I never imagined that the difference between the private and
public sectors of educational institutions in Mexico could be so vast.
I went to a private high school and liked it a lot. Its buildings
were always neat and clean. The gardens were well kept and it was
always agreeable to be there.
We had plenty of rules that couldnt be broken without
getting in big trouble. For example, we all had to be on time for
our classes; if for any reason we were late we had to request permission
from the teacher to be allowed into class (and it wasnt always
granted). After our exercise hour we all had to change shoes since
tennis shoes werent allowed in class.
Most of our parents were professionalsdoctors, architects,
lawyers, politicians. They were quite involved in our education and
followed closely developments at school. They were always aware if
there were any problems.
Our teachers knew most all of us pretty well. I think this was
due to the small size of the classes or to earlier generations of
brothers and sisters. They usually knew our parents too, and never
hesitated to call them if they considered it pertinent.
When I went to enroll in a public college I had a completely
different experience, unfortunately not a very pleasant one. It is
located in a beautiful colonial building with a superb facade. In
the interior there was a majestic spiral staircase. However, the walls
that were supposed to be white were covered with red and black murals
featuring Che Guevaras face and other communist guerrillas.
The halls were full of trash, with students sitting on the floors
and smoking cigarettes that didnt smell like regular tobacco.
The classes were usually packed with more than fifty students,
including students from all the social backgrounds of Mexico. Some
students had to work to pay for their schooling while others were
chauffeured daily to college.
In the U.S. we set our own rules. Most teachers never took the
roll; (maybe it was a waste of time considering the size of the classes).
Students dressed as they wished, tennis shoes were among the favorites.
We could easily miss all the classes if we wanted to, we just had
to be sure to be there for tests and finals.
I think most teachers were great, with the exception of a few,
who were there because they had to be. It was hard to get to know
them, once again for the size of the classes. But they were there
if we needed them, if we wanted to ask questions after class.
For most parents it was difficult to know what was going on.
Changes in schedules and classes were sometimes hard to follow. From
now on was up to the students to keep the parents informed of what
was going on. Only few parents were as involved as had been the case
in high school. Most students were now doing everything by themselves
and for themselves.