Is Teaching Inside the Youth Mexican Prison System Inclusive?
Keywords:Critical pedagogy, auto ethnography, reading and writing practices, written reflections
In order to analyze if teaching inside the Youth Mexican Prison System is inclusive, a collaborative project was carried out with the participation of 17 pre-service teachers and 3 lecturers who participated in this study. The pre-service teachers taught English to 24 inmates in a Mexican prison adopting a critical pedagogy (Freire, 1970) using a one to one modality for 16 weeks. The three lectures observed the teaching performance of the pre-service teachers during this time. Using an auto ethnographic methodology, I analyzed my own process of teaching in terms of reading and writing to an incarcerated student and wrote weekly reflections to analyze my own teaching practice and two teachers who acted like mentors also wrote their weekly observations of our teaching process. Preliminary results show that teaching one to one in this context was a challenge for most of the student teachers, and some of them followed a “traditional” approach when teaching inmate students because of their beliefs. In terms of reading and writing, results are like the ones reported by Pérez (2001) who found that that reading is a socio-educational practice that incarcerated teenagers use to get distracted from their immediate reality. In addition, there is a notorious necessity of writing that comes with this reading, which is the opportunity to “show off” the knowledge inmates acquire within every book, magazine, article they read (Pérez, 2001). Inmates find learning English as a rewarding experience because it allows them to express their feelings and emotions as well as to imagine different worlds and escape from their reality. As a general conclusion, teaching incarcerated students allowed to build human relationships because learning English makes them feel included and accepted. And by doing so, their reality changes as they become active members of a learning community.
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