Thursday, October 10, 2013

Teaching Children Their History

As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to an end I spent some time catching up on the PBS documentary series called "Latino Americans". Latino history and culture are my passion. I am proud of who I am and where I came from. I spent many years (and tens of thousands of dollars) studying Mexican American history and culture, so imagine my complete shock when my 8 year old declared "I'm Mexican????" My kids are one quarter mixed European, one quarter Spaniard and half Mexican American. I speak conversational Spanish, I keep lots of Chicano art in our house and our hallway is filled with framed Frida Kahlo prints. I figured that it would be so obvious to my kids that they were Mexican that I never saw the need to tell them.

Watching this documentary reminded my why ethnic studies is so important to me, and why, in 2013, it is still important to teach to my children about Mexican-American history. I feel that by teaching my kids about the people and the struggles that came before them, they develop a sense of respect for their elders as well as a sense of pride in who they are. In part 5 of this documentary educator Sal Castro reflects on the East LA school walk outs. Every time I hear Mr. Castro talk about the walk-outs I cry. I cry because I am so proud of what these people accomplished. I can't imagine how scary it must have been for these young kids to stand up for the right to a fair education. And I cry because the actions of those brave students allowed me to take classes in high school that led me to a college education. It was easier for me because it was hard for them and they fought back.

This series highlighted the lives of many successful Latinos. By just showing my girls that people who look like them can be congressmen, supreme judges, or even award winning actresses helps to eliminate any doubts they may have. My girls may be mixed, but they still look Mexican American, because in my opinion what a Mexican-American looks like is so broad. I am not trying to raise little activist, who are ethnocentric, instead I am trying to raise people who are aware of the past and proud of who they are and where they come from.

We want to hear you opinion.
Do you think teaching ethnic studies is important? 


  1. I love this. I have a two year old and find myself constantly trying to incorporate the Spanish language and our customs in her daily routine which is often Anglo-centric. I want her to have the best of both worlds. Thanks for pointing out the importance of addressing this with children and not just assuming they understand.

    1. Thanks for your comment Lorena! I love the idea of "best of both worlds!"


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