Mexico’s population is comprised of a wide variety of racial and ethnic groups. Students can compare this to the population of the United States or even in their own classroom. It would be important to point out to students that Indians are believed to have migrated over from Asia 40,000 to 60,000 years ago. In addition, up to about 2,000 years before European settlement, Aztec civilizations contained impressive architechtual design, irrigation technology, and social structure. After the European settlement in the early 1500’s, Europeans along with Indians have dominated the country in population.
These days, most of the population is living in the cities. People were pushed from rural areas to the cities due to a lack of jobs and opportunities. Many Mexicans still find it necessary to cross the borders into the United States in search for new opportunities as illustrated in the story
Friends from the Other Side
Children will not be surprised to learn that all Mexican children ages 6 to 14 are required to go to school. There are both public and private schools just like the United States. Not surprisingly, the private schools offer a superior education to the public schools but are only available to those with the financial means.
Although Spanish is the official language of the country, the are still some places where Indian language dominates. We will, however, be concentrating on the former for this unit. There are also some places in the United States where Spanish dominates. As Spanish speaking people fan out over the country, it is more likely that the language will become more the mainstream.
I feel that the best way to introduce students to Mexican people is through literature and video. Through literature, students will become familiar with characters and their ways of living and speaking. Children can also role play characters and stories as a way to make the experience more enjoyable. Spanish speaking television stations also offer children’s programs which you can encourage students to view. It would be worth while to have students watch one of these shows and write what they think was happening.
Perhaps the most effective way for students to get to know Mexican people is to invite someone from the community that has a sense of his/her Mexican culture to come in to speak to the class. This person may want to discuss his family traditions and some Mexican holidays that he/she celebrates. Students would be able to ask questions and really get a sense of Mexican people.