Integractive Sciences: A New Humanization

I strongly believe that one of the deepest problems of the education of our times is its lack of integractive sciences. But before writing about that, let’s clarify what I mean with “integractive sciences.”

Integractive sciences are the sciences of the person: the sciences that study the persons and how they become who they are and who they are called to be. The integractive sciences integrate three faculties: Education, Social Sciences and Humanities, including arts and theology.

Why I call the studies of these faculties “integractive sciences”? Because they can’t follow the method of the natural sciences, so used to “dissect” what it studies. The persons cannot be “dissected”: they must be studied as they integrate, act, realize and project themselves; they must be studied “integractively”. The word “integration” is the union of the concepts “integration”, “action”, “realization” and “projection”, the four phases of integraction as model of human formation.

May be is necessary to redefine a little bit what we call “scientific method”, giving the space to create an “integractive method” as “scientific method” for integractive sciences. The fact is that we cannot pretend to understand the person by “dissecting” his nature, as natural sciences tend to do. We can only understand and study the person with the union of humanities, social sciences and humanities, all together. This requires an “integractive” approach. We cannot keep these faculties separated, proposing that the person is something in one of them and then proposing another thing in the other faculty. They must be integrated because that is how the human person grows: integractively.

Does this means that other sciences and faculties, like natural sciences, health sciences, law, business… are not needed to understand how the person integrates, acts, realizes and projects? I do not mean that exactly. Integractive sciences and natural sciences complement each other. The application of natural sciences, health sciences and any other science is necessary to understand certain aspects of personal growth, but the essential sciences to understand how the person become who he is and who is called to be are the integractive sciences. For example: you can apply natural sciences to the study of the person, but you can’t understand the person through natural sciences by its own.

This had been one of the hugest mistake of our times: reducing the study of the person to the application of natural sciences, or aiming to study integractive sciences with the same method of natural sciences, “dissecting” the integraction of the human person, and so reducing the human identity to “social constructs”, for example. This must change. The human person must be understood “integractively” in order to embrace our identity as we grow more fully humanely.

Our schools are depleted with natural sciences, but the only integractive science that is usually taught is history. That’s a problem. We cannot be surprised that our students get bored in schools that do not help them to understand better who they are, how they grow as persons, and how they are called to be: better human beings everyday. We need to connect what they learn with a better personal growth and a better world. Only through teaching integractive sciences we can aim to build a society for peace, where everyone treats each other as human being and as brother, serving the common good and avoiding all kinds of dehumanization that are destroying today’s world. It is time to propose the creation of schools specialized in integractive sciences, where technology and natural sciences, among other disciplines, are applied to the study of the person.

Weeks ago, I read a quote from Nelson Mandela that I do not remember literally right now, but it proposed that if hate can be learned, love can be learned too. Let’s paraphrase that quote: If dehumanization can be learned, humanity and human rights can be learned too. We can learn how to grow until become the best person we can be. We can only create peace if we learn how to help everyone to grow as the best persons they can be. I call this “new humanization”: an integractive conception of how to become the best persons we can be as human beings. Noticed that I didn’t say “to become the best persons we can be as republicans”, or as democrats, or as homosexual, or as conservative…No: I said “as human beings.

We need a new humanization. We need to learn how to see each other first and foremost as human beings, as brother called to grow together. We are not our genders. We are not our political affiliation. We are not our sexual orientation. We are human beings, called to be loved and to grow unconditionally in fraternity, justice and peace.

There is a wonderful world in taino language, “goeiz”, that means “the spirit of a living person.” We must aim to embrace the spirit of a living person, the spirit of a person that is human and keeps growing as better human being everyday. This is also part of living the Christian faith: “The glory of God is the human person is fully alive” (St. Irenaeus).

We can only keep our students engaged with their education by teaching them how to apply what they are learning to their own human growth; by helping them to be, to do, to grow and to radiate as the best persons they can be. The opposite is dehumanizing them. We cannot keep dehumanizing our society through a dehumanizing education, an education that focus more on ideologies than in the human being and personal growth. We need to search together new ways and paths to create a more human world, a world where everyone can understand how they grow as persons, how to become the best persons they can be, and how to find the tools and resources needed to be able to do so. We need to teach that a human being can never be treated as an object, or as a mean, or reduced through dehumanization, through the ideological laceration of his human identity.

Together, we can make that possible. Together, we can make possible a more human world for everyone.

Let’s keep growing!

Becoming a Work of Love

I wrote an essay today for the professional seminar of my teaching practicum. In this essay I am supposed to write about what I have learned through the teaching practicum, what are my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher, what are my expectations and projections as a teacher, and what I can give to my country and my people as a teacher. I usually share this kind of essays on Sundays, but because next Sunday I will not be able to share anything due being outside Puerto Rico (in Miami), I chose to share this essay today, the same day I wrote it. It may also be seen as a tribute for all the brave people who have given and are giving their lives to our country and to make our free growth possible, not only for those in the military, but also for all the citizens that strive a better growth and a better country for all.

Becoming a Work of Love 

What is the most important thing I have learned as a student teacher? That I am not only teaching students: I am teaching human beings. I am not only an ESL teacher: I am a public server whose being, action, realization and projection is a growth model for those who I teach. I have the capacity to create the change that my nation needs with my personal growth and my teacher’s lessons. As John. F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what can you do for your country.” I have discovered as a student teacher what I can do for my country as a fellow American and also as a Christian: creating a culture of sacramental Love, communicating humanity and affirming unconditionally the best growth possible for every person through helping to be, helping to do, helping to grow and helping to radiate everyone as the best person that each one can become; as a sacrament of God’s Love, capable of radiating that Love with his or her personal formation’s growth. As I taught my lessons as student teacher I learned to contemplate each student not only as a student and as a person, but as a human being in process of becoming a “work of Love,” a living sign of God’s Love. Every person is actually sacred and has the potentiality of becoming a sacrament of Love, and through my lessons I was able to learn a concrete way to honor that sacralization and sacramentalization as I served my students with ESL lessons.

How prepared I feel to teach? To be sincere with myself, I think that I have many things to learn yet, but I also think that that is part of my own process of becoming the best person and teacher I can be. I hope to find good mentors along the way for keep growing as a teacher until becoming the best teacher I can be.

What are my strengths? I think that my deepest strength is my formation in the Faculty of Humanities. That helps me to teach departing from the human being, not from the “curriculum”.  Let’s say this in other way: for me, integrating my student’s personal formation is an essential part of the curriculum. It works wonders as a class management technique too, although it was not my intention to use it that way. When students see that you care for them, respect them as persons and want to help them to become the best persons they can be, they get more engaged and get more conscious of the importance of learning how to control themselves and behave better. This is part of embracing learning as a personal formation process, not as an academic process or a mere information transmission process. I have learned that class management is not a matter of following rules in the first place but a matter of integrating humanity in the first place and then following rules.

In what areas I need improvement? My grammar teaching skills definitively need improvement. I have a lot of learning ahead about grammar. The root of this deficiency is that I am not good at grammar in my first language, Spanish, neither. It is very hard to me to define the form and understand the function of all words (I am very used to abduct those that I don’t know, and the abduction is usually right). However, I achiever to understand some terms that I was not able to understand before as I studied them for teaching them (for example: as easy as it seems, I just understood what is the progressive verb tense and how to difference it from the simple verb tense as I discussed them with my third graders). Other area where I need improvement is pronunciation, but this can be easily improved by moving to United States and talking English on a daily basis. How do I compensate these weaknesses? Mainly, through consulting grammar books for understanding better whatever I need to understand in order to teach it, and also through hearing music and movies in English. That helps me to get the correct pronunciation of words (I had never been able to learn pronunciation through the phonetic transcriptions of the words…).

What are my expectatives and projections? My expectative is to be an ESL teacher somewhere in the United States after finishing my master’s degree in Differentiated Education. I am thinking in a place that has a good teaching mentorship program, good integration of technology, decent teaching resources, some professional development time and a strong Latino population. A decent salary and patronal contribution to the Social Security (teachers in the public system in Puerto Rico doesn’t have Social Security contribution, and for me is very important to contribute to the Social Security, I believe it should be a duty for everyone in working age) would be a plus. My projection is becoming a better teacher and a better human being, wherever I could be, and becoming a work of Love that radiates God’s Love through her personal formation’s growth.

What I can give to my country, United States? This is a very interesting question because in Puerto Rico what is usually asked is what United States can give to Puerto Rico. What I can give to United States? I can create through my lessons and teaching style a culture of sacramental Love: a culture where we all see us as living sacraments in the process of becoming a work of Love. For a Christian this necessarily means praying, living the Church’s sacraments and growing in ecclesial unity, but I can also see my students as living signs in the process of becoming a work of Love without teaching them about my faith but about our humanity and our personal formation: how we are all human beings, how is our personal formation (what we all have in common in our growth), how we are all called to grow in communion and human fraternity, how we are all called to be the best persons we can be, how we are called to help each other to become the best person we can be… This is what being American is about for me: helping others unconditionally to be the best persons they can be. This definition of being American is not based in any partisan view, but in an unconditional pro-growth vision, in an unconditional humanity vision.

What I can give to my people, Puerto Rico? Besides what I just said, that applies perfectly here too, I can give to Puerto Rico a definition of being Puerto Rican that doesn’t depends on partisan views but in personal formation: what makes us Puerto Ricans is how we help us to be, to do, to grow and to radiate each other, with enchantment and warmth, with a vision of unconditional hospitality and cultural integration that is truly Puerto Rican. I don’t believe in any definition of being Puerto Rican that depends on our political status struggle, in any partisan view, or in any linguistic view (for example: you can be Puerto Rican and not knowing Spanish, or you can be Puerto Rican and not knowing English). Our political status struggle is very real and a huge problem of human rights, but we need to learn how to see us beyond what divide us and then works towards overcoming our differences with respect, as human equals, as brothers and sisters of the same human family. This begins with an education that is strongly based on promoting the best personal formation possible for everyone, including both students and teachers, not based solely in the decisions of the political party in power or in economic choices. There should be a ten year goal plan for the Department of Education that aims a structure that is independent from the changes related with elections and political power.

Teaching English, for me, is a way to promote the best personal growth possible among my students, among my people and among my country. For me, this is the key lesson of our times: we are all human beings, we are all a human family, we are all deserving of the best growth possible. We can’t keep teaching with our growth to help only those who are convenient to a certain ideology of political party’s views. We need to teach that we are all unconditionally called to growth, that we are all in the process of becoming a work of Love, so we need to help us each other as human beings, loving each other with unconditional humanity. If you want to see this from a Christian view, we can say that we all are a miracle of God’s Love in the process of becoming a sacrament of His Love. This is what I dream to teach as a teacher and as a person: how to become the best persons we can be, how to be, do, grow and radiate until becoming a work of Love.

Because I believe that teachers are public servers, I will end this essay with the same line that some elected public servers usually end their oath of service:

So help me God…

Reasonable Accommodation

What is reasonable accommodation? Let’s begin with the definition given by United Nations in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:

“Reasonable accommodation means necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.” In the United States, including Puerto Rico, federal law requires that reasonable accommodations be made for employment, education, housing, courts, and public services. Refusal to make an accommodation is equal to discrimination.

How would I define it in my own words? I would say that reasonable accommodation are some adaptations that are made in order to make possible that the person can function successfully in a concrete environment according to a certain set of rules. What I mean with “function successfully”? I mean that the person can accomplish what is expected to everyone in the same position. What I mean with “concrete environment”? I mean that reasonable accommodations are applied to specific environments. For example: if you can’t swim without assistance, you won’t have that need mentioned in your college reasonable accommodation letter, except if you’re enrolled in swimming classes. What do I mean with “according to a certain set of rules?” I mean that reasonable accommodations are made in relation to some specific standards that are meant to be applied to everyone, not only to the persons with diverse functionality. For example: when a student enrolls in a class his learning must be graded by the class’ professor, that is a rule that is expected to be applied to all University students, no matter if they are functionally diverse or not.

How reasonable accommodation works? It varies. In school, it works as part of an IEP (Individualized Education Program; in Spanish: PEI). I never had one of these. I knew how to blend myself in order to get along. Learning like anyone else was a struggle for me through all my school years. My teachers made some “reasonable accommodations” by their own because I was a “brilliant and creative student” that evidently do not fitted the ordinary circumstances. For example: I was allowed many times to spend more time in the library or in creative projects, instead of being bored in the classroom. The problem was that because there was no IEP, this depended solely in the good will of every teacher. Some teachers allowed me to learn my own way, some didn’t. Some teachers even considered that the adaptations that were made for me where “privileges” that I shouldn’t have. For those teacher, I should learn to be like all other students. When the teachers didn’t make any adaptation, my frustration was a huge problem, I visited the social worker (she was like my counselor) a lot because of that.

Why I never got an IEP through all my school years? Because I learned to compensate my diverse functionality with my giftedness since very young and the schools where I studied both were diverse enough to integrate my twice-exceptional learning style without needing an IEP. For example: I remember myself in kindergarten observing what my classmates made in order to I do the same. I didn’t process the oral instructions, but I did the correct work because I observed what the others were doing. No one taught me this coping system for not understanding the instructions, I realized it by own because I wanted to be able what I was supposed to be doing without any help (I had a strong independent tendency). This was one of the most common coping systems I ever used during my school years. I created many copying systems like that one, that no one taught me, just to do things like my classmates. Another factor to never getting an IEP was that although I clearly did not fit within the normal expectations of all students, I was simply considered a “brilliant student”, so some of the factors that would have been identified in other students as symptoms of ADD or may be Auditive Processing Disorder in me were considered simply a natural part of being “brilliant”. For example: I got bored a lot of times and began to draw and daydream in the classroom, but instead of considering that a problem, I was given time and space to do it in my own terms because I usually ended classwork faster than my classmates once I got the instructions right, so I could have time to spare watching the sky, coloring or creating something. So, I grew up as a “different student”, never as a “disabled student,” and I am grateful of growing up without “disability” labels. My greatest academic problems where maths and sciences, but I achieved A’s and B’s even in those classes. I only got two C’s in my whole school years, both in High School, one in trigonometry and one in chemistry. I repeated trigonometry in summer and got and A. It all depended in how the classes were assessed.

The problem with grades began in college, when I couldn’t compensate any longer and I began having more C’s and D’s, and to fail classes. The first year in the Faculty of General Studies was a dream and easy as eating cake because I love to read (you need to read a lot in first year) and the assessment was mainly essays made at home or tests where made in laboratories. The problem began from the second year and beyond, when I began to fail classes despite all my efforts to pass them, or would have a lower grade than expected for my huge efforts. The circumstances of each failure or underachievement were varied. Among the possible reasons of underachievement or failing were:

-The class was assessed solely by test that depended mainly in memorization of information. I was unable to memorize big chunks information.

-The class were given solely via sequential conference, without any visualization of the information. That meant that I was responsible to visualize all the information by my own, and that can take a lot of time.

-The class assessment depended solely on auditive memory or grammar-translation method, so it was impossible for me to learn something because I do not learn with any of those ways. This happened a lot with learning third languages.

-The class had a specific schedule for delivering exercises and works and I forgot to give them due completely forgetting the delivery date. This happened specially with writing courses: the professors considered me a gifted writer, but I was unable to remember when to give them my works, so I had a bad grade or failed the class simply because not delivering the class works on time of forgetting to deliver them.

-The class had a specific time sequence, like Public Speaking class, and I had no coping mechanism to compensate my lack of time awareness. I am very good at spatial awareness, but I am a mess with calculating time.

-Sometimes I confused the numbers of the test schedules, so I would go the test in the wrong time or to the wrong classroom. For example: if the test was a “8:10, I would read “18:00”, or if the classroom said “12”, I would read “21”.

-I failed some classes simply because was unable to write the test by hand, my handwriting was illegible. I am, in general, very good at writing essay tests, but I am very bad in writing by hand, it was even painful to me. No matter how much I studied about the material, the handwriting was illegible so I could express my knowledge.

-Sometimes I did not hand my works on time due perfectionism: the work was never good enough for me.

A doctor made my first reasonable accommodation letter in 2009, for attention problems. However, it was worthless: the University where I studied at that moment, the University of Navarra, refused to accept the reasonable accommodation letter made by my doctor in Puerto Rico for them because in Spain “those letters were not used” and “the University did not have services for special education students” (sadly, I am quoting literally what I was told in the ecclesiastical faculty of theology). I do not wish to anyone the dreadful experience of finally achieving your academic dream, being accepted in an institution for studying theology and philosophy, and then failing some of your ecclesiastical faculty classes, the “easiest classes of the whole University”, miserably just because you did not had reasonable accommodations available. Eventually I developed test anxiety and psychological trauma (the trauma was not only due forced class failing, but it was part of it), that I overcame with proper treatment and support from the University of Puerto Rico. My shook was double because, as far as I knew, if a university had access to federal funds they must honor reasonable accommodations. I studied in Spain thanks to federal student loans, so if the University of Navarra students had the privilege of being able to request US federal students loans if they were US citizens, like I am, I always assumed without asking prior enrolling the University that they must honor reasonable accommodations according to ADA law. I was wrong, and I discovered it the hard way: when I brought the reasonable accommodation letter they had no idea of what reasonable accommodation was, nor had any interest in learning how to make similar adaptations that could be applied to the Spanish educational culture and would have allowed me to pass the classes I failed. “You need to learn how to be a normal student” was the kindest comment I heard about reasonable accommodations there. I don’t think they did this on purpose, the main issue was the discrepancy between Spanish higher education system and US higher education system. Spanish higher education system is not as inclusive as higher education system in United States. In Spain university assessments mostly depend solely on tests, and they are designed by default to be tests that not every learning style can pass. For example: in Spain, if you are in college and you don’t have the short memory, the attention or the handwriting to write and pass the test, you won’t be usually offered any other kind of assessment because that is not their way of doing things at University. If you are not able to do those things, you simply should not study a career in the University but in something they call “Professional Formation” (in Spanish: “Formación Profesional”, or “FP”).

I tried to get a reasonable accommodation letter for studying in the next university after University of Navarra, but I was unable to demonstrate my failed classes at the Ecclesiastical Faculty of the University of Navarra due a technicality: the Ecclesiastical Faculty of the University of Navarra did not wrote my real grades on the transcripts. Instead of writing the failings I got in some tests, they simply wrote “No presentado”, what means that I simply did not presented to the tests. I discovered this too late to claim it, after I returned to Puerto Rico (I was so frustrated and impotent with the whole situation that I was living that when I left the University of Navarra I only requested one transcript of the ecclesiastical faculty and I only opened it when it was strictly necessary: for discussing it with the new faculty I enrolled; I never requested a transcript of the graduate classes in Philosophy, which I did passed with huge efforts). They probably did this believing that they made me a favor by avoiding to write a low grade in my academic transcript, I knew many students requested the professors to write them a “no presentado” if they did not pass the test. For me it was not a favor: because I was unable to demonstrate that I was failing classes, I couldn’t get the assistance I needed in the next university. Of course, I failed classes again. I also took a psychometric test just to demonstrate that the failings were not caused by lack of intellectual capacity (the result of the IQ test was 140 but I was unable to pass the simplest Hebrew test). Only then, after I failed again and I lost my academic progress again, I began to receive help.

When I arrived to the University of Puerto Rico to study in the Faculty of Education I was better prepared in term of psychological resources, although I still needed to deal with the psychological trauma caused by forced failing and forced testing. I talked clearly about my lack of reasonable accommodation experiences in the office for disabled students of the University of Puerto Rico in my first interview with them, after being admitted to the Faculty of Education to study to be a ESL certified teacher. They assured me that that would not happen again with them: in the University of Puerto Rico I would be able to access to help before I began failing and the reasonable accommodations requested by the doctor would be honored if possible. For example: it was not possible to make a reasonable accommodation for not taking tests at all, but it was possible to make a reasonable accommodation that states that the professor must take into consideration that the student have problems with memorization. That way my assessments could not depend solely on memory-based tests.

To give you an idea of what reasonable accommodation is, here you can see (in Spanish) my reasonable accommodation letter of the University of Puerto Rico:

Carta Acomodo Razonable

The signatures are the signatures of my professors and my mentor teacher. Each one of them have a copy of this letter and have agreed to follow its guidelines. With this letter I got a B in an elective and “easy” Humanities class whose assessment depended 75% on memory-based multiple choice tests. Besides that class, all other classes’ assessment depended 50% or less in memory-based tests, and I passed them all with A. My usual problems are needing to clarify instructions, needing extra time to finish some works, needed to be reminded of deadlines and sometimes needed to deliver a work incomplete because I was so perfectionist that the professor thought it would be better for me to simply deliver the work as it was, correcting it and allow me to make the corrections and then grade me. My perfectionism ended with the professor’s corrections.

A little comment about this letter: the underlined sections refers to the use of Smart Board or projector instead of a whiteboard or a chalkboard. I think it says so a little bit dramatically, I wouldn’t use those words and my doctor did not use those words neither, those were the University’s words. They chose to write it that way because, due my problems with handwriting, being forced to write by hand had caused anxiety in some classes and they did not want me to have anxiety in my teaching practicum. Due that reasonable accommodation the Faculty of Education assigned me a school with a Smart Board available to make my teaching practicum. Although now I do write by hand sometimes and it does not cause me anxiety, I still rely mostly on technology to give my classes and function as teacher. I am a strongly visual, applicative and meaningful teacher: I always have something to visualize the auditive information, I always seek to apply the information and I always try to help students to give their own meaning to the process of learning that information.

So, the difference between having reasonable accommodation and not having reasonable accommodations can be seen clearly in my transcript of the University of Puerto Rico. Prior 2008 I did not have reasonable accommodation. After 2016 I had reasonable accommodation. You can see the transcript here:

Transcripción de Créditos 1 (1)

Transcript 2 (1)

Transcript 3 (2)

Transcript 4 (1).jpg

Transcript 5 (2).jpg

As you can see, my academic progress is way more stable with reasonable accommodation. Beyond the grades, having reasonable accommodation allows you to give your best without being penalized for being how you are. With it there is no anxiety, no trauma, no stigma. I feel functional with it. I feel integrated and part of where I am studying. I can invest my energies in being the best I can be, instead of investing them in being able to do the things like anyone else does. It is also true that reasonable accommodation by itself is not enough for achieving academic progress, not even using Adderall is enough for that. Learning organizational skills as copying system for attention problems and getting psychological support for dealing with the emotional sensitivity and the perfectionism related with being gifted was also necessary for getting a satisfactory academic progress. My problem with organizational skills was that I was insisting in doing what works for others, numeric-sequential based organization, when what works best for me is visual-spatial based organization. My ESL mentor professor taught me a lot about visual-spatial organizational skills, and that was also important to keeping my best academic progress possible. Learning how to organize and keeping track of time with an Ipad also helped a lot with that, and also helped me to get an app to compensate the lack of time tracking skills needed to pass the Public Speaking class. I repeated that class again and got an A.

I made an interesting question in some of my education classes that I should mention here: should I as teacher wait to an IEP to make a reasonable accommodation? The answer always was a no. Waiting an IEP to make a reasonable accommodation when you see clearly that it is needed can harm the kid academically and specially psychologically. It can cause anxiety. It can interrupt or alter the child’s development. It can disconnect the student from learning. Besides all that, not granting a needed reasonable accommodation dehumanizes you as teacher. The need must be informed to the proper authorities (special education teacher and parents) but action should begin as soon as the need is identified. It is also important to never identify a student that needs a reasonable accommodation as a “disabled student” because that is not true: we all can learn and we all have different capacities. Technically speaking, we are all disabled, we all have things that we can’t do, like speaking Chinese. We generally identify people according to what they can do (He is a doctor, she swims, they are artists…), not according what they can’t do, and that principle should be applied to “disabled” persons too: we must define them according to what they can do. We must learn to embrace everyone’s capacities, so we should identify the students that need reasonable accommodation as “functionally diverse students”, not as “disabled students.” I agree with that. For example: a blind student is not a student that can’t see. A blind student is a student that learns auditively, orally or through touch only.

A last curious detail about reasonable accommodation. Curiously, I do not feel “disabled” with a reasonable accommodation letter, although that letter is given by the “Office for Affairs of Disabled Persons” (In Spanish: OAPI, Oficina de Asuntos para las Personas con Impedimentos) of the University of Puerto Rico. With the reasonable accommodation letter I feel, as I said, funcional, integrated and able to be a part of the place I study as how I am. When I felt really “disabled” was prior the reasonable accommodation letter, specially in the University of Navarra. When you can’t avoid failing classes just because you learn different and need to do things differently you really feel like a “disabled” person. I still remember one of the first things I was told in the process of enrollment in the Faculty of Education of the University of Puerto Rico, when they knew I was being interviewed by OAPI for getting a reasonable accommodation letter: “you are not disabled, you are different. Learning in a different way is not being disabled, is doing things in a diverse way”. The fact is that I had never been “disabled” with the reasonable accommodation letter.

I hope that I can help some students with reasonable accommodations to reach their best because I really know the difference that having reasonable accommodation can make. I truly believe that we are all capable of learning how to give our best with the capacities we are given, and I hope to inspire that to my students, specially to those who are functionally diverse.

Let’s keep growing!

 

Walking Like He Walked

This is a teaching integractive blog. On Sundays, I usually write an essay about elements that influence my teaching or that are related with my teaching. What I am going to write about today has influenced me deeply both as person and as teacher: my faith. I usually do not talk about my faith in my classroom, but today I am going to talk about a faith experience that has helped me to model the kind of person and teacher I want to be.

Today I am going to write about how I overcame a deep faith crisis that leaded me to become a better person and a better teacher.

Several years ago, around 2008, I had a deep and strong faith crisis. I asked myself if I could be creative and catholic at the same time, if I could be who I am (I am naturally intellectual and creative) and catholic at the same time. This crisis was caused by my belonging to a catholic institution, still quite unknown in Puerto Rico, called “Opus Dei”. This institution teaches through intern institutional formation that if you leave them you lose your vocation and probably even your eternal salvation, among other very questionable teachings.

Through this crisis I discovered my true vocation, my human and ecclesial vocation, my vocation to grow by living charity and to irradiate God’s Love by forming Him in my whole personal formation. I deepened my human and ecclesial vocation through three ways:

-Though Arts: I painted a Jesus Charity. The picture of that painting is this one:

Jesus Charity.jpg

I developed an iconography for all the forms included in the painting. I also wrote a love story that described my process of conversion after leaving Opus Dei: Fiat Amor. I affirmed my ecclesial vocation as a vocation to form an image of God’s Love in whole personal formation through living charity. My vocation stopped being an “institutional vocation” (belonging to Opus Dei) to be transformed in a personal vocation, humanly and ecclesially. I discovered my vocation as fruit of God’s grace, not as fruit of institutional proselytism (like in Opus Dei). I discovered my creative talent as an instrument the Church, instead of being something that hindered some institutional customs.

-Through Sciences (Humanities, Education, Social Sciences, Philosophy): I created integraction, a model of human and ecclesial personal formation. Formation stopped being institutional (aspiring to be Opus Dei) to become in personal formation, humanly and ecclesially. I discovered personal formation as charism, instead of some kind of institutional “mold”. I discovered intellectual talent as instrument to affirm my whole personal formation according to God’s Love, not according to the customs of an institution.

-Through Religion (Catholic theology): I created a theology of light, a theology that deals with the whole personal formation according to God’s Light, a theology that proposes the personal formation as the fullest radiation of God’s Love. I discovered theology as contemplative knowledge of God’s Love, not as memorization of information only, as I knew it in Opus Dei. I discovered the personal formation as talent to serve humanity, not as instrument to serve an specific institution only.

My healing and my restoration after my belonging and leaving Opus Dei has taken long years, more than the time I belonged the institution. In part it had to do with the fact that before I met Opus Dei I was a person of faith with common elements with the institution. For example, prior entering Opus Dei I had a clear lay vocation and thought that studying philosophy and theology was part of my God’s call. That is to say, in my vocation there were elements common to Opus Dei prior belonging to them, without the institution being the one to propose it, hence I really thought that my vocation to Opus Dei was real.

Once restored, my human and ecclesial vocation was transformed, after a time of living it as an “alliance of charity”, into a “consecration to charity”: a consecration to learn how to live charity with the greatest possible correspondence to God in all circumstances; a consecration to learn how to walk like Jesus walked, to think like He thought, to act like He acted, to grow as He grew, to radiate like He radiated, to love like He Loved… to live like He lives. The consecration to charity is a service to people and to the Church. It is difficult to describe the immense joy that comes from the simple fact of being able to live and form myself based on living charity, something so deeply ecclesial and Christian, after surviving an experience like having belonged to Opus Dei, something that requires following so many institutional customs that are quite questionable from the charity perspective. That consecration to charity made and continues to make a big difference in me.

What kind of differences has the alliance of charity and the consecration to charity made in my personal formation? I will sketch some of them.

In negative:

Stop forming myself as I am not: after the alliance of charity and the consecration to charity any attempt to control conscience via spiritual direction is impossible. I am no longer formed to be an institution: I am formed to be a Christian person, to radiate the image of Jesus Charity through my personal formation because I have been created to radiate that Love, that is how I am.

Stop forming myself because “I must be in a certain way“: after the alliance of charity and consecration to charity, I began to form myself to relate personally to God, not because I must be in a certain institutional way, or not because I must be a canonized saint… The first thing is to relate to God, and everything else will come in addition to that.

Stop forming myself to obey only: after the alliance of charity and consecration to charity, I did not form myself to fulfill a plan of life that seemed more like a marketing plan, or to fulfill the expectations of an institution. Now I am formed to grow in communion, to fulfill a project of communion, humanly and ecclesially.

Stop forming myself to please a director: now I am not formed to please others, but to live charity towards God, towards my neighbor and towards myself. Now spiritual direction is part of living charity towards God, not merely following instructions and institutional customs.

In positive:

Personal formation centered on personal growth, on imitating Jesus, on communion and on living charity: after the alliance of charity and consecration to charity, I am responsible for my growth, because growth no longer depends exclusively on obeying to an institution. After the consecration to charity, I discern my project of evangelization with creative freedom, imitating Jesus, growing in communion and learning to live charity. I choose the meaning of the forms of my personal and ecclesial formation.

Acceptance of personal formation as a unit of processes: personal formation in Opus Dei is confused with institutional training that consists of memorization of information and following some customs and institutional instructions. A great change after the alliance of charity and the consecration to charity has been to accept personal formation as a unit of processes in constant progress. There is no longer the anxiety of having to adapt my whole personal formation to the foundationality of an institution. Now the personal formation is fluid and changing. Today I do not have to be the same as yesterday (I no longer have to adjust to being just Opus Dei in the same way day by day, as the directors say). The ways of living the obligations that the consecration to charity entails change day by day according to personal discernment, I do not live the charity of it in exactly the same way every day, although the commitment of consecration to charity remains the same. The consecration to charity is a flowing commitment, like the grace that flows.

Acceptance of personal formation as a complex process: now that personal formation does not equals institutional formation, after the alliance of charity and the consecration to charity, forming myself does not consist of something as “squared” as obeying the director and following a plan (I continue living piety norms, but with freedom to be who I am. For example: if I cannot do a piety norm, I substitute it with a work of charity, and if doing a work of charity prevents making a piety norm, I do the work of charity first). Now personal formation is something complex in which elements such as natural law and experience are taken into account, and in which there can be various ways of following the will of God as inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Openness to experience: when I was part of Opus Dei I was told many times that I had the chronic defect of being “pride” for taking into account my experience as one of the criteria of my formation. In Opus Dei the only acceptable criterion of institutional formation is the will of the director. After the alliance of charity and the consecration to charity I can freely accept my experience as part of the configuration of the criteria of my personal formation, without being treated like an “unfaithful”. Now I can open myself to experience, my own and from others, without it meaning something like wanting to oppose some institutional view.

Acceptance of others without pretending to change them: in Opus Dei there is a huge preassure to make as many as possible part of the institution, making contact lists and determining institutional goals if necessary. This is institutional proselytism. After the alliance to charity and the consecration to charity there is no longer a desire to change others, but to help them to be, to do, to grow and to radiate. Now there is eagerness to learn to help others grow, accepting the person unconditionally.

Acceptance of myself: Opus Dei instills mistrust in oneself, since the criterion of personal formation must always be the director. After the alliance of charity and the consecration to charity I recovered a healthy confidence in myself, with the help of God’s grace.

Acceptance of all personal formation as it is, not according to the institution says it is: after the alliance of charity and consecration to charity I pay more attention to what is as it is. That sounds like tongue twisters, but it is not the same to pay attention to what is supposed to be according to the institutional, or to be less than what one is, to simply pay attention to what it is. For example: I now accept the personal formation of others as it is, not because of institutional proselytism.

Although I stayed studying in an Opus Dei’s University after leaving the institution, eventually I also needed to leave the University in order to be able to begin Jesus Charity as creative project and to reform my spiritual life after leaving the institution. It was impossible for me beginning Jesus Charity in their University: I did not have all the necessary intellectual resources (I lacked social sciences intellectual resources) and the necessary creative-spiritual space to begin a project like Jesus Charity there. So, I asked myself then, in what I would work after leaving my PhD in philosophy (that meant that I would not be able to become a college professor, as I planned)? I chose to become a teacher, first a religion teacher and later an ESL teacher. I chose to learn how to help people be, do, grow and radiate through school education.

How to share all my human and ecclesial growth after the alliance of charity and the consecration of charity? First, through my personal formation, through living charity and keep growing until becoming who I am and who I am meant to be according to God’s Love. However, in order to being able to do that I discerned that I needed to create an intellectual structure for reforming everything that needed to be corrected in me after leaving Opus Dei, so I began to write Walking Like He Walked, a draft in which I describe integraction, the iconography of Jesus Charity, the theology of light and the consecration to charity. I first wrote Walking Like He Walked to be shared anonymously in a web page managed by an ex Opus Dei member where ex-members of Opus Dei are usually understood (it is very hard to find spaces, specially in the Church, where people can understand the experience of surviving Opus Dei), but the administrator of that web page kindly rejected to publish my text because the web page did not want to promote any doctrine or “way” to Opus Dei ex members, and they considered my text to be a “way”. The intention was sharing this text as an anonymous “fraternal correction” to Opus Dei. What do I mean with this? Anyone who belonged to Opus Dei knows what they understand as “fraternal correction”: an accusation to which a “thank you” had to be answered always, even if it was unfair. During the final stages of my psico-spiritual recovery I discerned that I should make a fraternal correction to Opus Dei for every institutional mistake I witnessed, but the fraternal correction that I prayed was not like theirs: mine was like “helping to grow”, not like an accusation. So, according to my prayer, my fraternal correction should consist in sharing with them how much I grew while being informed, conformed, transformed and reformed by God’s Love after leaving Opus Dei, not in sharing a list of all the mistakes that I witnessed while I was linked to Opus Dei.

Anyone could ask me: how do I live charity towards Opus Dei without telling the mistakes I witnessed? Simply: avoiding condemning anyone, including them. In this case, living charity is allowing everyone to grow, including them. That way, all the mistakes I witnessed would be part of Opus Dei’s growing process. There is no need of accusation if a mistake is a necessary part of growing, the only need is helping to grow. I have a basic life principle that can be applied to circumstances like this one: never attribute to malice what is simply a consequence of lack of growth. People like me had been injured by some of Opus Dei’s mistakes, necessary for their growth, but I don’t think their primary intention had never been hurting anyone, although definitely some of those mistakes have hurt many souls.

There is another aspect of living charity involved here: living charity not only towards Opus Dei but towards ex members of Opus Dei also, many who believe that they will lose their vocation and salvation due leaving the institution, among others acharities (acharity is lack of charity) that had been seen like normalcy through Opus Dei’s internal institutional formation. They must also know that they are loved and embraced by God in their new way, that leaving Opus Dei is not the end of their vocation but a transformation and a reformation, one of many that we all have in life as we keep growing. Transformation is a natural part of the process of realization and reformation is a natural part of projection. Only God’s mercy can decide who is saved. We all keep growing, we all commit mistakes, and we all need God’s mercy.

Because I am not able to share Walked by He Walked anonymously, as I planned, I chose to share it here with my first name and my last names. The deepest meaning of sharing this is no longer sharing a fraternal correction, now that is accidental and worthless because Opus Dei won’t know I am writing this (I have no contact with current Opus Dei members), the only way they would have known would had been through the ex-member web page were I planned to share this anonimously, that is seen by hundreds of members too. Now the deepest meaning of sharing Walking Like He Walked is simply sharing what God has given me to serve better as human being, as Christian and, of course, as teacher. This is my way of sharing the gifts I have received and my intellectual-creative talent.

What is exactly Walked Like He Walked? Right now is a draft written in English of the text I plan to share in Spanish in February 14, 2019: that is the day of my consecration to charity due being Saint Valentine’s Day, a day of love. This draft has seven parts:

-The first two parts are explorations of the concept “light”. I won’t include these parts in the Spanish text, I don’t consider it necessary.

-Parts III and IV explain integraction as human and ecclesial personal formation model.

-Part V explains the process of forming God’s Love in the personal formation, illustrating it through the painting of Jesus Charity.

-Part VI explains the conversion of life in a story of Love.

-Part VII explains the conversion of the personal formation in a work of Love: the new humanization, the new ecclesialization, the new evangelization, the consecration to charity and the Family Evangelization Project (helping to be, helping to do, helping to grow, helping to radiate).

I am aware that the English draft is full of grammatical errors. I beg you to focus on the ideas, at least for now. I will take care of grammar issues with more care in the Spanish version. Walking Like He Walked is a long text, but reading the introduction is enough to have an idea of what each part contents and to choose what to read and what not to read. I need to make two warnings. The first one: I studies in two theological faculties and I couldn’t finish the degree in any one. I failed many classes, specially philosophical and latin. What I mean is that I am not an academic philosopher or an academic theologian. I may be a philosopher or a theologian, but in the creative-intellectual sense. I think that this is evident through the text: my method was not academic nor it was meant to be so. Whoever expects reading academic theology or academic philosophy in this text will be disappointed. The second warning: integraction is not meant to be a model or theory of human development, but to explain how we are who we are and how we become who we are meant to be. Whoever expects to find in integraction a human development model or theory will be disappointed too. I think there are many good models and theories to explain human development. This is not one of them, although I have studied some of them and taken them into consideration while writing this text.

Of all the ideas I present in this draft, I think that the most important one is the consecration of Charity. This consecration realizes God’s dreams and convert us in a work of Love, in a living sign of God’s Love, in a sacrament of God’s Love, in “Eucharist” for the brothers and sisters. In Opus Dei there is something known as the apostolate of “not giving”. I discovered the apostolate of the “yes giving”: saying yes to God to give His Love and saying yes to give ourselves. Sharing all these ideas is for me part of the apostolate of “yes giving”: I am giving the fruit of my prayer, of the contemplated ideas, of the witness of learning to know God’s Love. This consecration to charity is not a religious consecration, I am lay, but I think it is possible to serve the Church and to be a lay consecrated to charity, it is a matter of being creative. As a matter of fact, every Cristian should live a consecrated life, being consecrated can’t be for religious only.

Without any doubt, what saved my faith after the deep crisis caused by Opus Dei was my personal encounter with God’s Love and to reform my ecclesial vocation as I learned to form that Love in my personal formation and in the canvas, as a work of art and as a work of Love, always with more fidelity. I am still learning to do that, that learning will continue through my whole lifetime. Learning to live charity is learning to correspond God’s Love and to radiate it to everyone through the personal formation.

I wanted, on purpose, to wait until the Triduum and until Easter to write these lines during the Divine Mercy novena and share this on the Divine Mercy Sunday. I trust all my mistakes while I was linked to Opus Dei to God’s Mercy, and I also trust to Him all the institutional mistakes I witnessed, trusting that that Mercy is capable of transforming any situation, no matter how dark it may be, in a radiation of God’s Love. I do not regret of spending time of my life as member of Opus Dei, nor of studying in their University, because if I wouldn’t lived what I lived and suffered what I suffered I wouldn’t discovered my ecclesial vocation as a vocation to form God’s Love in the personal formation, nor I would have discovered integraction, the theology of light or Jesus Charity. I am thankful to Opus Dei for getting me closer to God’s Love, even if it was through provoking a crisis and through provoking pain. It helped me to think that the institutional mistakes I witnessed were part of their growth. The bigger the error, the greater the possibility of growth.

To whoever may be injured by Opus Dei practices, I present you the painting of Jesus Charity: a Jesus painted to radiate God’s Love in the darkest circumstances of humanity, among abuses, especially if committed in the name of God, among injustices, among broken personal formations, among injured human dignity, among acharities. This is the Jesus capable of informing, conforming, transforming and reforming the whole person and every person, no matter how sinner he or she could be, if the person allows God to love him or her. As a curious fact, there was a moment I thought I could give the painting as gift to the Legionaries of Christ, so they may use it as a founder’s photo, instead of the photo of the Marcial Maciel. It was not possible for me doing that.

I have entrusted Opus Dei to Jesus Charity, with the hope that some day there will be institutional changes for avoiding any spiritual injury due following institutional customs that provoke spiritual harm. I have also entrusted to Jesus Charity any abuse victim, especially those who had been abused in the name of God, so they may know the Love capable of healing any kind of wound. Another curious fact about the painting: at the beginning, its name was “Jesus Love” (“Jesús Amor”) because in Puerto Rico it is very common for people calling each other “amor” (“love”), so I dared to call Jesus “Love” too, but with capital letter. May we all dare to see Jesus as our Love, to getting closer to Him and to trust Him, contemplating Him as the Incarnated Love of God. For this, it helps me to repeat the jaculatory prayer: “Jesus Charity, we grow in You!” It is said in plural because it is a prayer said as living Church.

Considering the context of Walking Like He Walked, I consider important to make two clarifications. The first one: when I titled Walking Like He Walked I did not had present at all in my thought the sense of the word “walking the way” used in Opus Dei, not even as a critic. In the moment of choosing that title I was thinking in a biblical quote, 1 Jn 2:6: “whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk like he walked.” This can be translated in several forms: “lived as he lived”, “act like he acted…” The translation of the exegesis I used when I began to contemplate the theology of light from the First Epistle of John said “walk like he walked”, that’s why I chose those words. My emphasis in the use of the verb “walking” and Opus Dei’s emphasis in the use of the word “way”, two extremely very similar concepts, is strictly coincidence. They are not meant to be related or connected.

The second clarification: the expression “work of Love” is a very important concept of Walking Like He Walked. It could be seen as an implicit allusion or critic to Opus Dei name’s meaning, “work of God”. It has never meant to be so. The expression “work of Love” originated from the process of forming Jesus Charity as an artistic work: the artistic work of the hands is converted in a “work of Love” as the whole personal formation is converted in a living sign of God’s Love; as the whole personal formation is converted in “living sacrament” of God’s Love. Any coincidence in emphasis in the use of the word “work” in Walking Like He Walked and in Opus Dei institutional formation is also strictly coincidence. Literally I never heard anyone or read anything in the institution that applied the name “work of God” as “work of Love.” I read and studied (literally studied: I photocopied internal documents in secret so I could highlight them and study them) many internal documents, and I never knew or contemplated the idea “work of Love” while I was member of the institution. I contemplated that idea, as I just said, while applying the process of painting Jesus Charity, the process of creating an artistic work, to the processes of personal formation, the process of creating a “work of Love.” So, when I talk about “converting us in a work of Love”, that could also be understood ad “converting us in a work of God” if you define God as Love, I do not mean to convert us in “Opus Dei”, the institution. I do not mean the opposite neither. The ideas are simply not meant to be connected. Whoever has evidence of any Opus Dei’s institutional formation document (internal document) that has the concept “work of God” applied as “work of Love”, please share the evidence. I do not have a good memory, but the idea of becoming a “work of Love” is so important to me that if I would have heard or read it before painting Jesus Charity, inside or outside Opus Dei, I would have remembered it.

You can find the PDF of Walking Like He Walked here: Walking Like He Walked.

Any critic or comment to the painting of Jesus Charity, to integraction, to the theology of light, to Walking Like He Walked or to any of the ideas I have presented are completely welcome. There is always opportunity to helping to be, helping to do, helping to grow and helping to radiate God’s Love with more clarity and transparency.

What all this have in relation with my teaching? I will give ten lessons about how what I learned through this crisis makes me a better teacher. I won’t explain the concrete circumstances that leaded me to learn that lesson, I will share just the lessons.

First, I discovered my teaching vocation through this crisis, as I explained before.

Second, I have learned by experience that people are more important than institutions or customs, methods or curriculums. Teaching is not a matter of keeping an intellectual credibility: it is a matter of helping to grow people.

Third, although I usually don’t talk about religion to my students, my faith in God’s Love discovered through the consecration to charity is clearly the greatest influence of my motivation to teach and helping my students to grow. I teach them because I want to learn how to love them as God loves them and I want them to be the best person they can be because that is what God would want for them. As a teacher I learn to live charity through my lesson plans and through my pedagogy. Jesus’ commandment of Love informs, conforms, transforms and reforms what I do as person and of course as teacher also.

Fourth, integraction has given me a wider view of the personal formation processes. By example: I am aware that I am a role model for my students (in integraction, this is explained as the influence of action). God has given me the ability to make choices about my words and my actions. Those choices are also part of the lesson plan as integractive context. I as teacher aim to teach and model not only my subject but also sanctity: ways of living that help us to be, to do, to grow and to radiate in fraternity and communion of the saints. I am not called to be perfect and without sin, but for my students I can be a role model of how to embody Christ in our personal formation if they chose to see it that way.

Fifth, I have learned to define my teaching authority according to the authority of Jesus. I use my authority appropriately when I am able to create a learning environment that is intellectually, spiritually, psychologically and physically safe for every student. My authority as teacher does not aims to be an authority of obedience and following instructions, it aims to be an authority of Love. I must be prepared to follow through with the appropriate rules, but not for the sake of the rule but for the sake of the person. The abuse of authority can cause great harm, so I should think carefully about how I use the authority that has been entrusted to me.

Sixth, I have learned to care for the whole person. When I care for the whole person it is shown in a consistent attitude that continually reminds the people in my class that they are not alone, that we are learning and growing together. Sometimes what seems like an insignificant thing provides the bit of grace that enables a student to envision a hopeful future. True caring never tries to force or control another. How to show my students that I care? Listening attentively to them is one of the most simple and respectful things I can do to showing them how much I care. As I listen to them, I am not just listening for information. I am listening for their whole personal formation: their bodies, their minds, their relations, their thoughts, their abilities, their feelings, their hopes, their dreams… the personal formation that they are revealing. I become a safe companion as my students can explore new ideas or to reevaluate beliefs without fears of not being accepted because I give them the gift of a nonjudgmental presence. Personal listening time is as holy as my prayer time.

Seventh, I have learned that curriculum is integractive. For me, curriculum is not only the content I am expected to teach, as it is usually understood. For me, curriculum is the integration, action realization and projection of class members with the content, materials, resources, and learning community. For example: the culture of the classroom is part of the curriculum. Creating a rich, welcoming and creative learning space, where all students are valued and accepted as human beings, is part of the curriculum. When spirituality is used to judge people, when words and actions tear down people, then spiritual abuse is occurring. The same applies to curriculum: when intellectuality is used to judge students, when words and actions tear down students, then intellectual abuse is occurring. Allowing an atmosphere in which such circumstances are ordinary part of the classroom’s culture is a misuse of curriculum. Integractive curriculum applies the content of each lesson to the personal formation of the students without allowing judgements and enriching it with meaning. Finding meaning in life empowers students to share themselves with others and to enhance their learning.

Eighth, I have learned the importance of learning humanly: the importance of touching, greeting and looking to the eyes when teaching. Human touch, greeting and eye contact is important throughout life and for learning. People need to be touched, greeted, hugged and looked in appropriate ways to receive the nurture that allows them to learn, trust and relate with others. Touching, greeting and looking other people in appropriate ways contributes to their well-being and enhances all the personal formation’s processes. For example: I as teacher need to think about the way I welcome, interact with, and say good-bye to my students. A hug may be an appropriate greeting for elementary children, but a pat on the head, for example, can be either welcoming or demeaning for them, depending on the circumstances. The recipient of the touch determines whether the touch is appropriate or inappropriate, no matter what were the intentions. It is wise to ask to a student, no matter how young he or she is, if a touch is ok if he or she did not initiate it. For example: I could ask an elementary student that behave exceptionally well in a class if I may give him or her a hug to congratulate him or her. I would not recommend that kind of touch with upper elementary grade levels, in that case the touch would be a hand in the shoulder. It may seem a complication to ask these kind of things, it may seem to be simpler to avoid touching, but it would also dehumanize learning.

Ninth, I have learned to use words to affirm the person unconditionally. Words can build up people or they can demean them. I as teacher need to be aware of the power of my words, both the words I speak and the words students say in my class. Affirming words influence personal formation and learning for good. Judgements destroy self-esteem. If we only criticize a student, that person will begin to believe, sooner or later, that he or she is not a capable human being and will have difficulties developing healthy self-esteem. Corrective words are necessary, but also praise words.

Tenth, I have learned to integrate diversity. This does not only mean to accept and nurture my student’s diverse abilities (what they can do), instead of only focusing in what they cannot do. This also means to accept and integrate my student’s diverse learning styles. My students do not learn the same way, so I can’t teach always the same way. I need to help them thrive by adapting my teaching methods to their learning styles, creating a culture were personal differences are part of the journey, not an exception.

I proposed to share this post on the Divine Mercy Sunday, and as I write these words the clock says  “12:00 a.m.” of Divine Mercy Sunday. I won’t go to Church early tomorrow because I will go to the mass at 3:00 p.m. instead of the 9:00 am, so today I chose to write until late. It is time to finish my post, and today I will finish it with a phrase that helps me to keep growing:

Jesus Charity, we grow in You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explaining the Integractor

Today I am going to explain the integractor, the structure of integraction, piece by piece and form by form. Remember that integraction is a personal formation model with four processes: integration, action, realization and projection. The explication that I am going to give in this post can help you a lot to visualize integraction. So, let’s begin to explain the integractor!

The first form of the integractor is a triangle, like this one:

This triangle is formed by 14 pieces: seven orange sticks and seven wood connectors. The integractor has two of these triangles:

Each one of these triangles forms a dimension of the integration, the first of the four processes of integraction. Let’s talk about these triangles.

The first triangle forms the organic dimension of integration. Each orange stick of this triangle is a property of the organic dimension:

Hierarchical Property: every human body is ordered hierarchically.

Nutritive Property: every human body is capable of obtaining the energy that he or she needs to subsist.

Regulative Property: every human body is capable of maintaining his or her internal equilibrium towards the environmental changing circumstances.

Reproductive Property: every human body is capable or replicating himself or herself. Sexual reproduction requires a feminine gamete and a masculine gamete, and supposes a longer maturation time related to asexual reproduction.

Evolutive Property: every human body evolves maximizing his or her survival.

Progressive Property: every human body grows, develops and matures progressively through life time.

Sensitive Property: every human body reacts to changes and interacts with the stimulus that surrounds them.

Each wood connector is a Christian attribute of the organic dimension of ecclesial integraction. The Christian attributes of the organic dimension are the seven sacraments:

Baptism: this sacrament frees the human person from original sin, incorporates the human person to Christ and makes the human person a member of the living body of Christ, the Church. It is administered with natural water and chrism, and invoking the Holy Trinity. Anyone can be baptized once in his or her lifetime.

Penance: when a sin is committed the human person betrays God and the Church where he or she belongs. This sacrament forgives the committed sins with an absolution given by a priest, and reconciliates the sinner with God. Contrition and satisfaction are required. Anyone can receive the sacrament of penance as many times as needed during lifetime.

Eucharist: in this sacrament the human person becomes one with Christ, present in the Blessed Sacrament, when eating bread and drinking wine. Bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Holy Body and the Holy Blood of our Lord: Christ offers himself through a priest. The Eucharist is part of the Mass, that commemorates the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord. Anyone can receive the sacrament of Eucharist once daily or weekly if the person is in state of grace (without mortal sins).

Confirmation: this sacrament is administered by a bishop who lay on his hands and anoints with chrism the human person while saying a prayer. Anyone can be confirmed once in his or her lifetime.

Matrimony: this sacraments is administered by the spouses, with a priest as a witness. With this sacrament the spouses commit to help each other in their sanctification. Any woman and man couple can receive the sacrament of matrimony, but once given it can’t be repeated until the death of one of the spouses.

Holy Orders: this sacrament ordains priests. It is administered by a bishop by laying of his hands and following the ordination formula. The laity is also part of priesthood, but in a different manner, not through holy orders. Only men, authorized by the bishop after years of study and preparation, can receive the Holy Orders.

Extremeunction: this sacrament gives strength to the soul and the remission of sins, if necessary. It is administered by a priest that anoints the human person with blessed oil, accompanied by a prayer. This sacrament can be received by any baptized person that is in danger of death.

The second triangle forms the onthological dimension. Each orange stick of this triangle is a property of the onthological dimension:

Ens Property: every human entity is a being.

Res Property: every human entity is a thing.

Aliquid Property: every human entity is something.

Unum Property: every human entity is a unity.

Verum Property: every human entity is true.

Bonum Property: every human entity is good.

Pulchrum Property: every human entity is beautiful.

Each wood connector of this second triangle is a Christian attribute of the onthological dimension of ecclesial integraction. The Christian attributes of the onthological dimension are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:

Wisdom: this gift helps the human person to keep God in the center of the personal formation, to embrace spiritual values over worldly values and to view everything from God’s perspective.

Understanding: this gift helps the human person to comprehend the meaning of God’s words, to be leaded to God’s truth and to embrace God’s mystery.

Counsel: this gift helps the human person to choose the best options to follow God’s will when choices are given, to recognize the difference between good and evil or right and wrong, and to avoid sin.

Fortitude: this gift helps the human person to be committed to what he or she knows that is right, to sustain the choice of pursuing God’s will even when threaten by injury or even death and to endure evil when choosing to do the right thing.

Knowledge: this gift helps the human person to contemplate God’s revelation, to be aware of God’s will, to grasp God’s creative project and how he or she should answer to God and to discern if he or she is living according to God’s plan.

Piety: this gift helps the human person to pray with true devotion, to honor to God’s creative will and to correspond His creative will with love.

Wonder: this gift helps the human person to embrace God with respect and amazement, to be conscious of His glory, majesty and kindness, to increase his or her desire to be closer to Him, to dread sin and to fear not honoring His creative plan.

These two triangles are united by seven pink sticks and fourteen wood caps:

These seven pink sticks and fourteen wood caps form the filial dimension of integration. Each pink stick is a principle of the filial dimension:

Humanization Principle: every human subject is  called to become more human.

Autonomy Principle: every human subject is called to determine by himself or herself.

Equality Principle: every human subject have the same rights and duties.

Complexity Principle: every human subject is called to act according to what is determined by his or her own discernment, departing from what they know from reality.

Totality Principle: every human subject is responsible of the totality of their personal being. 

Solidarity Principle: every human subject is called to contribute to the common good according to his or her possibilities.

Subsidiarity Principle: every human subject is called to develop all his or her talents to the best expression possible, assuming everything that he or she can by himself or herself.

Each wood cap is a Christian quality of the filial dimension of the ecclesial integraction. The wood cap of one extreme of each pink stick is a capital virtue and the other extreme of the same stick is a capital vice. The seven capital virtues are:

Chastity: the inclination to embrace purity and gives to the gift of sexuality the proper respect in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This virtue is counter to lust.

Moderation: the inclination to embrace self-control in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This virtue is counter to gluttony.

Generosity: the inclination to embrace giving and the appropriate concern of earthly possessions in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This virtue is counter to greed.

Diligence: the inclination to embrace persistence and the effectiveness in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This virtue is counter to sloth.

Forgiveness: the inclination to embrace patience and mercy in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This virtue is counter to wrath.

Kindness: the inclination to embrace brotherly love and compassionate concern for others in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This virtue is counter to envy.

Humility: the inclination to embrace modesty, appropriate appreciation of one’s self worth and selflessness in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This virtue is counter to pride.

The seven capital vices are:

Lust: the inclination to sin of uncontrollable passion and lack of respect for sexuality in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This vice is counter to chastity.

Gluttony: the inclination to sin of over indulging in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This vice is counter to temperance.

Greed: the inclination to sin of avarice or excessive desires of material possessions in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This vice is counter to generosity.

Sloth: the inclination to sin of laziness or lack of using talents diligently in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This vice is counter to diligence.

Wrath: the inclination to sin of anger, hate and conflict-seeking attitudes in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This vice is counter to forgiveness.

Envy: the inclination to sin of sorrow over the goods of another person in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This vice is counter to kindness.

Pride: the inclination to sin of inappropriate appreciation of one’s self worth in thoughts, emotions and behaviors, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. This vice is counter to humility.

When the two triangles are united with the seven pink sticks and the fourteen wood caps, they form a tridimensional triangle:

Each one of the three dimensions forms a Christian aptitude of the integration of the ecclesial integraction. The Christian aptitude of the organic dimension is charity. The Christian aptitude of the ontological dimension is faith. The Christian aptitude of the filial dimension is hope. The unity of all the properties, principles, attributes, qualities and dimensions forms the formative task of integration: helping to be.

The integractor has three crosses:

Each cross has one wood center, four green sticks and four wood connectors.

Each wood center is a factor of the action:

Thoughts: developing your ideas.

Emotions: developing your sentiments.

Abilities: developing your skills.

Each green stick is an expression of the action:

Intention: developing the motivation of action.

Disposition: developing the attitude of action.

Signification: developing the meaning of action.

Volition: developing the determination of action.

Each wood connector is a moral standard of the action:

Prudence: developing the faculty to judge actions appropriately, according to truth.

Temperance: developing the faculty to temper the action appropriately, controlling the appetite.

Courage: developing the faculty to confront actions appropriately, without fear.

Justice: developing the faculty to undertake actions appropriately, fairly.

The integractor has twelve springs:

Ideally, six of these springs would be of one color and the other six would be of another color, but today they are all the same color (the store where I bought the wire did not had the same kind of wire in two different colors, that’s why I used wire of only one color).

Six of these springs are the influences of integraction. The human integraction has six influences and the ecclesial integraction has six influences. The influence of the human organic dimension is genetics. The influence of the human ontological dimension is knowledge. The influence of human filial dimension is laws. The influence of human action is role models. The influence of human realization is the priority of needs. The influence of human projection is goals. The influence of ecclesial organic dimension is the Revelation. The influence of ecclesial ontological dimension is the Magisterium. The influence of ecclesial filial dimension is Canon Law. The influence of ecclesial action is prayer. The influence of ecclesial realization is mission. The influence of ecclesial projection is personal consecration.

The six other springs are the manifestations of integraction. The human integraction has six manifestatioms and the ecclesial integraction has six manifestations. The manifestation of the human organic dimension is health. The manifestation of human ontological dimension is health. The manifestation of human filial dimension is politics. The manifestation of human action is behavior. The manifestation of human realization is economy (management of available resources). The manifestation of human projection is obration (work in formation). The manifestation of ecclesial organic dimension is the resurrection. The manifestation of ecclesial ontological dimension is adoration. The manifestation of filial ecclesial dimension is living the Mandatum Novum (the Commandment of Love). The manifestation of ecclesial action is liturgy. The manifestation of ecclesial realization is apostolate. The manifestation of ecclesial projection is communion of the saints.

The unity of each of the three crosses with the tridimensional triangle forms the formative task of the action, helping to do:

Please notice that there are two springs in each side of the cross: an influence and a manifestation. It can be hard to notice because the two springs are of the same color.

Each cross of the integractor can move by rotation:

The movement of each cross is a cause of the realization:

Creating Communion: generating gifts through sharing who we are.

Creating Family: generating bonds through engaging ourselves.

Creating Community: generating values through inspiring others.

Please notice that the direction of the rotation can be neither to the left or to the right. Each direction is an emanation of realization:

Actuality: grow as who we are.

Potentiality: grow as who we are meant to be.

The unity of the movements of the three crosses forms the formative task of realization: helping to grow.

Now, let’s imagine that the crosses, that have four extremities, radiate light when they move in coherence. The light that is radiated by each extremity of each cross forms a key of the projection:

Vital Identity: cultivate dreams that project love.

Vital Vocation: cultivate freedom that projects service.

Vital Communication: cultivate self-giving that projects life.

Vital Perfection: cultivate plenitude that projects joy.

The light can be radiated horizontally, vertically and circularly. Each way the light is radiated, horizontally, vertically or circularly, forms an emission of projection. The emissions of human projection are:

-Primacy of the Good: esthetic criteria, arts.

Primacy of the Right: ethical criteria, religion.

Primacy of the True: logical criteria, science.

The emissions of ecclesial projection are:

-Primacy of the Person: the person is sacred because he is image and likeness of God. Personcentrism, new humanization, sacralization or the person.

-Primacy of Christ: the person is ecclesialized because he follows Christ. Christcentrism, new ecclesialization, Christianization of the person.

Primacy of Love: the person is sacramentalized because he becomes a living sign of God’s Love. Lovecentrism, new evangelization, sacramentalization of the person.

The unity of all this lights forms the formative task of projection: helping to radiate.

The complete integractor looks like this:

So, this is an integractor, the structure of integraction. As you can see now, the whole integraction can be explained with the integractor. The difference between explaining integraction with the integractor and without the integractor is that if you use the integractor it is impossible to separate ecclesial integraction from human integration: both are merged. If you explain integraction without the integractor, you can explain the Christian elements of integration separated from the other elements.

When you explain integraction with the integractor it is easier to explain why integration is formed by four processes that happen at the same time, not by sequential stages or phases. That’s why integraction is a model of personal formation and not a model of human development: it intends to explain how the person becomes who he is and who is called to be; it intends to explain the personal formation. Integraction doesn’t intend to explain the stages of physical growth of human development (although that is taken in count in the organic dimension), or the psychological phases of human development (although that is taken in count in the action). You will be very disappointed if that is what you expected.

I hope this post has helped you to visualize integraction as model of personal formation and the integractor as its structure. In the near future I will write another post about integractive education.

Let’s keep growing!

My Graduate School Admission Essay

I plan to finish my studies leading to my certification as elementary ESL teacher at June 2018. After that, the plan is to get a job during the days and to study a master’s degree during the nights. I am eager to begin working, I do not see myself studying full time more time beyond the necessary. I am currently requesting admission to the graduate program of the Faculty of Education at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus. I am interested in studying a master in Differentiated Education. I think it is a good combination with the ESL certification and with my interest in personal-formation based learning. I want to study at UPRRP because they have a very good institutional support system for the reasonable accommodations.

In order to request admission to that program they require a few things: completing the admission’s form with two recommendation letters, the EXADEP or the GRE (the graduate admissions test), a bachelor’s degree, a minimum of 3.00 undergraduate GPA (that is proved by sending two transcripts) and an admission’s essay.

I began the admission’s process with the two recommendation letters. I requested a recommendation letter to my pre-practicum teacher and another one to my practicum supervisor professor in December, so that part was easy to complete.

What about doing the EXAPEP or the GRE? I could do the GRE in English but I chose to do the EXADEP in Spanish for the simply reason that it was cheaper than the GRE and I needed no reasonable accommodation for doing the EXADEP (it did not had any handwritten part or any written part that needs extra time to complete). These are my EXADEP scores:

EXADEP

Considering that the graduate program I am requesting to be admitted does not require a minimum score (some graduate programs in the same faculty and in the UPR require an EXADEP minimum score of 500), 667 is a very good score, specially the English score, where I got a 75. The maximum score per part is 80. I expected a lower score in math and analytic reasoning not because a lack of analytical reasoning but because I have not studied math since high school and I could not pay a review for taking this test, as I did for the PCMAS (the teacher certification test). It was my lower score indeed, but it was higher than the expected score if I considered my circumstances with maths (I had never liked math a lot and I had never been good at them neither).

The undergraduate GPA of my Humanities bachelor’s degree was 2.90 when I graduated, but that was before taking all my ESL teacher certification classes, where I have got all A’s except for one B in a Humanities literature class (that profesor was too memory-based, his assessment was based in asking very small details of our readings in a multiple-choice test, without any discussion of the literature work; that’s why I got a B in an elective class). With all the A’s I got in the ESL teacher certification program, surely that GPA got above 3.00, so I had no problems with that requirement neither. I sent my two transcripts without hesitation. Although I have not checker exactly where my GPA is, I assume that it is above the 3.00 minimum GPA. I will request a student transcript and check that out soon.

Finally, I needed to write an admissions essay. This part delayed the completion of my graduate school admissions forms during weeks, since the lasts weeks of December to be more exact. I had an idea of what things I wanted to write, but the instruction of doing it in only 500 words requires time and patience from my part, because I tend to use a lot of words and integrate many diverse ideas when I write essays. I finally chose which ideas and details I wanted to include and completed my essay a few days ago, using exactly 500 words. I focused it on my research interests, my professional interests and on personal perspectives pertinent to the studies I wanted to pursue.

My graduate admissions essay is this one (in Spanish):

¿Por qué me interesa completar una maestría en educación diferenciada e investigar el cómo aplicar el Project Based Learning (PBL) en la educación diferenciada? Hay al menos tres razones: una personal, una académica y una profesional.

La razón personal para querer investigar la aplicación del PBL en la educación diferencida es que yo misma soy una estudiante excepcional. De hecho, soy twice-exceptional: tengo ADD y también soy gifted (Mi IQ es de 140). Sé en carne propia las dificultades que puede confrontar un estudiante excepcional a la hora de aprender: el aburrimiento feroz ante un trabajo que no requiera aplicar, la profunda impotencia por no poder hacer las cosas como los demás, la gran frustración que provoca confrontar el que un maestro piense que eres “bruta” el mero hecho de no ser aprender según su método… Todo esto lo he vivido en carne propia. Estoy determinada a encontrar métodos que ayuden a la población excepcional a aprender de manera más integractiva. El concepto de “educación integractiva” me lo inventé yo. El término “integractivo” une los vocablos “integración”, “acción” y “realización”. Esas tres palabras me parecen fundamentales para estudiar la educación diferenciada de tal forma que abarque la totalidad de la formación personal. La formación personal es importante para mí porque pienso que lo que más caracteriza a la educación diferenciada es que necesariamente se aplica a la persona, cosa que debería ser una meta para toda educación, no solo la diferenciada.

La razón académica, intrínsecamente unida a la razón personal, para querer investigar la aplicación del PBL en la educación diferenciada es que es un tema que necesita ser investigado. Al buscar respecto al tema solo encontré, y con mucho esfuerzo, dos artículos en inglés. No hay un solo libro en Amazon respecto al tema. Así pues, este tema es uno en el que puedo hacer una aportación académica relevante. Si bien es cierto que hay muy pocas referencias de este tema en las bases de datos disponibles en la biblioteca de la UPR, hay algunos artículos que pueden dar luz respecto a cómo conseguir más referencias en otras bases de datos. Además, la maestría de educación especial provee la oportunidad de hacer un action research, pues tiene una práctica integrada, por lo que hay otros medios para investigar el tema.

Finalmente, la razón profesional para querer estudiar este tema es que actualmente el PBL se está aplicando con muchísima más asiduidad en Puerto Rico. Como maestra me interesa dominar el PBL para poder aplicarlo oportunamente en mi salón de clase cuando me toque impartir clases. Aunque mi certificación docente actual sea en inglés elemental, al aprender a aplicar el PBL en la educación diferenciada también aprenderé a aplicarlo como maestra de inglés, por lo que estudiarlo en mis estudios universitarios graduados será de muchísimo provecho en mi quehacer profesional. Así pues, al estudiar este tema no solo podría hacer una aportación académica relevante en el campo de la educación diferenciada, sino también en el campo de la educación puertorriqueña.

I had no space to mention that I also have dysgraphia and problems with handwritting (I thought about leaving the IQ part out, so I could have space to mention the dysgraphia, but usually persons ask themselves what I mean when I describe myself as “gifted”, so I left the IQ information there because is the shorter way, although not my favorite way, to describe what I mean when I use the word “gifted”) or to make reference of this blog to look for further information about me. It had a small but clearly visible typo too, in the beginning of the second paragraph (I saw that typo when I copy-pasted the essay here).

Once I completed this essay my admission’s form was ready to be sent to the graduate admission’s department. I completed the whole graduate admission’s form a few days ago.

Let’s see what happens with this admission request, and let’s keep growing!

My First Lesson Plan

Today we had a living museum in the school: the first grade students dressed each one like a famous person, and when you stepped in a construction paper star that was glued in the floor, in front of them, each one would describe who he or she was. It was a very creative activity.

Today I also made my first daily lesson plan. It is a very particular daily lesson plan because it is not only about English: it is about integrating diversity, but it is given in English. Why did I chose that theme for my first class? Because I am a twice-exceptional student: I am gifted and have ADD and dysgraphia at the same time, and I need my students to understand that I won’t be writing a lot in the whiteboard due my dysgraphia. I am very creative, but because I have problems writing by hand, I avoid using the whiteboard and use the computer to write a lot. I wanted to start my classes explaining to my students that I have a disability, I can’t write by hand too much, but I am also gifted: I know English and can teach very creatively. So, I planned my first class about the theme of diversity using the short movie “The Butterfly Circus”. That way I can explain that I have a disability and a giftedness explaining the protagonist’s disability and his ability to swim despite not having arms and legs. I just sent my lesson plan by email to my cooperator teacher, let’s see what he says.

For that class I made an “abilities” handout, so we can discuss our diverse abilities together. This is a pic of the handout:

Abilities Handout

Many people have asked me how I am able to be so good with the task of writing ideas if I have so many difficulties with writing by hand. The answer: my dysgraphia is very mechanical, it doesn’t affect my written expression but my writing mechanical capacity. I struggle with writing by hand, but I am quite gifted with the task of putting my ideas on writing with the help of technology. As a matter of fact, I usually organize my thoughts through writing, so my iPad is almost like a best friend!

My third grade group is right now discussing the comparative adjectives, so it seems that my second English class, after the first class discussing “The Butterfly Circus,” will be about superlative adjectives. I won’t be seeing them today: I leave early on Fridays. Usually their English class is on the mornings on Fridays, instead of being in the afternoon like the rest of the week, but today, as an exception, their English class will be in the afternoon, so today I won’t be seeing them.

I am eager to give my first class on Monday! Here is my lesson plan: The Butterfly Circus

Let’s keep growing!