|Description||Pedagogy||About Aceves||One is the Sun|
Constructivism, inquiry based-lessons, higher order thinking skills, multicultural education; these head a list of approaches that public education is attempting to implement across the curriculum. They emphasize a more progressive form of learning. Constructivism views learning as a process of creating knowledge rather simply storing information. The inquiry approach builds upon the scientific process as a means of guiding students to more in depth efforts of learning. Multicultural education is a response both to the global economy as well as the growing amalgamation of world cultures in the United States.
These modes of learning place teachers more in the role of facilitators than dispensers of knowledge. Hands on activities, working in teams, learning centers and assessment that cannot be restricted to simple letter or numerical grades are also being encouraged. In this atmosphere educators are seeking models through which they can implement a more integral pedagogy. The Xinachtli (Sheen-ach-tlee) Project, a way of approaching all subject areas through concepts rooted in the Mesoamerican tradition, can be a very useful model for public education's attempts into higher realms of learning.
From 1996 to 2007, the Xinachtli Project was applied by several teachers at Canutillo Elementary with an effectiveness that significantly contributed to the overall academic success of the school, going from a campus rated by the state as being in the bottom half to the top 25 percent. It has not, however, been transformed into a set curriculum so that its lessons and approaches can be used by others. It is our goal to eventually do just that.
There is no literature per se on this model of education, namely because it is relatively unknown, yet its methodology is quite compatible with progressive contemporary notions of pedagogy. It is very much a constructivist model, promotes in depth inquiry, explores key concepts of social and cultural relations, and mirrors a concept that is best described as "applied chaos theory." For example, a classroom is organized so that each learning center reflects the activities of the whole classroom. The schedule contains time for individual and group work, learning center activities, and free time. A Xinachtli activity can be as little as one lesson a week to daily lessons, depending on how much a teacher wants to use this pedagogy and how effective she finds it.
The concepts of Xinachtli are universal in that they reflect principles developed out of the human effort to build a civilization where people see themselves as an integral part of the natural cycles. Its scientific grounding comes from fomenting a respect and awe at the vastness and complexity of Nature. This experience allows the creation of pedagogical models where learning is drawn on the natural state of children's inquisitiveness, playfulness, and awe of the simplicity of such things as planting and watching a seed sprout.