El Fomentador

Alive and well in Mexico…

Archive for March 2008

Las Escuelas Normales en Mexico, Official Patitos?

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One-hundred years ago the state university in my home-town was called a State Normal School. It’s purpose was to train teachers that would supply schools in small towns across the region with well-trained teachers. It worked. Today the school is a part of the University system but it still provides teachers for thousands of public schools in hundreds of communities, large and small, across the country. Those teachers and their professors are justifiably proud of the contribution they have made to the education of tens of thousands of students. Students that have gone on to become teachers, administrators, researchers, community and business leaders.

Eighty years ago a series of Normal schools was established in Mexico. Their purpose was the same: to provide teachers for the schools that were slowly being established in rural areas. In my opinion, it hasn’t worked. For example, in the southern State of Guerrero, there is a shortage of more than one-thousand teachers in the rural schools. The truth is no one wants to teach in rural areas. There is very little infrastructure, limited resources and a general underlying sense that an adequate education is of no use to people living in the countryside. (The old: “Education is necessary, but the masses aren’t ready for it.”) The answer to the teacher shortage has been to provide instruction via video. That might work as a stop gap measure but it cannot and does not replace classroom teachers.
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Written by El Fomentador

March 26, 2008 at 10:27 pm

Nationalistic Pride and Prejudice

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//www.latinamericanstudies.org/mexico/lazaro-cardenas.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Lazaro Cardenas, Mexican President from 1934 to 1940, revered for nationalizing the railroad and oil industries

I read a recent column by a Mexican author talking about “Urban Legends” in Mexico. He cited examples ranging from a paternalistic political system designed to maintain the status quo to the reform of Pemex. I agree with much of what the columnist says. For example, that the political process in Mexico remains sort of a veiled mystery that “reflects [Mexico’s] particular idiosyncrasies” and the political class has convinced themselves and many of the people that “therefore [Mexico] can never be governed under modern democratic institutions”. He refers to Mexico’s “outdated worldviews” and says that “development has stagnated because certain sectors of the political class still manage to use urban legends successfully.”

All of this is, sadly, true, but I believe the author is confusing the idea of urban legends with the nationalistic propaganda that citizens have been force-fed for decades. A citizenry that has been left purposely undereducated and misled for centuries by the ruling class, be they Aztec kings, Spanish conquistadors or self-serving, modern-era Mexican politicians.
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Written by El Fomentador

March 4, 2008 at 9:53 pm