coast. As a result, if you were to drive through Ecuador in a day you would be passing through several difference climates, landscapes, species of plants and animals, and cultures.
In my fifth grade class, the majority of the science units we have covered this semester really take advantage of Ecuador’s biodiversity. In one unit, the students learned about the different plants, birds, and animals in each region. With this, they learned the basic terms of classifying plants, birds, and animals in general. I also taught a lesson on meridians, and their position on the equator really helped the students understand. While so much that was taught was based off the science of their country, it was interesting to see how many of the students were not familiar with anything outside where they lived – like the Amazon, coast, and Galapagos – because of their lack of access to travel. Even when learning about the equator, very few students in the class of 39 had ever been to the actual equator, where there is a museum and monument. As an exchange student in Ecuador, I obviously had more reason to travel so much more regularly than they did, but at times it felt strange knowing I had been to more regions of Ecuador than all of the students combined.
Besides in the social studies and science curricula, the culture of Ecuador can be seen in the relationships between the teacher and students. In Ecuador, especially Quito, it is very common to add diminutive endings to words and names. Also, it is common to use the words hijo and hija (daughter and son) when talking to children who are not your own. My teacher uses these two ways of referring to people when talking to the students. They all hug and kiss on the cheek when they say goodbye at the end of the day, and when an adult walks in the room, even if it was just because he or she was gone for a few minutes, they all stand up out of their seats and greet the person. It is interesting how this habit is so formal, yet the relationships are so informal in other ways.