General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 24 Nov 2017/9 Rain
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Aztec father teaching hid children

Basic Aztec Facts: AZTEC TEACHING

The Spanish were struck by how good Aztec teaching was. One friar wrote that he admired nothing more than ‘the care and discipline with which the Mexicans raised their children’. Their secret? Encouraging youngsters to discover their own strengths, by ‘growing their faces’... (Written by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

An Aztec teacher with children outside a ‘calmecac’ school
An Aztec teacher with children outside a ‘calmecac’ school (Click on image to enlarge)

The Aztecs/Mexica people had different words for ‘education’. One was neixtlamachiliztli meaning ‘the act of giving wisdom to the face’. This means self-knowledge - in other words, finding out as much as you can about yourself, your strengths, talents and weaknesses.

Learning from an Aztec teacher
Learning from an Aztec teacher (Click on image to enlarge)

Part of ‘self-knowledge’ is self-control: the Aztecs were very hot on this. It’s the main reason they were so strict, at home and at school - to get youngsters to show restraint, to avoid temptation, to show constant respect and good manners, to be self-disciplined. This showed STRENGTH!

An Aztec black obsidian mirror in the British Museum
An Aztec black obsidian mirror in the British Museum (Click on image to enlarge)

Another part is learning more about your personality, about what you’d like to be in the world, about what you’re really good at. To do this, Aztec parents and teachers always talked about ’placing a large mirror, a mirror pierced on both sides’ in front of a young person.

Aztecs quarrying ‘mirror stones’ - from the Florentine Codex
Aztecs quarrying ‘mirror stones’ - from the Florentine Codex (Click on image to enlarge)

The idea of a double-sided mirror was so that the gods could see and guide you to your future, while you looked as hard as you could at yourself, to grow confident in your own abilities. They dug out both black and white obsidian ’mirror stones’ for this purpose.

An Aztec dad bringing his children to school
An Aztec dad bringing his children to school (Click on image to enlarge)

The Aztecs talked a lot about standing straight, ‘reaching for the sky’ we might say, striving at all times to be a GOOD member of the community, helping others find their good side too. Teaching’s purpose was ‘to endow the face with wisdom and the heart with strength’.

Mining obsidian - a volcanic glass used for mirrors
Mining obsidian - a volcanic glass used for mirrors (Click on image to enlarge)

SO: 1) Whatever you’re good at, DO IT WITH HEART and 2) Your ‘fate’ can be changed by the way you live your life - nothing’s fixed. All Aztec teaching was aimed at helping each person see this. If you ‘grow your face’ and ‘let your heart flower’, then you can be MORE THAN WHAT YOU WERE BORN TO BE. Cool, huh? So DIG DEEP, find your talents, and then let them SHINE...!

Aztec teaching in action
Aztec teaching in action (Click on image to enlarge)

Aztec MORAL: Whatever your background, you can achieve great things - and help others to do the same.

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Sep 06th 2017

If you want to learn MUCH more about this...

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