Monday, September 20, 2010

Viva this

On Mexican Independence Day, my nationalism showed through to my colleagues and I pretty much have no problem with that at all.

During morning announcements a girl came on and gave a short history lesson on Father Miguel Hildago’s contribution from freeing Mexico from Spain.  All was fine and dandy until the girl raised her voice and announced, “Long live Mexico!  Viva Mexico!” (stated by Hildago during Mexican Independence), at which time the rumble started in my classroom.  I doused it quickly by making a joke about the student mispronouncing “sovereignty”, one of our recent vocabulary words (“Obviously not from this class because we would have nailed that word!”), and quickly moved on to recent Republican visits to Iowa.  The class passed without incident.

The break time after the class found a collection of teachers at the common table discussing the repercussions of the girl’s pronouncement.  One teacher verbally denounced the “Viva Mexico” comment in class.  Another had to nearly break up a fight between Mexican students who cheered and other students who took offense.  Still another teacher said that a group of Mexican students added their own commentary and shouted “Brown pride” and “Down with the U.S.”.  Whether the comments were hyperbolic or not, there was some definite resentment by staff members to the comments and was I one that expressed some of that resentment.  I find it interesting that the sub-group that has managed to keep us in program improvement every year is the same sub-group that refuses to assimilate to the culture that they live in, the same culture that has provided them with economic opportunity.  And what’s worse, it seems like we promote that attitude by having to be “culturally sensitive”, which at Ukiah High School means that a couple of teachers drape their classroom in Mexican flags, teach kids about how they should remain Mexican at all cost, and then say that anyone that disagrees with them is racist and that’s just how America is.

While in the meantime we forget that we need to, you know, actually teach them something.

I’m not advocating students from other countries dropping every shred of their cultural heritage when they come to the United States, but with a population of students from Mexico, there is a serious movement out there to ignore the social push to become American.  Scots-Irish, Germans, Italians, Japanese, Hmong, East Indian…all cultures that have helped build this country and have waived a variety of flags in support of their heritage and their new home, the United States.  With Latino students we lower expectations, engage in ridiculous pedagogy, and focus on feel-good stories instead of demanding academic progress.  I’ve said this many times, multi-cultural education is not the best way to get students to be learned, especially when you come from a culture that doesn’t put a premium on education. 

I’m not Joe Arpio, so you can dump the idiotic race comments or the ideas going through your head that I’m completely anti-immigrant.  I have no problem with people of any race coming here and positively contributing to society; to further this wonderful democratic experiment.  But come here and embrace the opportunity that the taxpayers have offered you. Embrace a culture that wants you to be learned, that wants you to succeed, and that will reward your hard work with a better life than what you would have had “back home”. 

Viva knowledge!

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