Education was one of the most important and solid pillars of the Anahuac civilization. The millennial civilizing work that evolved from generation to generation would not have been possible without an excellent education system, which not only maintained the governing foundations of the original project, but also inculcated in his children's children, knowledge, principles, values and the abstract civilization objective, consistently over several thousand years. The ancient Mexico education was compulsory and free.
"Nothing I have admired more, worthy of praise, than the care and order to raise their children by the Mexicans. Because in good understanding that raising and institutionalizing childhood and youth, lies all the good hope of the Republic, they gave in contributing to their children's gift and freedom, which are two parts of that age and make them busy in honest and helpful exercises." (Joseph Acosta. 1962)
Education in ancient Mexico was one of the Anahuac civilization pillars and family its genesis. Indeed, the education given in the nuclear family was the deep foundation of these pillars. Children and young people were exposed to a moral and ethical base through ancient principles and values that sought to train them in the attitudes and values of life, the world, family, work, society, the divine and sacred.
The father and mother, grandparents, uncles and family in general, lovingly nourished their children in the large family circle. It is for this reason that the terms "cencalli and cenyeliztli" fully expressed the importance of the family and education. Cencalli literally means in Nahuatl: "the whole house or all those who live in it". There is an indivisible duality in the culture of yesterday and today of the Mexican family and education. Cenyeliztli means: "status or nature of those who live entirely and jointly in a house".
78 Acosta, Joseph. Indies natural and moral history. FCE. Méx. 1962.
There were three basic institutions; the Telpochcalli79 or "House of youth", for the basic instruction of children and young people; the Cuicacalli80 or the "House of song", where they learned "Flower and song" (understood as wisdom and beauty81) to express their immeasurable spiritual force through art. Finally the Calmecac, or "The House of measure", center of higher learning, where the priests, administrators and leaders were formed.
Education began at home and the child was the center of attention and affection of the entire family. Babies were provided all the tender care that the family could give, but when the child turned seven years old was sent to the Telpochcalli and entered a system of strict discipline, strict order and scrupulous hierarchy. Girls and boys were treated equally as far as discipline. The educational system was the ―Spartan‖ type and was prepared for the "internal war" (Classical period).
Children and young people of both sexes, were taught not only science, as mathematics, astronomy, biology, or arts like singing, music and dance; In addition to learning to speak correctly; "read" and paint their codices, teachers taught them some to sow and harvest land, to build, carving, weaving and shaping. Others were taught planting, cooking, healing, raising children, growing plants, weaving and embroidery. The spirit of the ancient Mexico education was, "Forming an own face and a real heart" in children and young people.
Telpochcalli (in Nahuatl 'House of the young men‘), were centers where young people were educated, from age 15, to serve their community and for war. Unlike the nobles attending the Calmecac, sons of commoners, known generically as macehualtin, attended the telpochcalli. These schools for young people were located in each neighborhood or calpulli.
Aztec dance means that prehispanic dance activity that was practiced in the former City Tenochtitlan, belonging to the culture Azteca or, more correctly, Mexihca. Among other possible causes, this dance takes its name from Aztec, for being this Mesoamerican civilization, the last peak and dominance at the time of contact with the Spanish invaders. Another possible reason is that it was the culture mexihca which, through its institutions such as the Telpochcalli, the Cuicacalli and the Calmecac, pushing and consolidated this dancers art, among other arts, in the society of his time.
The flower is the par excellence expression of the beauty in all peoples. Beauty comes from harmony and the harmony of "the measure". Macuilxóchitl is then the harmonic perfection of the four directions of the existence and the center that unifies them and balances. In the Anahuac wisdom was transmitted through poetry. The metaphor was the tool to talk about the unspeakable. So "singing", symbolically named what western culture knew as philosophy.
The Calmécac82 was an institution that could attend only the best students. Young people starting their preparation in ancient and secret knowledge of the ancient grandparents were called "Warriors". They were called as such because they had to undertake the most difficult struggle that a human being can face. The fight within oneself; the battle to defeat "the internal enemy". This war was based on "Flower and song", which represents wisdom, philosophy and art. The Warrior goal was to let his "Heart Flourish" and feed from their loved ones. Beautiful metaphor, where the "war" is used symbolically, biophilous83 and spiritual. Warriors were prepared for the symbolic death to the material world and thus achieve eternal life of the spirit. This concept was Toltec from the Classical period. The Mexica, as we shall see later transgressed these principles as a basis for their imperialist expansion (Postclassical period).
These "total freedom warriors" were taken to the knowledge centers. By this centers are meant the so-called archaeological sites of the Classical period; they were not cities, ceremonial centers, fortresses, palaces nor pantheons. Surely these were knowledge centers of wisdom, that today, we find very hard to understand, but that we could call "engineering-energy", as they investigated life and the world through energy fields. These research and knowledge centers were isolated from the everyday life communities. However, the venerable teachers taught religion and wisdom, both to priests and cities administrators; as well as to the best young students that came from the Calmecac and who were sent to these ancient and mysterious places to become "flourished fruits" of their civilization.
The Calmecac ("the house of the lineage", Nahuatl pronunciation: [kalˈmekak]) was a school for the children of Aztec nobility (pīpiltin [piːˈpiɬtin]) in the Late Postclassic period of Mesoamerican history, where they would receive rigorous religious and military training. The calmecac is to be contrasted with the Tēlpochcalli ([teːɬpotʃˈkalːi] "house of youth") where mostly commoners received military training. Only a few commoners (mācēhualtin [maːseːˈwaɬtin]) entered the Calmecac, and those who did only trained for priesthood
The biophilia hypothesis suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. Edward O. Wilson introduced and popularized the hypothesis in his book entitled Biophilia.
"These are deep reflection testimonies, the most ancient heritage, in the field of education, from the indigenous Mexico. The old word is heard at home and in schools. It was the treasured lesson of those who exercised the magisterium in the telpochcalli, "House of youth", and the Calmecac, "row of houses" for higher education....In a number of codices or ancient books of paintings and hieroglyphic characters of ancient Mexico appears the temachtiani figure, the teacher, whose attributes coincide in many respects with another character whose figure is idealized and exalted in several ancient Nahuatl texts of the old tradition. This character is the tlamatini, the wise. The etymological meaning of tlamatini also relates to the one with the word temachtiani. Tlamatini is "who knows something, who knows things". Temachtiani is "who makes others know something, know what is on Earth" and, things that can be seen by men. "Those who exercised the tlamatini profession, ―wise", were precisely those who were responsible for the preservation and transmission of the testimony of the ancient word." (Miguel León Portillla. 1991)
Social norms had to be very sound, for structuring and maintaining a socio-spiritual project for thousands of years and that managed to survive, in the most essential aspects up to the present day. In effect, if we take as example Monte Alban in the Zapotec culture of Oaxaca. It is assumed that construction began in 500 BCE, and it was abandoned around 850 CE, which implies three things:
First, a permanent and massive construction work (the matter), with an architectural project that was not fundamentally changed (always used for what it was designed).
Secondly, it remained with a single line of philosophical and religious thought over 1350 years approximately.
Third, it had a food, social and educational system which allowed this prodigy. This is really surprising, because only a society with strong ethical, moral and religious principles could maintain and perform such a great social project with such a high social energy cost and with a great effort, maintaining by many generations, apparently without changes. Monte Alban was not an isolated case in the Anahuac, hundreds of the now called "archeological" sites that proliferate in the national territory. The values created by the society of the ancient Mexico, are the foundations upon which ―The profound Mexico‖ 84 rests, as talked about by Guillermo Bonfil.
"It is remarkable that at that time, and on that continent, an American indigenous people have practiced compulsory education for all and that there would not be a single Mexican child from the 16th century, whatever their social origin, which was denied schooling". (Jacques Soustelle. 1955)
The reader will find in this paragraph of the French researcher, in principle admiration, but immediately a colonizing attitude and of assumed superiority, because it says that it is admirable that in America (and not in Europe) and especially "an indigenous people" (and not the French people), had in the 16th century (even though most likely the educational system was born with the Olmecs, before the Christian era) this type of education (compulsory, free and extended) for the entire population, which in Europe was only achieved until the 20th century.
The first public school was created in Italy in 1596. Popular education in the Anahuac probably has its origins in the advent of the Olmec culture, three thousand years before Europeans. Confidence in education is one of the most important legacies of the ancient grandparents that make up contemporary Mexico.
"To be able to glimpse even a little on the education ideals among the nahuas, it is necessary to begin from another fundamental conception. We refer to what the Nahua sages came to consider the "human person"... "your face, your heart." Obviously these words are designated for the speaker or interlocutor. This was not found in isolated cases, but very often, i.e. in almost all speeches made in
“México profundo, a denied civilization‖ Guillermo Bonfil Batalla. CIESAS/SEP. 1987
Jacques Soustelle (3 February 1912 – 6 August 1990) was an important and early figure of the Free French Forces and an anthropologist specializing in pre-Columbian civilizations. He became vice-director of the Musée de l'Homme in Paris in 1938. He was elected to the Académie française in 1983.
accordance with the rules of the Nahua tecpilatolli, i.e. – noble or cultured language.
In ixtli, in yóllotl – the face the heart-, always symbolizes what today we would call moral features and dynamic principle of a human being. And it is interesting to note, albeit in passing, the parallelism that exists at this point between the Nahuatl and the Greek cultures." (Miguel Leon Portilla. 1980)
In the rich literature which preserves vivid fragments of ancient thought, we can find lights that can guide us on this vast wealth of educational heritage that makes up the essence of the "being Mexican". The Codex Matritense86 of the Royal Academy, notes:
The mature man:
strong heart as stone,
resistant heart as the trunk of a tree;
owner of a face and a heart,
skilled and sympathetic".
But the Nahuatl language, an ancient universe, contains very specific education concepts, which reveal a very rich world where our ancestors placed much emphasis. In fact, to get to know a culture is required to perceive it from the perspective of their Cosmo vision and in the case of language: from its "Cosmo audition" as affirmed by Carlos Lenkersdorf, 87 because the anahuacas people of yesterday and today, speak from the heart.
For example, the word -ixtlamachiliztli- which implies the action of giving or transmitting wisdom to external faces, speaks of the teaching-learning process or itech netlacaneco which means "Humanize what people want". Ancient Mexicans not only had public institutions such as the telpochcalli, cuicacalli or Calmecac, but within the Anahuac civilization, education was in itself an institution, central
86 ―The oldest version, the Codex Matritense, corresponds to the material recompiled in Tlatelolco in Nahuatl. It has five books, and includes 175 illustrations. Another version is the Madrid codex. This is a very heavily censored translation by Sahagún of the Florentine codex, done to appeal to the Spanish authorities.
87 “Learn to Listen”. p. 23
column which sustained the anahuaca society. Otherwise a thousand years of splendor and seven thousand five hundred of continuous human development cannot be understood.
Another very important aspect of education was teachers. The teacher embodies the same precepts of the "own face and the true heart". The master was a community Guide, beyond the classroom, because the teacher of all time educates with the example of his own life. The -temachtiani- teacher in Nahuatl language is defined in the Codex Matritense as follows:
―Teacher of truth,
Does not stop reprimanding.
Makes other faces wise,
Makes others take a face,
Makes them develop it.
Opens their ears, enlightens them.
Is a guide‘s teacher,
Shows them their path,
One depends on him.
Places a mirror in front of others,
Makes then sane and careful,
Makes a face appear on them...
Thanks to him, people humanizes their wanting,
And receive a strict teaching.
Makes their hearts strong,
Helps, remedies, take care of all‖.
Of the Teacher‘s talent, attitude and capacity depended the good performance of educational institutions, and on them, will depend the potential and permanence of any civilization or culture. The bases of a person, family or civilization are in the food, health, organization and education. We cannot conceive of the greatness of the Anahuac, its
monuments, works of art, their extraordinary knowledge and countless achievements, without an education system which at least was permanently operating during more than 30 centuries prior to the invasion and European destruction. And it cannot be denied that the legacy is still alive and latent in the being of the contemporary culture of Mexico. What is required is to wake her up, activate it to reorient our way.
"-The simple linguistic analysis of five Nahua terms with which the figure of the teacher or temachtiani is described, would constitute the most eloquent commentary about his mission in the Nahuatl world.
The first, teixcuitiani: "who-to-the-other-a-face-makes-take". Wonderful example of what we have called - Nahuatl language engineering-. It is composed of the following elements: the prefix te-(to others); the radical semanteme ix-(tli:face); and the participial form cuitiani ("that makes taking"). Together these elements, te-ix-cuitiani literally means (he who) "to-the-other-a-face-makes-taking".
The second term is te-ix-tlamachtiani: "who-to-the-faces-of-the-other-gives-wisdom". Again, we indicate the elements that comprise it: te (to others)-; Ix (tli: face or faces); tlamachtiani (that makes wise men, or makes them know things). The various semantemes together te-ix-tlamachtiani, is equivalent to "he-that-makes-wisemen-the-faces-of-the-other".
The third term: tetezcahuiani: "that-to-the-other-a-mirror-puts-front". Composed of te (to others)-; tézcatl (mirror), word which derived from tetezcahuani: "to mirror", or placed before a mirror. The purpose of this action is clearly indicated by adding in the quoted text, so that they become "wise and careful".
Fourth term: netlacaneco (itech): "thanks to him, humanizes-the-wanting-of - people". Applies to the teacher saying that itech (thanks to him); ne (people); tlacaneco (is dear humanely). This last term is in turn composed of neco (nequi passively: "love") and Talca (Tl) "men".
Fifth term: tlayolpachivitia: "make-strong-hearts". Composed of tla- indefinite prefix that connotes a relationship with "things or the most varied circumstances"; yól (otl: heart); pachivitia (makes strong). Then the various elements together: tla-yol-pachivitia means precisely "with regard to things, makes strong hearts".
Such is the meaning of these five attributes of the Nahuatl teacher." (Miguel Leon Portilla. 1980)
The concept of the Anahuac education was forming "own faces and true hearts" in the students, so it was not limited to academic aspects only. It went far beyond, to the depth of the feelings and personal and collective psyche. The moral and ethical aspect of education is the "Flourishing heart". The concept of "Humanization desire‖ involves educating the feelings and attitudes of the students. This corresponds to one of the highest principles of the anahuaca civilization, which is the shared responsibility with the divine as to "Maintain and humanizing the world".
Education received by ancient Mexicans, at their House, the calpulli, the temple and the school was based on solid ethical and moral principles, but fundamentally they were educated to serve the community.88 In fact, community service was the action of greatest social recognition, largely explains the continuity of the cultures and the monumental size of their works. It is very important to point out this valuable fact that is still alive, as a cultural heritage, in the indigenous and peasant communities of contemporary Mexico. Get an education to serve and govern obeying the irrefutable legacies of our ancient indigenous cultural heritage.
"Existed in Mexico many Calmecac, each annexed to a certain Temple. Its administration and the young people or the maidens‘ education depended on the Mexicatl Teohuatzin, - vicar general – of the Mexican Church. On the other hand, every neighborhood had many telpochcalli, whose administration was in charge of the telpochtlatoque – teachers
88 See:“Toltec Pedagogy”. Guillermo Marín. www.toltecayotl.org Book section.
88 of the young-, or if they were female, the ichpochtlatoque, - teachers of maidens-who were public and not religious staff". (Jacques Soustelle. 1955)
Currently, it is very common to confuse education with instruction. Education is a process which starts with birth and ends with death. The education includes the transmission of values, principles, feelings, attitudes, which allow people to guide their life in a comprehensive manner through "balance". Instruction or formal education on the other hand occurs in a certain period of life and consists on the transmission of a number of skills that allow the student to be inserted into productive life of the society and achieve self-sufficiency.
Many of the heirs of the ancient grandparent‘s culture have not been able to go to schools to get "instruction" and others cannot read or write, but most have a high education, in which the ethical and moral values allow access to a high quality of life. Ángel María Garibay K. translated from Nahuatl a hueheutlatolli where the task of the teacher is explained and allows a glimpse of the moral value of education.
"Beginning to teach them:
how they shall live,
how they shall obey people,
how to respect them,
how they shall surrender to the appropriate, the right,
and how to avoid the non-desirable, not right,
strongly fleeing from evil and greed.
Everyone there strongly received:
prudence and wisdom".
As it has already been noted, education was not limited to the school. The House, the calpulli, the family was perhaps the center and beginning of the educational system of the ancient Mexican. Children from birth to the age of seven were tenderly cared for at homes. But when they attended the telpochcalli their education became very strict and disciplined. The concept of educational institutions was that they should be self-sufficient. Reason why they were assigned farmlands for
the calpulli,89 so that the students and teachers prepared the land, planted and harvested. They made their land produce, exploited natural resources rationally, fished, hunted and gathered. But they also built and maintained their buildings and gardens. They produced their belongings, tools, textiles and clothing, according to the region and the resources. The concept was that in making self-sufficient schools, pupils learned to be self-sufficient at home. Education was from older to younger and very disciplined.
"They were carefully taught songs,
which were called divine songs;
for this they used paintings of the codices.
Also taught them the days count,
the book of dreams
and the years book."
As is known, all ancient grandparents‘ activities were intimately related to the religious aspects of their culture. Education was not the exception. Students combined academic study, with productivity, religion, sport and art. But basically it was meant to exalt and strengthen their moral and ethical values. The principles of community service, while maintaining their religious practices, traditions and customs, obedience to parents, teachers and officials. Temperance of character, self-control, body strength and the belief in ideals that the education system taught young people, was proportional and a reflection of the great cultural feats made by the Anahuac civilization through their various cultures in time and space.
89 In pre-Columbian Aztec society a Calpulli (from the Nahuatl [kaɬˈpoːlli], meaning "large house") was the designation of an organizational unit below the level of the Alphabet "citystate". A Nahua city state was divided into a number of calpullis that each constituted a unit where the calpulli inhabitants were collectively responsible for different organizational and religious tasks in relation to the larger altépetl. Calpullis controlled land which was available for calpulli members to cultivate and also operated the Telpochcalli schools for young women of commoner descent. In Aztec culture, as in most other civilizations, the family unit was very important. There were several levels of organization in Aztec family life beginning with the base family unit.
True History of an unknown MexicoHistoria Verdadera del México Desconocido