Education in 1954: Separating Mexican American Students from White Students

Education in 1954: Separating Mexican American Students from White Students

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When teaching any grade, it is imperative to know the students you are teaching and where they came from. What I enjoy most about teaching is finding out what motivates my students to learn; I find that once a student is motivated to learn, there is no stopping them. When teaching literacy to Spanish-speaking students, motivation plays a key factor to their academic success. As literacy specialists, we need to understand how important a student’s motivation can affect his or her learning capabilities.

Historical Overview:
Before the famous Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, Mexican American children were educated in schools and classrooms that were separate from classrooms that consisted of white children. By having separate classes, educational leaders believed that Mexican American students would have an increased in self-esteem compared to if they were mainstreamed in with the white students. Also, the Mexican American students would feel less pressure while going to school and would not have to be protected from taunts (Rodriguez,1999). The children participated in classes such as vocational training (cooking, hygiene, and mechanics), art instruction, Americanization classes, and English language instruction (Rodriguez,1999). They were given these classes because of the belief that Mexicans did not have the mental capacity for higher order thinking and that Mexicans were naturally artistic people (Rodriguez,1999).
Although there were great changes for minorities in 1954, there were still major issues within the school districts. Students that were being accepted into the once “all white” schools were feeling as if they were being pushed out. School officials recognized this as a problem but blamed ...

... middle of paper ...

...trieved from:
Rodriguez, A.P. (1999). Latino Education, Latino Movement. Educational Theory, 49(3), 381-400. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-5446.1999.00381.x
Waxman, H.C., Huang, S.L., & Padron, Y.N (1997). Motivation and learning environment differences between resilient and nonresilient Latino middle school students. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 19(2) 137-155. Retrieved from:

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