Sunday, December 16, 2007

Education or Empathy? In Olentangy, it's empathy

Olentangy teacher Erica Vieyra just wants to teach her students some empathy. Forget education, it's all about empathy. I posted on this earlier, but the whole mess is just so much nonsense.

Public education never seems to be able to stop indicting itself. Your children are not being educated, they are being indoctrinated. And, the staff admits it. Amazing.

From The Columbus Dispatch:

Students struggle as immigrants do
Saturday, December 15, 2007 3:18 AM
By Holly Zachariah
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

POWELL -- The students had a role-play project: assume a Latino identity, build an imaginary life in your home country and develop a workable plan to immigrate to the United States.

Try it legally, Erica Vieyra told her 40 senior Spanish students at Olentangy Liberty High School. Fill out the correct documents, follow the proper steps. And then, after they spent days completing the actual paperwork from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, she took out her red ink pad and stamped a big, fat DENIED across every request.

Now, she told the students, come illegally. Forge your documents, find a way across the border. Then, research real ads and find a place to live in Columbus. Figure out what it would cost, how to get food. Plan how to survive.

The students had to go to real businesses and ask for Spanish-language job applications. They had to visit a bank and ask for new account documents written in Spanish.

Vieyra promised them that the process -- even in make-believe -- would frustrate them. But they would gain, she hoped, an understanding of what is one of the most important political and humanitarian issues facing the U.S. government today.

After three weeks of work, the students presented their projects yesterday and discussed their conclusions. Most said it was a grueling experience to even pretend to walk in an immigrant's shoes.

"I can't begin to fathom how they can survive here," said Yana Lyon, 17. "Everywhere you turn if you try to become legal or help yourself, there's a roadblock."

For her project, Yana assumed the identity of 28-year-old single mother Margarita Sola, a barmaid in Tijuana, Mexico. Yana had Margarita stay at a Columbus Knights Inn until she found a $7.50-an-hour job at Chipotle. Eventually, she rented a Town Street apartment for $320 a month because it was close to a bus stop. She quickly found a man to marry to gain legal residency.

At first, Yana didn't want to participate. She said as much to her father one night. She told him it was stupid, a bunch of busywork. He walked away from her and emerged from the basement a few minutes later with a faded box. It contained the paperwork from Yana's adoption from a Russian orphanage in 1994. Yana knew about it, but she'd never seen the papers.

"You tell her you already did it," Robert Lyon told his daughter as he handed her the box. He was supportive of the project, Yana said. But he sensed his daughter's trepidation at exploring a subject sure to be emotional for her.

"This project was about me," Yana said. "I realized that, for a grade, I was about to re-create what my parents had to endure to give me the opportunity to live the American dream. That scared me."

This is the fifth year that Vieyra has assigned this project to students in her Spanish V class. Each year someone, a teacher perhaps, maybe just a friend, cringes: "They say, 'That's such a hot topic. Are you sure you want to go there?' "

She always answers yes. But she cautions that the point isn't to sway the students, only to teach them a little empathy.

"These kids will become our leaders, maybe even the people who make the laws," she said. "At the very least, they'll certainly be the people who vote on them. Shouldn't they learn something about it all now?"

hzachariah@dispatch.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's an exercise a teacher in Mumbai, India might create in twenty years to teach empathy:

Have all the kids in your class (doesn't matter what kind of course--computer science, biology/chem/physics, business...) apply for jobs as an undereducated American, in America.
Not only would this teach Indian students empathy, but also an appreciation that their teachers educated them instead of wasting valuable class time instructing them on nonsense.