By Fabiana del Valle
HAVANA TIMES – Ever since Nadia began pre-school, I became a “tyrant mother”. I’m not kidding, that’s what some people call me. I admit that I added hours of study at home for her, new worksheets and of course, days off. I know that studying can’t be everything, that she also needs to enjoy her childhood.
Before the pandemic, I needed to be my daughter’s teacher. It’s not that I’m complaining about the education system here with all of its pros and cons. The thing is though, that I see the flaws better because I’m critical and nonconformist.
I understand that it must be hard for a person to enter a classroom every day and face children who have their heads full of dreams. But the hardest thing for teachers in Cuba is leaving their problems outside of the classroom. How can they teach a Science lesson when they still haven’t discovered the formula to put food on their children’s plates?
I just needed to take a look at Nadia’s notebooks to understand the shortcomings. The blank spaces I needed to fill, while her teachers go out and hunt for chicken, rice, cooking oil.
When the pandemic came, every parent was forced to take on the role of teacher. It’s been a great feat for many and they’ve found it hard, while others console themselves with the idea that schools will be kinder and their children will pass the grade with all of the shortcomings that have been piling up.
It hasn’t been so hard for me as I’ve had experience backed up on my hard drive. Of course, my parents have helped me on this educational quest! I had to revise things I’d forgotten, seek out more updated information, learn and explain like a proper professional.
I enjoyed the process, I showed her the way, I taught her how to think. Although this has warranted a telling off or two from my parents.
I admit I share their fears. I don’t know if my daughter is ready to go to school. She won’t be able to speak her mind there, she will have to learn to lie if she wants to get good grades, swallow her own opinions in a more and more dystopian reality.
I can’t teach her double standards. How do I explain to her that lying is the right thing to do if you want to survive? This is my failure or victory as a teacher. According to some people, I’ve raised a “little monster” in these almost two years of lockdown, who doesn’t repeat doctrines like a parrot, who can create.
But I have peace of mind knowing that today, she knows all of her fifth-grade subjects off by heart. That she has the skill to tell really good stories, and that every day she masters the mysteries of color a little better, as she manages to make hues that I’ve never seen before, in spite of my years of studying and practice.
I don’t know if I’ve been a good teacher, I just know that I’ve given her the keys to her own path. But I’ll follow her steps closely. I’m not going to let anyone dim her light, or stop her from recognizing that anonymous point between black and white.