The process of developing a “courageous mindset” allows students to confront the inherent barriers they might face in their intellectual and social development as an educated citizen. Seasoned educators in low-performing, low-income, predominantly Latino, and other minority, high schools understand the power of peer pressure on their students’ decision-making process when it pertains to bad, or otherwise questionable, decisions. Self-awareness is the foundation for all students to begin the life long process of developing discernment—the ability to judge well.
Upon examining the successes of our fellow Latino Role Models, it is clear that such individuals are particularly attuned to what “works” with respect to developing the academic skill sets required to succeed inside and outside of the classroom. Our Latino Role Models offer a depth of understanding and translate learning methods for current Latino students. Latino Role Model’s unique life experiences provide an invaluable resource and offer credibility to help improve educational outcomes for our Latino youth. As role models, they share the common observation that in their academic experience they had to develop the courage to confront challenges by not denying their own personal convictions in favor of adopting the convictions of others. What exactly does this mean? For Latinos, and other minority students, it means developing, what I call, “the courageous mindset:” 1) not being afraid of adversity in the face of one’s goals; and 2) being willing to risk “upsetting” people to do what he/she believes, with a fair minded conviction, is important.
As any successful individual can attest to, to prevail over adversity it is essential to care about something more important than the adversity itself. Discerning people invest their time, energy and efforts to identify what they legitimately care about. Applying this to previous educational movements over the past four decades, despite all the “school reform” initiatives, there has been no tangible improvement in the academic proficiency of American high school students, generally, and an unconscionable failure for our nation’s Latino and minority students, specifically. Providing and cultivating the opportunity for Latino students to internalize, strengthen and master a substantive approach to thinking by first helping them deal with their bad habits of mind that obstruct their learning, is a prerequisite to obtain academic success.
The process of developing a “courageous mindset” allows students to confront the inherent barriers they might face in their intellectual and social development as an educated citizen. Seasoned educators in low-performing, low-income, predominantly Latino, and other minority, high schools understand the power of peer pressure on their students’ decision-making process when it pertains to bad, or otherwise questionable, decisions. Self-awareness is the foundation for all students to begin the life long process of developing discernment—the ability to judge well. Regardless of the means for achievement, there is no debating that academic engagement and therefore academic achievement are more probable when students are aware of their academic and personal goals.
The ancient dictum of Socrates to “know thyself” is a fundamental critical thinking concept and tool that is necessary in the developmental process of becoming a competent and successful student. Self-knowledge allows students to identify personal limitations and become more objective. Self-knowledge allows young, middle-aged, and elderly minds alike to know “what they are doing, why they are doing it, which problems are theirs, and which belong to the outside world.” When students develop self-awareness it enhances their ability to learn by reducing internal and external interferences with the learning process. Furthermore, self-awareness facilitates students of color to be more open minded and accepting in collaborating and interacting with others. A student development pedagogy that is centered on “self-awareness” is the pathway to self-management, intellectual collaboration and student thinking.
Latino and minority role models share the common experience that, as students, they developed courage to deal with adversity and/or failure, sometimes embarrassing themselves because the actions they took were grounded on their well defined beliefs, values and priorities. They identified, nurtured and protected their own feelings, pride and needs. In other words, they made time to reflect upon who they were as individuals, what direction they wanted to pursue in their life and took the necessary steps to make such pursuits come to fruition. It is through this “courageous mindset” by which these role models were able to acquire an ability to focus exclusively on life’s big items: themselves, family, friends and country. Ironically, it is through this personal discernment and keen awareness of self that not only provided these role models with direction, understanding and the ability to judge well, but also gained the respect and care of their peers, faculty and the general community.
By virtue of their shared life experiences with Latino youth, Latino Role Models are in a unique and powerful position to invoke their collective practical wisdom, expertise, creativity and impassioned zeal, to assist Latino students improve focus and clarity in the development of a courageous mindset. A mindset that will “fast-track” solidifying Latino students’ self-identity, allowing these students to be selective and effective in their decision-making. The “courageous mindset,” once implemented, empowers students to ascribe meaning to their education and identify the external and internal obstacles that, all too often, prevent them from completing their education and reaching their defined goals. Seeing, hearing and learning from OjoOido’s Latino Role Models, directly and quickly provides a proven decision-making methodology to enable any student to decide for themselves what they want out of high school, out of college and/or trade school and the tools to map out a plan to make it happen.
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