martes, 3 de abril de 2012




Mauricio Flamenco Bacilio

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (MEXICO)

Palabra de Clío AC (MEXICO)


The abstract is about the Courses of History in the semi-schooled system of the Public High Schools of Mexico City's government (Institution known with the acronym IEMS-DF). This is just one part of my research about this educational system. I will talk about the origins of the institution, the evaluation systems and the student's academic profile at IEMS-DF.


This text is one part of my current research named: Análisis crítico de la materia de Historia en la modalidad semiescolar del IEMS-DF (Critical Analysis of the signature of History in the semi-schooled modality at IEMS-DF). This work started after my teaching experience at the Instituto de Educación Media Superior del Distrito Federal (IEMS-DF) (The institution’s name can be translated as High School Education Institute of the Federal District [Mexico City]). First at all, I will talk about the IEMSDF and its main features including the semi-schooled modality. Then I will expose briefly the contents of the four obligatory courses of History at the institution. At third place, I will mention the student’s profile at IEMS-DF. The propose of this speech is to share my teaching experience and improve the educational quality in this Institution.


The IEMS-DF was founded in march 2000 by the government of the Federal District (Mexico City). The main propose with the foundation of this institution was to increase the admission to a High School education en Mexico City, because many young people between 15 and 18 years old can’t join to the public High schools in the city due to a very high demand and few places. The creation of new public high schools obey to the OECD indications to increase and improve the education quality since the entry of Mexico in this organization in the 1990s. However Mexico was in the last places of education according to the OECD indicators after the first decade of the 21st century.[1] For that reason,

education is one of the most important problems to solve in Mexican society today. The graduated students of IEMS-DF have access to the Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México (Autonomous University of Mexico City), an university founded by the government of Mexico City in 2001. The courses in the semi-schooled at IEMS-DF system started in 2007. Both modalities have the same number of signatures (38) and semesters (6), but in the semi-schooled system there are less class hours. If in the schooled system students take three or four lessons of a certain signature at week, in the semi-schooled system students take only one or two. In the schooled system students take between 30 and 50 lessons of History, but in the semi-schooled modality there are 17 sessions of 90 minutes every semester. In 2008, the semi-schooled quota had 5444 students in sixteen schools2[2]. In each school group there are no more than 30 students, according to the High School system in Mexico there are few pupils in the groups, because other schools have until 50 students in each group or even more. Some psychological studies have demonstrated a best quality of studies among groups with few students, contrary to a traditional and massive schools.[3]3 Also the Institution edit their own class books for the semi-schooled system and the pupils must check and study these materials on their own. However many teachers don’t use the text books as usual, because they considerer these books as deficient or without their objectives. But if there is no text book in the classroom, students cannot support the lesson with other kind of materials (in the context where I have worked, usually an average High school student does not visit libraries, and if they try to make a research report, they only copy-and-paste information from Internet). Then is important to work with a text book for every class, in this case History. The need to work with a text book increases because the applied exams for the extraordinary period at IEMS-DF are based on class books. The objectives of the semi-schooled modality are to increase even more the number of High School students, and the class hours are less to think of students with other activities (above all students with working needs). With less hours of class, the teacher’s authority decrease too. However each teacher have to put the rules in the classroom and they can work and evaluate pupils with certain academic freedom. To conclude this section it is important to point out the absence of the subject of geography at IEMS-DF. From a critical vision, this absence worries because History and Geography are two closely linked subjects, and History teachers need to include several aspects of Geography during their classes.


There are four obligatory courses and another optional course of History at IEMS-DF. Students take History from third to sixth semester. Contrary to other institutions or courses of History, at IEMS-DF the History courses start with contemporary History and the last course talks about prehistory and ancient civilizations. All courses have a clear division between two blocks of themes. In the first block we teach and learn topics of world or universal History, then we teach and learn the same temporary line we learnt in the past block, but now focused in the geographical context of Mexico. This is with the propose to link historical structures of Mexico and the rest of the world. In other schools, Mexican and world History are thought apart in different courses. The first course talks about the social and political situation in the world and Mexico from 1945 to the present. This course emphasize topics such as the cold war, the wars of Korea and Vietnam, South Africa during the Apartheid years, the reunification of Germany and the division of the Soviet Union and the development of new technologies in the last fifty years. In the case of Mexico students learn the highlighted aspects in the same temporary line, such as the political and social movements in the fifties and sixties, the economical crisis of the seventies and eighties and the creation of new political institutions during these decades. The second course is about modern History, from the Enlightenment in the 18th century to the World War II. Students must explain historical events such as the Independence of the United States, Mexico and Latin-American countries, the French Revolution, the British empire, the unification of Germany and Italy, the two world wars with their causes and consequences and the independence of European colonies in Africa and Asia for the first block. The second block starts with the independence of Mexico. Then students learn about politics and war during the following decades, the modernization of Mexican society during the period of Porfirio Díaz and the Mexican revolution n 1910 and the creation of political institutions until 1940.

The third course takes a longer temporary context. It begins with the middle ages in Europe and the rise and expansion of Muslim religion and Arabic culture. The first block finishes with the Protestant Reform, Religion wars and the establishment of absolute monarchies in Europe along with the discovery voyages between 15th and 17th centuries. The second block explains the Mesoamerican civilizations, the conquest of Tenochtitlan and the political, social and economical structure in the viceroyalty of New Spain, including their cultural aspects too. The forth and last obligatory course contains themes of prehistory and ancient history. In this course there is no blocks to divide the topics between world and Mexican History. First we learn the characteristics of prehistory and their phases like Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic and the

evolution of human beings with their ancestries. After prehistory we learn the main features of the first ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China. In the last two cultures, we learn different aspects of their historical evolution along the four courses, beginning with contemporary History and finishing with their most ancient age, linking their culture and History with their

contributions in world History nowadays. This last course includes the classic western cultures (Greece and Rome) and their cultural contributions until the collapse of the Roman empire. At the end of the course students take one more time a couple of lessons about Mesoamerican civilizations briefly.

Apart form the obligatory courses, IEMS-DF’s students can take an optional course. The title of this signature is Cultural History of Mexico City. Here students learn not only the historical development of their city, but also the evolution of several artistic manifestations like architecture, literature, painting

and sculpture. The social organization along centuries is explained in this course too and students must explain the meaning of different concepts like culture, cultural heritage, history, historiography and cultural history. Daily life history is a current and successful way to explain the past and it is included in the optional course too. Daily life History is known by the German and French concepts of Alltaggeschichte and La vie quotidienne respectively.[4] All courses at IEMS-DF, including the optional signature give a priority to social aspects and the ways of life through times and places. During the last decades social history has been more worked among historians, and public could be more interested in this way to explain the past unlike the traditional political and military history. These innovative manners to write, teach and learn History can approach the knowledge of past in a better and more comprehensible way, and with Daily life history the students could an identification with common persons of the past.[5] Another important thing of the courses of History in this institution is the inclusion of a block at the end of every course about historical research and historiography schools, like the Nouvelle Histoire française (French new history), Marxism and microhistory. All these streams of historiography prioritize the social actors and students can be identified with them. Nevertheless, the number of sessions and hours for every course are not enough to extend this part. A highlighted feature at IEMS-DF is the inclusion of a special work named “Problema Eje” (Axis Problem). This is a signature of the last semester and to approve it, the student must make a report with the structure of a scientific research, a monograph or even an art work, that students must expose before teachers and public. This work must be followed by a teacher and represents the final note to obtain the High school certificate. It could be like a dissertation to this education degree and some students make their “Axis Problem” related with the signature of History.


As I mentioned, the IEMS-DF was created to increase the admission to a High School education in Mexico city. If junior high students want to continue their studies in public High Schools, they must take a general exam and many student can’t approve it or they can’t reach the required points to join the school they want. Unlike other public High Schools in the Mexican capital, IEMS-DF requires no exam to enter. So many IEMS-DF students were rejected from other schools. Applicants only need their Secondary school certificate and they must live near one IEMS-DF school (no more that 10km distance and for each school there is a list of quarters or districts for accepted students). As many students were rejected from their first High School options, we can presuppose a lack of academic level among the student’s population. Indeed my colleagues and I have seen bad academic bases during our teaching experience. Sometimes we can find teenagers between 15 and 18 years old with deficiencies of reading comprehension, vocabulary, writing and spelling. In other cases we can find young adult students (between 20 or 25 years old) who had started their high school studies in other institutions, but they left their studies due several circumstances (work, maternity, health problems, etcetera) and they decided to go back to school. Also we can find people with more than 30, 40 or 50 years old sharing the classroom with teenagers. With this rank of ages teachers must make strategies to adequate the way of teaching, because the cognitive development of students differ according to the ages.[6]

For my dissertation I made a survey poll to know more about the student’s profile at IEMS-DF. The poll was made among students of sixth semester in school year 2010-2011. The results revealed part of the things we supposed. Some students started their high school studies in other institutions, other students were not accepted in other schools, some students work and many hadn’t all the school credits yet. Even some students declared that they were in the semi-schooled system because they couldn’t reach a place in the regular schooled system of the same High school. To write about the student’s academic profile in the dissertation is important, because there is no works about this institution and the semi-schooled modality yet. The lack of a school identity among semi-schooled students is a problem I consider. The regular school students can use laboratories. They can take out books from the library or participate in sport or artistic activities. Semi-schooled students can’t do these things instead. This disadvantage situation encourages the school failure and desertion, two of the most important educational problems in Mexico. The M.A program where I attend works more on the high school systems of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, for that reason I decided to make a dissertation about another high school institution, with its features,

problems and first results.


After my teaching experience, I have seen how important the class texts are, independently from their quality, deficiencies and above all the ideological perspectives when we talk about History. A text book is always better than nothing, specially if teachers work with students with academic deficiencies, no

study habits or no time to study due working activities. In the same way, class books and didactic materials can improve the quality of the class and the knowledge of student as well.[7] I have had students who can’t attend to all lessons. I told them that they must study on their own helping themselves with the text books, after they must present exams on the indicated date. If students follow this instruction they can approve the signature and I have seen it, even if they need to present an extraordinary exam. Exams are always based on books made by the institution, above all during the extraordinary period.

With reading exercises complemented by teacher’s explanations, pupils understand the links and bonds between past and present in a better way. The class doesn’t pretend to memorize dates or names. Students must explain events of the past with its causes and consequences, then they must analyze the different historical process with a critical view, but without partiality or passion. So they can understand or even explain the origins of several aspects in their current life, such as the social structures In their community, the origin of their religious creeds and practices, the foundation of political and social institutions, the importance and contributions of ancient civilizations in the present, etcetera. Also in that way, learning about different streams of historiography is important to see how history has changed along time and high school students can have conscience of their on reality.


Here I only tried to share part of my teaching experience and my dissertation. I hope the audience could be interested in this innovative educational system. I know, there is a lot of things to do and to improve. A relatively young institution like IEMS-DF was founded to give more high school places in Mexico City. The propose is good although the results and the graduation’s rate are low, not only in this institution but in all high school system in Mexico. A new institution like IEMS-DF is repeating the same problems of education in this country just like the old ones; school failure and desertion above all. In the signature of History sometimes is hard to encourage a self study method due the lack of study bases among pupils and because the class time is not enough. However with a pertinent pursuit of every group, History teachers can improve the level and the quality of the class. Also teachers must encourage every student to stay in school, stay in their classes and avoid desertion, not only in the signature of History, but in all high school signatures.


[1] Burke, Peter (1991). New perspectives on Historical Writing. 1st Ed. Cambridge: Polity Press, 254 p.

[2] Buxarrais, María Rosa et. al. (1997). La educación moral en primaria y en secundaria. Una experiencia española. 1ª Ed. México: Secretaría de Educación Pública, 221 p.

[3] Castro González, Heladio. (2008). Historia 1. Modalidad Semiescolar del Sistema de Bachillerato del Gobierno del DF. México: Gobierno del Distrito Federal, Secretaría de Educación, Instituto de Educación Media Superior del DF, 112p. ils.

[4] ---------- (2009). Historia 2. Modalidad Semiescolar del Sistema de Bachillerato del Gobierno del DF. México: Gobierno del Distrito Federal, Secretaría de Educación, Instituto de Educación Media Superior del DF, 138p. ils.

[5] ---------- (2009). Historia 3. Modalidad Semiescolar del Sistema de Bachillerato del Gobierno del DF. México: Gobierno del Distrito Federal, Secretaría de Educación, Instituto de Educación Media Superior del DF, 125 p. ils.

[6] ---------- (2010). Historia 4. Modalidad Semiescolar del Sistema de Bachillerato del Gobierno del DF. México: Gobierno del Distrito Federal, Secretaría de Educación, Instituto de Educación Media Superior del DF, 76p. ils.

[7] Díaz Barriga, Frida, et. al. (1999). Constructivismo y enseñanza de la historia. Fundamentos y recursos didácticos de apoyo a las materias de Historia universal moderna y contemporánea I y II, México: UNAM, Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades, Facultad de Psicología, 68p.

[8] OECD. (2008). Education at a glance 2008. OECD Indicators. Paris: OECD, 521p. ils.

[9] García García, Clara Guadalupe y Alejandra Pérez Morales. (2009). Historia Entretejida. Historia Cultural de la Ciudad de México. Gobierno del Distrito Federal, Secretaría de Educación, Instituto de Educación Media Superior, 113p. ils.

[10] Instituto de Educación Media Superior del Distrito Federal. (2009). Informe anual de actividades. De marzo de 2008 a marzo de 2009. México: Gobierno del Distrito Federal, Secretaría de Educación, Instituto de Educación Media Superior del DF, 44 p. ils.

[11] ------------ (2010). Plan de trabajo académico 2010 A-2011 B. México: Gobierno del Distrito

Federal, Secretaría de Educación, Instituto de Educación Media Superior del DF, [16p.] ils.

[12] ------------ (2002). Sistema de Bachillerato del Gobierno del Distrito Federal. Historia. México: Gobierno del Distrito Federal, Secretaría de Desarrollo Social, Instituto de Educación Media Superior del DF, 39p.

[13] Perrenoud, Philippe. (2004). Diez nuevas competencias para enseñar. Trad. Judith Anreu. 1ª Ed. México: Secretaría de Educación Pública, Graó, 168 p.

[14] Santrock, John W. (2003) Psicología del desarrollo en la Adolescencia. Madrid: Mc Graw Hill, 487p. ils.

[15] Salazar Sotelo, Julia. (2006). Narrar y aprender Historia. 1ª Ed. México: UNAM, Dirección General de Estudios de Posgrado, Programa de Posgrado en Historia, Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, 204 p. (Colección Posgrado).


[1] OECD (2008) Education at a glance 2008. OECD Indicators. Paris, 2008. p. 43, 52, 100, 105-108.

[2] Instituto de Educación Media Superior del DF. (2009) Informe Anual de Actividades. De marzo de 2008 a marzo de 2009. p. 4, 13.

[3] Santrock, J. W. (2003) “La escuela” en Psicología del desarrollo en la adolescencia. p.191-192.

[4] Burke, P. (1991) “Overture: The new History, its past and its future” New perspectives on Historical writing. .p. 11.

[5] Cannadine, D. (1987) “British History: Past, Present-and Future”. Past and present. No. 116. p. 177 Apud. Sharpe, J. “Hisory from below” Burke, P. Op. Cit. p. 34.

[6] Buxarrais, María Rosa et. al. (1997) La educación moral en primaria y en secundaria. Una experiencia española. p.29-49.

[7] Zorrilla Alcalá. Juan F. (2010). El futuro del bachillerato mexicano y el trabajo colegiado. Lecciones de una intervención exitosa. p.107. Class books and other didactic materials are useful to encourage the handling and understanding of topics in the classroom.