Jaime Escalente's story is well told in both the Mathews' book and the movie. It's probably the only school movie not involving a football or HS prom as its high point, or with East LA kids not involving a knifing or drug o.d.
As for his secret, as he put it "ganas". Roughly translated into English - the 'urge' or 'desire' to do something. Though perhaps, it's more laced with passion, that is the passion to want to learn (and teach.)
Now maybe that's a bit hard for most to swallow, but then again, it worked for this guy. After all, he got these kids up to speed and after a while had them doing calculus. Not bad for a poor district.
So when people challenge me on algebra for all 8th graders, I think of this guy and remember what he did.
Al Barron Metuchen, NJ
> Date: Sun, 07 May 2000 22:52:38 -0400 > From: Guy Brandenburg <email@example.com> > Subject: Re: Teaching Algebra > > This relates to the complaints (justified or not) that WB has had about > the > alleged "treatment" of Jaime Escalante by the "wild-eyed reformedrs" > formerly > running the People's Republic of California. (For the humor-impaired: that > was a > joke, mostly). > > I read the book about Escalante, watched the movie, and also looked at > least one > of the Annenberg-CPB (or was it PBS?) videos on his teaching. I'll be > darned if > I could figure out his "secret", other than that he had about a gazillion > manipulatives, and that he had the students work like the dickens, > including > after school, weekends, and summer vacations. I am not sure he even used > a > textbook, but could be corrected on that point. > > Escalante didn't even bother to learn the names of his students, did not > seem to > believe in orthodox teaching methods that Mathematically Correct would > have > everybody use, but did try to motivate his students by ... what? Appeals > to > pride? Practical applications? It's not clear to me what his "secret" was, > nor > how to duplicate whatever that was. >