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Transcript of Burro Genius
The Ethical Educator
written by: Victor Villaseñor
November 15, 2013
Growing up in the 1940s on his family's gracious Southern California ranch, young Villaseñor envisions a cowboy's life, just like he's seen in western movies and learned from his loving but occasionally abrasive Mexican-born papá . Reality, however, finds him in the unwelcome company of an American school system where he doesn't fit in and is ostracized thanks to his undiagnosed dyslexia and limited English. Throughout this spirited memoir, this novelist and nonfiction writer faces an entourage of abusive teachers and embittered classmates who chip away at his confidence, leading him to the brink of adopting a personal philosophy of violence-for-respect.
a small horse, a donkey, biblically called as "ass" of the old and most widely used animal for work and burden throughout much of the world. An animal used to breed with horses to get a mule a larger, stronger beast or burden than burro.
guardian deity, or spirit of a persons spirit, natural ability. According to ancient Roman beliefs, a guardian spirit assigned to a person at birth, tutelary deity, hence the guardian spirit of an person , place, etc. A person having great mental capacity of an inventive ability especially great and original ability in art, science, etc.
Burro Genius is an important memoir because it teaches a great story that some may relate to referencing discrimination, stereotypes, and negative images of a culture which can open our minds and can effect us in many ways to have doubts about the culture.
Burro Genius' Ethical Issues
Highly gifted and imaginative, Villaseñor started his first year as a student in kindergarten his heart was quickly torn to shreds by teachers, bullying peers, and administrators. Set in the complex culture of the 1940's, Victor's educational experience was taunted by racist teachers in hate filled schools. After constantly being told by his teachers that Mexicans were dirty, ugly and no good stupid people, Villaseñor began to believe theses characteristics and individually appoint them to his family members. His mother was ugly, his father was loud and dirty and he was stupid. Often beaten by his teachers because he could not speak English, coped with an untreated learning disability and the frustration he felt growing up Latino in an English-only American school system that had neither the cultural understanding nor the resources to deal with Hispanic students. Villaseñor's dyslexia, and growing frustration of not fitting in, fueled his dream one day to become a writer During this process that not many would be able to withstand, he overcomes by persevering year after year holding onto hope that a better day would come, expressing Palmer's theory "In particular, we must learn to hold the tension between the reality of the movement and the possibility that something better might emerge" (Palmer, 2004).
Ethical Suggestions for Change
In order to implement change within our educational system, It is not about changing the system. It is about changing the individual perception of teachers. Teachers need to understand the way they see reality limits them. For many years, white European mentality looked down at the rest of the world and it was thought that indigenous people did not have much to offer. It is not enough to be tolerant. In fact, by itself it is terrible. Educators need to cherish the differences, not just tolerate them.
Villaseñor's Ethical Framework
Villaseñor lived a life divided by two distinct worlds in
Burro Genius: A Memoi
r. His life was divided closely as the gate entering his family's property. On one side he found love, culture, tradition, strength and on the other he found himself beaten down, hated, and misunderstood by those he should have been able to trust. Through the experiences of growing up as a "vaquero" (cowboy) in an affluent family living on a ranch in California, he began to transfer his rugged lifestyle of dealing with animals on the family ranch; To his outside world of dealing with people who treated him as if he were worse than an animal. Victor tells his gripping story of learning to grapse inner and outer peace (Villaseñor', 2004).
Consistent with Palmer in the
, which welcomes the examination of the inner soul as a critical ingredient for beginning to heal a wounded world. The author further conceives that the ability to reach world harmony and peace is not as far away as one may think but that can truly be achieve if each person taps into their inner genius and shares that with the world.
Another fascinated yet remote connection between the Burro Genius and Palmer like hidden in a child secret life references the “remarkable resilience youngsters often reveal, even in the face of great hardship, comes from this place called the soul”( p. 14). This is beautifully represented by Victor's own childhood where as a highly gifted and imaginative child, he was beaten by teachers because he could not speak English. His resilience, from his soul, propelled him into one of the premier writers of our generation and a proud and representative voice of his culture and people.
Palmer, P. (2006).
A hidden wholeness: The journey toward an
. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Villaseñor, V. (2005).
Burro genius: A memoir
. San Francisco, CA:
Harper Perennial. West, C. (1994).
A complex and inspiring coming-of-age story.