I Have a Border in my Mind: the Puerto Ricans' Arts and Culture as Factors for Self-Esteem
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A misrepresentation of ethnic groups has affected the way children perceive themselves and others. Although the contemporary arts and literature in the United States have flourished, an alienation of certain sectors may impede a complete view of the arts and literature if taught from an Eurocentric point of view. On one side we have the glorification of European settlers. On the other we have the demoralization of other groups. Perhaps, this phenomenon is part of a rite of entry that new immigrating ethnic groups must endure. Irish Americans, Italian Americans, and Jewish Americans have been misrepresented in the past but somehow have been able to find themselves as part of the mainstream. Yet, many will argue that these groups and other immigrating groups continue to be portrayed in a negative manner in the arts as a result of societal beliefs. I am not certain that this is so. I am certain that for African American, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Jamaicans, and other groups of darker complexion society and the forms of art chosen at school continue to misrepresent them. The Language Arts curriculum at the middle school level may include valuable literature produced by people of these groups. Yet, a void of Latino voices in the curriculum and especially Puerto Ricans continues. Through participating in the Race and Ethnicity in Contemporary Art and Literature I plan to increase the awareness of the need for inclusion of Puerto Rican Literature and Art in the public schools curriculum. The increment of Puerto Rican students in our public schools classrooms makes this endeavor necessary. I expect to increase my awareness of race and ethnicity in the arts through the active participation in this institute and from the discussions generated by others in our seminar. Especially important for me is to increase my awareness of symbols present in the arts that may affect our perception of reality.
The middle school curriculum encourages students to become aware of themselves as part of their environment. This includes finding themselves in history and literature as well as understanding how the environment affects their lives. For many of my students this would involved learning about Puerto Ricans in the United States and in the island. Puerto Rican literature and art is a vibrant rich body of knowledge that can increase their awareness of the environment and their place in history. The other resource for historical accounts that my students have is their own experience and the possibility of reinventing an identity misrepresented in society. I see culture among Puerto Ricans in the United State in constant change; a reinventing of cultural identity as a way find ones self. Therefore, I will try to capture my students' beliefs about culture, art, and their reality to help them redirect their misrepresentations by increasing their awareness of their own culture through literature and the art of Puerto Ricans. In this unit I have in mind to include all children, regardless of their ethnic background, in the process of self-awareness. This ambitious goal I hope to accomplish by generating discussions about their own ethnic identity and by increasing their awareness of the similarities among different ethnic groups. I hope to plan and implement lessons that involve a variety of art forms and literature genre that will increase my students' awareness of Puerto Rican culture. In addition, I hope to include in each lesson a written reflection that would lead to the students own accounts of how art, literature and ultimately culture can affect their perception of the world, their self-awareness, and their self esteem.