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Escalante knew of the Garfield High School as one of the most East Los Angele’s notorious barrios from the onset. He knew it was a place whereby poor, hardened street kid were never supposed to master mathematics, algebra, trigonometry and calculus based on their cultural legacies. However, the prior knowledge shaped Escalante mode of teaching. Accordingly, he believed that a teacher should at no point, let his students give up. He therefore, decided to love the subject and children he taught to make the kids see that they have an opportunity to become whatever they wish to be in the future. Therefore, Escalante inspired, cajoled and taunted young kids who were troubled to see themselves as they could be and never as they were. Subsequently, for Escalante to accomplish this, embraced a teaching strategy based on the ganas that meant drive or desire in Spanish terms. Therefore, ganas became his battle cry, as he always chided apathetic administrators’ as well jaded teachers alongside being a powerful word for motivating his students.
We see how other teachers thought Escalante (played by Edward James Olmos) was joking when he ultimately declared his interest in teaching calculus. The knowledge of the kids cultural legacies made him adopt such a teaching strategy in which his children ate, slept and lived mathematics. He made it a rule that the children were to arrive an hour before school and stayed two, three hours after school. He drilled his students on Saturdays as well as made summer school mandatory. This was hated by some parents who were harboring cultural legacies who even went further to let Escalante know the dissents. He became successful and by 1991, 600 Garfield students were taking Advanced Placement exams. This was not only in mathematics but also in other subjects, something unheard of at the time.
Escalante had a
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