Teaching Students About Malverde: A Guided Approach to Understanding a Folk Hero


Mexican culture is rich with historical figures, myths, and legends that have influenced its people’s way of thinking for generations. One such figure is Jesús Malverde, a notorious figure from the late 19th and early 20th centuries who has achieved status as a folk hero. This article seeks to provide a guide on teaching students about Malverde – his origins, beliefs about him, and the impact he has had on contemporary Mexican society.

1. The Origins of Jesús Malverde

Begin your lesson with the history of Jesús Malverde, an outlaw who operated in the state of Sinaloa during the turn of the 20th century. He gained notoriety for his Robin Hood-like behavior – stealing from the rich to give to the poor.

Teach students about Malverde’s life, including key events that shaped his story. Discuss how he was created from a mix of influences – some say he was inspired by real-life figures like Heraclio Bernal or Felipe Bachomo; others believe he was based on a purely fictional character. Encourage students to compare and contrast these different perspectives.

2. The Legend of Malverde – Folk Hero or Folk Saint

Depending on cultural beliefs and viewpoints, Jesús Malverde can be seen as either a folk hero who fought against corruption or an unofficial Catholic saint who intercedes in desperate situations, particularly for narcotics traffickers and other criminals seeking divine favor.

Encourage students to explore this duality by comparing multiple sources that paint different portraits of Malverde. Discuss how societal attitudes and personal beliefs can shape our understanding of him.

3. The Influence of Jesús Malverde in Popular Culture

Introduce students to the role Malverde plays in present-day Mexico and elsewhere – from music (such as narcocorridos) to artwork (Malverde-themed murals), his image is widely used as a symbol of resistance or divine protection.

Have students analyze song lyrics, watch movie clips, or visit websites dedicated to Malverde. Discuss how these artistic expressions reflect cultural attitudes towards crime and authority figures in present-day Mexico.

4. Conclusion and Takeaways

Conclude the lesson by recapping what students learned about Jesús Malverde – his origin, how he is perceived by different groups, and the influence he has on contemporary society. Engage in a group discussion on the broader theme of legends and folklore – what can we learn from such stories, and why are they an important aspect of cultural heritage?

By incorporating these elements into your lessons about Jesús Malverde, you can provide your students with a comprehensive understanding of this complex figure and encourage them to engage in critical thinking about the myths and legends that continue to shape societies today.

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