1 Makeitha C Mrs. Rogers ENC 1102, 4: 05 November 29th, 2011 Culture vs. Education Culture is an essential element that can impact the way a person sees the world and processes information. “ Superman and Me,” by Sherman Alexie and “ Bodega Dreams,” by Ernesto Quinonez, examines the importance of education and the impact it has on cultures. In “ Superman and Me” the narrator tells a story about an Indian boy who teaches himself how to read and write at the age of 3 years. Despite the challenges he was face with living on an Indian Reservation, he remained motivated and interested in gaining more knowledge in reading and writing. Bodega Dreams,” by Ernesto Quinonez the narrator tells a story about two young Latino boys and their experience together in Junior High school. The young boys are in English and Science class together. Although the boys are not motivated about school, there teacher’s (Mr. Blessington and Mr. Tapia) try different methods to keep them motivated and focus in school. These two stories will debate how culture influences children view point in education. In the story “ Superman and me” the narrator details methods he uses to learn how to recognize a paragraph and picture read using a Superman comic book.
The narrator explains how he was very motivated about learning to read and write. The narrator seemed to be a very driven man who knew exactly what he wanted, and was willing to do whatever it took to achieve his goals. The narrator expresses himself with self-confidence by stating, “ I am smart. I am arrogant. I am lucky. I want to save my life (209-210). ” Being an Indian boy who lived on a reservation, he felt many people were expecting him to fail in the non-Indian world and he was determined to prove them wrong.
The narrator states, “ I never was taught how to write poetry, short stories, and novels. ” “ I don’t recall a guest teacher visiting the reservation (210). 2 The narrator tells how he was enthused about reading and the different methods he used to learn the words. He tells about the many struggles he had to endure because he was different, he was not ashamed to show his intelligence. He explains how his Indian peers were afraid to show their intelligence by not speaking out in class or around other peers. The narrator argues that Indian children are stereotyped as unintelligent failures.
The issue is the author wants readers to recognize that Indian children were not well educated in reading and writing, they needed to be encouraged to read and write, and exposed to more literature. The Indian children lacked motivation in learning to read and write. They were comfortable with just knowing powwow songs and jokes. The narrator wanted the Indian students to see the importance in reading. He wanted them to understand reading is more than just the reading of words, but a way to survive in the non-Indian world. The narrator states he eventually grew up and became a successful author/writer.
He devotes his time working with Indian children and assisting them with reading and writing their own stories. Although the narrator tells about the struggles he had growing up on a reservation knowing how to read and write, he decides to give back to his community. The narrator teaches Indian children creative writing hoping they will change the perception about school and develop confidence and motivation like he did. Ernest Quinonez’s “ Bodega Dreams” the narrator–a young Latino boy–tells a story about an experience he had in Junior High school and the kind of relationship he had developed with his Science teacher (Mr.
Tapia) and English teacher (Mr. Blessington). In the story the narrator tells how Mr. Tapia and Mr. Blessington interact differently with their students. The narrator explains how Mr. Blessington is not one of his favorite teachers. The narrator states, “ He kept telling us boys were all going to end up in jail and all girls were going to end hooking (167). ” The narrator explains how he is bored with listening to the Robert Frost poem in his class. The narrator states, “ He was one of those upper-class people who thinks highly of themselves…and have chosen to “ help” poor kids from the ghetto (167). In Science class his teacher, Mr. Tapia, is inspiring to him. The narrator explains how Mr. Tapia encouraged his class to do their work. He felt all his students had the potential to do well. In the story the narrator enjoyed challenging the teacher’s with questions just to get off task. The narrator’s friend (Sapo) had the same classes together. 3 Sapo was very quiet and kept to himself until one day the Mr. Blessington approached him with a question. The narrator claims Sapo did not make an effect in class due to Mr. Blessington negative comments he makes towards him and his peers.
Mr. Blessingon was not pleased with Sapo’s attitude. Mr. Blessington and Sapo begin exchanging words which lead them to a heated discussion and a physical altercation. Mr. Blessington lost control and Sapo released anger. In the story Mr. Tapia tried to save Sapo by telling Sapo to lie about the altercation. Sapo did what Mr. Tapia told him to do in order to avoid the detention center. The incident eventually changed Sapo’s persona. The young Latin boy was put in a position to where he lost control and it changed his whole outlook on life.
In this story the author argues that a person’s childhood environment often determine his or her character and life path. In the story the narrator provided evidence of how the students had supportive teachers and how their teacher’s encourage the students to be successful. Mr. Tapia and Mr. Blessington exposed their students to a variety of poetry and literature, and allowed them opportunities to complete their work either at home or in school. The stories share common points about the importance of reading and writing.
In order for an individual to be successful in school is by making an effort and attempting to do the work. In “ Superman and Me” the Indian boy wanted to be successful by taking matters in his own hands by teaching himself how to read and write. In “ Bodega Dreams” the characters in the story were not interested in learning or doing their assignments, which became a disappointment to their teachers. I think the Indian children have a valid reason to feel conquered by their abilities to learn. Their cultural upbringing can be a factor which often causes them to lose interest in reading and writing.
When teachers are working with children it’s important that they are sensitive to the students’ needs, respect each child’s differences and culture, and be more mindful of their position in society. Providing support and positive guidance is the key when working with children and helping them become more involved in school. 4 In closing, these stories have a valid point and will stimulate more readers to think about the importance of culture and education. Stereotyping and prejudice can have a negative effect on children. Adults must remember children are in a vulnerable position.
Allowing children to explore and have access to different learning materials will help them gain more knowledge. Respecting different cultures and communicating with children in positive ways will help develop self-confidence and help them have a better outlook on life. 5 Works Cited Alexie, Sherman. “ Superman and Me. ” Reading Literature and Writing Argument. 4th ed. Missy James and Alan Merickel. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2011. Print Quinonez, Ernest. “ Bodega Dreams. ” Reading Literature and Writing Argument. 4th ed. Missy James and Alan Merickel. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2011. Print.