“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X, 1964.
This is a quote from Malcolm X’s speech at the founding rally for the Organization of Afro-American Unity, in 1964. Only a year after Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Malcolm X founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). Their principles were based on; Establishment/ Restoration, Self Defense, Education, Economic security, and Social responsibility. When on the topic of Education, Malcolm X’s goal was to formulate new methods of teaching young African American children, in order to “liberate” their minds. This quote can be directly connected with our motto “Educate to Liberate”. When Malcolm X refers to education as “our passport”, he is basically saying that education is a great form of liberation. Education is our gateway to new world beyond our circumstances and is an enormous leeway to a better and brighter future. Both quotes provide you with a sense of empowerment and motivate you to do as such, by preparing yourself for the future through education.
My educational experience has been composed of procrastination, passion, and un-discovered potential. I’ll admit, I’ve never really been the type of student to stay on top of my work. I consider myself a good student; I participate and produce good work, but once I’m home I completely forget about it. I’ve always been a procrastinator but in the 7th grade, I had the worst experience a procrastinator could have. My math teacher, Mr. Ronald King, always gave us worksheets that were due on Fridays. Since math has always been one of my worst subjects, I wouldn't do most of those worksheet. It was the month of December and due to a snow storm we had 2 days off from school. During those 2 days, I put the upmost effort into completing the worksheets, although I knew I wasn't going to get full credit. After 2 sleepless nights and a folder full of completed worksheets, I get the tragic news that my math teacher had passed away. Out of the whole situation, what affected me the most was not the sleepless night, nor my work not counting anymore, but the fact that I left a bad impression on the teacher. I made an effort to from there on do all my work on time. I made changes in how I do homework, how I studied, and how my attitude as a student in general. Although I don't have the same motivation as before, the habit of turning in a good finished product will always be there.
Although I am an Education major I have a deep interest in Social Studies, hence it wouldn't be surprising that I minor in global studies. I discovered my love and passion for social studies during my sophomore year of high school. I happened to be in the world history class full of hopeless students, majority of them males. Hopeless in the sense that there was no way these students could pass due to their attitude. Just like the involuntary minorities described in “Immigrants and involuntary minorities in comparative perspective” by John U. Ogbu, these students weren’t particularly successful in school due to them not having the same motivation to succeed as an immigrant student. This is because of their “historical experiences which lead to different adaptive responses” (Ogbu, 4). In a hectic classroom environment, there was nothing better to do than to pick up the text book and read. I would read all class period, while poor Mr. Nunez tried taking attendance for 30 minutes. The circumstances the students in that class were in can also relate the story “Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter Godwin Woodson. Very few of these students had disposition to learn, so they weren’t able to understand or come to the conclusion that there hope outside their situation, and that their ethnicity shouldn’t hinder their chances of “making it”. Woodson refers to it as “the worst sort of lynching” (Woodson, 1). Although the environment I was in was quite chaotic, I tried my best to not let that distract me. As I continued reading through textbooks, I became fascinated by the idea that certain people and events were able to shape the way a nation, or entire continents conduct themselves. I developed a profound interest in world travel and cultural diversity. I wanted to learn languages, cultures and see the world outside New York City. I had visited the Dominican Republic but that was not enough. I got my first opportunity to travel abroad for my 16th birthday, when my mom bought me a round trip ticket to Rome, Italy. I was there for 18 days and was able to get the whole Rome experience. Making a wish at the Fontana di Trevi, Seeing the Pope (from far) at Vatican City, Window shop at the Piazza di Spagna, and of course trying authentic Italian pizza. I have also had the opportunity to visit almost all of the East coast (with the exception of New Hampshire and Maine) and parts of Southern and Western United States. Once I moved on to the 11th grade, my US history class wasn't as bad as my previous history course; but I appreciate the crazy environment I was in, because it was there where I discovered my passion for history. To this day, I still have the same motivation and enthusiasm about expanding my knowledge in history.
When I refer to my education experience as being composed of undiscovered potential, I refer to the many times where I could’ve done better in something but just didn’t have the right motivation or put in enough effort. Just like the student described in “Basketball and Portfolio” by Linda Christensen, I wasn’t connected to my studies, and was easily distracted. In this story the author explains that teachers need to find a way to “connect student’s passion with learning” (Christensen, 208). During my junior year in High School I became very easily distracted with friends. I never really had a “clique” but once I did, I invested so much time in being with them. This is where I began to slack off and not pay much attention in school. There was one teacher who noticed these changes and decided to introduce me to something I had lost faith in. I used to be very interested in art as a child but gave up on it after I enter high school. My English teacher, Mr. Colmenares introduced me to his Art afterschool program and it re instated the interest I once had for painting. My undiscovered potential was that I am still a great artist, and this same art program motivated me to get back on track. Once I started attending the program I was given an ultimatum, if I didn’t keep my grade up above a 75, I couldn’t remain in the program. I enjoyed being part of the program so much that I wasn’t going to let myself fail. Being able to have a motivation as such made me change the way I acted. Junior in high school is the most important year and I began to prioritize a lot during that time. I let go of friends who were virulent to my education and made many attempts to perform at or above grade level. At the beginning of that school year my average was at 64% and after I made all those changes in my social live and in my school work, my average rose to 83%.
There are many more stories that have made me the student, person, and future educator I am today. I have had my ups and downs and at the current moment it isn’t really at an “up”. Although my situation, I have been able to successfully complete 3 semesters of college, and have the hope to complete this one as well. My education career still has a long way to go, and I am prepared for what that future has in store for me.