Since the last time I wrote on this site, many enduring events have passed. The dichotomy of life has manifested itself in an inescapable image of love and fear. My father almost passed away, I had another daughter, earned my Masters, traveled much more, invested money, made new friends, lost some family members, was diagnosed with catastrophic thinking anxiety disorder, back surgery, and still love my wife to death.
My anxiety came out of nowhere. I've always thought of my mind to be sound of life's distractions. Yet I am almost sure it came as I realized that my oldest daughter is coming to an age where undesirable events happened to me. I realized how fragile children are towards our ambitions.
Since the last time, I have realized that life is a journey with a known end. At some point my mind wept at the thought of it. I used to think that those who live in a bubble were disingenuous and ignored the problems of the world in an indirectly selfish way. The truth is, there are things we cannot control. As I see injustice, I cannot help but think how humankind will self-destruct.
But I am a teacher, and I see much more beauty than many will have the privilege to see. I am blessed to see the beautiful and pure love that children have. I still remember wise words from my former teachers. Therefore, educators have the chance to plant seeds of justice everyday, to bear fruit that we may never see. And that is okay, because Solomon Northup lived through unbearable times that allowed us to reflect on, with his prose. Through his misfortune, we are allowed to see how privileged we are, yet how monstrous we can become.
I cannot change the world. I can however, change the way people see me. I want them to se joy, happiness, purity and love. This expression will hopefully be contagious and trickle through the roots of education.
I am Jose Manuel Berrios Santos and Blackness runs through my veins. I am blessed to be born of the world's decent. I am the inheritor of those who gave life to the human species. With the Spanish inquisition, Puerto Rico was brushed with the Black brush of love, heat, and passion. When I dance my hips speak of the tribes that give me "sabor." My conscious is at ease with the Maestro, Bob. The oppression my veins have endured, have fomented strength of endurance. My Black blood has a strong soul which disseminates honesty and love of humanity. My strong hair protects my me from the elements and hate. My intellectualism is reflected on my coarse hands. Africa speaks to me. It says never to forget my roots. I am but a branch which spreads its Black seeds and proud.
We have a saying in Puerto Rico. "Y tu abuela donde esta?" Which roughly translates to "yea, and where is your grandma at?" If there ever is an instance of real hate towards our Blackness as Puerto Ricans, we are quick to reiterate where we come from. But the truth is that we all come from the world's Heart, Africa.
So to you who does not affirm your roots. Where yo grandma at?
I'm driving home from dinner and my daughter sings along vaguely "Vivir Mi Vida" by Marc Anthony (Puerto Rican singer). Living in North Texas is a little of a challenge to show her our Latin Caribbean roots. Nonetheless, my dad, while we lived in Germany, always had our roots shown at our home (early 90's) be it Salsa music, food, language, etc.
This country has been written through the eyes of the "explorer". You know, the ones who "expanded the ideals". Which seems fine when you see it from the perspective of the invader rather than the victim.
Today this country has been re invaded by those who seek acculturation rather than assimilation. It is an invasion of diffusion and believe it or not, preservation. We are the (with all due respect) mature population that recognizes and loves the differences of diversity.
By me accentuating my daughter's singing, I am allowing her to pass on centuries of cultural progress thanks to this generation who has more access to the truth.
I must not give in to assimilation.
One of my students came across me with this question during a research project that I assigned from the Harry Potter series. Coincidentally they had to infer(draw conclusion) certain attributes about each one of the main characters they read about so far.
You might ask: What do you do? What about religion? Sexual preference? What would the parents say? Could you lose your job if you answered?
The infliction of taboo is only accepted when believed by the receiver. Thus, in this case, I only asked questions (as I always do) that made such student think out of the box: What do you think? Why? Prove it.
Sincerity will get you through anything.
Children only want to fulfill their curiosity no matter what it is(gee don't we all?). Whether Dumbledore is gay or not is irrelevant. Yet as the question is asked AND answered by the student, only then it becomes relevant from whatever perspective the student assumes without infliction.
After all, was not the research about inferences?
Is it me, or is it a fact that our students do not have enough access to digital information? I'm sure some of my colleagues would argue favorably that children should have minimal time exposed to a computer. "The test is not on a computer, they need to be more in the classroom" they might add.
You the reader think: how much time do you spent on your "smart device"? How many apps do you absolutely need. Does your 2 year old use it like he/she was born with it? And did that same 2 year old read before navigating such device?
Well if I do not defend my own teaching philosophy, who will? The world is the classroom now. We must get as close as we can to the most credible source. If it means video chatting with people across the globe, familiarizing themselves to credible sites, watching youtube, etc., then so be it. My 4 walls are not a classroom, our living sphere is. And that computer "thingy" "plaything" is an imperative tool for this and future generations.
I've discovered something called project based learning. Pretty much self explanatory if you ask me. But what makes it more interesting is not the effectiveness (god knows how many schools of educational approaches are sold to policymakers) but the resistance towards this way of learning. It is ironic how principals and superintendents promote and stress "learner centered" education but reject having kids explore, discover and experience the learning process. It seems like the "I want it now" attitude has taken the best of us. Why are we in such a hurry? Money? Death? If so, then you should not be making decisions for our children. Success can not be measured with a narrow mind.
I shall not be scared of guiding my students and discover together the intricacies that the world has for us.