Hailey Leavitt and Gregory Thompson, Anthropology
My research was a case study of an elementary school in South Provo – Franklin Elementary, which focuses on two, second grade classrooms and the homes of six Latino second grade students. It focused on the similarities and differences found between home and school environments and how they shaped the educational experience of these six students. To do this, I examined what specific Latino additive schooling practices are being implemented in Franklin Elementary.
From April 15th to May 28th, I observed in the two classrooms and took video recordings. These observations and video recordings focused on the six Latino focal students and their interactions with their peers and teachers. Also beginning April 15th, but continuing until July 2nd I visited each focal student in their home on an average of 3 hours a week. In the home, I observed and video recordings of interactions that included conversations about school and how things such as backpacks and homework assignments are treated and talked about. Other interactions included mealtimes, reading times, family parties, food preparation, when parents are using discipline tactics, and any discussions of education.
The following excerpt is from my field notes takes place with the family of Anna, a focal student. I went with her, her mom, and her younger brother down to the Provo River trail on a Friday afternoon to a swing by the river.
We eventually get to the swing, which is hung off of a big old tree and the swing comes down a long way from a metal chain. Anna’s brother gets on it first. Anna runs back and forth to push him. The mom has a big happy smile and says, “Voy a tomar fotos okay? Look at me niño.” (I am going to take photos okay? Look at me son.) Their mom gets up to take a picture and tries to get a better angle. Anna twists her brother around. At first, Anna’s brother is quiet at first, but then starts to make weeeee sounds. He gets dizzy from the spinning so he gets off and says, “Your turn.” Anna says, “That’s all you can do?” Her brother says no. He and Anna are physically close and working together. They dance together and hold hands. They work to push each other and take turns on the swing. Their mom is still watching and taking pictures. She is not helping to push, but she shares concern for the safety by saying an occasional, “Cuidado.” (Careful.)
As demonstrated by this excerpt, Anna’s mom is allowing Anna to use her autonomy to make teach and learn with her little brother. She let Anna help push her brother, Josh, and even swing by herself. She took pictures of them and warned them to be careful, but let Josh and Anna work together and play together while she watched. Anna’s mother allows her to teach and help her younger brother, which helps Josh and Anna to learn. In this example, I argue that Anna demonstrates an understanding of Latino moral behavior and she and her mother fulfill their proper familial roles. This example shows that Anna has learned Latino moral values such as cooperation, obedience, and respect from her older sister and cousins. She is aware of other people around her and is kind and helpful to her brother. Before they leave the swing by the river, Anna’s mom does push Josh on the swing for a couple of minutes. She also helps them roll up their pant legs to wade in the river, but does not participate any further.
Although the Franklin Elementary school teachers have created a classroom that utilizes some cultural practices and learning strategies that their students use in their homes to help foster academic success, there is still a lot of progress that can be made in Franklin Elementary. At this particular elementary school, there is a lack of older student interaction with younger students, at least in second grade. There is a lack of programs in the school for non-peers to come together to learn and teach each other. Recess, lunch, the AR Carnival, music, library, and other activities are all divided by grade. This does not allow for older and younger students to interact with other the way that students may be experiencing relationships in her home. As seen in the data presented of Anna in their homes, it is obvious that interaction of children of different ages is something that is occurring in the home, but not in the school.
There are no opportunities for Anna and her brother Josh to interact during the school day at attend Franklin Elementary. Although it is not part of her structured day, I observed Anna dropping off and picking up Josh from his classroom. She would stop and ask her teacher about how Josh behaved that day and if he had turned in his homework. Her initiative and feeling of responsibility for Josh is incredible and could be harnessed in a way that would further her own academic success and that of her brother. The implementation of school wide programs that bring different age groups together could be very beneficial, and potentially even very natural at least for Latino students. There are many possibilities for more Latino additive schooling practices to be added to Franklin Elementary.
With Latino family ideals in mind, teachers in Franklin Elementary have implemented some Latino additive schooling practices with the help of their English Language Learner certification. These additive schooling practices that incorporate Latino family values create positive learning environments for Latino students, which allow them to be happy and engaged in the classroom. I claim that through the implementation of additive schooling practices that utilize Latino student’s cultural values, Latino students can achieve higher academic success through the creation of respectful and reciprocal relationships with peers and teachers. These practices are being used in certain classes in Franklin Elementary in South Provo, but could be implemented on a more school and district-wide basis to foster academic success for the continually growing Latino population of students that attend the school.