The standard that will guide this education will be based on the results of scientific progress, the fight against ignorance and its effects, slavery, fanaticism and prejudice.
Article III, Section I, of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States
August 19, 2022 Syllabus published for primary education in Mexico. As I argued in My personal blogAnd the I think this is an unnecessary fix in the face of more demanding issues like Learning loss due to school closures due to the pandemic. However, I found something worrying after that Re-read Laura Frade’s comment In light of the pre-consultation forums: A study plan that is sometimes in direct opposition to the third constitutional article on scientific thought. Here I want to expand on the same argument of Fred who said that a study plan, effectively, could be unconstitutional. In contrast, I believe it is urgent to address the issue of scientific content, and I do not believe that the community’s approach is unconstitutional or undesirable.
The sentence that begins with this text, which is the first section of the current Article III of the Constitution, was the social consensus achieved after the abolition of socialist education on December 30, 1946. The struggle against socialist education in Article III of the Constitution, such as Soledad Loza documented in her book on the subject, was one of the main sources that fueled the basis for what would become Mexico’s conservative party, National Action. The Catholic Fathers’ organizations, close to what later became the National Action, repudiated the essay’s scholarly and socialist inspiration. But in the end, the liberal legacy prevailed and the scholarly focus remained in the Constitution. This article has always been called into question by conservative sectors, not only because it strengthens the secular nature of education, but it makes national curricula grounded in scientific progress.
In fact, the curriculum has a societal dimension. There is no doubt that the Constitution and the classic approach to human rights stem from individualism. But Article 1 of the constitution – amended in 2011 – addresses three principles: rights are progressive, interdependent and indivisible, and bound by international treaties ratified in Mexico. Many of these treaties and conventions recognize the social and societal dimension of human rights. For example, the right to prior consultation with indigenous communities or labor rights. So I think so What society in the plan may be consistent with Article III of the Constitution.
Regarding the approach to decolonization, this is in line with Article II of the Constitution on multiculturalism in the Mexican nation, as well as the anti-discrimination content of Article I. Could the plans conflict with the constitutional order if a decolonization approach was adopted? Some colonial currents assert that nation states – Mexico in this case – are irreconcilable with indigenous communities because these are independent states in their own right outside Mexico because they were colonized (Yasnaya Aguilar sums it up here). This is not the case for the plan presented by the Ministry of Public Education (SEP), and I hope that there will be a serious discussion of history and pluralism in preparing textbooks.
however, I don’t know how this very theoretical and intensive curriculum will be applicable in schools. I understand that the knowledge and knowledge in the proposed stages seeks to be interdisciplinary and focused on topics and tasks, beyond elementary school subjects. However, this ambition later wanes when it comes to high school subjects. It is not a new idea to incorporate diverse learning into a concrete task (eg, dealing with civic values in art class) as it has been attempted in constructivism and competency-based education. A good review has been made in these terms by National Committee for Continuous Improvement of Education.
The plan, other than a method proposal, is rather a theoretical and linguistic condemnation of earlier plans (though amenable to criticism, I think it can be mastered), and elevation of criticism as an educational theory. This is what usually happens with any postmodern current in the social sciences and humanities: an excess of criticism without a foothold in something practical and tangible.
I think what worries me most is how the new SEP uses the discourse of epistemology in the South to create a pseudo-dilemma between ordinary scientific knowledge versus indigenous knowledge (which ones? The plan provides only scattered examples). In the Knowledge and Scientific Thought section of the Plan “Fields” he explicitly says:
“Recognize and use different methods while constructing knowledge to resist the idea of one way” and “Sciences are constructions, among many other things, of explaining physical reality, which in turn is conditioned by cultural and historical factors. As a cultural construct, it cannot be asserted that it is superior to other systems of knowledge.” , since each interpretation may be appropriate to a greater or lesser extent depending on the context in which it is applied.”
Both sections of the text worry me because the current SEP believes there is no scientific method. Yes, it is a review and examination of empirical evidence. Similarly, the current SEP believes that there is no hierarchy of knowledge in our educational framework, when Article III clearly states it. This, Fred points out, comes from how the document’s authors use southern epistemology to argue that some knowledge of indigenous communities has been removed through the process of colonization and that it is a political goal to make it valid. today.
Undoubtedly it is true that much knowledge has disappeared or been replaced in this historical process, but this does not mean that the Socialist Equality Party can unilaterally decide that some knowledge is equal in hierarchy with that referred to in Article III of the Constitution. SEP is a public authority, and it has this legal mandate. However, judging by the consultation process, this appears to stem from the ambiguous political agenda of an academic elite in Mexico City. This plan does not appear to arise from the demands of Mexican teachers after the protests against the previous educational reform that led to the current drafting of the Third Constitution (in which scientific progress still stands).
Undoubtedly there is knowledge that public education must be saved, especially with regard to the second constitutional article, such as saving the indigenous languages of Mexico by ensuring universal access to bilingual and multicultural education. The subject, which I think, does not need to reform the curricula, but rather to finance. However, when the curriculum deals with science and mathematics topics, The Socialist Equality Party cannot evade the constitutional mandate of Article 3 on scientific progress. I quote here a paragraph from the syllabus:
“From a regional point of view, the idea of physiological or anatomical normality does not prevail in defining health in all places, there are societies whose knowledge of their ancestors allows them to combine medicinal traditions such as acupuncture, homeopathy, herbalism and temascals with the allopathic medicine of health centers that together implement Health procedures such as midwifery, herbal medicine, and personal clinical follow-up.”
Is this knowledge mentioned above common to all Indigenous communities? Can the SEP (as an authority) equate them with modern medical science and thus put it at the center of the plan? Many of the knowledge in that paragraph did not originate from the knowledge of the indigenous Mexican communities. For example, homeopathy was proposed in 1796 by a German physician, but was largely rejected by any serious medical body in the world. It is pseudoscience. Acupuncture is a pseudo-Chinese science of neglect. A curriculum based on scientific progress should not allow any mention of pseudoscienceregardless of how much knowledge diversity is allowed in the plan’s cognitive schema.
Even worse, the reduced space and prominence of content in science and mathematics deprives everyone, particularly the poorest and indigenous communities of Mexico, of their human right to the benefits of scientific progress explicitly enshrined in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. .
Given that we do not know how these methods will be defined in the curricula, and that they are already in the central document of the secretariat agreement in The Official Gazette of the Federation, there is a real danger that the benefits of scientific advances in many fields such as mathematics, physical sciences or medical sciences lose their centrality in free textbooks and programs, and space is set aside for pseudoscience. The constitution, under penalty of study plan, gives priority to knowledge. I agree with this hierarchy.
Again, I don’t understand what general problem the plan intends to solve with this. But there are many problems that Mexico has in scientific education. First, more than 45% of the population in Mexico still has anti-science perceptions and limited understanding of basic scientific knowledge according to Survey on Public Perception of Science and Technology (ENPCYT) 2017. This is confirmed by what I found Latest OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) result: 53% of students in Mexico cannot identify basic scientific phenomena.
There is another pressing problem in mathematics: 44% of Mexican students can barely explain and solve basic mathematical problems according to PISA. In most developed countries this threshold exceeds 76%. Instead of introducing postmodern theories far from national problems into the school curricula, The learning gap should be a priority for educational authorities.
Similarly, the learning gap in science and technology education can be seen when ENPCYT is asked about climate change. Only 22% of the population understands the basic science behind environmental pollution, 17% in the case of greenhouse gases, and 22% about global warming the planet. As the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said, indigenous and poorest communities are at the same time the groups most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and those who have a vital role in preserving the planet. The climate emergency must be a priority for any new curriculum.