Tag Archives: education in Mexico

Christmas in México–Elementary Event

carolers

After the morning’s kindergarten event, I went and hid in my classroom awhile to rest. The elementary event was scheduled for 6 pm the same day. It made for an extremely LONG day.

Initially, I thought I would be singing with fourth, fifth and sixth graders, so I picked the song “We wish you a Merry Christmas.” I imagined a mini-skit. A group of carolers arrives at a house, and a couple comes out to enjoy the singing, afterward rewards the singers with a little food and drink. Seems simple enough, right?

I expect you have read enough of my posts to realize by now that things don’t often go as I imagine. The principal informed me on December 1 that I would be responsible for teaching the carol to third grade as the rest of the students already had parts in the Christmas play. That only proved my suspicion again that he doesn’t like me. Third grade is a particularly challenging group. I have been struggling to teach them since the beginning of the school year. They are all very intelligent but so concerned about other students in the class that they spend most of the class either insulting other students or getting up to hit the insulter, making discipline very challenging.

Of course, the first rehearsal went poorly. I sent for the principal. He’s a big guy and makes quite an imposing sight. When he entered, the class quieted down enough for me to explain what we were going to do. I had to redesign the skit. Now instead of a couple in the house, I would have the girls be the householders. There are only 3 of them. The rest of the class are boys. So the boys would be the carolers.

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Now we needed a house. I asked my art friend Claudia to make me a house. She outdid herself on this project. I ended up with a nearly club house-sized gingerbread house. I told the kids that they were in charge of protecting the house from the other students as kind of reverse psychology. It didn’t work. The first time I showed the third graders their house, various adornments were damaged. I had Claudia come again and fix it. I didn’t take it out of hiding until the dress rehearsal, then I hid it again, just in case. I wanted it to at least survive the event. It did cost me a pretty penny after all.

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I also had the kids cover a cup with aluminum foil for the “cup of good cheer” and make a music book with the words inside–just in case they couldn’t remember the song when they were actually in front of a crowd.

We spent 2 weeks rehearsing daily. Oh, the agony of it! I had the boys form two lines, short and tall, and put the most troublesome at the head of the line. Every single day, I had to remind them what they were supposed to do. Line up, enter the scene, spread out, say Merry Christmas, look at me and my finger counting to begin and sing. Then pause after the request for figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer for the girls to bring their refreshments. Look at me again, watch for my finger counting, sing the last verse and exit stage right. It felt like I was trying to teach a herd of cattle ballet.

I only agreed to continue if the principal was present in each and every rehearsal. He didn’t have any choice to accept. That helped some.

Two days before the event we had the full rehearsal. It was just plain awful. We waited around 40 minutes before it was even our turn. By that time, the kids were running around much like chickens with their heads cut off. I finally got them more or less arranged, and then the clown in the back started to sing as fast as he possibly could, throwing off the rhythm of the rest of the singers. I threw in the towel with that. I just walked off, told the coordinator that 3rd grade was not able to participate at this time, and hauled my gingerbread house off the scene.

The next morning, I gave it another go. They did everything exactly right! I was so hyped! Now, to just get through that afternoon’s performance!

I arrived early. Actually, I didn’t ever leave. No one came to pick up little P after school, so I stayed with her until I was able to get ahold of someone at 4:30, three hours after school let out. As the kids began arriving for the event, I positioned myself right next to my gingerbread house. I was determined to see that nobody knocked it over and trampled on it prior to the event. I glared at every little brother or sister who dared approach. The school kids gave me a wide berth as well.

The event started late, as expected. The play part went just fine–no major mishaps. Suddenly it was my turn, and I wasn’t ready! I hurried over to the kids and marched them around the audience. We had a pile up at the gingerbread house. The boys wanted their own music books. I kept telling them that it didn’t matter whose book it was, the music was the same, but it did delay things a bit.

All three girls were present. However, more than half the boys were missing. Well, it couldn’t be helped. We’d perform as we were. They did fine–singing acapella rather than with music–everybody was happy–especially me now that it was over. I marched them back to their places and sat down to enjoy the next few songs performed by the music teacher.

Santa Claus made an appearance again–this time with Mrs. Claus. She read a longish letter that asked for health for all the teachers and the director for Christmas. The kids received a bag of candies. Fights broke out in the receiving line and Santa had to step in to settle the kids down. Then it was officially finished.

The director invited everyone to enjoy corundas and ponche, only the corundas hadn’t arrived yet. I went and made myself useful serving ponche while keeping an eye on the gingerbread house. Three-fourths of the attendees left after their cup of ponche, off to their own posadas. The corundas did finally arrive and those of us that remained enjoyed them immensely.

I headed home at about 7 pm. My frigid moto ride was considerably longer due to road closures and posada parades. I nearly wrecked when I met a procession headed by a giant illuminated star on a stick at the corner. As I got further out of town, there were fewer hazards to contend with. I got home and went straight to bed.

See why teachers aren’t big fans of school events?

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Mexican Educational Reform and Political Wrangling

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The last Friday of every month during the school year, except December and Semana Santa, is the dreaded CTE (Consejo Technico Educativo) meeting for teachers formerly known as Organo Colegiado Escolar (OCE).

The now redesigned CTE meetings are a direct result of recent educational reforms passed into law by the esteemed Mexican President Pena-Nieto. In theory, additional teacher training is a good idea. After all, the Mexican educational system definitely has room for improvement. But…..

The CTE forum is based on a teacher training program used in Chile, modified to suit the Mexican government’s agenda. Instead of open and frank discussion and problem-solving, the content of the CTE meetings is carefully orchestrated by the Ministry of Public Education (SEP). Each meeting is to focus on a reglamento (statute) and there is no room for individual school differences based on the assumption that the teachers, students, and schools in Oaxaca and those in Mexico D.F. are equal in every way. Everybody must be on the same page as the program progresses. (Educational Reform and State Power in Mexico)

In addition, each school is to submit a proyecto escolar (school project) complete with short and long term goals. Again, in theory, that seems reasonable. However, the school projects must be approved or the school risks losing accreditation. So it’s no surprise that the projects are, more often than not, chosen from a government approved list rather than designed by each school to meet its needs.

As if that isn’t enough, individual teachers are required to submit el plan de maestro (teacher’s plan) which demonstrates how each teacher plans on incorporating the school project and reglamentos (statutes) set up by the CTE into his or her teaching.

control education

So we have this 3-tiered plan of action in school reformation which sounds progressive, to be sure. However, government control is rampant. Subject matter is carefully monitored. Textbooks are issued by SEP and both teachers and schools must render an accounting at the end of the school year. The CTE meetings are yet another way the federal government of Mexico is exerting its influence on the educational system.

The national news has been highlighting some questionable activities on the part of teachers to support the new reforms. One practice that surprised me was the passing on of teaching degrees to the children of the teachers who had obtained them. The teaching credentials are considered an inheritance much as a title of Don was under Spanish rule. But that age-old tradition took a back seat to other “concerns.” Probably because nepotism is alive and well here in Mexico.

Fun Fact for ya–Did you know that the current president is related to four former governors in his state and that his cousin took over his governorship when he was elected as president?

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Another less than kosher practice was discovered when a census of current teachers was conducted. There were thousands of teachers throughout Mexico that were receiving government pay for teaching at non-existent schools. Reportedly there were even 70 teachers nationwide earning more than the President himself. I find that hard to believe. Perhaps the dean of UNAM could be raking in those big bucks. But really, even the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO) reported that the average teacher’s monthly salary at only about $2,000 USD. Being a teacher myself, I find this estimate still too high.

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Looking at another source, the World Salaries comparison reports Mexican teachers earn between $651 USD and $1,018 USD. That seems to me a far more believable figure since my own teacher salary is under even that amount. The inflated IMCO figures have been used to prejudice the general public against teachers. Based on those figures, the agency reports that teachers are the highest paid occupation in Mexico. That’s an eye opener for ya! I’d like to see the census of politicians receiving excessive pay and compare their paychecks before I make any judgment on this particular issue. (See Mexican Officials Feather their Nests while Decrying US Immigration Policy)

Just as an interesting side note—Did you know that the current president of Mexico receives somewhere between $13,307 USD and $20, 857 USD each month before taxes? Nobody seems clear on the exact figure of Sr. Pena-Nieto’s salary. Did you know that the current president will continue to receive a lifelong pension after his term ends? Did you know that there are currently 5 ex-presidents receiving this lifelong pension?

Then another 1,440 teachers in Hidalgo all had the same birthday and were over 100 years old. Those dastardly teachers! However, the state officials clarified that those marked with the birthdate December 12, 1912 have child support deducted from their salaries and the birthday is a way of noting that.

Another little tidbit–Pena-Nieto has been accused of being a deadbeat dad. He fathered an illegitimate son in 2005, while married to his first wife (who died under mysterious circumstances in 2007). He claims he pays up, but the mother of his child disagrees and outed him on Facebook in 2012.

Finally, there was the recent arrest of the former president of SNTE teacher’s union for embezzlement. Elba Esther Gordillo even made Forbes Most Corrupt People in Mexico list. But don’t worry, it’s not just teachers that are corrupt. Pena-Nieto’s own uncle, Arturo Montiel Rojas, also made the list.

reform

So based on these questionable teacher practices, the federal government has stepped up their vigilance. There has been extreme resistance to reforms from the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE) and the National Committee of Education Workers (CNTE), but not for the reasons that are often publicized.

For instance, one of the new requirements will be the mandatory testing of all teachers, principals, counselors and staff. The assessment designed by the National Institutes for Educational Evaluation (INEE) must be satisfactorily completed during a two-year period. If teachers do not pass, they will no longer be allowed to teach, but will be assigned administrative positions or be forced to accept voluntary retirement. A teacher that does not take the test will not be allowed to continue in his or her current position.

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The SNTE and CNTE are not opposed to teacher testing but insist that this will not solve the underlying problems in the Mexican education system. One teacher described the situation in this allegory paraphrased below:

‘The government has seen that our students are in an educational “bus” that is in poor condition, like the trambillas (chicken buses). The shocks are gone, the brakes don’t work, the steering wheel is loose, the floor is rusted through and so on. The government sees that our children take this bus over a rough road, hardly even a road, full of dangerous curves, holes, steep cliffs and so on (Mexican society) So the government’s solution to this is to take the driver of the bus (the teacher), give him a new suit, a fancy cap, train him to fly planes even. Then, after all that specialized training put him back in the same bus that runs over the same road. The problems that the educational system face are not being addressed in additional teacher training.’–Professor Alberto at the November 27th CTE multi-grade meeting in Moroleon.

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Another issue that protesting groups highlight is the top-down approach to educational reform as demonstrated in the CTE sessions and the national exams. The teacher unions insist that exams should be created from the bottom-up with teachers in the classroom contributing to state-administered exams that take into account the disparity of income, culture and even language found throughout Mexico.

While Mexico has eliminated the yearly national exam called ENLACE, the National Institute for the Evaluation of Education (INEE) began implementation of another exam administered to sixth graders in elementary school, third-year secondary students (ninth graders) and third-year high school students (12th graders) called PLANEA.

At our last CTE meeting, we were given a chart that showed the results of the PLANEA from last year. Guanajuato state was next to last for the results of this exam. The top performing district was Mexico City, followed by Colima.

Ok, looking at just that information–

Mexico City is the 8th wealthiest city in the world. Schools within the district are under the domain of the federal government rather than State control. So it would be safe to bet that schools are more than adequately equipped with all the modern doodads that make learning interactive and fun. Federal teachers are paid much higher than State teachers, another incentive there.  And as the federal curriculum comes from the same source the PLANEA, students taught that curriculum are in a good position to score well on the exam.

Colima, ranking in a #2 on the PLANEA exams is Mexico’s fourth smallest state and the second-lowest population but is considered to have the highest standard of living and lowest unemployment rate in Mexico. Again, it seems that the prize goes to the elite. Within the state, there are only 307 preschools, 510 elementary schools, 131 middle schools and 57 high schools.

Now let’s look at Guanajuato, ranking next to last on the PLANEA exams. This state has over 4,000 preschools, 4,600 elementary schools, 1400 middle schools and 650 high schools. Aren’t we comparing apples to oranges here?

All in all, based on the results of the PLANEA only 12% of students in Mexico have adequate academic skills. At the last CTE meeting, teachers of Guanajuato, me being one, were berated for the low scores because it has to be the teachers fault, right? (See Mexico Public Education: New Student Achievement Test Finds Elementary and Middle School Students Still Perform Poorly)

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But what’s this all about really? Here are some headlines that you might not have seen with all this publicity on educational reform–

Mexico Plans to Eliminate 246 Social Programs in 2016

Nearly a Dozen Dead After Violent Few Days in Mexico’s Guerrero

Mexican President Has Spent Almost $1 Billion in Publicity
Mexican Lawmakers Demand Peña Nieto Declare Financial Assets
Violence, Impunity in Mexico Put Governance, Democracy at Risk

Drug Violence Fueling Displacement in Guerrero, Mexico

Mexico readies for 2016 Domestic Drug Policy Debate
Leaked Intelligence Points to Top Level Corruption in El Chapo Escape

Pemex: Oil Theft Up by 44% in Mexico

Mexico Local Officials Behind Mass Grave in Morelos

The Implications of Mexico’s Rising Deportations

No Keystone, No Problem: TansCanada Turns to Mexico Expansion

Violence, drugs dash Mexico Triqui people’s dream of new start far from home

Yes,’ Carlos Slim Is Linked to Drug Trafficking

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Lifelong Learning

Welcome to the August 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Life Learners

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have talked about how they continue learning throughout life and inspire their children to do the same.

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Although I graduated nearly 15 years ago, my education is not finished. In fact, I would say that I’ve learned more since finishing formal schooling than I ever did in school. My husband never had the opportunity to attend school for any length of time, so nearly all his knowledge, which is considerable, has been self-taught. The idea of life-long learning is an important concept for our family.

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Business learning

For a time, I ran my own online business selling children’s organic and homemade items. There was so much to learn. Things like product presentation, taxes, establishing a customer base, web design, networking, marketing, and Ebay were not new to me in theory, but in practice…well that’s a whole different story. What I didn’t realize at the time is that the things I learned in the 18 months or so that I ran my hobby business were just a taste of things to come. Like kindergarten to the business world.

I closed my business when we made the move to Mexico, 9 years ago. Since then, we have “failed” at a number of businesses here. Although for the most part, they were not profitable monetarily, we did learn quite a bit in the process and therefore, don’t consider these ventures a waste of time. The businesses we have failed at include a produce truck, taco stand, clothing store, bread baking endeavor, tire repair shop, bricklaying, ranching, farming, gardening, essay writing, and blogging to name a few. Currently, my husband and I have steady employment, part-time employees, part-time owners. I run my own Saturday school and afternoon tutoring sessions but also work for a private elementary school during the week.  My husband maintains our mini-ranch and sharecropping endeavors in the mornings and is the maintenance man for the same school in the afternoons. Being gainfully employed doesn’t mean that we’ve stopped looking for ways to expand our knowledge base. Recently I was asked to write essays for a Business English course. (See Failing at your own business–University courses) Not only did it pay well, but I learned quite a bit about Business English which I have now incorporated into my Saturday classes, teaching interested students how to write memos and other office documents. My husband was also offered a part-time position at a liquor store. He comes home eager to share what he learned about types of alcohol, inventory processes, and delivery systems.

So how does this impact our son?  He told me just the other day that he’s decided he’s not going to work for anyone else but be his own boss.  Entrepreneur in training I’d say. (Making a Living Without a Job, revised edition: Winning Ways for Creating Work That You Love)

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Cultural Learning

Besides learning how to make a living, I’ve had to learn how to navigate a different culture since moving to Mexico. This includes not only learning new vocabulary but also learning how things are done. I know that I’m far from proficient, but I think I’ve made some progress. I accredit my minuscule advancement to my willingness to make a lot of mistakes and ask endless questions. Who would have thought I’d have to relearn how to bury a person (See Mass and Burial–Mexican Style) or how to shop for groceries?  How about learning how to wash clothes in the stream?  Or how to buy land?

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Natural Learning

As a family, we look for opportunities to learn about our natural surroundings on day-trip adventures.  I’ve recently discovered iNaturalist. Now I can upload all those photos of pretty flowers, and someone somewhere will identify them for me. From there, I can research how the local natural world might be useful (See Natural healing) now that my two main sources of Mexican home remedies, my mother-in-law and my husband’s grandmother, have died.  I’ve learned how to make a tea for stomachaches, use aloe to aid in wound healing, dry feverfew and use agave.  I have so much more to learn!

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Cave exploration outside of Cerano, GTO.

Learning in the next generation

Because of our family philosophy, we encourage independent learning of our now 13-year-old son. He wanted to learn how to play soccer, we made sure that became a reality A few months ago, he asked if there were any teachers that I knew that could teach him Portuguese. I asked the Worldschoolers group on FB and was referred to Duolingo. My son has been regularly progressing through the beginning Portuguese course online. He uses it to chat with Brazilian Minecraft players. (See Hey Parents. What Minecraft is doing to your kids is kind of surprising) He thinks he might learn Vulcan after he finishes the Portuguese course.

His most recent interest is in learning how to make Youtube videos. It isn’t an easy thing by any means and one that neither his father nor I can help much with. When an opportunity presented itself for him to make a video of his life (See What is it like to be a kid in your family? ) we purchased an inexpensive mini-camcorder and together made a video that his grandma in the United States is proud of! See it here!

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Our attitude has always been, if you don’t know how to do something, learn! No one is going to do it for you. Skills that my son has learned at our side include bricklaying, cooking, bicycle repair, and gardening.

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However, we fully realize that my son needs more opportunities for learning than we can provide him. With this is mind, he attends the local middle school, where not only does his Spanish continue to improve, but he also is learning quite a bit about carpentry. So far he’s made a clothing rack and lidded box, quite useful items actually.

We continually stress that even if he is soon to finish his formal schooling, there is no limit to the things he could learn. “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer in our home. Is it in yours?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • The Financial Advice That Saved My Marriage — Shortly after they got married, Emily at Natural Parents Network and her husband visited a financial planner. Many of the goals and priorities they set back then are now irrelevant, but one has stuck with them through all of the employment changes, out-of-state-moves, and child bearing: allowances.
  • Lifelong Learning — Survivor at Surviving Mexico–Adventures and Disasters writes about how her family’s philosophy of life-long learning has aided them.
  • Inspiring Children to be Lifelong Learners — Donna from Eco-Mothering discusses the reasons behind her family’s educational choices for their daughter, including a wish list for a lifetime of learning.
  • Always Learning — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves learning, and lately she’s undertaken a special project that her family has been enjoying sharing with her.
  • We’re all unschoolers — Lauren at Hobo Mama embraces the joy in learning for its own sake, and wants to pass that along to her sons as she homeschools.
  • My children, my teachers Stoneageparent shares how becoming a parent has opened doors into learning for her and her family, through home education and forest school.
  • Never Stop Learning — Holly at Leaves of Lavender discusses her belief that some of the most important things she knows now are things she’s learned since finishing “formal” schooling.
  • Learning is a Lifelong Adventure — Learning has changed over time for Life Breath Present, and she is more excited and interested now than ever before.
  • Facebook: The Modern Forum — Dionna at Code Name: Mama explains why Facebook is today’s forum – a place where people from all walks of life can meet to discuss philosophies, debate ideas, and share information.
  • 10 Ways to Learn from Everyday Life (Inspired by my Life in Japan) — Erin at And Now, for Something Completely Different offers tips she learned while living in Japan to help you learn from everyday life.

 

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Why we chose to send our child to elementary school in Mexico

first grade

Then there was the decision to send our son to elementary school. We live in an isolated rural area so small that it doesn’t even qualify as a village. Although there are inhabitants in La Yacata despite the difficult living conditions, there were not any children our son’s age. He is also an only child, so socialization was one reason we opted to travel the 20 minutes to town every day.

A secondary reason, although somewhat related to the first, was the fact that we felt that schooling would help him learn what was necessary for successful interactions in the community. Although my husband is Mexican, he is not from this area, and his difference in speech and custom is often remarked negatively upon. I am not Mexican and would therefore not have been the best teacher in this regard for my son.

Registration for Primaria (Elementary school) takes place in February before students finish preschool. There are often long lines of parents waiting to register since there are always more students than cupo (available seats). In most public schools, there are two turnos (sessions), matutino (in the morning) and vespertino (in the afternoon.) Everyone seems to want the morning classes insisting the students learn better and the teachers are more qualified than the afternoon classes. However, the morning teachers are just as likely to be the same as the afternoon teachers since many teachers teach 2 turnos (sessions), teacher pay being what it is in Mexico. Furthermore, studies have shown that students actually perform better and retain more in the early afternoon than in the morning.  The morning class typically begins between 7:50 and 8:10 am and ends at 12:30 pm. The afternoon session begins between 2 pm and 2:10 pm and may end at 6:30 pm or as late as 7:30 pm depending on the school. Private schools have somewhat extended hours and only one turno (session) which runs typically from 7:50 am to 2:30 pm.

We opted to send our son to the afternoon session. Why waste the best part of the day cooped up in a stuffy classroom? Therefore, while I went to work at a private elementary school teaching English, in the mornings, for 6 years, my son stayed with his dad, taking care of the animals, working on the house, or just riding his bike. Then when the day became too hot for outdoor activities, (this is Mexico after all), he went to school. He spent 4 1/2 hours in the classroom with perhaps 15 minutes of homework each day.

Primaria (Elementary) begins when about half of the students are just 5 years old since the same age requirements apply as preschool. Half enter reading Spanish, and half are still learning their letters. The pressure for reading and general learning eases off in primaria (elementary) since teachers are not allowed to fail students unless they make a personal appeal to the school board in Guanajuato. This educational reform has only been in practice 3 or 4 years. It is now just fine for students to finish second grade without being able to read, write their names or do simple mathematics. It seems that the shame in failing a grade outweighs any educational rationale although the debate still wages as to whether failing a grade does more harm than good.  Perhaps if there were more resources and support available for teachers in Mexico, more children would be better educated. But then again, maybe the government isn’t interested in having well-educated citizens.

Schools are required to teach Spanish, Mathematics, History, Exploración de la Naturaleza (Earth Science), Formación Cívica y Etica (moral values), art, music, physical education, English, and Computer Literacy. Yes, English is now a required course even in the public schools. However, there is a decided lack of qualified teachers. Many teachers have been certificated as English teachers on the basis of being able to pass the TOEFL exam. (See Getting Legal–Working Papers) Unfortunately, there is a world of difference in knowing a language and being able to teach it effectively.  But fortunately for my son, I am a licensed English teacher, so no problem there!

elementary school

Grading is done on a scale of 10, 10 being the highest grade and 6 being the lowest passing grade. A 5 indicates the student has not passed, although, with the ban on failing students, it is rare that any student receives a 5 anymore. Each classroom has anywhere from 24 to 40 students, making it a challenge to meet every child’s learning needs.

Up until 2014, students were required to take a standardized end-of-year exam called ENLACE. The current president, Peña Nieto, has disbanded the ENLACE exam. However, his educational reforms have been clearly modeled on the current U.S. standards, and now teachers can be dismissed on the basis of their students’ grades. I think that there will be another exam issued nationally to take the place of the ENLACE in the very near future despite fervent protests and marches by the teachers’ union.

The extended school year is interspersed with random vacation days. Every month, teachers are required to attend a meeting, and school is canceled. 2014 marked the first year that these required work days were tacked onto the student calendar, which meant summer vacation didn’t start until July 15, well into the rainy season in our area. As the 2014-2015 school year began on August 18, that left less than 5 weeks of summer break. The academic year currently runs 200 days.

elementary school inside

There is an extensive Christmas vacation in December, that begins December 19 or 20, but since Las Posadas begins on the 16th, the vacation isn’t nearly long enough. School starts back up typically on January 7th, just one day after Los Reyes Magos deliver gifts. Seems a bit unfair that the kiddies only get one day to enjoy their gifts after having waited the entire vacation period, but, hey I didn’t make the rules. Semana Santa is also a long vacation and actually lasts 2 weeks in March or April. May is the most tiresome month to get through as a teacher, but fantastic for the students. Not only is it the hottest month in our area, but there are a number of special days commemorated. Beginning with April 30 there is El Día de Los Niños. (See Cultural Apathy) Then May 1 is El Día del Trabajo (Labour Day), May 5 is the commemoration of La Batalla de Puebla (The Battle in Puebla day), May 10 is El Día de la Madre (Mother’s Day), and May 15 is El Día del Maestro (Teacher’s Day).

Exams are administered bi-monthly and are usually taken over the period of a week. Early on in this segment of schooling, we discovered some issues. My son’s lowest grades and highest frustration levels were in Formación Cívica y Etica, which is something along the lines of Mexican Moral values. Even the kids that weren’t passing any other subject were getting 8s and 9s in this subject, so why not my son? Upon examining the exams, I discovered that many questions had to do with Mexican dichos (sayings). For instance:

Lo que empieza con gran coraje termina

1) con gran orgullo

2) con gran vergüenza

3) con gran ventaja

The answer is 2, but I wouldn’t have known it, not being a Mexican and all. My husband had no formal schooling to speak of, so wasn’t much help in exam preparation either.

How about this one?

In Mexico la muerte nos…..

The answer is …pela los dientes.

Come again?

So it stands to reason that Formacion civica etica was a trial for my son throughout his elementary years.

Since this sort of schooling was not enough for a well-rounded education, we augmented part-time unschooling. (See Homeschool variation) There were and continue to be so many opportunities for learning in our area, or perhaps we just look for the possibilities. My son also often accompanied me to my private English classes, sometimes as an additional student to the class, other times with his own activity book. After all, he may decide that this place we call home is not for him and set off on his own adventures one day, English might be beneficial when that time comes.

school days

My son did well in the traditional classroom and besides being in the honor roll all 6 years was part of the escolta (honor guard) in sixth grade. As only the best and brightest are chosen, (See Independence day) it was quite an honor. He was also selected by his teachers to read a despidida (farewell) poem during the graduation ceremony. His high achievement led to his being recommended into the better of two secondary schools in the area, and a shot at the matutino (in the morning) session.

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From preschool to university commencements – Acadima.com




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