Diverse Interview Haley Neumann; Eaf 235

The first person I interviewed was Tye, an 18 year old, black student from Regional Alternative School in Bloomington, Il. He has been at this school specific school for 3 semester and he is planning to graduate in December of 2016. Before attending Regional Alternative School, he attended public schools in Bloomington since he started kindergarten in 2004.

The 2nd person I interviewed was a 49 year old Puerto Rican woman named Elizama, whom I interviewed over the phone. She grew up in Chicago, so she went to Catholic school starting in 1973 until her sophomore year of high school, 1983. She then went to a public high school her junior and senior year of high school. When I asked her what she remembered most about school she said the nuns and priests. I also asked her what she remembered about a typical day at school, she described it as very scary. Back then, Catholic schools used fear as a tool. The nuns were very strict and all students had to go to mass every day. She differentiated between her private school and public school experience by stating public school was a much better fit for her because she had way more freedom. She graduated high school in 1985. She also graduated college in 1993 with her bachelor's in psychology.

Perception

Licy (Elizama), as a Puerto Rican woman said that her race and gender never had any negative affect on her educational experiences. She actually said quite the opposite...She said being Hispanic opened a lot of doors for her because there were a lot of programs available once she started her college career. She used her race to her advantage, for instance, she is bilingual without ever having to take a class. I asked her twice about her negative experiences that could have been drawn up to her race or gender because it was hard to believe, knowing the area that she grew up in and that she's a woman, that she never endured prejudice. The only instance of prejudice that she could think of was being called the "teacher's pet" because back then, doing well in school wasn't what was cool. Even then, she related her prejudice back to her own motivation. Her perception of education was never faulted by her race or gender.

Tye, as a black male said that his race and gender have definitely affected his perception of education in negative AND positive aspects. While we were talking, he said that as soon as he walks in the door people have certain stereotypes about him; he's black, he's a male, he's from a low-income family, and he has tattoos. These assumptions started in middle school. So, as an impressionable preteen, he felt "because people think these things of me anyway, why don't I act like how people expect me to?". Once he realized that the stereotypes that people assumed about him were true, he said something clicked. He doesn't need to be what people think he will be. He started to use people's assumptions about him as motivation. He didn't want to be what people saw him as. Your education is what you perceive it to be, it's what you make of it.

preparedness

When I asked Licy about how her schooling prepared her for adult life she automatically went to her college experience. As a psychology major she felt that being able to look at things from a different perspective was essential to how she lives now. It prepared her in regards to realizing people's differences and using them to their own advantage. This, obviously helps her in her career. I asked her about her grade school experience and how that prepared her for adult life and she said that it prepared her to be a better role model because her parents didn't graduate high school so they could barely ever help her with homework. Because of that, she had to use her resources, which also prepared her for adult life.

When I asked Tye if he felt that his schooling prepared him for adult life he of course said yes. (For some questions I feel like he may have been a little nervous to give real, genuine answers). But, he said he felt that school has prepared him through his comprehension skills, social skills, and how he needs to carry himself to get the respect he deserves from other people.

Historical Events

Both people I interviewed did not recall any historical events that affected their education. I asked Tye about September 11, 2001 and he said he was too young to even remember that. I asked Licy about the first landing on the moon and she also said she was too young to remember. I also asked her about the space shuttle Challenger that exploded in 1986 and she said she was already out of high school so no, it did not affect her educational experiences.

Similarities and Differences

For two people that are 30 years difference in age, they have many more similarities in their educational experiences than anticipated. But, they also have their differences. They both switched schools. They also both lived in bad neighborhoods and were surrounded by the less fortunate, and well-- they were the "less fortunate". This affected how they perceived school, they both eventually used school as a tool for motivation and success. I took it upon myself to ask them a question because I thought it would be interesting to see the difference in answers: "If you could describe and explain your ideal teacher what would they be like?" Their answers weren't as different as I thought they would be. Both of their first descriptive words was "flexible". And I think that is just so funny and interesting. Students were busy then, students are busy now...They need someone who is willing to be flexible for their schedule. Tye went on to say he loves when teachers are understanding and willing to help. Licy went on to describe her ideal teacher as someone who is willing to get outside of the box and realize that all students are unique and they need to be comfortable in the classroom.

Because the two people I interviewed are 30 years apart in age, it is no surprise that they have some difference in educational histories. Their typical day at school was quite different; Licy's was revolved around religion whereas Tye's was a school day that I'm reminiscent of...in elementary school having one teacher all day and then in middle/high school switching teachers for each subject. Licy also had people in her life that pushed her to be better frequently. She mentioned her "Uncle Chew". He was a school teacher and would help her with her schooling frequently, whereas Tye mentioned that he never really had that support system. Another difference between the two is how their race affected their educational histories; Tye said his race has affected his education and life experiences quite negatively whereas Licy struggled to think of just one example of prejudice. 

What I've learned

After interviewing Tye about his educational experiences, I felt as if they were the same as my own to some extent, because we are only 5 years apart in age. After interviewing Licy I felt that I had gained a much better understanding of how education has changed. Tye is the epitome of "No Child Left Behind"; which some would say is too forgiving of students and they don't have to "try as hard". Licy grew up in the time of education reform and HUGE change in the schooling system. Inclusion was being introduced in the 70s and 80s, whereas Tye has known inclusion his whole life. No matter how much we try to change education and the format in which we learn, students will always have somewhat similar experiences. They will encounter bullying, hardships, and successes. It is easy to see that the education system has become much more lenient and accepting by the way Licy described her schooling experience. She said it was scary; if something wasn't done there was an initial fear of the teacher and the consequences that you would endure.

Education has definitely changed from the 1970s (When Licy started to attend) and now (when Tye attends). Like I mentioned above, inclusion was being introduced because of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, 1975. Even so, Licy would not have encountered many special education students because she attended private school, not public (where free education was guaranteed for special education students). In the 1990s the United States started to adopt outcome-based education, which consists of standardized tests, which is what a student like myself and Tye know. That is our education summed up: learning for the test. Although education has changed tremendously within the past 40 years, it still has its similarities. The education system is filled with intelligent and willing teachers. Throughout this educational reform the students have not changed; they are also willing and intelligent. Education is still the same in regards to its format. We are preparing students for the work labor force by teaching them all the same set of skills, which is not working. How can we be teaching the same concepts in the same way for the past 40+ years? Another similarity with education from the past and present is being controlled by the government and its funding.

Nonetheless, education has changed, it has stayed the same, and it will continue to do so for the next 40+ years. (Actually, who knows now with Donald Trump as our President elect.)

Credits:

Created with images by suewest - "t colorful diversity" • edkohler - "Pope John Paul II Catholic School" • voltamax - "clock old antique watch"

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