• Andrea Káram

Asociación Mexicana de Docentes de Artes

This is me, a young researcher, journaling about the journey...

Last night was my first meeting with the Mexican Association of Arts Teachers (AMDA), a roughly one-year-old group that started out of private initiative and that has no links to any political party. This non-governmental entity aims to become a bridge between the government, the institutions, and teachers that constitute the education system in Mexico. They want to accomplish this through policy advocacy, research, and by tracing the histories that have mis/shaped the current state of arts education in and out of the classrooms.

The few reports they have published make something very clear: they are determined, hard-working, and passionate about this. ‘This’ is rather broad though, but last night, when a lot of new members were introducing themselves and sharing why they had an interest in the association, I felt at home. I found common place.

Etien (the association’s president) said several times last night: “This is the first time in history that an association like this is formed, I don’t know what other efforts have been made from artists and arts educators to go straight to them and point out the problems, but for some reason, today, they are listening. We cannot take this lightly.”

I found this association through a report I read from them while looking for literature for my PhD candidacy examination. Then I saw the author’s name, Etien Daniel Fass Alonso, the name didn’t ring a bell and I have been researching this topic for a few years now. I thought it was odd that I hadn’t run into his work before because the topic is very specific. So I went and looked at his ResearchGate and his Academia profile. Read a few more things from him, and was intrigued by the sarcastic, direct, and a type of unfiltered tone he uses to talk about the realities of the arts within the education scene in Mexico. His narrative does not sound very “academic”, but the research skills are there and he is good at finding and using data. Something told me he was not publishing this out of a research agenda per se, nor was it for a higher education institution. I could read the rage in his words and the truthfulness of his concerns. So I did what any millennial researcher would do... Looked for him on Instagram, followed him, and sent him a private message. Here is the English translation:

“Daniel! I think you have a new fan in the academic world. I send you a message through but the more I keep reading your work the more I would like to ‘sit down’ and talk this out, via zoom perhaps? I am also from the North of Mexico (Sonora) and from what I read I see that we share the same frustrations about the terrible centralization of arts education in Mexico. Before you, I had not encountered other published work that talked so in-depth about this centralization problem. So, here is an ally and perhaps collaborator at some point. —Andrea”.

His response reiterated what I thought all along, this was not a “Researcher” fulfilling his duties. This was a musician and music educator genuinely concerned about this and doing this out of good will.

“Hi, thank you for your support. To be honest, I don’t think I had any academic followers, so thank you again. Without doubt, unity makes as all stronger. Sounds good to me, let’s talk it over.”

We “zoomed” a couple of days after that message. That could have turned into a 3-hour meeting, but my baby was crying and I had to stop our conversation. After sharing a lot of data he had analyzed about higher education institutions and reflecting on the many problems and histories around arts education, he said: “I cannot die after knowing this without making everything I can to fix it”.

Utopian? Maybe. Promising? Absolutely. But do I relate? A lot.

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