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Classroom Struggle

Organizing Elementary School Teaching in the 19th Century

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Edited By Marcelo Caruso

During the institutionalization of mass schooling in the 19 th century, teaching large groups of children became both a necessity and a matter of regulation. For officials and inspectors the systematization of classroom interactions was important for effective results. However, while systematization could bring about the constant attention of children and their uninterrupted work, interactions themselves were difficult to control. Rationalized models of classroom organization provided alternatives for managing large groups before age grading became the dominant pattern of organizing interactions. The contributions in this volume explore diverse paths of transition towards modern classroom organization in different countries, allowing transnational perspectives and comparisons.
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From Monitorial to Graded Schooling in 19th Century Mexico: Politics and Pedagogy in the Definition of Modern Education

The “grammar” of monitorial schooling in Mexico, 1822–1873

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In this essay I explore some aspects of the transformation of the monitorial to the graded school form in Mexico in the late nineteenth century. In the first part I examine how monitorial schooling developed throughout its seven-decade history in that country – one of the few places in the world where allegedly it lasted longer – to determine the extent to which that school form remained stable or changed over time. In the second part I analyze the political and pedagogical debates from the 1870s onwards that led to the banishment of monitorial teaching in 1890. Although I will refer to general changes in the provision of schooling in Mexico, to better understand the development and decay of monitorial school the first part of this study will be anchored at the micro-level of the history of one single institution: the model monitorial school Filantropía in Mexico City (1828–1890). I will consider continuities and transformations in its architectonic design, material organization as well as the rules that structured school life – that is, in the materiality of the school – and will assess whether the category of “school grammar” may be useful to understand the long pervasiveness of this school form in Mexico. In addition, in the second part I will employ some of the tools of the study of languages in the history of education to examine the arguments invoked by pedagogues and politicians in order to ban this form of school.

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