Jaime Escalante, Essay Example
Jaime Escalante: The teacher and his influence on philosophy of education
There are approximately 2.2 million teachers currently employed in the United States of America. Many of them perceive teaching as their 9 to 5 job, nothing more than an occupation. It is very much an understandable approach that these people choose as different people have different desires and goals in their lives.There are, however, some who do feel passionate about teaching. When they look at the problematic flaws they do not simply think of reforming it; they get an insight look and treat the core of the problem. This is the way Jaime Escalante viewed the problems in education and solved them with this same principle. He saw that contemporary teaching method was only failing and it was thatproblem that did not serve for the growth of the American education. His tough stance on education and his envisioned proposals of betterment of the system earned him praises and condemnations and yet he humbly continued his fight. In this essay I shall discuss Jaime Escalante’s life, his philosophy and basic principles concerning the contemporary methods of teaching, as well as his signification impact on the American education.
Jaime Escalante was born on December 31, 1930 to Zenobio and Sara Escalante in capital of Bolivia, La Paz. Both of his parents were poorly paid school teachers. He had two sisters, Olimpia and Bertha. His family did not always have the happiest atmosphere: there were frequent quarrels and fights in his house. When he was 9 his mother, tired of her husband’s frequent abuses, leaves the house with her two daughters. Jaime later joins his mother and sisters and that becomes his permanent residence. When he was fourteen years old his mother sent him to Jesuit high school, which at that time was one of the most educationally advanced institutions in the country. Even though he was a promising student in high school, Jaime often talked too much and told jokes during the class time.But soon his attention shifted towards education when he became interested in mathematics and physics. The whole concept of solving equations fascinated him. Around the same time, his father passed away and his family was left without money. This is when he decided that going to engineering school, the dream school that he always wanted to go to, will never happen and cannot become a reality and so he took off, looking for a quick way for graduating early to search for a job.But before he could get started with school, he was called to go to army where he served for two years. Upon his return he enrolled at Normal Superior teachers college. When enrolled he was called to teach physics at an elementary school. Pretty soon he got used to the educational atmosphere and commenced improving his teaching ability and grew passion for teaching. Later he became a teacher in the capital of La Paz and was one of the best teachers in the country during that time. He taught in Bolivia for about 12 years (1). The wage, however, was not great for him to sustain a decent living for himself and his family so he decided to leave Bolivia. During the Christmas in 1963 he left Bolivia and immigrated to United States alone but his family would later follow the lead. This would radically change his life as he would have to forget teaching and only think about his family. He began working at odd places only to put food on the table. He also commenced learning English and went on to get a college degree in order to continue to teach which he always wanted to do and so he went on to get his teaching degree. He first began teaching in 1974 when he was 43 at Garfield High School, located in East Los Angeles. This infamous school was known for the violence in surrounding the neighborhood and many other illegal things. The neighborhood itself consisted of low income families and most students were of Hispanic descent. This is where he began to develop his method for teaching and perceive his students in a rather out of ordinary way. He did not, in any way, shy away from the problem of teaching at a place where most students are not interested in studying, let alone learning math.
Jaime Escalante did not have any advantages from his colleagues at Garfield High School. In fact, when he first commenced teaching he got disappointed at the fact that the textbooks they used in the high school were quite old and the bookmaterials were equivalent to fifth-grade materials taught in Bolivia. Escalante, however, developed a technique which was not, in any way, complex. All he needed was extra time and students who were devoted to him. By devoting himself to his students and showing his sincere desire of wanting them to succeed, he made his students like him, and to some extend look up to him. He first started by meeting his students before class but later added up to that and started seeing them after class as well. He got to a point where he would even meet with them on the weekends. He spent several extra hours with his students trying to make them excel in math. This can be seen as a simple and suffessful yet a hardly used method in teaching- the teacher himself has to be motivated in teaching in order to enable some contact with his students. By doing this, the teacher is actually connecting with the students, telling them that they are in school to learn, that they can learn, and that they are worth it. Escalante spent hours with them which shows that he was quite motivated himself. Another simple factor that motivated Escalante’s students in learning was his personal relationship with them which is quite fascinating. It is said that his students often referred to him as “Kimo” for KimoSabe (2). Having a warmrelationship on this level lets students forget the presence of formality and understand that teachers can also be of the same caliber as their students. This makes students feel better about themselves and further makes them strive to reach for more. Students only feel indifferent when everything and everyone around seem indifferent.
There are many legacies that Jaime Escalante left behind him that the public still remembers. For instance, in 1978 he taught his first AP Calculus class at Garfield High School and had only fourteen students. Out of those, only two managed to pass the AP Calculus exam, which was at that time quite challenging for high school students, let alone students at Garfield High School who were taking this class for the first time. The fact that Garfield High School even had anyone passing the test was itself impressive. Later in 1980, he had nine students out of which seven passed the exam. But to rather make this more unbelievable, two years later in 1982, eighteen of his students took the exam of which all of them passed it. This is when he received nationwide media attention: The Educational Testing Service, an organization that was responsible for grading the exams claimed that the students actually cheated but many of them retook the rest, proving them otherwise. (3) This steady increase of the number of students proved that Escalante was devoted to his students and was willing to help anyone was in need of assistance in math. But it was not simply math that Escalante was trying to teach; his concepts were on a more broad level. Escalante’s philosophy about education was that all those who had were responsible for the education of that student have to be involved in the betterment of students’ academic level. One man cannot do it all on his own. It is the students, the administrators, and parents that are responsible for the complete reform of this education in order to rid itself from those flaws and seek ways with which we can improve the teaching system. This is one of the legacies that he left behind.
All in all, Jaime Escalante was a significant person in the history of the American education. As a child he was extremely smart and talented. He continued his way up like that until he graduated. He got into teaching at a young age and he became passionate about teaching and committed himself to his students. Jaime Escalante pursued teaching not simply as a regular job but as a way to help students who are capable but cannot meet the needs. When Escalante came to U.S. he gave up his teaching and worked at odd jobs before he commenced teaching again in 1974. He’s teaching method is not complex in any way and in fact it is quite simple; teacher needs to engage the student and express devotion and show that he has the will to teach them. In return, student will most probably show the willingness to engage in studies. Jaime Escalante was an inspirational man and that is why many people looked up to him as a role model and this is one of the reasons for making the movie Stand and Deliver, which tells the true story of Jaime Escalante and how he inspired many students. In addition, this is the man who was at one time the educational adviser to former President George W. Bush. But all his awards do not matter- it is the man that matters who left with a legacy and a whole army of students behind him.
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