Friday, September 23, 2022

Welcome to Academia Cuauhtli: A Social Architecture of Caring (cariño)" [VIDEO]

I am happy to share this video created by one of our Academia Cuauhtli maestras (teachers), Liliana Batista-Rodriguez whose regular job as a dual language teacher is at Harris Elementary School in the Austin Independent School District. 

It's so fulfilling running this escuelita (school) that represents a third space between the over-prescribed space of the school and the under-prescribed space of the home where freedom and liberation can be experienced. Texas State University professor, Dr. Chris Milk, and I call this a "social architecture of cariño" (caring). Dr. Milk has done a masterful job in working with the teachers during the summer months to develop an anti-racist, social justice, identity-centered curriculum that uplifts our children, parents, and community.

Our teachers, as a whole, are really strong in their view that their chief task is to prepare these children to navigate the complexities of school settings. This is SO important for children that are first-generation, working class immigrants whose parents are frequently invisible to our school systems. Our parents, on the other hand express, "Yo no quiero que mi hija (o hijo) pierdan su cultura (I don't want my daughter or son to lose their culture).

Ours is a curriculum that combines socioemotional learning, Ethnic Studies, and languages, meaning Spanish language development and basic Nahuatl. 

Our symbol is the eagle, or "cuauhtli," in Nahuatl. It inspires us to great heights, a special calling and opportunity for those in our community that oppose subtractive schooling, meaning the ways in which schools take away as a matter of course the actual strengths of language, community, and identity that these children bring with them to school. A first step is getting them to acknowledge just how powerful they are when these are centered.


-Angela Valenzuela

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