Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Priming the Pump. Giving Latino Students a Sense of Adventure

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Priming the Pump. Giving Latino Students a Sense of Adventure

Article excerpt

Adventure is worthwhile. - Aesop

Few a re the instructors who haven't faced an audience with at least some students rolling their eyes, sighing or texting instead of paying attention to the discussion. When a student's boredom is stronger than his interest in the class, there is a problem.

Are adolescent Latinos expecting everything to be fast and entertaining? Do they need the brutal action of movies or the change of stimuli that occurs every 30 seconds on television to sustain their attention? Or are they simply unable to master the academic material, get connected and understand how it fits into the scheme of things?

All of those possible reasons for boredom are internal - up to the student to resolve - but what can an instructor do to help?

Call upon the students' sense of adventure.

Most young children - Latinos included - have an innate curiosity and creativity. They want to know what's around the corner, in every drawer at Nana's house or how things work. And once they figure that out, they begin to figure out how new things can be created from information and objects they already have. (And when the new inventions don't work well, they'll keep trying). The creativity that comes with childhood adventure helps foster self-confidence, resourcefulness and resilience.

Adventure also helps a young Latino develop decision-making skills. When faced with a problem to solve in a game or activity, they youngster must weigh the risks and act accordingly - then live with the consequences. With appropriate limits and support by adults, children can push themselves to do something safely that they otherwise would not have considered - and in the process master their own fears, anxiety and self-doubt.

The emotional growth that comes with adventure is also significant. Moving from fear to courage and from risk to reward can come from the challenges in a scavenger hunt, a playground game or wilderness outing. Electronic games purport skill-building through virtual adventures, but the effects are not the same intellectually, socially or physically as they are with actual in-vivo interactive and outdoor activities. Don't let a parent convince you that the electronic adventures are adequate because they are safer. And don't let a kid brag about his virtual exploits and conquests if he hasn't mastered the ones outside his own door. Adventure teaches the range of emotions and helps the child realize that both hardship and pleasure are fleeting- and all healthy, normal and to be expected. …

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