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a journal of analysis and comment advancing public understanding of religion and education
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Fall 2002, Vol. 29 No. 2

The Living Color of Student's Lives: Bringing Cajitas into the Classroom

Alberto López Pulido

I am a professor of Latino and Ethnic Studies whose main objective is to create and foster a community of artists. Such a goal may be considered quite ambitious and even absurd coming from someone who possesses no formal training in the arts. However, in attempting to identify the single most important quality of my teaching in the classroom, I implement this community of artists metaphor that enables me to capture my teaching and pedagogical strategies with an eye toward impacting and transforming the lives of students.

I write this essay with the intent of sharing insights into my teaching pedagogy and strategies as illustrated through my "sacred box" or cajita projects that I have implemented into my courses for the past seven years to commemorate El Día De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). In this essay, I outline the background and initial ideas that crystallized into this class project and describe the impact of the project on myself and on the lives of students. First, I begin our discussion with a reflection of my teaching philosophy and my attempts to reinforce these perspectives through a two-month-long cajita assignment. From there, I describe the cajita project itself and conclude with a discussion as to the significance of this project and the need for grounded teaching strategies in the classroom.

[Fall 2002 Issue Contents]