Resisting Westernization and School Reforms: Two Sides to the Struggle to “Communalize” Developmentally Appropriate Initial Education in Indigenous Oaxaca, Mexico

Lois M. Meyer

Abstract


In 2011, Indigenous Initial Education teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico, for the first time participated in an alternative teacher professional development effort (called a diplomado) to initiate communityappropriate bilingual programs for pregnant mothers and infants under 3 years old.  Collaborating with parents and village authorities, the goals were Indigenous language revitalization/ maintenance and quality Initial Education, prioritizing communal values and Indigenous (non-Western) socialization practices. The teachers conducted various research tasks, one of which - the photographic and narrative documentation of young children’s spontaneous learning opportunities in their communities - is analyzed here.  A finding of this study is that even very young infants in their spontaneous activities display early indications of responsible actions toward others that develop into caring for community. 

This effort to communalize Initial Education faces two intense oppositional pressures in Mexico today.  For decades federal school policy has imposed on Indigenous teachers and communities Westerninfluenced views of developmentally appropriate ECEC, such as age grouping in care and school facilities and prioritizing teacher-organized and supervised activities. For Rogoff (2003), the imposition of Western views of ECEC denies the cultural nature of human development.  In Oaxaca, only the Western view counts; the Indigenous perspective has been officially marginalized.

Recently, another layer of imposed federal and state school reforms places Indigenous teachers at risk. Now teacher preparation, hiring, and retention will be assessed by national standardized tests of teacher professional knowledge, without consideration for rural life experience, knowledge of community practices, or Indigenous language competence.

This article describes the status of communalized ECEC programs in Oaxaca given government repressions, and teacher resistance to these repressive school reforms.


Keywords


Education; Education Policy; Educational Reform; Indigenous Education; ECEC; Bilingual Education; Teacher Education

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ISSN: 2325-663X