Sáenz, Moisés (1888–1941)

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Sáenz, Moisés (1888–1941)

Moisés Sáenz (b. 1888; d. 1941), Mexican educator. Sáenz was born in Monterrey and studied at a Presbyterian preparatory school in Coyoacán. He received his teaching degree from the Escuela Normal of Jalapa, studied at the Sorbonne, and completed his graduate studies at Columbia Teachers College in New York, where he became a disciple of John Dewey. He was influential in Mexican revolutionary education when, as undersecretary of education in the Plutarco Elías Calles government (1924–1928), he fleshed out a program of rural education based on Dewey's notions of action education. The Casa del Pueblo, as the rural school was called by the then secretaría de educación pública, was designed to teach farming, hygiene, horticulture, apiculture, aviculture, and civics through student-operated gardens, beehives, orchards, chicken coops, and producer and consumer cooperatives. Sáenz was a strong advocate of indigenous and rural integration into a modernizing, Western society.

Sáenz was known for promoting North American ideas in Mexican education and was singled out by some Catholics as a propagandist for Protestantism. Nonetheless, after José Vasconcelos, no other Mexican has had as much influence on rural education. Sáenz was also influential in the creation of Mexico's system of secondary schools and the Casa de Estudiante Indígena. He held many educational posts in Mexico, organized the Primer Congreso Indigenista Interamericano, and served as Mexican ambassador to Denmark, Ecuador, and Peru, where he died in 1941. He was the author of several books, including Sobre el indio peruano y su incorporación al medio nacional (Mexico, 1933); Carapán: Bosquejo de una experiencia (Lima, 1936); México íntegro (Lima, 1939); and, with Herbert J. Priestley, Some Mexican Problems (Chicago, 1926).

See alsoEducation: Overview .


Ramón Eduardo Ruíz, Mexico: The Challenge of Poverty and Illiteracy (1963).

John Britton, "Moisés Sáenz, nacionalista mexicano," in Historia Mexicana 22 (July-September 1972): 77-98.

Mary Kay Vaughan, The State, Education, and Social Class in Mexico, 1880–1928 (1982).

Additional Bibliography

Pedraza Salinas, Jorge, and Manuel Pérez Ramos. Moisés Sáenz, educador vigente. Apodaca: Presidencia Municipal de Apodaca, N.L., 2001.

Vaughan, Mary K. Cultural Politics in Revolution: Teachers, Peasants, and Schools in Mexico, 1930–1940. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997.

                                     Mary Kay Vaughan