Gregorio Torres Quintero was one of the greatest figures in Mexican pedagogy. His work in education, in particular with his innovative onomatopoeic method, earned him recognition throughout Mexican society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Besides being a teacher, he was a politician, poet, orator, historian and a prolific writer of works, both educational and historical, which served not only to better teach the history of his country, but also to improve the way in how students learn.
Then we will immerse ourselves in the life of this educator, thinker and politician through a biography of Gregorio Torres Quintero, “Master Goyito” for his students, who made Mexico in his time a very up-to-date country in terms of education and culture.
Brief biography of Gregorio Torres Quintero
Gregorio Torres Quintero, whom his students affectionately call “Goyito’s teacher”, is a very important figure in the history of Mexico, so much so that it is in the rotunda of the illustrious men of this country. He was a teacher, pedagogue, politician, historian and writer and his desire to learn to teach abroad made him one of the main motivators of various educational reforms, bringing innovation to Latin America.
He was a strong advocate that books were no substitute for the figure of a teacher. The teacher, through his work, helps the pupils to learn the content, which must be adapted according to their age because, according to Torres Quintero, one of the teaching mistakes of his time was to think that boys and girls learn like adults. Moreover, he believed that if what they were taught was limited to memorizing data, dates and battles, the students would learn little.
Gregorio Torres Quintero was born in Las Palmas, in the Mexican state of curiosities, on May 25, 1866. He was the son of a humble shoemaker named Ramon Torres who allegedly arrived in Colima fleeing a priest he had injured after making his sisters pregnant. Gregorio’s father had to flee the kings, Michoacán, going aimlessly all over Mexico until he reached Colima and had his son here.
The young Gregorio realized his studies in the Lycée des Hommes de Pujol and was called like teacher in 1883, beginning the teaching profession with only 17 years. After teaching in the schools of his native state for four years, he received a scholarship in 1888 to study at the National School of Teachers from which he graduated in 1891. At this time, he will meet Enrique C. Rébsamen, a Mexican educator of whom he would be a disciple..
Back to Colima
In 1892 returned to Sight on and founded the School Model of education of primary, normal and tax collectors. Over time, he will become the principal of the Porfirio Díaz school and will then manage to be head of the Education and Charity Section of the Government Secretariat and inspector of educational institutions throughout the state of Colima. In this post, he applied a series of educational measures, the Colimense school reform, which made him known in his country.
The 19th century was a period of profound and great educational transformations in the state of Colima, introducing changes in the educational perspective. He moved from traditional Lancasterian doctrines to a school reform where the teacher was seen as a key figure in learning. The reform of Torres Quintero was motivated by the need to improve the educational landscape of the region.
May 7, 1894]Gregorio Quintero Towers obtained that the executive power promulgated a law drawn up by itself in which it was determined that the public education of this secular, free and compulsory era. In addition to making school education an obligation, the law addresses various issues such as curricula, types of exams, vacations, rewards and punishments, and ultimately how classes are to be organized and schools.
After Rebsamen’s death
During the period from 1898 to 1904, Gregorio Torres Quintero worked in the direction of primary education of the Federal District and the Territories. He changed post on the death of Enrique Rébsamen in 1904, becoming head of the primary and normal education section of the public education and fine arts section. Torres Quintero and Rébsamen did not differ in terms of pedagogical credo, however, Gregorio was more in favor of objective or intuitive teaching to make it more enjoyable and attractive to students.
He would also be a teacher at the teacher training colleges and preparatory schools and advisor to the Education Secretariat during this period. From 1910 he succeeded in occupying the post of vice-president of the National Commission of Public Education and, a year later, would become its president. In August 1913 he returned to teaching, this time to the National Preparatory School and also to the National School of Masters.
In the year 1916 was sent by the constitutional government to the state of Yucatan with Governor Rescuing Alvarado to be in charge of the Direction of the Department of Public Instruction of the region. A little later, I would take the opportunity to visit the United States and study everything related to school organization and modern teaching methods which were the latest trend north of the border. In 1918, he returned to the capital of Mexico, devoting himself again to writing school texts.
The last years and death
His trip to the United States wouldn’t be the only one he made during his lifetime. Motivated to know firsthand what were the latest trends in education in the world, he decided to travel to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa during the period 1926 and 1928, already a bit in years.
Barely six years after his last trip outside Mexico, Gregorio Torres Quintero died in Mexico on January 28, 1934, at the age of 70. Two years later, on May 15, 1936, he was declared meritorious of the State of Colima and, almost 50 years later, in 1981, his remains were transferred to the Rotunda of Illustrious Men by decree of the President. Jose Lopez Overture and Pacheco, sanctuary in which the most important figures in Mexican history are buried.
Contributions to Mexican education
Among the merits of Gregorio Torres Quintero, there is the fact of being the creator of the law of public education in his country. He was an indefatigable critic of the textbooks of the time and of the use to which they were put, as much those who saw them as the perfect substitute for the figure of the master; however, Torres Quintero considered the image of the teacher to be fundamental to being able to ensure that the students acquired the knowledge.
He was opposed to teaching a philosophical history in elementary school and reducing teaching by trying to get students to memorize data, dates and battles without understanding anything. To combat this, Torres Quintero came up with a story in the form of a story in which the way of telling has stimulated the interest of children, who cannot be considered adults or expect them to be. learn like adults. The information taught to them must be adapted. One of his best-known maxims on this issue is:
- “Each age has its characteristic features and it is essential to know and respect them, because in biology the caterpillar, the cocoon and the butterfly are respected.”
Another of his contributions, very famous in fact in his native country, is to have created an onomatopoeic method for teaching reading and writing., Which is still in effect today in Mexico. This is based on natural sounds to know letters, syllables and words, as well as to promote phonetic awareness. This method, largely inspired by Rebsamen’s ideas, played a very important role in the literacy of Mexicans at the beginning of the 20th century.
His new conceptions of education attracted a true golden age for education in Mexico, as he renewed the pedagogy of his native country by bringing new foreign ideas. He collaborates with Justo Sierra and José Vasconcelos and draws a lot of inspiration from the teaching method of Maria Montessori. He has acquired in Mexico the most modern methods of the moment, will address current pedagogical problems and try to make the most of the technology available in education.
Gregorio Torres Quintero: prolific author
In life, Gregorio Torres Quintero has written more than 30 books and articles on pedagogical, historical, costumbristas and stories subjects because besides politician and pedagogue, he was also a historian, poet and orator. In addition, he has collaborated with several magazines specializing in the field of education, including “Modern Education”, “Contemporary Education”, “School Yucatan” and “Primary Education and Education”.
Among his texts and stories we have:
- Mexican homeland
- Elements of national history
- Onomatopoeic method of grammar and reading
- The Mexican Children’s Reader
- The Mexican Encyclopedic Reader
- A family of heroes
- Tales of Colimot: descriptions, tales and events
- Aztec legends
- Aztec festivals and customs
On the language of Mexico
One aspect that we could consider as controversial of Gregorio Torres Quintero has to do with his rudimentary instruction law, ordered by order of the last secretary of public instruction in the government of Porfirio Diaz, Jorge Vera Estañol. this law prioritized the literacy and Spanishization of all Mexicans to make the Spanish language the national language of Mexico.
Gregorio Torres Quintero was aware of the linguistic diversity of the country, the United Mexican States being a land full of indigenous languages still spoken at the beginning of the 19th century. He considered that they constituted an obstacle to the formation of the national soul, and also believed that their preservation would involve economic difficulties, paying more attention in his opinion to make all Mexicans speak Spanish. He believed that indigenous languages would only concern antiquarians and linguists.
This opinion in which he is in favor of the linguistic homogenization of Mexico led him to create a rivalry with Professor Oaxaca Abraham Castellanos, A defender of Mexican multilingualism and its characteristic cultural heterogeneity. Castellanos believed that public schools should be equipped with their own tools for learning agricultural and other manual labor, as this would be the best way to prepare students for adulthood, as the Mexican economy was heavily dependent on the land for it. ‘time.
- Torres Quintero, Gregorio (1917). A family of heroes. Mexico, CDMX. Author’s edition.
- Muñoz, Rubén Arturo (1977). Encyclopedia of Mexico. Volume 12. Mexico, CDMX., Pp. 195-196.
- Hernández Corona, G. (2004). Gregorio Torres Quintero: His Life and His Work (1866-1934), University of Sight (2004). ISBN 970-692-153-2.