Gary.Hanson@k12.uen.gen.ut.us wrote: >> 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 Jaime 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 you 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 problems Escalante 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 each country? 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 States. 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 inspirational. 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 was excellent! 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 representatives Question: Rescuing asks this: Mr. Escalante, Howdo you deal with the problem of heterogeniously 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 sharing knowledge Question: From LMCMILTON: Milton, WINorthside Intermediate: How did you get all those 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 NJ 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 calculus 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? DLilah,Chicago 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 teacher? 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, SilverSpring, MD 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 classroom? 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 assignments--classwork and homework. Only one day of the week do we have the regular period (50 some minutes). Intensive 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 is FASE). 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.