EDUCATION ON THE BORDER: The myths and realities of teaching on "La nueva frontera"




EDUCATION ON THE BORDER: The myths and realities of teaching on "La nueva frontera"

Alice Quiocho, Maria Luiza Dantas, Dennis Masur, Lorri J. Halcón, y Carlos von Son.


It was apparent to all who participated in this Conference that the border is more a state of mind than a physical barrier. No matter how hard governments try to control borders there is always an exchange of goods, ideas, values, norms, languages, and cultures, with mutual influences that tend to fuse and amalgamate in "La Nueva Frontera" with creative forces that shape a new culture and language-fronterizo. These have to be recognized for what they are and addressed appropriately so that all children are educated to reach their greatest potential. This can only be done with total cooperation between educators on both sides of the border, by coming together to seek solutions to barriers-political or otherwise-to educate our children.

The cross border region on both sides, "La Nueva Frontera", must address the issues of an undereducated population. The future of Southern California and Baja California del Norte will depend on our combined ability as teachers to educate the masses, preparing them for the work force of the new millennium.

This cannot be done by ignoring issues of poverty, language, culture, family, or prior education of immigrant students.

Oftentimes, it is the attitude and pre-conceived notions of society that gives rise to myths, stereotypes and generalizations surrounding another culture. Upon further examination, it becomes apparent that many of these myths are used to justify an inequitable system of education that does not support or promote student diversity or validate cultural differences in understanding. Teaching children in their primary language is a prime example of how pedagogically and educationally sound practices can become a social and political hot-potato to the detriment of English language learners.

It behooves educators everywhere to be aware of these myths and, therefore, not contribute to their perpetuation. Education for all our children will improve when we take responsibility for student failure and stop blaming the language and culture of origin, parents or community. Educators need to understand that our failure to fully fund education and provide continued, high quality and culturally-responsive professional development to teachers, administrators and school boards is what has created these self-perpetuating myths within our system.

At the end of the day, participants from the U.S. had gained a better understanding and appreciation of the Mexican education system. The same can be said about Mexican educators. Both sides were truly enlightened and perhaps surprised at the range of common issues we face. Border conferences such as these facilitate understanding between two regions and increase awareness on the part of participants that we are all part of the same creative forces that are shaping "La Nueva Frontera."

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Posted on

February 16, 2015