When I studied at school I had a classmate for whom I had a lot of respect because he had an exceptional talent for playing the dombyra. He also was good at all schools subjects and he was always rewarded for his good behavior. But after the death of his mother, he started to behave many times inappropriately and sometimes criminally. However, the school did not have anything to offer him against his regress. He dropped out of school. But Victor Rios knows how to help children like my classmate who was failed by the education system.
Victor Rios, an educator and the author of the project “Restorative justice”, claims that students who experience poverty, stigma, and social exclusion need to be seen as the assets to the education system. In his speech, he explicates how he, being on welfare and incarcerated in prison three times for three felonies in his 15, could graduate the school successfully. His hero is his teacher Ms. Russ, an educator who managed to tap into his soul and believed in him so much that she tricked him into believing in himself. The speaker offers three strategies to succeed in working with such children.
First – these students are empty containers for us to fill with knowledge.
Getting rid of deficit perspective in education like these people come from a culture of violence, a culture of poverty, these people are at-risk, and these people are truant. Instead, he says, we need to offer solutions for their problems. In order to make his argument effective, the speaker highlights how his teacher Ms. Russ treated him, respected his family, his friends, his community no matter what and turned him from a criminal into a high-achiever. The evidence is pertinent and powerful, especially with the presence of photos before meeting Ms. Russ and after.
Second – value stories that young people bring to the schoolhouse.
Victor Rios says that their stories of overcoming insurmountable odds have already established their character. And he claims that this character is a precursor for the academic achievements. To prove, the speaker gives two stories about hard-work ethic that his community taught to encounter poverty and his student William`s deed to help his classmate that was also learned from his community too. Giving such reliable pieces of evidence from real-life situations of the speaker and his students make his claims strong. The examples provided are impressive that makes the audience believe that welcoming stories of every community is an effective strategy to raise students` academic performance.
Third – provide with adequate resources.
He talks humorously about resources. The strongest point of this argument for me was about the power of believing in students. He takes himself as an example. However, what other things does he mean by saying resources? The point would be much more impressive if he had illustrated more and precisely.
However, the minute detail that is not clear is that Victor Rios talks about educators as the only and primary cause for student dropout. In other words, after his speech, I was left with the opinion that teachers only can help students who experience poverty, stigma, and social exclusion. Maybe his initial aim was to accentuate the role of a teacher to empower students in order to make the successful academically, however, he looks at the issue only from one perspective: from his own perspective as an educator. Perspectives of parents, peers and other stakeholders are worthy to mention too.
In general, I find this talk as the most persuasive and impressive because he presents arguments and ideas not without being underpinned by shreds of evidence. And his pieces of evidence are powerful and reliable because he gives examples from his own experience; he gives examples from what he has encountered. Additionally, the talk is rich with catchy phrases like “when you teach to the heart, the mind will follow”