going to be able to cope, he's going to be able to do something.
GT: Many of your former students have done very well in life, is that because they got the concept?
Escalante: Yes, Manuel Campos, he's getting a Ph.D. in civil engineering, and he said "I got a lot of concepts from you." he realized that after going to college more than eight years. And five of my former students are working at the JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.]
GT: Is there a place for information technology in education?
Well, I believe so, if the teacher knows how to use it. Some things in advanced technology are useful. For example, I'm looking at a triangle, and I'm looking for the unknown. You put the formula by the computer, you could do this, Take that and replace it, and you get colors to be able to visualize what they are doing. The kid could do it mathematically, and could visualize how this guy did it. But that's not all -- you still have to practice.
Today you have the sophisticated computers, and you could see the three dimensional pictures, Nice to visualize. But it's not effective until the kid solves the problems. Solving the problems using advanced technology isn't beneficial to the students. [Story Continues After Sidebar]
Bilingual Education Isn't
By Jaime Escalante
If you immigrate to this country, you are part of the system. You have to integrate yourself into the system. And the integration path is the language. English is needed in the place of work. Instruction comes in only one language and you must master that language. Otherwise you are a dead fish.
Secondly, at every age, between five and 10 years old, it's the best age to be able to teach, because they assimilate. If you emphasize a language the kid already knows, he's not going to be able to get much English.
A kid coming from Europe, or South America, whatever, it takes about three years to become proficient in English. My son came when he was seven years old. No English. At home, no help. And he had to learn the language. In the classroom, the teacher had only one language. In three years, the kid was swimming.
Bilingual education is negative to the students. It holds back the language. For example, people coming from Korea are successful in business. Why? They master the language. And they're the ones still working. That's the situation.
At Garfield High School, we eliminated bilingual and that's why I had so many successes. We eliminated bilingual education and all the scores started going up. The kids were monolingual. Otherwise you have the right to be in that bilingual or ESL class forever.
A bilingual teacher should teach in two languages. For example, if I'm gong to teach division, I should teach in one language, then repeat the same thing in another language. But here, when the bilingual teacher speaks two languages, he only teaches in one language. That's the weak point.
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GT: I know that sometimes people accuse you of being too hard on your students, of not making allowances for cultural or language or learning problems. How do you respond to those people?
Escalante: I look for excellence in education. Let me define excellence. It's a stupid definition, but it works. Excellence means do the right thing the first time. You take the test the first time.