The Pedagogy, Power, and Politics of Excellence in Latina/o Schools and Communities
Part I: The Paradox and Pedagogy of Excellence
· 1 · the “excellence paradox” in our public schools “The starting point for a political- pedagogical process, must be precisely at the level of the people’s aspirations, hopes and dreams.” —Paulo Freire, philosopher and educator. From Community College to Harvard As a working- class kid from the Inland Empire region of Southern California, my educational journey was quite unconventional. In fact, I often have the opportunity to tell my story to students and educators as I travel across the region and the country. As a third- generation Chicano, I would eventually be the first in my family to attend and graduate from college. My parents were hardworking, high school–educated Chicanos who emphasized homework first, play later, and a non- negotiable respect for teachers. In fact, I believe it was this educacíon instilled in me at home that shaped my disposition to be the “good” student that I was through my K- 12 experiences (Burciaga, 2007). Yet, my “good” student disposition may very well have been to a fault, given that I later learned my education was actually substandard in many ways, which I didn’t realize until my senior year of high school. 4 intentional excellence It was the day before winter break and I was sitting in my 12th- grade English class. The teacher spent a majority of the class talking about football, which was the norm during football season, yet I later realized I should have been reading something by George Orwell, or some other American literary “classic...
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