Whereas the Canadian and US educational systems have been influenced by their British ancestry, the Mexican educational system is based on its French and Spanish ancestry. The different beginnings have produced different approaches.
For the Mexican, the educational base is deductive reasoning; moving from the global towards the particular. However the last critical step of translating from the particular to application, or how to implement, is not emphasized.
By contrast the Canadian and US student is provided with a more concrete and practical education. The emphasis, particularly in the higher grades, is on “useful” knowledge. General knowledge is not valued.
The Mexican student is drilled in concepts and ideas. Credit is given for examinations, not participation or class work. The student learns to focus on the intellectual and on recall, rather than how to use the knowledge on a day to day basis.
Presentation is often as important as content. Programs at all levels focus on general knowledge rather than in-depth learning. The student is conditioned to accept a very regimented classroom and behavior. The exceptional student soon learns to “fit in”.
The Canadian and US student is trained to understand concepts and their application. Problem solving skills are developed. There is greater freedom of expression and tolerance for individual expression.
The gifted student is often acknowledged and receives extra support through placement in an accelerated program, or given extra challenges.
Where the Mexican student receives a broad education, their northern counterparts focus on specific areas and achieve a greater depth of knowledge.
What are the implications of all this? – Mexico produces citizens and employees who have an excellent general knowledge of the world, Mexico, culture and current affairs. But also produces people who have learned to conform; that form is better than substance; a reluctance, due to training and concern over losing face, to resolving problems directly and implementing new or different techniques.
Canada and the US produce, citizens and employees who are well trained in specific areas, good problem solvers and have little reluctance to confront. However, they are usually limited in their general knowledge and interests beyond what they have specialized in during their education.
The comparisons in the following Table are reproduced from Management in Two Cultures – Bridging the gap between US and Mexico, by Eva Kras, with permission from Intercultural Press Inc., a company specializing in Cultural publications.
Comparison of Mexican and Canada/US Education Table
|5 years||12 years|
|Primary – 6 years|
Junior High – 3 years (Secundaria)
Senior High – 3 years (Preparatoria)
University – 4 years
|Elementary – 6 years|
Junior High – 3 years
Senior High – 3 to 4 years
University – 4 years
|Primary teachers have Junior High plus Teacher’s College.|
University and most Senior High teachers have first level degrees; few have advanced degrees.
|All Elementary and High School teachers have first level degrees.|
All University faculty have advanced degrees.
|Large companies: most executives are University graduates,some have advanced degrees or post graduate studies.|
Smaller companies: some executives are University graduates, many of the older generation have Senior High School degrees.
|Almost all are University graduates and many have post graduate study or advanced degrees.|
|Great variation in levels.|
Many junior executives are graduates. Nearly all have completed High School plus further studies.
In the supervisory group, younger generation mostly have Senior High and/or Technical School degrees.
Older generation often have less education.
|University degree, or Junior College (two years), or Technical College (1 to 4 years)|
Some have advanced degrees such as a Masters in Business Administration.
|All have completed Primary and some have completed Junior High school.|
In Monterrey area, educational levels are generally above the national norm.
|Nearly all have completed Senior High school.|
|All have at least completed Junior High school and training in typing.|
Most have shorthand and elementary bookkeeping skills.
|All have Senior High school, Junior College, Technical College or University degree, in addition to secretarial training and/or other office management skills.|
For articles on areas of cultural comparison, see Cultural Comparisons and Management Comparisons