View Single Post
Old 04-11-2012
niaV's Avatar
niaV niaV is offline
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 166
Default Re: It's not our culture, it's the system

Well, seeing as nobody else has replied, I guess I'll bite the bullet and offer my two cents. The issue isn't nearly as black-and-white as most people make it seem, and most issues are interconnected.

Originally Posted by _aztec_princess_ View Post
This semester I am taking a sociocultural influences on learning course. I've read a lot, learned a lot, and have had multiple discussions with my peers and professor. My interest for our minorities and education has risen. So I came to soy explored a few old threads and there is a recurrent idea. That we are at fault for not being educated, that we do not take advantage of the education offered in this country.

While this is true, to some level, it goes deeper than that. The educational system in the United States is not the best for encouraging education amongst low income minorities. Before I get attacked and I am told how our education system is great, and better than Mexico (which I debate), let me explain. (Or may be not, I am sure most people are aware of our sucky education system)
Technically, the debate could end here, as you've just solved your own dilemma. The fact that the education system is "broken" should be incentive enough for Mexican-American families to take matters into their own hands, becoming educated, passing the knowledge, setting high standards, and encouraging change in these schools low income minorities attend by becoming involved. There's a saying that applies to this scenario, "Don't rely on the teachers for everything." Because while in Mexico, teachers are highly regarded and trusted, here, its in your natural rights to demand they help your child in any way possible. Not all will comply, but, you won't know until you try.

Originally Posted by _aztec_princess_ View Post
White suburban schools vs inner city minority schools. Obviously everyone knows who has the higher ranking. I understand this isn't only a problem of race but also a problem of socioeconomics. These White people in these schools put so much time and money into their children's schools. I read about a school where parents in the PTA raised $80,000 in a school year, for supplementary materials and field trips. I am not disputing that this shouldn't be done, I am trying to point out that this equals unequal education, therefore we do not all have access to the same resources. Yet, our children are being tested on these standards. The tests are made for middle class, low income children, with English as a Native language. Our kids fail miserably at these tests (Not all, I know, but we shouldn't be guided by exceptions). I have seen this at play, for example math problems. The word left. John has three apples, he ate one how many does he have LEFT? the problem right next to it: There were five people at a party, two LEFT, how many remain? My student was very confused by this word, even though they understood the concept.
I read a study on these types of disadvantages ESL students face. The faculty wasn't prepared to take in so many immigrant children with little to no experience in English learning, and many teachers saw them as more of a burden, since they were used to teaching fluent English speakers. The Mexicans weren't stupid; when it came to reading comprehension, they could perfectly illustrate concepts in their native languages. Its just that when they came in, they had little experience with English, let alone understanding the various contexts and participating fully. Many became bored and slacked off or skipped classes. One idea was clear throughout the book: Reform is needed is we want every student to succeed.

My take? Parents could have encouraged English use at school as well as at home. There are tutoring services as well as self-help books. But we know most Mexicans parents aren't like that. If anything, they encourage their children to translate for them, since they don't want to immerse themselves in the language. And don't roll your eyes at me, because you KNOW its true for the majority. That's lack of confidence or incentive. I believe cultural and SES factors do play huge parts in this problem, since middle class Mexicans generally stress education and English learning skills very much. Its like taking a group of native Appalachians, throwing them in the middle of Tokyo, and expecting them to become world class engineers in just a few years. Not happening.

Originally Posted by _aztec_princess_ View Post
I have also read things like "Hispanic parents don't care about their children's education / They don't see the importance of education." I beg to differ, I have worked in several afterschool programs with low income minorities, and trust me these parents care. They take public transportation to take their children to tutoring, they bring small gifts to show appreciation, they sometimes don't go to the school that often but that is because they are working very hard trying to provide a living. Teachers judge parents too harshly. They feel that if the parent is not as involved as they like, that this parent doesn't care or doesn't think education is important. It is too quick of a judgment.
I think most do care to some extent, but are largely ignorant when it comes to scholastic involvement. A lot say, "I want you to get good grades," or "study hard, become successful," but that's where it ends. Its not like they monitor their children's activities and resort to punishment for not meeting expectations. A lot also aren't very in-touch with the teachers, have little experience and knowledge when it comes to higher education and professional jobs, or know what to expect when it comes to the curriculum. The want is there, but the experience and knowledge isn't. That's where Asian parents dominate, and the few Mexican parents who adopted these tactics had very successful students who attended UCs and Ivy schools.

Originally Posted by _aztec_princess_ View Post
I have also read here on soy, "kids don't like learning/ they waste the golden opportunity of an education." While I agree that some people legitimately dislike school, I don't think this is the case in general. If you look at a group of first graders, they are EXCITED, THRILLED to start their first day of class. This dies down as school progresses, is this their fault? or is it ours?
Largely attributed to culture. But I'm going to lay off the Mexicans for a bit and blame American popular culture. Here in the states, more attention is given to entertainers, ie singers, dancers, actors/actresses, and athletes, in contrast to Asian nations, where every parent wants their children to become a lawyer, doctor, or engineer. They distrust the other professions, because very few make it to those positions, and they'd rather have their children work stable, higher paying careers to support them in old age. The same way your typical American praises their kid's sports team, and encourages them even when they lose, is the same way Taiwanese parents treat the maths and the sciences. Here, anyone who enjoys or has a talent for the maths or sciences is seen as a nerd: unpopular and mocked, when in Asian countries, they're more likely to be seen as respected, envied, and be more popular among their peers. They're the jocks in a world where prestige, honor, and effort reign supreme. So I think many Americans have a negative image of school even before attending, and this will affect their performance later on. Combine that with the Mexican situation, and, well, the results speak for themselves...

Originally Posted by _aztec_princess_ View Post
Now another assumption: "All it takes is hard work." Well yes, but it is so much more than just hard work. Some white people may see, I worked really hard to get where I am, but then we realize that hey both parents are educated, if both of your parents went to college, you are going to college NO WAY AROUND IT. They have access to so many more resources. On the other hand, hard work doesn't always pay off with our minority children. I believe that they system can set you up for failure. Another quick example of the disadvantage in our higher education. There is a girl in my class who said her father is in the admission committee (or knows people in it), he contributes a lot of money to the university. The girl told us that the committee and alumni make sure that the University upsets majority White students, because they believe that minorities don't give back as much as White people.
I can't stand this fatalistic view, like we're "destined" to be something due to the cards given to us in life. I know plenty of children of Cambodian, Vietnamese, Laotian, and Hmong refugees, who ended up very successful. Their parents didn't speak English, had little to no education, and worked their entire lives working in fields, and knew no one in the states. Sound familiar? The difference is that their parents did stress education and career opportunities and were very fierce in encouraging them. And yes, again, Asian cultures very heavily stress these things, and that's why on average they are some of the most educated and highest earning minorities. Being white has nothing to do with it.

Be an opportunist. Work smarter, not harder. There's much more chances for upward mobility in the states than in Mexico, but sadly, you see more children and grandchildren of the original immigrants regressing in gains, and it almost makes the journey here seem pointless. There is financial aid, outreach programs, mentors, affirmative action, the list could go on. At some point both sides have to meet halfway instead of making excuses.

Originally Posted by _aztec_princess_ View Post
I am sure, that all this information isn't NEW stuff to anyone, yet I want to instill respectful discussion around it, and hear more opinions.

I know that I say the system sets people up for failure, while I am an exception to the contrary. I went through elementary and secondary education in this country, through low income schools, with low income parents, and I made the most of it. Yet, we shouldn't use these outliers as models, we need to see that so many people are not making it, and stop blaming them, and look at the system.
I say we look at both. On one hand, many Mexicans will blame things like racism, colonialism, glass ceilings, etc, and on the other, whites will call them lazy, stupid, unmotivated, etc. It's both, and unless you work both sides, progress will continue to be minimal. I don't know about you, but I personally can't stand seeing reports of Asians and whites being successful, while Hispanics and blacks only known for high crime rates, low education, little participation in voting, etc. Change can only come from within the community, not outsiders who promise to fix everything for an office term.

My parents worked full time, had little college, didn't stress academics much, and neither did my friends or majority of teachers. I did my research, started hanging with the right people, took action. Went from below average in HS to making the Dean's List in college, and on my way to adding "Magna Cum Laude" on my resume. I've already decided on my PHD career path, looking into schools, programs, and study habits for successful children, determined how to raise successful citizens. Lead by example. What will you do?

Edit: Forgot to add that most Mexicans who arrive are more short sighted and concerned with the here-and-now. Working for meals on the table, literally. My own mother had to give up higher education so her father could live off her earnings, going into the whole unconditional family loyalty aspect of Mexican culture, which I could easily rant about for pages but won't. While I realize it is not the case for every immigrant family, its a common theme: Parents pushing education down the list of priorities, since they see working asap as more beneficial in the short-run, thinking a longer time to wait for a decent paying job is a waste. They seem to be more content with any job that pays enough to survive. Another reason I think its our (educated Mex-Ams) responsibility to influence the coming generations; I'd like to see our average earnings, academic success, and university enrollment increase significantly within the next few decades. With less immigrants coming through the border, the achievements should have a bigger chance of recognition by mainstream Americans. Only time will tell, but I'm hopeful.

Last edited by niaV; 04-11-2012 at 08:05 PM.
Reply With Quote