Bad Experience

Photo: Katerina Bampaletaki

I was recently asked about the time when I used to teach. My teaching experience was with General Integral Professors*, teachers known as Emerging or “Instantaneous.” In addition to help in preparing to teach classes, I visited and assessed them in the classroom. Those guys were very young and came mostly from the eastern provinces.

Teaching as a profession has fallen out of favor, teachers receive no pay in CUCs, they are prohibited from traveling abroad, and the demands of dealing with rowdy students are very high, so nobody wants (or wanted to, I will talk about what I knew) to be a teacher.

These guys were trained to be teachers, worked and studied for a salary only of interest to someone of 17, 18, who came to the capital, and the boys did not have to serve their military service. They arrived timid and simple and not all but most, especially boys, they quickly caught on to the game to the situation.

Because the school system was like a boarding school, some used to buy candy and cigarettes to sell among students. Sexual relations with students (sex does not mean love) were common. I had prepare the exams and there was one time when I was going to give an exam in the afternoon hours and about eleven o’clock those responsible for my course called and told me to give them the test and scoring key with the correct answers.

The exercise was simple, answer true or false, match columns and stuff. By lunchtime the students knew, not answers, hopefully!, but the order of the scoring key. I turned it into a disaster for them by changing the order of questions.

At the end of year party, those boys from the provinces had transformed their image with Adidas or Nike shoes, Emporio Armani boxer shorts  coming out over those jeans that are discolored and broken from the factory; bright Dolce Gabbana tee shirts, colorful tattoos and teeth with gold caps showing the capital’s prosperity.

I knew the trick of exchanging grades for material goods, and judging by that look, much bartering had occurred. They felt they were not doing anything immoral, it was what had hit them and were getting profit as best they could or knew. With few exceptions, some are still “educating” the new generations.

*Translator’s Note: General Integral Professors are professors that are educated to teach right after they finish high school in a short period of time. The lack of professors in Cuba has led to this alternative.

Translated by: L. Rodriguez

April 9 2011

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