UT Historian leads major Tejano history curriculum project
Posted: January 25, 2012
Professor Emilio Zamora
UT History Professor Emilio Zamora is playing a key role in an innovative new public-private partnership to bring Tejano history into Texas public schools and public spaces. Dr. Zamora will be collaborating with Professors Cynthia Salinas and María Fránquiz from the College of Education at the University of Texas. The project is sponsored by the Tejano Monument, Inc., a ten-year initiative to erect a monument on the grounds of the Capitol commemorating Tejano history, and involves collaborations with the Austin Independent School District and the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC), an entity of the City of Austin’s Division of Parks and Recreation.
The Tejano History Curriculum Project is a multifaceted program that will include teacher training and innovative instructional materials for fourth and fifth grade Texas social studies classrooms. In addition, the project will reach out to a wider audience of parents, teachers, and youth in summer camp settings at the MACC.
At the core of the curriculum project is a set of forty “journey boxes” containing a themed collection of primary documents (e.g., paintings, letters, articles, speeches, maps, etc.) and corresponding instructional guides on Tejano history. Developed in cooperation with professional historians, forty undergraduate classes enrolled in curriculum writing classes, and University of Texas curriculum development specialists, these “journey boxes” will offer creative educational resources for understanding history and in developing important learning skills.
The material in the journey boxes will provide students an understanding and appreciation of the emergence of a new Tejano community and the relationship between regional experiences and larger historical trends in U.S. and Mexican history. Students will select aspects of this history—e.g., European explorations, settlement activities, international conflict, the emergence of a Tejano community during the 19th and 20th centuries—to prepare performance or narrative interpretations that demonstrate their learning experiences.
The curriculum project will also provide the elementary school students an opportunity to perform and exhibit their work during the installation ceremonies of the Tejano Monument on March 29. The 33-foot bronze sculpture depicts a vaquero on horseback, a Spanish explorer, a longhorn bull and cow, and a couple holding an infant, signifying "an enduring legacy that both acknowledges and pays tribute to the contributions by Tejanos as permanent testimony of the Spanish-Mexican heritage that has influenced and is inherent in present-day Texas culture," according to the Tejano Monument's web site.
Attracting over a million tourists and visitors each year, the The Texas Capitol grounds will provide high visibility for the monument. An unveiling ceremony will also be accompanied by a parade on Congress Avenue and a scholarly conference at the Texas Capitol.
“My hope is that we can enrich the curriculum to motivate the students’ interest in our past and, in the process, improve their research, writing, and critical thinking skills,” conveyed Dr. Emilio Zamora, the project’s Principal Investigator and vice-chair of the advisory board of the MACC. Dr. Zamora became associated with the project through his extensive involvement in public service with the Latino community. He values public service as a way of grounding his research and writing as an academic historian.
“Our plan is to continue the second year with teacher training workshops that promote our model of curriculum development and implementation in school districts throughout the state. In the end, we hope to have helped teachers and students develop critical learning skills and a fuller appreciation for Tejano history,” Dr. Zamora stated. This project will also benefit the University of Texas undergraduate students involved in writing the curriculum, as well as the five Austin AISD teachers who will be implementing it under the supervision of Professors Cynthia Salinas and María Fránquiz in the College of Education.
The Tejano History Curriculum Project is funded through the generous support of the Walmart Foundation, the International Bank of Commerce , and R&P Ramirez Ltd. Through the work of these diverse institutions and the passion of individuals like Dr. Zamora, Tejano history from the colonial period to the early twentieth century will be given new life in our public schools and in our community at large.
The Tejano Monument: A Capital Grounds Legacy Sculpture
Groundbreaking coverage in the Austin American Statesman (Jan. 12, 2012)
Professor Emilio Zamora's faculty home page: