Working with the students of Carlos Aguilar this semester has taught me a lot about equity, social justice, and my personal responsibilities as a member of society in general, but especially with regards to my future as an educator. There are so many problems in the classroom and school, never mind the individual situations of each student.
When I am in the classroom at Carlos Aguilar, I often become frustrated and think to myself, “This would never happen in a classroom in the United States.” While to an extent that is true, after I leave and think more about the day, and specifically the moments that were hard to watch, I usually end up realizing that the problems here are not too far from the problems in education in the United States. I could never say they are the same and I know that what might be a solution to one country’s education problem might not be the same for the others. However, the most basic backbones of the problems are very similar.
The social injustices in Ecuador – socially and economically – have caused a lot of inequities in the education system in Ecuador. The first month here, I was at Colegio Menor, a bilingual private school just a few doors down from Carlos Aguilar. That is where education students in the past have completed their international practicum and I was excited when I found out I would be in an eighth grade math class there. As much as I wanted this excitement to finally be in a middle school math class to carry me through the semester, I was not getting a cultural experience. Besides the fact the majority of the students were from Ecuador and that I was learning a lot about how the wealthiest kids in Ecuador are sheltered from their country’s reality, it was hardly anything different from what I could get back at BC in the United States for Student teaching. After going back and forth about pros and cons, I decided to switch to the public school, Carlos Aguilar.
The two schools are just a block apart in distance, but the inequity between the two is astronomical. Although I was only at Colegio Menor for a few visits, my experience there gave me a completely different perspective in Carlos Aguilar. As I talked about in my last blog post, the students at Carlos Aguilar are unable to connect to a lot of the topics about Ecuador in science and social studies due to their lack of access to the rest of the country. On the other hand, the majority of the students in Colegio Menor have traveled to the United States, never mind Ecuador. These opportunities allow them to move forward academically, and on a route that limits their access to the reality of inequity in Ecuador.
Moving forward, this semester has taught me a lot about the role I want to play as a teacher in the development of communities. In areas like Boston, there is a wide range of schools, even within the public school system. I have realized that wherever I go, there is inequity, and I will constantly be faced with options to decide between two things, like Colegio Menor and Carlos Aguilar. And while all schools need great teachers, it is important that I recognize the responsibility I have to consider schools that are underserved and the home to students who have very limited access. Because for them, the classroom might be the only place where they have a chance to grow.