HAVANA TIMES — “We’re going to play”, I’ve heard my son, who studies at pre-university (senior high school), say this frequently, but it’s not playing an instrument that they’re talking about, of course, but to smoke certain cigarettes…
It’s clear that this is why they hide; one of the places that they have chosen is a part of the school that is half-destroyed, where supposedly nobody goes. They use the money their parents give them to have a snack to buy cigarettes. They smoke locked in the bathroom. Sometimes they greet each other and ask one another: do you have a bate (bat) there? Bate is slang, it’s a cigarette really.
The greetings they use are: What’s up! What’s going on asere! And they call each other papa, papi and loco all the time instead of calling them by their proper names. This is typical.
The music scene that surrounds them, what is trending right now, is rap and Puerto Rican reggaeton. Daddy Yankee, Nikki Jan, Farruko, Maluma. Meanwhile, other kids listen to electronic music, like Skriller. The latter are fans of manga magazines.
They love to “dar chucho” – when I was young we called it “cortar leva”-, that is to say, make fun of others, but these practices are becoming more regular, and they now include anybody, from the elderly, strangers on the street to teachers.
They call their parents “puros”, their mothers “mostra”, words that can make people laugh, but where vocabulary is transformed and violated.
Their conversations mostly center around soccer, the latest musicians, superhero movies, electronic gadgets. They spend their breaks attached to their phones, as if these were already another part of their bodies.
A boy in my neighborhood, who studies at the Technical Accounting High School tells me that there is a criminal environment there, students are agressive and they hate numbers. Why are they studying economy then? The answer is simple: for not having a good enough level to enter the pre-university studies, they have been given a chance at a medium level technical school, something like giving out left-overs.
Bad behavior is seen on an everyday basis, teenagers answer teachers back, they don’t hold back with their insults and their curse words; when they are told they have to cut their hair, that they can’t dye it another color, that they must wear their uniform trousers properly, not tailored, or tight, as if they were leggings. Girls have to wear long skirts (not miniskirts) and socks up to their knees.
Many teachers are to blame, because they don’t know how to deal with inappropriate behavior, they themselves wear these kinds of clothes to school. So on what moral grounds can they demand this of these young boys and girls, if they themselves do not comply with the established rules of proper clothing, as well as not commanding the respect that the teacher figure should?
Teenagers don’t want to comply with these rules, and they rebel, that’s understandable, it’s happened throughout history. Everybody who has an opinion is blamed for having external influences, internet access, alienation of the world, apathy, and the loss of human and civil values… however, this also happens because of the lack of appeal that education programs offer young people, where teaching becomes mechanical, all you have to do is memorize things, repeat like a parrot, without taking individuality and personal arguments into account. A foreign language, music education, research workshops about film, literature and history aren’t included in our education curricula. There are many ways of stirring up the curiosity of the student body, and taking them away from the trivial, at least during school hours.
Rigid education is the worst seed, it destroys the imagination, fantasy and kills off the candor of our youth.