TUSD’s MAS curriculum for grades K-12 includes Aztec spirituality Part II


Nahui Ollin: Bringing Harmony and Balance Through an Understanding of Tezcatlipoca is a lesson plan offered through TUSD’s Mexican American Studies Department. The lessons underlying goal “guiding this unit is to begin to transform the negative impact of colonization and the tragic effects it has had on indigenous people of this continent for the past five hundred years.”

The ambitious lesson plan is offered to kindergarten students through grade 12. It includes “Unit Concepts:”

•Aztek/Mexika Cosmology
•Inner Balance/Harmony

According to the lesson plan, “the concepts embedded in this unit will be re-introduced as genetic memory will be activated. As such it is hoped that the energy, through the contents of this unit, have a transforming effect on all who participate with the understanding that decolonization starts with decolonizing one mind at a time.”

The lesson warns instructors to, “not allow the Nahuatl concepts to intimidate you. This is a beautiful “teaching” moment as the students can witness your struggle and growth with the content. Thus making yourself vulnerable to your students; more human, not… “all knowing”… Education is an arduous task and there is a beautiful quality in this endeavor. Therefore, students should be allowed to witness this process.”

The plan’s developer, Norma Ballesteros writes that the plan is, “rooted in spirituality and indigenous knowledge and wisdom, this unit is centered on self-reflection in the context of appealing to the development of every aspect of a child: emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual. Equally as important the unit was created to foster interdependence with nature thus introducing the need to have a relationship with it.”

She describes the lesson as “imparting values and the understanding of a value system that is thousands of years old, yet still applicable, and it serves to guide us on our journey of life. Reflection, knowledge, will/action and transformation are the focus of the unit.”

This material was turned over by the district to the state, in a Discovery Request, as part of the district’s appeal of Huppenthal’s finding. It was found in a file marked, “elementary.” TUSD’s Superintendent Dr. John Pedicone testified that the district has not made any changes to the classes since before the finding by Superintendent Huppenthal that the classes violate state law.

In her testimony in the appeal, TUSD teacher Julie Elvick Mejia, discussed at some length the importance of Aztec spirituality in her classroom. She testified that her students began their current school year with the “Four Sacred Elements to Becoming Human” as outlined in this lesson.

The ongoing appeal has included testimony from another TUSD teacher and parent who described a rally organized by Gonzales which had initially been intended to show opposition to Arizona’s controversial immigration law SB1070; however the district would not allow this. As a result, the rally focused on the Aztec people. “It was not about participation in history” but about their “religious beliefs.”

Another long time educator said of the materials in this lesson plan, “The lessons themselves all look good…until you consider the content itself, some of which does not belong in a public school and a lot of which is not appropriate for young children who do not have the skills to (a) separate fact from fiction and (B) understand they are being indoctrinated.”

The lesson asks two significant and telling questions:

What is our responsibility to society, to ourselves, to the world? How do our actions speak louder than words?

Why is important for change to take place?

Curriculum provided courtesy TU4SD