Monday, January 29, 2007

EDUCATION TODAY


Some days ago, NeRaK wrote an interesting comment about one of my previous posts. She ended up her comment wondering if a revolution in Mexico is going to take place as some proclaim today. I answered that a revolution, in terms of "violent popular movement", was not just a remote possibility but undesired at any rate. We do need a change, a significant change, but as somebody recently stated: Mexico today is a sort of a situation where you have a guy who drove the bus into the ditch. We obviously have to get the bus out of the ditch and that is not easy to do… although we should probably fire the driver.

As I have said before, I think that right now one of the most important things we should be working on is education.

In Mexico, according to official data, 8% out of the population are illiterate and 40% has only elementary level of education. What we are saying here is that nearly half of the Mexican population have 6 years of instruction or less, or nothing at all.

However, the main problem is not education coverage. It is a lack of clarity with regards to education as a whole. I think we have left unaddressed the ultimate questions of education, as if it were not necessary to reflect on them in every epoch, namely: What is education all about? What do we educate for? And above all, what is the best possible education today?

Behind each general education system there’s always both an ideal of citizenship in accordance with the nation´s program and a philosophical conception that gives the whole system coherency, meaning and certainty.

In México, during 300 years of The Colonial Period, the Roman Catholic Church kept their dominance over education. In 1867, President Juarez established the “Reform Laws” and with these, state control over education and a new theoretical orientation: Positivism. After the Revolution of 1910 and with the creation of the new institutions, there were long ideological debates on education (its function, objectives and, above all its future) among those who hold liberal, socialist and conservative positions. This discussion was held at
a very important moment in our history: today, we need this kind of debate; and we need to initiate it in a form of a national dialogue.

In terms of subject contents, we have to consider the reconstitution of sciences (Gulbelkian Commission). As for the didactic resources, it would be important to take into account concepts from other experiences such as "Accelerated learning", "Lifelong learning", "Evaluation vs. Assessment", etc. But the most important thing is to define the horizon: what kind of citizen do we need?

A suspicious person might argue that before that we would need to define what kind of country we want. And I would say: my friend, you might have a point!!

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2 Comments:

At 5:38 AM, Blogger Static Brain said...

I lived in Mexico for almost two years. I would have to agree with you that education is very important. But even before education should come an equitable and fair standard of living. The people who are worried about the hunger pains in their bellies cannot think of anything besides food. Food and ways to get food so they do not starve to death. So many in Mexico live on beans and flour. The pay in the state of sonora was only 4 to 10 dollars a days when I was last there. That isn't enough to survive on, let alone pay for an education. What about the food and basic survival needs being more important, with education second because until you tackle the hunger problem the other problems will not seem important to the people.

 
At 4:46 PM, Anonymous ZHP said...

I totally agree with you!! There is a tremendous inequality of Wealth and Income Distribution in Mexico as a result of a neoliberal policy instrumentation. The statistics bare that out but I won´t talk about them now. What I can corroborate is, as you stated, that poverty is the main issue here, no doubt about it. And the first question that comes up to my mind is: “who drove the bus into the ditch?” And more important,” how can we get the bus out of the ditch?” and I would add: “under the current potical situation”. This is a key point: We have already fired the bus driver but the driver says he is not going anywhere!! And it gets worse… he says he owns the bus!!! Did I mention that more than one says he is right? Here, it is where education counts big time.

Probably I should have said: “political education” but there is no authentic political education without general education.

In the end I think that the problem is not so much what comes first (education or food) but to work on a complete radical agenda.

I appreciate your comments my friend. They are interesting and refresing big time!

 

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