Home Institution

College of William and Mary

Publication Date

Spring 2006

Program Name

Mexico: Grassroots Development and Social Change


Eighteen years of my short life have included attending school, and it would be difficult for me to define myself and my interests without involving some sort of illusion to the world of formal learning or my primary occupation of being a traditional student. I was born with a teacher as my mother and since then I have lived in a town with one of the best school systems in New Jersey, chosen to take several classes on topics related to education at The College of William and Mary, and planned to work in a field of education in my future. This being the case, my visit to SIIDENOFAL/CIDECI on the SIT program’s trip to San Cristóbal, Chiapas served to rekindle my fascination with the questions surrounding education that my life as a student has brought me to ask.

More specifically, my visit sparked questions of how our systems of education create and impact the world in which we live. Differential power dynamics, systemic economic inequalities, and cultural hegemony, all very relevant topics to the current world situation, are all directly connected with how and why education works…or fails. Learning about the poor quality, community-corrupting influence of the nationalistic education that has affected most of the impoverished population of Mexico in the Academic Seminar and Media Project of the SIT Oaxaca program, I had begun to wonder what would improve the situation. Rejecting schools altogether? Starting different schools? How? CIDECI’s alternative system of education piqued my interest in understanding a functioning, non-governmental institution that focuses on indigenous students and useful, skill-based learning. It led me to want to explore these questions in my research.

In this paper I will examine how SIIDENOFAL, and specifically CIDECI Las Casas, is an example of resistance to the current educational and world systems, not only due to its visible alternative curriculum, but in its practical form as well. First, I will provide a theoretical backdrop for my questions, discussing how educational theories and Mexico’s national system of education, historically and today, have created a need for alternatives like CIDECI. Then, to show how the goals of CIDECI are just one of its many ways of creating a viable otro mundo , I will explain its internal structure, stated goals, and decades of growth. Following this I will reflect on how its administrative workings, classroom environments, and community life all work to socialize and prepare its students for an alternative world, using my experiences as a student and my interactions with CIDECI’s students and teachers as support for my interpretations. In my conclusion I will shed light on CIDECI’s hopes, successes, and challenges in our changing world.


Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research

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