N áhuatl mandatory in public schools in Mexico Cit y

Maria Bolivar mbolivar at san.rr.com
Sat Aug 18 19:03:34 UTC 2007

I know Náhuatl is taught here and there. I am not questioning that. I am amazed at the sudden need arising from a decree that involves several million people. Ebrard has no influence whatsoever over what is taught at UNAM or UAM, but the Universidad Autónoma del Distrito Federal was sold to people on the pretense it was going to be an innovative project geared towards filling voids elitist education had previously neglected. Yet I don’t see those innovative programs. In Literature they have mimicked, to the extreme, the UNAM curriculum. I see the UACM as yet another employment unit to accommodate the friends of the PRD.


As for the interest in Náhuatl coming from Anthropologists it has always been the case. ENA has taught languages through satellite programs in Morelos and other places and validated the study of several languages. There is a true revival of those languages today, more than ever. It only makes me sad it was never the interest of my colleagues in Literature or Critical Theory and/or Cultural Studies. 


In UNAM Linguistics is not separate from Filosofía and Letras as it is in the UC system (University of California) Yet in the UC or in UNAM there isn’t a program fully devoted to Mesoamerican Languages. Those professors engaging in research of those languages still do so on their own and with lots of monetary restrictions.


I am truly concerned about the reception of Náhuatl once it becomes a mandatory subject. Already many in Mexico City were questioning the measure claiming it was more important to learn how to use computers than Náhuatl… and as I said before, resistance to English has been the case, even though English has been mandatory since the times of Vasconcelos. People dread the mandatory subjects, that is why I mentioned Civismo. Just imagine how having instructors improvised in the subject will contribute to such a resistance. The problem will deepen when all those students realize the university does not have a structure welcoming Náhuatl as a main subject, but rather a secondary one, for which studying is going to be more of a calvary than a smooth project.


My final point. To be sincere, any project like this has to follow a realistic time frame. In 2008-2009, that is next year, all of the sudden, all schools will have to include Náhuatl. If that is not “de a plumazo”, what is?


Maria Bolivar



From: Karen Dakin [mailto:dakin at servidor.unam.mx] 
Sent: Saturday, August 18, 2007 10:51 AM
To: Maria Bolivar
Cc: Karen Dakin
Subject: Re: [Nahuat-l] Náhuatl mandatory in public schools in Mexico City


María Bolivar -- 

Just to provide you with more accurate information, since sometimes it is hard to find out what is taught where at the UNAM.  Nahuatl, basically as used in documents,  is taught at the licenciatura level in the FFL, in the History curriculum, but also includes students from other areas, and it is a central part of the graduate programs in Estudios Mesoamericanos (along with Mayan and colonial Zapotec and periodically Tojolabal), Antropología, and also included for those interested in the graduate program in Lingüísitica. A course aimed more at spoken varieties is also given in Antropologicas. There are also students who work on projects involving teaching Nahuatl in the Applied Linguistics program.  


Karen Dakin





From: nahuatl-bounces at lists.famsi.org [mailto:nahuatl-bounces at lists.famsi.org] On Behalf Of Maria Bolivar
Sent: Saturday, August 18, 2007 10:32 AM
To: 'John Sullivan, Ph.D.'
Cc: nahuatl at lists.famsi.org
Subject: RE: [Nahuat-l] Náhuatl mandatory in public schools in Mexico City


Well it is wonderful that Marcelo Ebrard thinks about that. But it might just be a way to fill the Zocalo with more people. I would have loved to see other measures coupled with that one. Like a School of Náhuatl in the newly created Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México or the creation of communitary schools to prepare speakers of Náhuatl like John does, to participate in courses to form professors. But none of that has been going on. At UNAM Náhuatl is not even part of the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras and our intellectuals would not even dream of relinquishing some of their lines to have Náhuatl figure in their curricula.


So as wonderful as it is that Marcelo can think beyond his predecessors, I find the measure superficial and “impossible”.


I taught for many years Civismo, a mandatory subject in all schools, public and private… My students went to class with an attitude. The program, imposed by the Secretaría de Educación Pública was so boring even Political Scientists, Historians  and/or Social Scientists considered dreadful to teach it. So, I cannot begin to imagine how they will implement a mandatory Náhuatl Program. My experience in California is that when “speaking” Spanish was mandatory for instructors, vía the BCLAD, corruption erupted everywhere and instructors who did not Speak Spanish where trained to jump in, with only a test as requirement.


It will be interested to see how this evolves. We are talking about a school population of 8 million?


Maria Bolívar




From: John Sullivan, Ph.D. [mailto:idiez at mac.com] 
Sent: Saturday, August 18, 2007 9:59 AM
To: Maria Bolivar
Cc: nahuatl at lists.famsi.org
Subject: Re: [Nahuat-l] Náhuatl mandatory in public schools in Mexico City



            It's just politics. The decree started on paper and it will end there.



John Sullivan, Ph.D.

Profesor de lengua y cultura nahua

Universidad Aut󮯭a de Zacatecas

Instituto de Docencia e Investigaci󮠅tnol󧩣a de Zacatecas, A.C.

Tacuba 152, int. 47

Centro Hist󲩣o

Zacatecas, Zac. 98000


Oficina: +52 (492) 925-3415

Fax: +52 (492) 925-3416

Domicilio: +52 (492) 768-6048

Celular: +52 (492) 118-0854

idiez at mac.com



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