Date: Jun 5, 1995 12:07 AM
Subject: Re: J. Escalante chat on AOL
>> If the chat file isn't too big, why not post it here for us all.
OK, here it is....
TO: Math teachers, Special Ed. teachers
FROM: Jerry Taylor
RE: Live chat with Jaime Escalante
The following transcript is from a live chat with celebrated math teacher
Escalante, who currently teaches at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento,
California. The live chat was held on November 28, 1994. I thought some of
might be interested in what he had to say.
OnlineHost : Good afternoon. Scholastic Network is pleased to present, as
part of its November Diversity
series, a visit with Jaime Escalante. Escalante is the inspirational math
teacher who was portrayed in the
motion picture "Stand and Deliver." Today, you can learn first-hand about the
encountered from school officials when it was assumed that his class had
cheated on exams. You can also
get insight into the making of the film. Now, meet Jaime Escalante!
OnlineHost : Good afternoon and welcome to the Coliseum, Mr. Escalante!
J_Escalante : Good morning!
Question: Mr. Escalante, how do you motivate students of diverse cultural
backgrounds to become so
good in math?
J_Escalante : Well, there are different ways to do that. For one, I use
music. That builds their confidence.
Then, I always use the easy examples and something related to what the kids
do or understand.
Question: Mr. Escalante, I read that you grew up in Bolivia, and taught math
and physics. Why did you
move to the U.S.? Are there any differences in the way math is taught in
J_Escalante : There is a big difference in the way we teach in Bolivia and
the way we teach over here. In
Bolivia we don't teach with textbooks. The teacher should have the domain of
the subject. I moved from
Bolivia because of the political situation. At that time, there was Che
Guevera. He was trying to change
the political situation in thecountry. It was just time to move to the United
Question: Here is a question from TEEFCO: I feel strongly that we should be
teaching our children
algebra earlier in their schooling, like at fourth grade, instead of going
back and boring them with some of
it later. Is there any chance that this could be done?
J_Escalante : The kids should be exposed to algebra when they are in 6th or
7th grade. I don't agree with
the system that teaches algebra one and algebra two--they are the same--we
have to give the kids new stuff
every day, excite them with new concepts. If you don't, they are going to
drop the class. There should be a
new concept every day.
Question: LMCMILTON asks: What was it like teaching math to gang members?
J_Escalante : It's fun. Once you get the click from these kids, they are
going to learn. Sometimes it takes
a lot of time. You have to make them believe they can do it.
Question: AaronH262 asks: My daughter is a junior at HJWest Campus, how can I
keep her interested in
her trig with Mr. Chayo?
J_Escalante : Practical applications with trig really motivates kids. Not
just using the calculator, but
doing practical problems is the key. Practice is the key tosuccess.
Question: Who got you started teaching math?
J_Escalante : You know, I had lousy teachers back home in Bolivia. I decided
to take the algebra book
and do the problems myself. In practice, I found the secret on how to do the
problems. I taught myself.
Question: This is from KMFisher: What was it like to see"your story" on the
big screen? Were you happy
with the depiction?
J_Escalante : Well, It didn't excite me. I feel excited when these kids get
to go to college.
Question: Sea Lions asks this: Mr. Escalante, as a veteran math teacher, do
you think high school
graduates of today are more or less capable in general math skills than
graduates of twenty years ago?
J_Escalante : The answer is simple. Less. today the kids see the school as a
punishment. Twenty years
ago, it was a privilege. To go to any college it was a privilege.
Question: GLUMPS asks: Where do you live now?
J_Escalante : Sacramento CA, Granite Bay.
Question: MathTeach sends this: What are your current projects? Are you still
teaching in CA?
J_Escalante : Absolutely. I am still teaching. I have 5 periods. Algebra,
basic math, calculus and trig. In
fact, we have 35 eleventh graders in calculus.
Question: A comment from DBailey42: The movie about you was very
Question: Jeisrael asks: Mr. Escalante, how close to reality was the movie
STAND AND DELIVER?
J_Escalante : It is a positive image. Some schools are using the movie. I
think it is a big plus for
education. 90 percent of what you see in "Stand and Deliver" is true.
Question: How has your health been holding up?
J_Escalante : I'm still kicking. I'm kicking forward now. Playing a strong
defense. I hope I can
accomplish what I have in mind to do. I am being observed by doctors...God
has been so good with me.
Question: How important is the family unit when working with your students?
J_Escalante : That is the main thing. It is really important. School alone
can not educate. We need that
unit. We need the help of the parent.
Question: DSJW asks: Did you like Edward James Olmos' interpretation of you
in the film? I thought it
J_Escalante : Yes. He did a good job. He spent 3 months in the class room.
Can you believe in the 3
months he didn't learn any math? But, he did a good job playing my role.
Question: This one comes from GOBEARS68: Do you think kids today have a more
difficult time in
learning because of the fear they endure about guns and violence?
J_Escalante : Yes sir. It is more difficult to motivate the kids today than
it was 20 years ago. One of the
negative factors is the gang. Another is the music. Kids today are more
interested in sex, drugs and
music. It makes it difficult for a teacher to motivate the kids because this
conflict takes away the creativity
of the kids. They are more involved in the CD or video tapes or cassette
players, so they are killing time,
listening and watching. Also TV has a tremendous influence. The programs that
are negativeto education,
movies that are also negative, they are a negative influence.
Question: MCenteno asks this: Do you think bilingual education is working or
has it become a sacredcow
that is impossible to get rid of?
J_Escalante : You know, that is a difficult question to answer at this stage.
I do agree in the fact that the
teaching can be bilingual, but once the student understands the language, we
need to work in the language
that the student is going to be using in life.
Question: From SBrech855: Do you believe it is a flaw in the (design of
educational) materials--or the
delivery--that has led to poor performance in math and sciences?
J_Escalante : We have good text books, we have good materials in the public
schools--the problem is we
have to know if the materials are acceptable to the group we are
teaching--like minority schools. The
teacher has to decide if the materials are going to be effective in the class
he is teaching. He has to adjust
that to the environment
Question: LMCMILTON asks: We are from Milton, Wi. How did you get interested
in teaching math?
J_Escalante : That's an easy one. I started teaching at age 21. At the end
of my first year of teaching, I
noticed I was not doing the homework. I thought it was an easy job, but I saw
I had to adjust the materials.
I am still making mistakes
Question: VMTSchCFA asks: What do you feel will be the impact of Proposition
187 to the educational
system and to Hispanics in particular?
J_Escalante : That's a political issue. I'm just a teacher. I dedicate most
of the time to the success of the
students. 187 is a political issue. I am just an educator
Question: MCenteno sends this: Why did you quit teaching in LA? I quit
working with a large
federalbureaucracy and was wondering what your reasons were.
J_Escalante : That's tough. I have personal problems...I was not getting
along with teachers' union
Question: Rescuing asks this: Mr. Escalante, Howdo you deal with the problem
grouped classroom settings?
J_Escalante : That is the common denominator. Today, we have three kinds of
the students: the good, the
bad and the lazy. It is more difficult for the teacher when the kids don't do
anything and so I have to
concentrate more on the lazy kids
Question: Accura1 asks: Do you think that text books are good or bad?
J_Escalante : We have the good, the bad and the ugly. Some of them are really
good. It is impossible to
find one that will satisfy 100 percent. That is when the teacher has to use
his knowledge. Teaching is
Question: From LMCMILTON: Milton, WINorthside Intermediate: How did you get
famouspeople to come to your class?
J_Escalante : Jack Dilman--from FASE. We decided to use basketball or
football or other things in real
life. He came up with the idea of having Magic Johnson and others in the
classroom. I have to give the
credit to FASE
Question: From MSeagles: Southeast Webster, Dayton, Iowa, 8th grade: How many
gang members have
you had in your classes?
J_Escalante : When I was in East LA, quite a few. Many many. In each period I
had at least 2 or 3 about
15 years ago
Question: DerekW719 asks: Auburn University; Auburn, AL. Do you ever
experience burn-out? What is
your solution to it, Mr. Escalante?
J_Escalante : Yes, sometimes when I feel that you haven'taccomplished what I
had in mind, I play cool
and leave for the day, but I never take the problems home. The next day, you
have the energy of a volcano
Question: From JoeSax: I took Algebra 1 last year in 8th grade. Our teacher
showed us the movie "Stand
& Deliver" at the end of the year. I believe it boosted my efforts in all my
subjects. How were you 'selected'
for this movie?
J_Escalante : There were three companies interested in making the movie. Tom
Moska from UCLA was
interested in taping a series of motivational teaching tapes for kids and
teachers. From here, Tom Moska
decided to make the movie
Question: TLatham asks this: What should a student take first, calculus or
physics? Watchung Hills HSin
J_Escalante : It goes along. Once the kid has a strong background in Algebra
II and Trig, physics comes
easily. It goes a little beyond that in upper physics. Then they can use
Question: AHedquist sends this: How do you feel about combining subjects,
such as math and physics, to
show the real world relationships and implications of math?
J_Escalante : That is a wonderful idea. That is exactly what I do in the
class. Physics and math go
together. That's the real math
Question: DLilah asks this: How important was the family in helping their
kids get an education?
J_Escalante : It is 100 percent important. The family participation (makes
it) much easier. The student is
going to learn discipline, responsibility and determination
Question: Ebleeb2 asks: What are some ways of boosting student confidence?
J_Escalante : Make them believe in themselves, ask them to come every
day--have a perfect attendance.
Stimulate the students.
Question: TLatham asks: Was anything left out of your movie "Stand and
Deliver" that you wish was
included? SamirGinde of Watchung NJ
J_Escalante : Yes. To prove that anyone can learn. Anyone can do it if they
have the desire. Set your
goals and go for it. I wish to include the tremendous success I had with the
other classes. 1982 was not the
only one. Previous and after we had great kids who today are professionals
Question: MARKH2833 asks this: How would you describe an effective
relationship between student and
J_Escalante : The teacher is a coach. Understanding that a coach is only as
good as the talent of the
team--that builds confidence between the student and the teacher.
Question: What's one important thing we can do to motivate our students to
persevere in math? Sherry,
J_Escalante : Usually say this to the students: "Anywhere you go, anything
you do is going to be related
to this language called Math. You must master the language. And that
language is just estimation, and
estimation is Mathematics."
Question: What is your opinion of the Goals 2000 plan proposed the US
Department of Education?
J_Escalante : I go along with that, but we have to make sure it is going to
work and we need to train the
teachers in such a way that it is going to be an effective program
Question: Audrey IT asks: What is the "easiest" way you find to motivate
students not interested in the
subject matter? Do you feel that too much time is spent on discipline in the
J_Escalante : It is more important what the kids are learning. One thing I do
with kids who don't want to
do anything is sign a contract. The contract has 10 points. It is designed to
get the best out of them, to
accomplish what we have in mind
Question: This comes from Brent94: Boiling Springs HS, SMiddleton, PA. Do you
know of people
successfully teaching math via "intensive scheduling" (2 period/day, but the
course is only given for half
the year). I worry about retention over an 8 month idle time.
J_Escalante : I don't agree too much with that. In this school, we have only
three periods, but each period
is about 2 hours and ten minutes in which we help the kids to do the
homework. Only one day of the week do we have the regular period (50 some
scheduling is an o.k. idea.
J_Escalante : There is a workshop kit available which a teacher or
administrator can use to train teachers
on the use of video material like "FUTURES" (the motivational videos
Professor Escalante did. If anyone
wants information about the workshop kit, they should call 213-937-9911(which
OnlineHost : All good things must come to an end! Time has run out for this
event! Thanks very much
for this informative session, Mr. Escalante!
J_Escalante : Thanks for everything!
Online Host : Thanks to you, audience, for stopping by this afternoon! Good
afternoon, everyone! Our
thanks to Scholastic Network for bringing Jaime Escalante to CenterStage.