Erasmo Calzadilla

Victoria Ojalvo. Photo: Trabajadores

Victoria Ojalvo has spent nearly three decades devoted to instilling values in Cuban university students.  This is a task she carries out with love from her office at the Center for the Study of Improvement in Higher Education (CEPES).

Her efforts aim to make students “honest, responsible, and hardworking people, and that these attributes become a part of each youth’s personality.”

She recently urged, in an article published on February 8 in the weekly newspaper Trabajadores, that educators be neither impatient nor formulaic, since “values are not formed in a day”… “in a single moment one can achieve supportive behavior, but that doesn’t indicate this value has been formed.”

‘You must understand, that for a person to move from here to there requires a little bit more than honesty.  I believe you went too far with this one’s self esteem; it’s going to be necessary to reeducate that youth!’, came to mind.

The teaching of values in Cuba is done in a kind of knee jerk fashion.  I wish I had a laxative that would make me purge all the values Ojalvo and her comrades have been able to inculcate in me without my consent.

How is it possible that prestigious and experienced doctors of science have such a pathetic concept of pedagogy?  What right do those scientists have to manipulate the minds of people?

Cuban University Students. Photo: Caridad

What is their philosophical justification if even Karl Marx himself was against State-managed education; according to his own words it’s the State that needs the educating.

And also, in terms of the question of values, who should decide which ones are good or bad? Society perhaps?  Then, seriously, did they ask society or simply make assumptions?

Aren’t those the same doctors, with their absurd theories, who have generated such anti-social tendencies among the youth?  This is the basic and natural reaction of life in the face of such banality.

Experience has taught me that all this drivel about values only generates double standards and scorn for them, or —conversely— people who are submissive and devoid of identity.

But the issue is not so simple.  The ill-named “formation of values” is not only the work of a generation of morally virtuous educators who wanted to do good but made a bad choice of the means.

Instead, it is another symptom of the decadence engendered by over-centralized control, and it’s a requisite step in the establishment of a pro-classist culture in need of a cosmetic makeover, a role carried out successfully by the values Victoria wants to inculcate in us.


Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.

2 thoughts on “Instilling Us with Values

  • I’m sorry to say it, Erasmo, but you sound exactly like a young, single, childless person, lashing out at those authoritarian adults who keep trying to do their duty as parents and educators.

    The second you have a son or daughter to raise, your mind will make an enormous change, and you yourself will start trying to inculcate values, and do all those parent sorts of things.

    Right now–and any mature person who’s had kids will understand what I mean–you’re huffing and puffing and trying to blow the house down, just like kids–especially spoiled, petulant kids–have done since time immemorial.

    Your rant is expected from a kid, but you’re a grown man.

  • Your valid criticism would have more value, if Cuba — the state and its supporters, at least — weren’t ‘de facto’ at war with U.S. imperialism and its legion of various stooges, both inside and outside the country. So of course this fact allows these state functionaries and supporters to feel justified in cutting corners with people who don’t know any better, like the Youth. Not too good. But understandable. However, to criticize this process outside of such a very important context — that itself is wrong too.

    Criticizing socialist praxis and its practitioners from the Left is one thing. But doing it from the Right — that is quite another thing altogether; and you really should refrain from that. However it is your right to do so. Even to be wrong is your right; but that doesn’t make it a good thing. Right?

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