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DEMOCRACY AND PERSONAL AUTONOMY IN THE PUERTO RICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM: A SOCIO-HISTORICAL SURVEY AND CRITIQUE OF EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

ROAME TORRES-GONZALEZ, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Abstract

This study seeks to examine the interrelationships in Puerto Rico between the school system and the political and economic spheres from the beginning of Spanish colonization (1508) up through the first three decades of U.S. rule (1898-1930). For the analysis, a critical socio-historical approach is employed which focuses on the ways in which the power configurations which prevailed on the Island during that period, shaped and were shaped by the developments in insular schooling. It is proposed that one of the main advantages of such an approach is that it may provide a better understanding of the socio-historical factors that have limited or facilitated the development of spheres of personal autonomy and democratic interaction in the Puerto Rican society, including its school system.^ The study shows first that under both Spanish and U.S. rule, schooling was characterized by a changing but nevertheless class elitist, patriarchal and racist structure; by its indoctrinating role (mainly in securing loyalty for the colonizing State and its institutions); and by its vocational orientation (in training for the liberal professions as well as, under Spain, for the Church clergy, and under the U.S., for the colonial State, educational and capitalist bureaucracies). In addition, it shows that while schooling expanded slightly during the 19th century with the growth of the agro-export capitalist economy, the Spanish colonial apparatus and the creole liberal sectors, no significant school expansion occurred until the period of U.S. rule. It is argued, moreover, that the main impetus for school expansion came from the strong drive of U.S. authorities to "Americanize" the Islanders and socialize them into a new colonial order, partially liberal democratic in character, but increasingly centralized, bureaucratized and commercialized. It is also argued that this drive was reinforced by the rising demands for mass schooling by an increasingly proletarized and organized working class, as well as by the rising demands of a growing intelligentsia and a declining, U.S.-displaced, local agrobourgeoisie, for school expansion as a source both of elitist employment and training (in its secondary and university levels) for the liberal and technocratic professions. ^

Subject Area

Education, History of

Recommended Citation

ROAME TORRES-GONZALEZ, "DEMOCRACY AND PERSONAL AUTONOMY IN THE PUERTO RICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM: A SOCIO-HISTORICAL SURVEY AND CRITIQUE OF EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT" (January 1, 1983). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. Paper AAI8401041.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI8401041

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