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Tyler Delobel

April 2, 2015

Inquiry Project EDUC 275

For this project, I interviewed Joseph Villalon, a 40 year-old Hispanic business owner

with a culinary degree from Walsenburg, CO, and Christine Matthie, a predominantly white

female teaching social studies (primarily US history) at Fort Collins High School from San

Diego, California. Joseph is Christian and went to a parochial school while Christine has some

Mingo Indian in her background, and is in her mid-forties. These two had somewhat different

views, but the biggest difference was how they individually felt about the future.

Joseph saw the purpose of schools as two different areas of interest coming together. One

area is developing the student intellectually, specifically in areas of math and reading, to prepare

students for the real world (specifically problem solving as well as jobs/occupation). The second

area is social development so that students can learn to live in their immediate environment.

Because that is always changing, Joseph states it is vital for students to get as much of that as

they can. I feel he makes a good point here because no two experiences in life are the same. As

we’ve learned in class, every child has a different story, and every school/city combination is

going to give different experiences. As Dan Frosch from the New York Times states in his study

showing that Colorado had the largest rise in childhood poverty in 2008, there are a growing

number of single parent families along with the percentage of minority children in poverty

rapidly increasing. Facts like this further prove that every household is not only different, but

also more difficult than others. Joseph further believes that some other benefits that come from

social development are becoming a better citizen and learning moral responsibility. In school,
students learn at earlier ages essential things like empathy and apathy to become a person with a

conscience. For Christine, answering this question required a lot of different angles. In America,

Christine believes that the purpose of schooling is to produce active citizens in an Americanized

process. When I first began this class, I was convinced that this was the reason for public

schooling in particular. In school, Christine thinks students are persuaded to think deeper,

enriching their minds, by answering the question, “How do we know what we know?” Schools’

purpose is also to find what works best for each student in terms of learning. Because Christine is

a social studies teacher, she also mentions that the purpose of history being taught in public

schools is to persuade the students to gain a passion for the past. The main difference between

Joseph and Christine is how they went about answering this question. Joseph is thinking of

schooling in a very basic way, as if it’s essential, but not any deeper than building an adult in the

most general of ways. They should be able to provide for themselves and know wrong from

right. For Christine, she also believes that schooling is meant to turn a student into a functional

adult, but she seems to think that in America, these adults are shaped to be an American and to be

useful as a citizen (I say this from her belief that students are persuaded to think deeper and

enrich their minds).

As stated before, Joseph attended a parochial school as a student. He believes that

teachers who are straightforward with rules and repetitive practices are what public schools need.

It was easy to follow and the class was moving through material at an appropriate pace. In his

school, the majority of students had strong expectations from both their parents and their

teachers, so it would be rare for them to fail unless they legitimately had a learning disability or

something of the similar caliber. What he felt was a weaker point of his schooling was when

teachers tried to practice group work or cooperative learning. In his school, working together did
not go over well with him or anyone else in the classroom. Less rules and structure make for an

unsuccessful class. These points follow the same beliefs from Christine. When she originally

began teaching, she followed a strict classroom schedule with enforced rules and structure.

Unfortunately, being wrapped tight in Fort Collins, where she teaches, did not assist her students

in doing better. What ended up becoming true for her was that the only way for her students to do

well in the classroom is by keeping up to date with the material by any means necessary. Her

best turnout for that was not from being a strict teacher, but rather from being a caring person

with personal connections to each student. In turn, she let herself become very lenient in the

class. Another problem that arose from being strict in the classroom was that she became one of

the few in her school who enforced as much as she did, so she became a notorious professor and

class turnout suffered because of students skipping her periods. One thing that I saw in her class

when I observed and questioned her about was the excessive amount of group work that students

had. The answer came from a place of defeat, essentially stating that students are going to talk in
class anyway, so you might as well try to get them to talk about class work.

Time Spent During Five Class Periods
First Class Second Class Third Class
Fourth Class Fifth Class
60
40
20
0
Minutes Spent

Function Performed

Most of Christine’s instruction during class consisted of trying to relate to the students with current world problems
to help understand her topic, making a lot of her instruction time double as relationship building.

Although she believes that it does nothing positive for students individually (similar to Joseph’s

stand), she believes that it has become one of the few ways left to teach with attentive students.

Christine states that the reason for failing to be a strict teacher in her school specifically is

because in Fort Collins, ninth graders were no longer classified in middle school and moved into

the high schools. In turn, ninth grade teachers followed suit, and instilled ideas that the amount

of pressure/work put on the students was too much for the ninth grade to handle, and it
eventually trickled all the way down to the senior level. Now, along with the No Child Left

Behind act, Christine warns me that students and their parents are becoming more entitled, and

that more “learning disabilities” are being discovered for students to use as an excuse. This

causes them to be lazy, and because of the entitlement, the parents blame the education system.

Both had very strong opinions as to how “well” schools are working in order to meet the

needs of every student, regardless of race, gender, etc. This topic was where Christine and Joseph

started to separate in their opinions. Joseph believes that schools are doing too much “cooking to

order”. As stated before, Joseph believed that a successful student came from expectations from

both the teachers and their parents to succeed. He believes that labels and “invisible

psychological barriers” are holding them back from learning. Not all schools are able to

accommodate for the budget in order to have every single group/student fully satisfied, so

leaving the barriers altogether is a healthy alternative. Some support with this opinion comes

from a statistic taken from an article Race, Ethnicity, and Education by Linda Darling-

Hammond. In the article, it says that “the wealthiest schools spend at least ten times more than

the poorest schools—ranging from over $30,000 per pupil to only $3000”. Joseph believes that

students will adjust and learn more efficiently when there are not labels holding them back from

opportunity. As he puts it, “Expect success and students succeed”. This showed to be true for

almost all of 200 students that he attended school with. For Christine, promoting and expressing

diversity is essential. In her opinion, teaching a backdrop of multiculturalism is something that

should be more prevalent in America. In how well schools are doing, she agrees that every

school is different in terms of accomplishments, but she believes that most in her area are getting

closer in the past few years as to what she thinks is necessary. However, in her school

specifically, she is worried that funding is not going to the appropriate places. As of today, her
school only has one handicap assistant for a school of 1200 students, which is very unsettling.

Along with teaching multiculturalism, there should be more guest speakers who give their

background of a certain race, gender, socio-economic background, etc. Aside from the essentials

(math, reading, science, history), schools need to educate the entire student. She, of course,

means educating them enough to be aware of all issues in the world that deal with different kinds

of people. This idea ties in with one of the education styles that Ian Harris discusses in his study

titled “Types of Peace Education”. Specifically in development education, students are promoted

to learn about “different strategies to address the problems of poverty”. Rather than trying to

avoid being in poverty, students could learn how to accommodate with being in it or fixing it.

Christine also expressed some concern that high schools are still stuck in the mode of being

“puppy meals”, meaning that they just want to pump these students out as quick as they can into

the real world without really focusing on each child individually. Adding on to this, she states

that state tests and assessments have become far too much of a priority, and do not accurate

depict where the student is at education-wise. Contrasting with how she feels towards curriculum

and school work, she feels that there should be a strong relationship between students and

teachers with race/gender/socio-economic labels and/or statuses. To her, it should be a school’s

responsibility to “wake these kids up to the real world” and continue to be aware of that

throughout their years in public school while learning how to deal with it and be sensitive

towards it.
50
40
Amount of students called on in all classes
30
20
10
0
Fem ale Questions M ale Ques tions

Throughout my observation with Christine’s class, I was absolutely shocked to see how

much has changed since I graduated just two years ago. It pleasantly surprised me to see how

diverse every class was with different races, people, and even students with disabilities in the

“normal” classes. In Robin DiAngelo’s article “OK, I Get It! Now Tell Me How To Do It!”,

he/she states that “Individualism is a very powerful ideology, […] we do not tend to see

ourselves as socialized group members, especially when we are in the dominant group,”. When

students got together for their quizzes in each class, I never sensed any restraint from a white

person to connect with a minority. In one particular class where the ratio of whites to minorities

was about 2:1, only one group consisted of two non-white students. What was not so pleasant,

however, was how students acted in class. Although not aimed toward each other, students

tended to show a large lack of interest, which was higher than anything I ever witnessed in my

own high school. Rather than showing off to friends, the students genuinely showed no interest

Most of these numbers come from Christine picking on random students to speak, as almost all of them were
hesitant/resistant on raising their hand to answer.

in anything that was going on in the classes. Some classes had very chatty students with clicks of

different kids (not race-related, more so the sporty types, geeky types, and such) and they would

band together to make a point not to listen, but there would also be classes where you could hear

a pin drop, but nobody was being quiet to listen to the teacher. What concerned me about this
was that there seemed to be a complete lack of interest in communication. As the Dalai Lama

describes in his article “Education and the Human Heart”, “Ignorance causes pain and suffering

not only for ourselves but for others as well, […] love and compassion are basic necessities of

life—not only for the individual but also for society”. What I take from this is that we may have

taken a huge chunk out of race/gender/socio-economic issues, but none of that matters if we

aren’t communicating. I am in fear of the next generation of students because I am worried that

things like technology and lenient teachers are allowing them to lose themselves in their own

mind, completely disregarding the life in front of them. I begin to agree with Joseph when he

says that expecting success will give success. Not only that, but it will encourage students to

place their energy somewhere, rather than allowing it to decay away. When Christine conducted

her group projects and quizzes, there was a sense of awkwardness with almost every single

group. Not many people knew each other, and these were juniors who have had plenty of time to

make friends and acquaintances in school.

Joseph and Christine had very similar hopes for the future. Both stated that technology

needs to be limited in the classroom with Joseph adding that problem solving needs to be taught

through writing on paper rather than punching in numbers on a calculator. He specifically

believes that the human brain is much more capable of achieving more than what we ask of it,

and technology is one of the reasons that it doesn’t get challenged. Christine fears that

technology will take over to the point where proper handwriting will not be a requirement.

Christine wants students to be more involved with this country and the world. She hopes that

schools will promote more “real life” events and occupations with an example given of the Peace

Corps. Critical readers need to be more prevalent so they can educate themselves outside of the

school. Both showed hopes and concerns of successful students in the future. Joseph focused on
the higher expectations of both parents and teachers, while Christine focused on the stricter

classroom with more passionate teachers. If things don’t change soon, she is worried that real,

honest teachers will give up on the education system and stop being teachers, and states with

better education budgets will dramatically surpass other states, causing an imbalance in the

national school system.

Through this project, I learned that a lot of the problems we discuss in class are not the

issues in the high school I observed. The issue does not come from labels and the issues stated

numerous times. Rather, the biggest issues are communication and laziness. One could say that’s

always true for teenagers, but I never witnessed that myself in my time at three different high

schools. The advancement and placement of technology in classes could be a huge part of these

issues, and I have become very convinced in that assumption especially from the words of my

interviewees. As a society, we start to realize that even though we have all these amazing and fast

ways of communicating, we tend to fall in the opposite direction by shutting ourselves out

individually. In this high school, I see the potential future of the entire nation, and even though

we can pat ourselves on the back for coming a long way in a short amount of time, we still seem

headed in the wrong direction.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2007). Race, Inequality and Educational Accountability: The Irony of
'No Child Left Behind' In Race Ethnicity and Education (3rd ed., Vol. 10, pp. 245-260).
Routledge.
DiAngelo, R. (2010). "OK, I Get It! Now Tell Me How to Do It!": Why We Can't Just Tell You
How to Do Critical Multicultural Education. In Multicultural Perspectives (2nd ed., Vol.
12). National Association for Multicultural Education.
Frosch, D. (2008, June 11). Study Shows Colorado Has Largest Rise in Child Poverty. The New
York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
Glazer, S. (1999). Education and the Human Heart. In The heart of learning: Spirituality in
education. New York, New York: J.P. Tarcher/Putnam.
Raviv, A. (1999). Types of Peace Education. In How children understand war and peace: A call
for international peace education (pp. 299-310). San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.
Time # of Description of the Activity Code
min
7:20 10 Setting up class for the day, talking to students before class R
(Interpersonal)
7:30 5 Intro to class, talking about easter, personal matters, introducing M/R
me (abstract random, Interpersonal, intrapersonal)
7:35 1 Students repeat warm up (Speaking lesson plan); (Interpesonal) M
7:36 8 Students discuss warm up (JFK + LBJ), passing ball to decide R/I
who speaks (Concrete Sequential)
7:44 10 Notes with a video; Fill in the blanks-worksheet with video I
(Visual, Concrete sequential)
7:54 14 Regular notes with Power point, videos to help explain (Visual, I
Concrete sequential)
8:08 7 Partner quiz (Interpersonal, Concrete sequential) I
8:15 5 Chatting with students after class, resetting notes (interpersonal) M/R
8:20 5 Personal matters, giving a speech about applying yourself R
(intrapersonal, abstract random) NEW CLASS
8:25 4 Warm ups spoken by students (interpersonal) M/R
8:29 6 Students discuss homework with partners (Interpersonal) R/I
8:35 11 Notes with power point and videos (visual concrete sequential) I
8:46 8 Discussing subjects in the video (visual, intrapersonal, abstract R/I
random)
8:54 8 Reading to themselves of a timeline in a magazine handout I
(visual, concrete sequential)
9:02 8 Sharing video made by students, kids come in during passing M/R
time to watch (visual)
9:10 5 Notes with fill-in-the-blank worksheet (visual, Concrete I
Sequential) NEW CLASS
9:15 3 Discuss warm up by passing the ball (visual, concrete random) R/I
9:18 2 Bringing the class up to speed with notes, personal matters M
(intrapersonal)
9:20 3 A couple of students show a drawing dealing with the curriculum R/I
(visual, interpersonal)
9:23 9 Fill-in the blank worksheet with notes and video (visual, concrete I
sequential)
9:32 16 Regular notes with power point (visual, concrete sequential) I
9:48 15 Partner quiz (Interpersonal) I
11:40 5 Warm-up discussion with partners (interpersonal) NEW CLASS R/I
11:45 2 Quick lecture without notes; bringing class up to speed I
(linguistic)
11:47 9 Fill in the blank worksheet with notes and video (visual, concrete I
sequential)
11:56 12 Notes without worksheet with powerpoints (visual, concrete I
sequential)
12:08 12 Magazine handouts, discussion (visual, interpersonal) R/I
12:20 4 More video notes with worksheet (visual, concrete sequential) I
12:25 4 Video for fill in the blank worksheet (visual, concrete sequential) I
NEW CLASS
12:30 2 Students verbally say warm up (interpersonal) M
12:32 5 Discuss warm up; passing the ball for whoever speaks M/I
(interpersonal, Concrete sequential)
12:37 12 More worksheet with powerpoints and video (Visual, Concrete I
sequential)
12:49 15 Regular notes with powerpoint and videos (visual, Concrete I
sequential)
1:04 10 Partner quiz (interpersonal) I
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TOTAL 243