Academic journal article High School Journal

The Intersectionality of Border Pedagogy and Latino/a Youth: Enacting Border Pedagogy in Multiple Spaces

Academic journal article High School Journal

The Intersectionality of Border Pedagogy and Latino/a Youth: Enacting Border Pedagogy in Multiple Spaces

Article excerpt

In this one-year qualitative study, the authors examined how border pedagogy is enacted by two Latino/a high school teachers in a border community in Southern California. Through classroom observations, the authors documented powerful student discussions that named complex borders (Giroux, 1992) that existed in their daily lives. We drew from conocimientos (understandings) (Anzaldua, 1987), conscientizacion (critical consciousness) (Freire, 1970), and carino (authentic care) (Valenzuela, 1999) as theoretical lenses to inform this study.

Keywords: Borderlands, Secondary Education, Activism, Feminism


Latino/a (1) students have historically been one of the most underserved populations in the U.S. educational system (Gandara & Contreras, 2009; Madrid, 2011). Further, current research data on graduation rates in California affirm that a high percentage of Latino/a youth continue to drop out of high schools at a higher rate than their white counterparts (Ramirez, 2015). This alarming and chronic issue has resulted in Latino/a students being overlooked as emergent powerful intellectuals and contributors to U.S. communities. Moreover, Latino/a students continue to lose their cultural and linguistic identities in the same school system that is preparing them for the future (Gandara & Contreras, 2009).

Border pedagogy (Garza, 2007; Giroux, 1992) is a powerful approach utilized by teachers to disrupt the manner in which students are being educated in high schools. Border pedagogy teaches the skills of critical thinking and debating power, meaning, and identity. Border pedagogy works to revitalize learning and teaching to promote justice for all (Giroux, 1992; Romo & Chavez, 2006). Giroux (1992) affirmed that border pedagogy is a fundamental approach used to engage youth in becoming social critics of their realities.

In the past decade border pedagogy has been considered useful in border towns, which are towns on the U.S./Mexico border (Prieto & Villenas, 2012). However, with the increase of immigrant and refugee populations in U.S. communities, the role of border pedagogy has expanded to non-border communities (Ramirez, 2015). Anzaldua (1987) argued that historically marginalized youth are constantly living in the shadows due to cultural differences. In this context, border pedagogy is meant for Latino/a youth to understand that their cultural roots and differences are rich and significant to their development as human beings.

Secondary teachers play a critical role in the education and academic trajectory of Latino/a students. Most teachers are discouraged from using schooling practices or pedagogies that misalign with their particular school's mandated curricula (Romero, Arce & Cammarota, 2009). A review of studies associated with border pedagogy in secondary schools found that teachers who deeply cared about their students would enact border pedagogy in the content area they were teaching (Rios, 2013). The study revealed that Latino/a students were able to discuss issues related to identity and border culture because the teacher consciously positioned students to draw from border pedagogy to name problems found in schools and communities. Hence, secondary teachers can engage in challenging and transforming school curricula within the educational system.

In this particular study two teachers, Mrs. Marisol Chavez and Mr. Tommy Soto (2), enacted components of border pedagogy to empower youth. This research study is concerned with understanding how border pedagogy influences Latino/a teachers and students in school communities. More specifically, the research question that guided this study was: How do teachers enact border pedagogy with Latino/a students in an urban high school setting?

We first provide an overview of the relevant literature on border pedagogy. Secondly, a discussion on the theoretical frameworks informing this study is presented. …

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