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Best explanation of the educational reforms yet

14 September 2013

Dr Manuel Gil Antón (Centro de Estudios Sociológicos del Colegio de safe_imageMéxico) compares the state of education to that of a bus with broken seats, bad brakes, worn out engine on a road that needs resurfaced. The “educational reforms” proposed by the administration are like correcting the problem with those broken down buses by testing the drivers.

Just as better drivers’ training might not be a bad idea, obviously, better roads and better buses are what is needed.

The teachers’ strikes have been more a just a reaction to the politically popular (or at least endlessly pumped by televisa and the mainstream media) of teacher testing, and a few outdated union regulations that allowed for teachers to “sell” their jobs when they retire. The teachers don’t object to better training, but better schools… with electricity and running water for starters (something those of us foreigners who live here tend not to see — living as we do in the more comfortable enclaves of the country — is the deteriorating physical plants so many students and teachers have to endure), texts that arrive late (if at all) and error ridden, an outdated pedagogy that stresses rote learning rather than critical thinking and so on…

Fixing roads and buying buses is something politicians are involved in to the extent that they pay engineers and construction companies and bus manufacturers… and, yes, sometimes the politicians insist on paving one road instead of another, or building a bridge where one isn’t needed, but the work is turned over to the professionals.

Education is something that affects us all, and what is the best way to proceed might be something one argues over, but it is the kind of thing where the experts — the teachers — know much more than the politicians.

And they need to listen.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 15 September 2013 8:45 am

    We are comfortable but we don’t live in anything resembling “a comfortable enclave.” We could pretty much live our lives in our Colonia without seing another gringo. Most people live in fairly poor houses, though they do have luz and tvs. Thet most want qualified teachers and not to find themselves having to pay all the costs of education because they simply can’t! They Teachers selling their jobs and giving them to family … not a good thing where it happens in bulk. Ithink the act itseilf focuses so much on teachers because of the lingering influence of Esther Elba Gordillo and the union which acted to channel funds to favorites. Obviously there is not only corruption in the teacher’s union, but yes, there is a long, long history of it there, so that teachers themselves suffered from it.

    I taught for two years in a poor school in Uganda inthe Peace Corps. Though we had luz, some teachers had to copy sections of the textbook on the blackboard and if I remember correctly other textbooks were shared, yet a huge percentage of our students past the British-designed school leaving exams, often with flying colors. Good teachers are the most important part of education. A lot of stuff can be successfully taught with minimum of material equipment where there is some skill and dedication, I find the selling of jobs and the passing of them to relatives really an awful practice.

    El Señor Gil made some good points. Including, if you listened to the end, saying that it was a good thing the government had gotten involved. I do not think the bus driver analogy is the best one available. It is easier to train the driver than it is to fix the roads and buses all over the country. And a good driver is much more effective in the difficult circumstances driving in Mexico often presents.

    When I read the Reforma, what I don’t like is that who is to do the evaluating of teachers is not clearly explained. It seems that it would be possible that private firms at exhorbitant costs could be hired to set it up and carry it through. This would not be good at all.

    What has happened is that both sides have engaged in shameless propaganda and noise-making over an issue where, really, there should be all kinds of people involved — investigadores, teachers, politicians who have to (should) answer to constituents, parents, employers and, yes, students should be talking publicly to EACH OTHER as well as us. The Reforma could provide the beginnings of such conversations. Meetings between Osorio Chang and the Teachers´Union representatives in private are anything but sufficient. What is going on now is all too much like what happens in the US. And as my neighbor said, really, Peña Nieto SHOULD address the nation to explain what is going on and why the reforma says what it does. OF COURSE everyone at the local level wonders who is going to get the moeny,

  2. 15 September 2013 8:54 am

    I am sorry I didn’t proof this. I haven’t had my coffee yet and Windows 8 makes typing well difficult.

  3. 15 September 2013 9:39 am

    Third comment: As my neighbor said, different communities (AS communities) have different needs. Representatives not just of indigenas communities, but of urban neighborhoods and semi-rural colonias and rural pueblos should also be included in the dialogue.

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