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Fund For Teachers Journey: Exploring Indigenous History Through Mexico

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    Sarah Norris

Alex Avalos, Greg Gentile, and Glen Meinschein teach at the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies in Brooklyn, NY (an NYC Outward Bound School). They were among the 2017 class of EL Education's Fund for Teachers (FFT) Fellows. Read more about FFT and what this long partnership has meant for EL Education here.

What Did They Set Out to Do?

Through an investigation of one of the most controversial figures in Mexican history, “La Malinche,” the teachers explored across Mexico themes of colonialism, feminism and indigenous history to engage students of different backgrounds and support their academic achievement.

Fft Interviewing Alex Greg Glen

Interviewing Chucho, a local tour guide who led us through la Antigua and gave us his perspective of La Malinche and the conquest.

Reflections from Alex:

“I have come to better understand how people across Mexico understand and preserve their history and heritage, especially when it comes to the conquest and cultural identity. Interviewing a number of strangers has also helped me with how to design meaningful questions. Seeing different historical perspectives and understanding that everyone operates with different finds of knowledge and limited perspective has also helped me to question how I approach learning and teaching about history.”

“Part of why we want to focus on indigenous history is because of the issues and oppression many indigenous communities still face. Examples of this include the Standing Rock protests, the Zapatistas in Chiapas, the Tarahumara in the north of Mexico, and how many indigenous communities are still silenced and forgotten in favor of colonialist narratives. We want students to not only be aware of indigenous history, but know that it matters, and that much can be done to help.”

Read much more about Alex’ experience here.

Reflections from Greg:

“Having to live in the history that we were teaching gave us a different perspective because now with a personal connection to the communities a different value has been placed on teaching and implementing this curriculum.”

“We hope to make our curriculum public when we finish it to encourage other teachers and schools to use and give their students a different perspective on this time period in history. Hopefully we can move away from the European-centric view of telling indigenous history.”

Read much more about Greg’s experience here. 

Reflections from Glen:

“My fellowship through Fund for Teachers allowed me to learn first hand about a topic that had fascinated me for some time. Through our explorations, museum visits, interviews, and conversations, we were able to better understand the legacy of the conquest of Mexico, and local perspectives on La Malinche’s controversial role in helping the conquistadores.”

“We feel passionately about challenging the Eurocentric manor in which history, especially the history of the conquest and colonization of the Americas, is frequently taught.”

Read much more about Glen’s experience here.  


Teachers: ready to think about your own funded learning adventure? Learn more about the Fund for Teachers application here!