John A. Britton. Molding Their Hearts and Minds: Education, Communications, and Social Change in Latin America. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1994. xxix + 249 pp. $84.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8420-2489-1; $27.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8420-2490-7.
Reviewed by Paul Rich (University of the Americas)
Published on H-LatAm (March, 1996)
Titles in English on Latin American education are not that numerous. When such a well-edited one full of interesting material appears, albeit from already published sources and with two or three poor chapters, there is cause for rejoicing. It is hard to think of anyone with even a limited interest in in the subject who will not discovery something in this collection. The book is in the Scholarly Resources series Jaguar Books on Latin America, edited by William Beezley of Texas Christian University and Colin MacLachlan of Tulane University. Other books to appear under the imprint include The Indian in Latin American History, Tropical Rainforests, and Money Doctors: Foreign Debts, and Economic Reforms in Latin America from the 1890s to the Present.
Dr.Britton has searched the literature diligently for appropriate material, so the book will lead readers to articles and books which might otherwise go unnoticed. That may be its single greatest usefulness, so the lack of an index and lack of an inclusive bibliography are doubly annoying. Their inclusion would have made this a much more helpful reference volume. There is a guide at the end to suggested readings and another to suggested films, but they are not substitutes for a proper bibliography and good index. Frankly these are very serious omissions in a book aimed at academics, and they cannot simply be dismissed as incidental faults.
There are four sections and fifteen chapters. The Colonial Legacy and the Nineteenth Century portion includes Mark Szuchman's "In Search of Deference: Education and Civic Formation in Nineteenth-Century Buenos Aires" and Angela T. Thompson's "Children and Schooling in Guanajuato, Mexico, 1790-1840". Universities in Ferment features Jeffrey L. Klaiber's "The Popular Universities and the Origins of Aprismo, 1921-1924" and Donald J. Mabry's account of the Mexico City student massacre of 1968, "The Great Conflict". Revolution significantly offers six chapters: Maria Elena Diaz's "The Satiric Penny Press for Workers in Mexico, 1900-1910"; Donald C. Hodges' "What is Sandinismo?"; Mary Kay Vaughan's "The Educational Project of the Mexican Revolution: The Response of Local Societies (1934 1940); Virginia Garrard Burnett's "God and Revolution: Protestant Missions in Revolutionary Guatemala, 1944-1954"; Ruth and Leonard Greenup's Education for Person"; and Joseph S. Roucek's "Pro-Communist Revolution Cuban Education". The final section, Problems of Institutionalization, offers John W. Donohue's "Paulo Freire -- Philosopher of Adult Education"; Kevin Healy's "Animating Grassroots Development: Women's Popular Education in Bolivia"; Alan Wells' "The Americanization of Latin American Television"; Gerald K. Haines' "The Projection of a Favorable American Image in Brazil" and "Elain C. Lacyt's "Autonomy versus Foreign Influence: Mexican Education Policy and UNESCO".
One difficulty with collections is that the reader may find one or two selections which are exciting and much which simply lies outside of his or her field. So the successful editor has to have some beau ideal of a reader in mind, a master electic who will find most of what has been picked to be relevant. For example, the first two chapters, those by Szuchman and Thompson, are squarely within the history of education. So are the subsequent Klaiber and Mabry contributions, as well as the Diaz, Vaughan, Burnett, and Greenup chapters. The Hodges chapter on Sandinismo is further afield and already dated. On the other hand, the Donohue piece on Freire offers little not said again and again elsewhere, and the Wells chapter on television is extremely dated. Yet they have some redeeming value as representing attitudes of their time.
The book might have been tightened up by seeking out more chapters in the spirit of the lead articles by Szuchman and Thompson and sticking more closely and conscientiously to what historians of education would appreciate. But none of the chapters is completely outside the pall, and there will be those who will appreciate the wide variety of topics.
The defense that the editor himself makes of his choices is that "...social critics have emphasized that much important learning takes place outside the classroom. While the one-room, rock-walled school perched on a mountainside in the Peruvian Andes and the bustling, croweded, urban school in a barrio of Mexico city are central to education, they share the spotlight in this volume with adults in night school learning basic literacy, factory laborers reading the pages of a working-class newspaper, and potential consumers watching the parade of enticing products march across a television screen."(xi) Few will disagree with that, but some will find the attempt to cover the whole panorma in a single to me to be either too ambitious or too much of a compromise.
Inclusiveness is also a strength, and Molding the Hearts and Minds would make an excellent text for an introductory course on Latin American education or a fine supplemental text for a general course on Latin America. A number of the selections are ones that this reviewer has long felt needed exhumation. The inclusion of an extract from Ruth and Leonard Greenup's Revolution Before Breakfast: Argentina 1941-1946, published in 1947, was gratifying. This is one of the most compelling (and frightening) accounts of fascism in Argentina during World War II, and deserves the notice that Dr. Britton has given it. Equally valuable is the Lacy extract regarding the strange influence which UNESCO had on Mexican curriculum, an article which surely would not have been noticed given its first publication in a little known journal. Collections should point to neglected sources, and this is a good example of that function being ably executed. In short, here is a well made, well-considered collection which, if fortunate enough to have a second edition with bibliography and index would be of even more value.
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Paul Rich. Review of Britton, John A., Molding Their Hearts and Minds: Education, Communications, and Social Change in Latin America.
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