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Mexico Report: Teachers Occupy Zocalo, Progress Stalls

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He accuses the PRI,  the party enacting reforms,  of bribing teachers to participate in a new performance evaluation system,  and expresses fears that only PRI-party members will be rewarding in new "evaluations."

This is not hard to imagine,  from a Party which has maintained its position for nearly a century,  by distributing economic patronage at every level and in every industry.  It's how things have been done,  and one might wonder,  how Mexico's Presidency could stop the Party from doing it,  even if it wanted.

The man explains,  children will now be taught skills needed by businesses and the marketplace-- they'll become automatons,  ruled by the needs of the market,  not human beings.

Nearby,  this teacher has placed a cartoon reminiscent of Fritz Lang's Metropolis.  The desks of primary school have become an assembly line.  Each student's head is open,  a growing,  elliptical-shaped brain-- until it passes by a teacher with scissors,  who snips it into a square box shape.

The metaphor is clear,  if not blunt.  The gathered teachers,  as their leaders,  defend what they see as a humanistic tradition,  educating the human mind and soul.  The mind should be an organic flower,  growing as it will.

Reading academic analyses of the proposed reforms,  it's clear that these teachers have much on the line.  Many work for poverty wages,  in rural areas,  in positions that demand long hours.  

These teachers face severe wage cuts,  and a potentially byzantine system of performance standards imposed by government committees. They claim the reformers haven't talked to them,  and which seem to know little about education.

Other pieces of this man's claims,  and those of others' here,  reveal a much more complex reality.

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One section of this man's claims,  proclaims "we'll be forced to treat students differently.  To grade one,  as if their performance was better than another." 

Around another tent,  a placard protests,   "we won't be able to teach what we want."

Both statements may be striking to a US or European reader.  They are not easy to interpret or contextualize,  and reveal that the battle being fought here,  is much more complex and rooted in history.

There is large agreement,  at least among Mexico's elite and many outsiders,   that Mexico's educational system is failing.  It does not produce scientists and engineers,  in large enough numbers to run the country-- much less spur innovation.

One gets the sense that the country's teachers and their union officials,  don't care.   One gets the sense,  that there is no curriculum here.  One gets the sense,  that egalitarianism runs so deep,  that there are no grades.

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But it's hard to tell,  if that's bad or good.

What's going on?


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Kenneth Thomas works as an IT consultant and techologist and lives between Nashville, Ghent, Prague and Mexico City. He speaks German, French, Spanish, some Dutch of the Flemish variety, a smattering of Hebrew and other languages, and when (more...)

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"Whereas the Soviet Block's educational system vie... by Ad Du on Thursday, Sep 12, 2013 at 2:46:50 PM