On Monday January 3, classes at the Mantilla High School restarted – but without me. Over each day of the year’s end holiday I spent time meditating about whether I should quit or not, and I finally decided that I should.
On one hand I feel bad for the other teachers who are still hanging in there, and about those students who I’d come to appreciate. But on the other hand I felt a great desire to end the absurdity that’s consuming me.
It was absurd because the fact is I wasn’t teaching anyone (with rare exceptions, of course). The kids have no interest in learning and they react against anyone who wants to break the dynamic that culminates in fraud. It’s not just a few lost souls who are making things bad — if it were one could still fight — but it’s massive.
For these and other reasons, teachers have been leaving to the point that there are now only a few holding together the teetering school. One time I suggested to the Management Council that we take urgent and exemplary measures against some of the most “hardheaded” students,” but they didn’t listen.
Still reigning here is the concept of egalitarian education, which does a great deal of harm. Schools must be for those who deserve it by showing a positive attitude toward it.
In any case, my suggestion would have been a measure of questionable impact. The cause of the evil is deeper and more difficult to eradicate: a paternalistic vision of education that is associated with the political illness this country suffers.
Teaching here isn’t based on the genuine interest of children and teens. From very early on their vocations and curiosities are ignored or squashed, and they’re stuffed with materials of little interest to them.
This “teaching style” is coherent; it is designed and structured by a populist political regime and not a democratic one. As a result, when kids grow up and feel they have power, then — as is natural — they begin to disrupt the “educational” process by returning violence with violence. In the middle of everything is left the teacher, who must also become violent if they don’t want the lion to eat them for breakfast.
In short I’m leaving Mantilla senior high school, where I would work until I was hoarse, overloaded with students and groups (I was even designated an “outstanding teacher”). It’s been a while since I gave notice of my leaving so they wouldn’t be caught by surprise. Since then they’ve been looking for a substitute, but so far nobody has turned up.
Alternatively, I’m going through the process to begin teaching at a night school where people go because they understand the need to learn, or at least to have a degree, which is better than nothing.
I’ll continue helping the high school students who come to look for me at my house. That’s something I’ll love to do and I’ll do it for free whenever the interest comes from them.