Education of our youth
Source James Michael Craven
Date 99/07/24/00:04

>From the World Book Encyclopedia, circa 1920

"What is a Mexican? Mexico had in 1910 a population of about
15,112,600 people; an accurate census has never been taken because of
the superstitious fears of the people. When a census taker appears
they conceal from him as many facts as possible, thinking that he may
do them harm in some way--at the very least make them pay heavier
taxes. The people are for the most part very ignorant; this is not
strange when it is considered that out of the whole population only
nineteen per cent may be classed as pure whites, while the remaining
eighty-one percent are Indians or of mixed Indian and white blood.
The typical Mexican, then, is quite sure to have Indian blood in his
veins and to have inherited with it most of the superstitions, the
customs and the vices which his Indian ancestors possessed four
centuries ago, before the Spanish conquest. See subtitle, Government
and History.

It is somewhat difficult to give the characteristics which
distinguish Mexicans, so poorly have the different Indian tribes been
assimilated; but for the most part it may be said that, whether
Indian or half-breed, they are pleasure-loving, fond of ease,
unreliable and totally incapable of understanding the principles of
wise and sane living. The wages they earn are all too small, but
whatever they can save above the bare necessities of life they almost
invariably spend foolishly. Particularly strong is their love for
intoxicating liquors, and every festive day serves as an excuse for
excessive drinking.

Living Conditions. The foreigners, of whom there are about 100,000 in
the country before the revolutions which began in 1911, have
introduced so far as possible their own modes of life, and the
results are notable in the large cities. Here, to some extent,
European and American methods have been introduced, and it is
frequently possible for the traveler to find a fairly good hotel with
electric lights and only a moderate amount of dirt, instead of the
indescribable lodging houses of the past. The 'native whites', if
so they may be called, are Spaniards; and many of them live in a
style which has much of the display if very little of solid comfort.

But the mass of people, the Indians and the half-breeds, live in the
most squalid poverty. Their little one-story houses of adobe, or
sun-dried brick, lack all means of comfort and of sanitation, and the
death rate, especially from filth diseases, is very high. Having
resisted all progress for centuries, they live to-day on the same
food which satisfied their ancestors hundreds of years ago, and for
the most part they cook it in the same way. There are 'tortillas', or
thin cakes of corn, and 'frijoles', or black beans, cooked with the
pungent red peppers of which they are so fond; these are the staple
articles of food the year around. Even such variation of diet as the
poorest family can hope for in the United States or Canada is unknown
to these Mexicans. Indeed, it is scarcely fair to compare the present
Indians of Mexico with those that Cortez found there, for the latter
were in a more advanced state of civilization.

The official language of Mexico is spanish, but the Indian tribes
have clung steadfastly to their own languages, which are numerous.

Education. The government of the republic has not neglected the
question of education, but the task before it is an appalling one.
Every state has free primary schools, and each has compulsory
education laws, but in the disordered condition of affairs which has
prevailed almost without cessation since the founding of the republic
these have not been enforced, and illiteracy is till widespread.
Among most of the Indian tribes no progress has been made, for it has
never been possible to convince them that there could be the
slightest value in education; two tribes, hoever, the Mixtecas and
Zapotecas, have been more progressive, and some of the foremost men
of the nation have come from them.

In addition to primary schools, almost 1,000 in number, which are
supported in part by the Federal government and in part by the states
and municipalities, there are a number of secondary schools, normal
schools and professional schools. The United States is proud of the
institutions of higher learning which were founded in its very early
history, but Mexico had a university in 1553--before the vast region
to the north of it had even been explored. For over three centuries,
until 1862, this institution carried on work, but in that year it
closed its doors. In 1910, however, it was reorganized, and bids fair
to exert a strong influence on educational affairs in Mexico.

Religion. Mexico has no state Church, but no country with an
established religion has people more uniformly of one faith. The
Roman CAtholic Church to which most of the people belong, has always
had an important place in the history of the country; indeed,
missionaries fired with zeal for the conversion of the Indians were
among the very first arrivals. Most of the Indians are, nominally at
least, converts to Christianity, but they cling to many heathen rites
and superstitions, often sacrificing in secret to the gods their
ancestors worshipped before the coming of the Spaniards in the
sixteenth century.

It was not until 1859 that Church and State were separated in Mexico
and the vast properties which had been accumulated by the Church
nationalized. At about that time freedom of faith was allowed. The
various Protestant denominations took advantage of this liberty to
send missionaries into Mexico, and their work has continued steadily
ever since. Growth has been slow, however, and at present all the
Protestant churches together have a membership below 25,000.

transcribed from the orginal exactly by Jim Craven
(no scanner, I am a primitive, sorry for any typos)

James Craven
Dept. of Economics,Clark College
1800 E. McLoughlin Blvd. Vancouver, WA. 98663; Tel: (360) 992-2283 Fax: 992-2863

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