Education Through Interest: Establishing Learning Communities in Rural Telesecundarias of Mexico
Since 1968, the establishment of the telesecundaria seemed to be Mexico’s answer to a declining educational system, especially in rural communities. Supplementing the teacher with a television would serve to alleviate the shortage of trained teachers, and the curriculum produced by the Secretary of Public Education would be televised daily during consecutive 45 minute blocks. But, rather than improve the educational context, the students displayed boredom because of complete inaction and a lack of dynamism within the classroom. As a result of this destitute situation, a small NGO was established in 2003 in the hopes of reversing these negative results. This group, Convivencia Educativa, has grown in the past four years, and it now works in four states directly within these same rural schools. With theories taken from constructivist models of education and an intimate knowledge of Mexico’s rural environment, the tutors work directly with the teachers to foster professionalism and dedication to the students’ learning capacities. By reinvigorating the relationship between teacher and student through the formation of learning communities, Convivencia Educativa seeks to instigate both learning on an individual level and learning inspired by the student’s personal interest because “one only learns well when there is interest.” This paper presents a direct look at the communities in which this organization works, and it examines the successes and the difficulties of learning communities in some of the most marginalized regions of Mexico. The underlying question of this radical approach to education in rural schools is: How can the country’s poorest students overcome the hardships of their surroundings such as underdeveloped living standards, lack of jobs and extreme migration away from these regions and at the same participate in an individualized learning process based on their interest? Are learning communities the best answer to rural educational reform?
Keywords: Rural Education, Educational Reform, Education in Mexico, Learning Communities
Christina L. Lara
Tutorial Team, Convivencia Educativa