ENRIQUE TRUEBA: Let me talk specifically about uh, bilingual education policy. The lack of policy in this country was an instrument of flexibility in the last century where it tends to create, say the German language, as the primary language for the country and the main language for the Midwest and so on, made up reflect on the problems of having a rigid language policy. Because of the rapid immigration waves in the US, a lack of former policy allowed for differential use of home languages. In 1962 when the uh Cubans came to this country and particularly the upper class Cubans became very articulate about the need to use a home language, Spanish. The government began to make statements about policy and among the statements was the need to force to the home language for children whose language was different from the US. OK? That was wonderful as far as the Spanish-speaking people were concerned. When we realized that we’re seeing this with 105 different languages as Houston to New York, the question was “How do we handle the other languages? Do we have teachers that can speak other languages?” The answer was, “No.” And the most conservative group in the country began to push for a policy of equality. “Let’s treat everybody the same way with English.” Then the battles with uh (?) and so on and the (?) began to dis—distinguish between equality and equity. There’s equality but there’s no equity when you use English for all children. So the support for the home language was waving between tolerance and support for years and years and where are we today? Well uh, in the same boat. We have different directors of the Title VII with different philosophies in the first kind of language policies. The government does not want to articulate a single policy. So allow certain districts in the country to receive Title VII monies and take a policy of support for say the Chinese languages for the uh (?), for the Monk people. Here’s to me what is the crocks of the policy and why it’s so complicated is that language alone does not explain how people learn whether how fast they achieve knowledge, how best they adjust to a new country. That language is intimately related to the lifestyle, to the literace environment, to the other cultures to which the people come to, in other words, mainstream middle-class, upper-class, etc. or middle-class and very prejudice group. That the climate of this school and society in which the uh immigrants come determines the need for certain need of language. Let me give you an example. For the low income Cubans that came, the mighty litters that came, and the second wave of Cubans, the language policy was that uh in the schools you use Spanish and then you switch to English and you keep a bilingual policy. The mighty litters did not have the home language skills that the previous Cubans had. They were not able to bring a literacy background; they were not able to acquire English as a second language as fast. They opposite. In the Fresno Valley, there were waves of immigrants from Mexico, rural people. There were immigrants that came with none Spanish; they were Indians speaking automaymistic (?) kind of groups. And as they began to go through school, they had serious problems acquiring English. But nobody knew that they also they didn’t have Spanish. They were assumed just to have uh problems with learning. Well, the changes in the population that began to come from Mexico City, sophisticated families from Mexico with parent that had uh background in say technological and the kids not only acquired English, they were above in mathematics, English composition. Above their—their counterpart mainstream students. In mathematics they were a grade or two above. The teachers didn’t understand that. “Aren’t these kids Mexican? How come they are so high achievers?” The difference is not that they just come from a language background or from Indian background, the problems that—in a country with very heavy immigration waves with groups that come from the same ethnic background but very different sociocultural literacy backgrounds, the performance changes. So maybe a general policy that is not in written but is essentially accepted, being that the language of the child is essential to transition to second language, that has to be recognized as enough research. And the second is that the development, linguistic and cultural, of the child is a top priority. And when the home language is not developed, the overall psychological human development of the child is slowed down. I think those are running principals that are important. I don’t think the country’s ready to put a single language policy. Do language policy statements work? We can look at Canada, we can look at the Middle East, we can—uh, uh, China. I had the opportunity to work with China also with minority groups. Language policies in China (clears throat) allowed the central government with the hand in cultural and language as main mechanism for communication. To articulate a nation that was so large and so diversified that people could not put together and the cultural of evolution that brought at least the understanding of central government, a single language spoken by 95 percent of the population did not do away with the differences in dialects of the Mandarin. So when you go to Beijing and you see people coming from the West part, the Muslim Chinese and the south central Chinese talk in Mandarin and they don’t understand each other, you wonder whether the policy worked. So policy deals with serious political issues and sometimes symbolic kinds of pressures. And the worst part is that it will expect the policy to change the reality of pedagogy, it doesn’t go that way. It guides, it helps, it teaches obstacles facing children everyday. (interruption)
Very often we tell teachers getting to the bilingual program and do a good job teaching this and that, that’s going to solve the problem and we realize that, first of all, the language background of the children, if they’re not first or second generation, they’re so distant from the home language that teaching them in their supposedly home language, sometimes with varieties that the children understand is going to solve the problem. It doesn’t. Bilingual education is extremely important politically and sometimes also pedagogically when the bilingual isn’t in between the language of the children, the language spoken by the children at home. And I’m not talking about teaching Castilian in Spanish when they come from Mexico. I’m talking about the language they use for communication and then the local language in which they function. And second, when the transition between the two languages is such, it allows the children to become part of the school is not an instrument of isolation. So bilingual education is not a—it doesn’t solve all the problems. It can be a very important instrument and it has served as an instrument for development in the communities. It is interesting that in the history of bilingualism since the 1960’s, the heavy locations that—in the border area, the children that were monolingual in Spanish and functioned in Spanish, were put in bilingual programs with deficit teachers of Spanish and were forced to acquire varieties of Spanish that were sometimes incorrect by the standards of the home language speakers. And yet were used in the bilingual program to be isolated from mainstream. The parents requested that the kids be taken out of the programs. So here we go into a situation where we can use this same kind of box of bilingual ed to isolate further the students who are economically and socially isolated. Let me put it this way that um if the principal is to engage the students in learning, learning instructions to become more ready to acquire knowledge, the language is an instrument that can help them or can hinder them in the acquisition of knowledge. I think that the purpose is not to put in bilingual programs regardless of the outcomes, but to facilitate the learning process. Teachers are very often placed in dilemmas that are very difficult to resolve. They have mandates to create bilingual programs that are dysfunctional, misorganized—disorganized that are sometimes efficient without personnel. We have somebody teaching mathematics and science in Spanish that cannot even speak the language. They (?) messages about the lower level in the minds of the Spanish language because they cannot convey sophisticated knowledge. And the outcome of the valuable program is disastrous. But they have programs; particularly for the middle/upper income Spanish speaking that are extremely well organized and functional. And the reason they function well is because at home there is linguistic accountability. You can get away with saying something—saying something that is not meaningful and is not correct. The home language is on daily use. Now in low-income families, American families, the parents are working in the fields, or working somewhere else. The kid has no access to adults and sometimes the children are forced to play the roles of adults. The—the only ones that understand a bit of English, and therefore, how can we expect them to really engage back into bilingual program when they’re missing the most important subjects in order to acquire—to reacquire the home language as presented by the school. It is very dysfunctional. So what I’m really saying is that uh we need to create programs that be logically sound and the language can be an instrument for or against some pedagogy. I’m for the use of home language. Absolutely. I have defended that in my life and I know that children who are forced in a second language without being aloud to develop their home language suffer always because they cannot make transitions cognitively. The main of specific transitions, understand what he said one way in one language and what is correspondent in the other language. But there’s more important message that can be coded only through language and are, “Who am I? What is my identity? Where I’m going? What is my culture? What do I belong to?” If the child feels that he’s rejected, he belongs nowhere, because he cannot communicate in any language, and he is just sore and he’s kind of in a weird house, of course, the child is not going to learn anything. A bilingual program should be a function of isolation. It should an opening door to more than one culture, more than one language. And I think that this illusion that the parents have brought to the table when they find the children isolated is “Put my child in mainstream classes. I’ll take care of the home language.” I think that socially we would be enriched if also the English speaking kids could acquire Spanish or other languages. And they’re doing that now as well as the Spanish speaking group could—could acquire English.
I’m not very strong supporter of policies that are detached from the day-to-day reality. Uh, my grand community has different needs from an urban community. And there’s some more urgent needs in the ghetto school in the American community. They need to survive, to go safely home, to know how to read environment, to protect oneself and one’s family, to move up or to get out, to stay away from the gangs and the use of all languages is essential. And you don’t dress in a way that people will respect you or at least leave you safely alone, then you don’t survive. Therefore, when we see a kid using a cavacoloco they say, using all the languages and such, we can’t just say, “Oh, that kid is lost.” That may be a very smart kid that is using that device to survive. The language is not just kind of single language, there’s many kinds of varieties of the language and in this case the kind of Spanish he’s learning to be able to survive in—in the streets.
The uh development of ESL in the country, the English as second language movement and the foreign language movement, that was very strongly from Georgetown University in the last 20—25 years was based on the reality of the many populations of immigrants and foreign students that would come to Washington, DC and many other parts of the country. The needs of the learners of English as second language first of all was predicated on the basis that their temporary immigrants that—or temporary students that are coming here to go back to the countries and that the dealing with the Spanish, dealing with English that is required to communicate in the global kind of setting for purpose of maybe uh diplomacy, other kinds of things. You’re dealing with different sets of problems. The acquisition of English say in the Middle East um through classes of literature where they select Shakespeare or something else in a sense was solely contextualized that kids would never know anything about the British or the American culture and as long as they could communicate in the domains then they were happy. In American society, the people who come to stay cannot only get through classes of ESL and understand what is going on. For example, many of the ESL classes in Japan are such that people learn by heart entire text and pronounce it very well. They get to this country and after the first two sentences they get lost. And they may have a perfect phonetic and yet they cannot communicate. The whole issue, the purposes of the language for larger communication for living in this country is, I think, what distinguishes bilingual education from just English as a second language. However, politically ESL has been much more acceptable to both uh this uh public opinion as well as politicians in Washington. The reason is that to justify the use of Title VII monies that began with about $7 million in 1962 and then went all the way to about $300 million or so. It was very difficult because some people look at the use of that money as an instrument that created nationalistic groups that were either opposed or dif—different then the US. And they look at bilingualism as an instrument to create this nationalistic movement. The solution was that for people in bilingual ed to say, “Well, we just want to make sure that they learn English as a second language. Let’s join forces with ESL.” Uh, the philosophy is different; the fear is different. One can argue that all learners of English as a second language face similar problems. But in this specific setting, a Chinese person has different kinds of problems then a Japanese person. The theory goes so far. The principles of say, involving folks in interactive kind of settings with the use of English second language, there’s a valley to cross bilingual ed. The specifics about what kinds of uh both interpersonal problems and phonetic problems there may be, those I think are peculiar to the language groups that are learning English as a second language. Politically the divide is tremendous and they shouldn’t be. I think that we are dealing now in schools uh normal, regular schools with 25 different language groups. Virginia has interesting cases that never before had. There’s schools that have 16, 17 languages and we have now groups in which the main language might be English, the second language spoken by 60 percent of the people, Spanish. But there’s another 4 or 5 different main languages. The Philippinos are growing very fast in this country. But many of them come with some English already. The linguistic needs of children are such that we need to keep an eye on what can we do with the resources we have and what kind of languages. Here’s a real problem, as we look at the immigration trends in the last 20 years, we realize that the speed of the Spanish speaking population is the fastest immigration. The second fastest growing wave might be Asian populations of various kinds. And yet the speed with which children change once they come to this country both in acquiring a second language is such that the teachers can never catch up with them. So we look at success or failure and say, “What do we do?” The teacher cannot prepare fast enough to meet the needs of the children because the children’s population is changing. They may have school districts that might change 90 percent of their students from one year to the next. So it’s tremendous. And very often when in the studies compare the performance of say multilingual classes with an English teacher as good as those in which we have a match in between the teacher and the kids of the same ethnic group and the same language. Well, the reason is that kids have very rapidly mobile and they are just very rapidly. Let’s not however, forget that past the initial adjustment, being able to speak English with an accent to understand, there is a seal in comprehension, there’s a problem with the content structures that we never pass if the child did not develop the home language. It’s very hard to improvise in second language and understand the domains and to deal with very fundamental issues about what is the meaning of, you know, more serious questions. Uh, behind that and I want to talk about it to is that the whole issue of the identity we pay dearly years after for identity crisis that were created by the loss of the home language. And we have enough literature about it.
We use to think that identities are crystallized in very early in life and that after the first five years of life we already had formed ourselves identity. And sometimes the offers that Spindlier, for example, calls that “The Enduring Self, ” the self that is going to be forever. And then we call it “The Situated Self” as we move to another stage maybe pubescence as we move from that to becoming adults. And we feel that from the enduring self to the situated self in life, that we can link them and retain some cohesive stuff. What we know today about the research, particularly with immigrants but also with mainstream people is that we have many identities. We don’t have a single identity and these identities coexist at the same time that, in fact, the ability to survive on the part of children and adults that come to this country as immigrants is to have many identities. And they retain linguistic varieties attached to those identities and they can move from one to the other. Now the problem is this that as these individuals move in life and they look very efficient and very functional working. Say they become teachers and they are like any other teacher, no accent, and then they get to the kids and talk to them in a language and they go to the ghetto and speak to them with a special variety of the language and they move—OK, as they move in different kind of strategies with different identities, the problem is that there is conflicting values inside that is very difficult to rectify is not a difficult uh problem for all as for some. Here’s another issue, the people that work with them sometimes don’t realize that with their monolingual audiences or groups, there are restricted audiences. They code switch or use forms of the language in English that are understandable only by certain groups. And you have, therefore, the appearance of communication in a single language with different messages to different people. Identities are so crucial that today in doing narrative analysis we almost need to ask ourselves as researchers who are we before we begin to do text analysis. Now this beginning of multiple identities is not necessarily a handicap, it’s not a disability; it’s the only way to survive. In the study of white girls in ghettos or uh, homeless white girls the changes in the home language they use and the lifestyle is very much a way of constantly trying to change their identities, escaping from a world that was very painful to them. The teachers now are facing classroom with 25 different language groups and different paces of acculturation and the kids—the most successful—successful children are those that very rapidly adjust and find a new identity and they can code switch to their old identity. They go home and behave like a good kid at home and they play the role they’re suppose to play and then go to school and are like anybody else. These kinds of changes in identity are so important that the teachers cannot sometimes take at face value what they observe. They need to inquire, they need to be reflective, they need to understand whether this child is being constant or it’s expression in ways that children of that group express affection or vice versa. Where the child was offended not because there was a touching behaving that isn’t acceptable on the part of the mainstream kids, but it was another kid of his ethnic group that did that. And in that culture this is the meaning of it. The issue, the differential meanings, multiple meanings of interactions is there. Now, for the purpose of teaching, for example reading, it’s essential to know about the home cultures. That the actual exercises between mother and child in this course analysis in the storytelling incident is in the home language is the most effective and learning in the home language the mechanisms to communicate, to dialog, to ask question, is the best means to transfer that skill to a second language, English. And the teachers need to in a sense be patient, reflective, and ask questions. The best means for the teachers to realize the many identities is to visit the homes of the children and to see the children’s ethnic groups and to work with them.
This brings me to another issue (clears throat)—excuse me. Ethnicity as we know to conceptualize is not a huge box in which somebody fits. You know what identifies us is not only our race, our sex, our gender, our social class. Put all of those things together that in some instances in the place of Hispanics, for example, they are black Hispanics, they’re white Hispanics, they’re Indian Hispanics, many groups, what sticks the Spanish together is a cultural background with similar values of the family, the language to some extent. Well, are those things detachable? Can you really teach the language with the cul—without the culture? Can you acquire the—the Spanish language without acquiring some part of the culture? You can’t. Ethnicity is one of those boxes that we often confuse with race. Race with mentally and psychologically deals with the kinds of uh traits both phenotypic, the way we look are genetic the way our composition is made. They are not in our control. We didn’t choose the kind of hair and size and such, but race in a sense is environmentally impacted and therefore over a period of time, within the same family there are very different racial types. You can have a blonde kid and then a dark kid in the same family when the background is maybe uh mixed parentage. In reality, the genetic pool to which we belong is diversified and the US has been—has been dealing with that a set taboo. They don’t want the research on grades. Well, we are highly diversified, but in the social environment, we use race only to essentially achieve the privilege of some group of people by their peers or to exclude them. And in that sense, very often race and ethnicity are put together. Somebody looks dark or speaks with an accent, we put them in a particular kind of box and deal with them differently and we make assumptions about their intellectual ability and so on and so forth. This is where we need to careful a little. We need to give ourselves a chance as teacher to learn about the cultural, the background. One of the most important movements in teacher education is that precisely. Go to the community, talk to parents, acquire the home language, or do field-based activities that the teachers will be able to be part of the community and deal with that.
The uh literature of reflective cultural analysis began many years ago with Professor Spindlier—George Spindlier. He was a uh an interesting professor that had discovered that working in schools given an understanding of how teachers work with different groups. And he observed for six months a model teacher that was the best teacher in the Palo Alter near Stanford. He was teaching at Stanford. And after six months of observation he noticed that this person that he called in the literature Roger Harker, the professor, the teacher, was catering to mainstream kids only. That he would ignore the Hispanic, the Japanese, and others—the Phillipinos. And in looking at it, took copied notes and came back to the teacher and said, “Well, you are wonderful teacher but you have invisible groups there.” And Roger Harker was incredibly offended. He didn’t want to hear about it. So Spindlier kept talking about culture reflective analysis, why some people cannot really see those difference and no it is themselves that they invisible people. I replicated the experiment and I videotaped teachers and I showed in the videos and they realized that there were some children that were invisible. They kept doing things, passing in front, and they would not notice them. Well, 20 years after Roger Harker’s piece was published, Spindlier is teaching a class with 400 people there, I’m his student and after he tells the whole story, a voice in the back in a very low voice says, “Professor, I’m Roger Harker. And you were right. It took me years to understand these cultural differences.” So he used it in class and began to explain cultural is like the air we breath. We don’t see it. We don’t notice. We notice that only when there’s difference. But we choose sometimes or unconsciously ignore the other cultures just to be able to function. We’re comfortable with those that we recognize that understand us. When people give us different clues, then they’re there. So we gradually as teachers ignore those groups that either we cannot really make sense of. Cultural reflectiveness is the equivalent to Paulo Freda’s conscious ascension (?). And he has to deal with understand our own cultural background. The difference between conscious ascension (?) and cultural reflectiveness as George Spindlier explains is that in cultural reflectiveness the assumption is no that education is political. Spindlier thinks that learning to live in any group, becoming somebody within a social group is education through schooling formal—in the form of school and so on. And it’s not a side of political; it’s a fact of life. OK? And Paulo Freda looks at schooling as a very political effort to place you in society to give you a role and a function and so on. OK, but in both cases, unless you know “Who are you? Who you come from? What your background is? Where your parents are from?” social class, your values, unless you reflect on that, you cannot—never really understand the others and vice versa unless you get into somebody else’s cultural and compare the cultural with yours, you never understand yours. So the basic premise since the 1950’s for Margaret Meade, for these folks that were enormous important anthropologists, Norman Segal and George Spindlier, the assumption is that teachers should feel work in different cultures. So Margaret Meade in New York in the 1950’s had the most fantastic course for teachers working with the speakers of other languages. And they would observe kids then come back and tell her. And this is what she did. When they brought with these observations, for example, uh they were looking at uh, Chinese kids and uh the parents. And they would make arbitrary judgments, “Oh, these kids don’t have any feelings. They are very stiff” then would ask the Chinese to comment about American kids. They said, “The American kids are rudely, they are not disciplined, etc.” So there was kind of matching counterviews of the same culture and there are stories about it. Fascinating. Japanese studied in American classrooms, Americans studied in Japanese classrooms. The comparison allows us to reflect where our values are, maybe to embrace them more, but to understand better the others. The assumption is that the basis of prejudice first of all is a very strong—first me and only me. And then also is lack of understanding of what is there. Let me give you an example. To me this was traumatic. I had been a Jesuit Priest and then I left the priesthood to get into academics for a lot of reason. So the first assignment after I left the priesthood in Palo Alto was in the Newman Center uh doing anthropology. I come to UCLA to work in a ghetto in Venice, California. And the job by UCLA was to do a study of the black families, hard conditions. So I go do my job and so the first thing that happens, they beat me up in the streets, you know. They knock me down and broke my nose. But I become friends with the head of the gang and I got to go to all the meetings. So I become so close to them, I knew them. I went to live in the ghetto with the black families in an apartment. So I saw everything. And one day in the afternoon I hear this enormous train of thunder, I go look in the window and I see a black man very strong standing up next to a man in a wheelchair. And they seemed to be fighting and beating each other and insulted four letter words. And this was for ten minutes. I go down look at it and I noticed they embrace each other, hug and kiss. They were veteran war uh—they were war veterans that hadn’t met in many years. They love each other and they expressed this affection in ways we would confuse with aggressive, hostile behavior. And I just thought it was the worst misunderstanding. But there’s many of them that we commit doing research in other cultures, in other groups. The reality is that reflection on cultural backgrounds is essential just to be human. We are forgetting the fundamental fact that there is a single human species and we have created boundaries, national, ethnic, racial, and we miss the boat that we all are of the same humanus species. And in the end, if we don’t understand that, we don’t live a full life. To me this is an instrument that our teachers need to use and to use with uh, specific kinds of varieties in their own schools so they understand each other. This is not the enchilada culture where people say, “Oh, let’s eat different stuff.”
TRUEBA: Though, this is not the enchilada culture, which is a superficial knowledge of people’s kind of cuisine and so on is more getting to the soul inside of them, understanding why they do whatever they do. In that respect, I think we have been unfair to our ancestries from Europe. They suffer as much as the people of color today. Their accounts in the uh, New England area, how far people went to discriminate against Polish, against Greek, and so on. They suffered. There were entire buildings that had the capacity of 30,000 people working in textiles that died with gangrene because of the lack of heat and sun. Those people from those ancestries, German ancestries, were forced to silence the parents and to be quiet, to pretend they didn’t speak another language, and to hide their lifestyle because enormous pressure, particularly all the way between the 19—early 1900’s to about 1928. We put people in jail because they spoke different languages and we assumed they had more uh turpitude, which was a feeling that they were immoral or lower class in that sense. Well, going—cultural reflective analysis allows us to discover our own worthwhile background—culture background.
We all acquire identities uh, social being. One of the contributions of uh Lev Vagodski, in the whole conception of relationship between social and cognitive development was to realize that cognition is not something that individuals acquire in one corner that is socially constructive and that we go from social experiences to cognitive representations and back to social experiences and we use that all the time. Well, I think it is very similar. We begin to distinguish between the selves, us, and other—others in social interaction and we begin to coin that. However, when we are identifying larger groups as part of us, not only the immediate family, the extended family, but others, we begin also to articulate the areas in which we are together in ceremonies, can related now, the life cycle ceremonies from burials, from births to whatever, can be religious ceremonies, but that identity that puts us together to worship together in song, creates a support system that allows us to see who belongs with us—and belongs to us. When we have to sacrifice uh—when we have to, in a sense, put in one corner of that identity, viewed as lower, not respected and then acquire a second identity uh say mainstream Americans that we don’t want. That we don’t—why they don’t like us that we don’t belong to. This is when you have the most difficult conflict. This is where you are forced to be somebody you don’t want to be. The acquisition of other identities, mainstream or just any identity, sometimes our—in a different level, a black person cannot pretend to be white even if he speaks perfect standard from of English, of Britain, of New England, whatever. There’s some things that will always give us away or an accent can give us away. And yet the way we act, our values, the way we function in the schools can be totally mainstream and can be also prejudice against our own ethnic groups. See ethnic affiliation or racial affiliation sometimes does not go along with our behavior. We can acquire another culture and sort of play another role even if we—it’s contradicting the values of our own identity. The most interesting case is the tierta compancino—tierta pueblo—this drama in the Latino culture that always illustrates these conflicts like uh somebody working with INS, or enforcing the border—the laws of the immigration naturalization service and working with the patrol and happens to stop his own mother crossing the border or he’s now portrayed kicking uh Mexicans in the stomach. Well, these conflicts of people that want to be more Anglos and the Anglos that never really accepted the Sanglos are part of this conflict of identities. And I think that we need to stay away from trying to force an identity on somebody else. The choice of acquiring all the set of values is free in a free society and yet the respect for the different kinds of values should be there. And this is a very fine line to walk. So the match/mismatch ethnic child is not the formula for solution. In fact, in my long studies of segregation in California, the most genuinely, caring teachers were the older teachers, Anglo teachers. And were the only ones that opened the doors to more kids considered learning disabled, retarded, who eventually were shown to be uh super intelligent. In other words, there is something about being a teacher and a good teacher that transcends choice of ethnic group and the language. So I think we need to be careful. Also the teachers have more than one identity. And when you train teachers, I can tell you I’ve seen teachers crying during examination when they remembered what happened to them when they were kids. And much of what they do in the classroom when they’re really tough they’re trying to protect—overprotect children because they themselves see projections in themselves in the children. So we need to understand ethnic teachers and yet we need them. We have a minority of ethnic teachers that we need to increase the ranks. Not—it’s not going to be easy for them either.
American society so geared to success and we assume success means the same thing for everybody and it doesn’t. We looked at uh competition as a means to discriminate failure from success and some authors say that we engineered the failure of some and the success of others. An entire branch in sociology deals with that issue, how the social creation of success for some and failure of others. Well, the interesting part is that in a multicultural population, success for some is a failure of others. For example, academic success—success in some of the Asian cultures with the abandonment of the language and the culture is failure. The leaving of the family values, the leaving the neglecting of the community is the worst failure that can be uh identified among Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and so on. So the guilt feeling of those people that do well in academics and leave the communities goes with them everywhere they go. Among the Latinos is similar but it’s slightly different. The difference between immigrants that leave their home country and cannot go back and forth—it’s a one way trip so to speak, as compared with those that come here for awhile and go back and keep as point of reference their home countries is that the whole motivation to achieve has different kinds of lines. For those that want to go home after being here, it doesn’t matter what people think of them, how successful, how—what a failure they are. What is important to them is to go back with saving face with their success in their own terms. Meaning by that, that they honor the parents, the families. That they were honest, that they also did as much as they could and maybe they even had a degree or something. For those that uh stay here, when success is more important then the honor of the family is to get an A instead of A-, or and A instead of a B and there are cases where the Asian kids have tried to commit suicide. To some extent the competition for success in academics is now getting to China. The cases of children that don’t pass the board examinations at the end that try to commit suicide because they want—don’t want to face their parents. In the case of Latinos, there’s an interesting phenomenon. There’s a distribution of labor, the family goes to the field, works very hard, and then they identify one member of the family, mostly males that has to go school and everybody keeps working until they go to school and succeed. Koreans are the same. There are interesting studies of Koreans that do anything to support the Korean brother to go to school in the US. I think that what we miss here is that success is not a one shot, a one time and forever. The most clear definition of success in the study we doing with a specific—on Asian, on Latinos, successful high school kids is that there’s a long term strategy in which they go up and down but they never stop trying to go. And in that situation what the kids learn is how to understand the politics of success in American society without betraying ethnic identity, meaning they will continue to learn how to make decisions, how to use the environment well, who to ask for information, when to do what, how to learn to take test, but they do all that always keeping a high respect for their families. Always working with a community, always being members of the community. And these things are not opposing their minds. In fact, they—the most successful kids among Latinos and Asians, including Korean, Japanese, Chinese, are those that learn how to do long term planning at the moment are poor and hungry. And it’s amazing how they get there. I’ve seen it in terms of four years, incredible case of success. The difference in the strategies between the Asians, for example, and the Latinos is the Latinos are so much more closer to their families at home because the extended family plays a key role. So they keep getting a great deal either of a real kinship or fictitious kinship relationships that allow them to continue. And in the case of the Asians, they’re more peer group oriented. There are strong peer groups that support each other, help each other. But equally, depending on the families, not so much in terms of time and somber, but in terms of the quality of the communication. There is another important issue about success and failure that in the end the relationship between grades and success in life is very minimum. The—the kids that in school don’t do well, but they have long term planning and do well otherwise in life is so clear. I mean for American mainstream society that—we have created a fictitious environment of “If you fail in school you fail in life” is not. In fact, much of the literature in education anthropology and sociology in say explaining why some succeed and ones some—why others fail dealing with just academic achievement, they do not explain why some kids in spite of not achieving academia do very well outside. There are some things that cannot be detected. And what concerns me is that academic achievement is not everything. That it’s more important for a child to remain part of the group, to feel he belongs somewhere not to become marginalized, to have self confidence, to be feeling that he’s good and an important person rather than having high grades. The grades may or may not come, but when somebody feels marginalized and stupid for life because he cannot do as well in class, I think it’s disastrous. So school, as is the thesis of the (?) in the 1995 book, school sometimes is not good for immigrant children. The whole question of the (?) is “Are immigrants good for Americans?” Yes, very, very good. “Is America good for immigrants? Um, maybe not. The teachers think that the longer a child stays in this country the more marginalized is the student, the more deprived the child becomes. And we need to change schools so that they capitalize on the children’s rich heritage and gives them a chance to develop fully.
All my life I’ve been concerned with um children that are neglected whose talents are lost. Why—as a Jesuit priest I asked permission to learn two Indian languages and to go to chapels. And um I went to chapels with the dream of doing something for children uh particularly Indian children and I was—first of all, I was saved by the kids, my life literally when I was bit by snakes and so one. They knew the only plants that could cure me. And second, their ability to know over 4,000 types of plants of certain kinds and distinguished them. Let me tell you, I grew in respect and love for them. And then at the end, after several years, I realized when I saw dying, like flies all over that they had no chance. So I began to ask myself what can I do for them? Came back to this country, tried to get into medical school, couldn’t. Got into uh anthropology and began to do something. And what I decided to do was to work with people that would train teachers. I mean, what—preparing teacher trainers and teachers, I realized that I was dealing with massive cultural kinds of prejudices. That there was not only lack of understanding of who the kids were—who they were, but there was an instant kind of block to classify them and put them done. So all my life I’ve been doing research with groups that are right away misclassified as unable to learn, stupid, not competent. And what hurts me the most of that is that I know they’re very talented. In trying to help teachers understand a responsibility to educate all and to discover that talents of minority children, I realize that teachers themselves have problems of their own. They work under various strenuous conditions, over stress, they have bosses, mostly males that tell them what to do at every moment, they have to cater to them. I realize they have anxieties of their own self-identity, who they are. They have all kinds of problems. There was nobody really working with them as individuals to allow them to fully develop before they go to the classroom. And once they’re in the classroom we forgot about them. So I began to change gears and started working with them outside of traditional training programs. The training programs are very rigid. They have to be limited to amount of times and classes and so on. But the assumption was that if they teach you well in the state of classrooms, you’re ready to go outside. I realized that was not the case. They could not face a class with black kids if they hadn’t been worked with. So I began to develop field-based experiences for them and I followed that also in Wisconsin. And I found the most effective ways of preparing teachers was going with them to the community. And I have continued that. In doing fieldwork with the teachers in the community, they feel empowered, they understand, they indeed begin to discover themselves. That is where cultural reflective analysis takes place. So my sense is that uh I may not be able to do all the things I wanted in life, but at least I want to make some people think about these issues, about their own potential, about the projection of their own hurts into the people, about the lack of understanding of their own lives so they can appreciate all peoples lives. That is more or less what I feel is strongly that all the other trains that we’ve seen in the last 10 years, additional testing, assessment instruments, all of them—they have problems. Maybe they are essential; maybe they have to be taking place, but what about the human development of the teachers themselves so they can have all of the capacities used to help others. We’re just burning them and throwing them away. We need to take responsibility in the university. It’s not like, “Oh, you paid your dues.” You paid so much money, three years, and now what about you as a human being? Where are you after the training? How’s it going with the kids? We need to go and continue the work there. That’s my—my strongest sense of urgency.