Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Power of Education

Brent said something interesting the other night. He was telling me how many times kids in his classes have a difficult time having a Spanish conversation with each other even though each came from Mexico. If they came from different parts of the country, the language spoken may be so different that they can barely communicate with someone from another part. That was amazing to me. I thought all these immigrants from the south were a homogeneous group. But apparently, if you bring two random people from Mexico together, they may not be able to communicate with each other. I was trying to figure out how this could be and Brent thought a big reason for this may be that Mexico's education system is not like the United States' where great resources are spent ensuring that all children have access to a free education. Among the skills taught in US schools are proper English. Most of the students arriving from Mexico have never learned proper Spanish or even understand that a proper Spanish exists. Some of these kids will take a Spanish class in high school, expecting it to be an easy credit, but then flounder because it is proper Spanish being taught. They have grown up with a language of little to no rules, slang words and colloquialisms. They get angry at the teacher, saying, that's not how you say that!
How blessed we are in the US that education for all children has always been an extremely high priority. It was a radical idea that all children need to be educated, not just the upper class, not just those who can afford it, not just the boys. All across this huge country where many accents continue to develop and grow stronger, we can not only understand each other but share ideas and thoughts. Learning proper English grants every child amazing gifts and tools--not the least of which is being able to communicate effectively. If educated Americans from say, Massachusetts and Montana happen to meet, they will be able to share information and ideas with each other even if they have nothing in common. To share ideas, to argue, to persuade other citizens and those in authority, this is only a small part of the power of education!
Ok, the former teacher will get off her soapbox now.

1 comment:

jennifer said...

This was an interesting post! Mainly interesting because despite how HORRIBLE our public school system is here, we are leaps ahead of other countries!
I like it when you get on your soapbox by the way! :)