HAVANA TIMES, March 21 — A few weeks ago I participated in one of the most impression-making meetings in all of my short life. It took place in the school where I’m currently a teacher, where those present consisted of the teaching staff as well as most of the administration.
I heard all kinds of nonsense being batted around. Methodology, grammar, ethics and even humanitarianism emerged in the heat of the discussion that proved to be the focus of the meeting: student and teacher discipline.
To begin with, the principal was absent; nevertheless the discussion took the same turns as all meetings in this country. First, the vice principal launched a general attack against all of the teachers. Shortly after, some of them did what they could to clean their good names.
Since I didn’t feel that I was one of the ones particularly in question — in part because I’m new and, because of that, I haven’t been “corrupted” yet — I simply kept my mouth shut and observed. In doing this, I was able to note some important details.
Supervisors demand compliance on the job even if we aren’t provided the means to do so. The meeting touched on, for example, the issue of people getting to work late and the often insurmountable difficulties posed by our public transportation system.
Of course no solution came to the minds of anyone present for solving the teacher transportation quandary. All that was heard was the emphatic statement, “Then you’re just going to have to do whatever it takes to get here on time.”
In my case, that “doing whatever it takes” means paying five pesos to squeeze up into a truck, simply because I hate being late. But unlike many others, I’m able to do that; I don’t have any children or anyone to take care of.
In the middle of the tirade, one got teacher reamed out for fiddling with her cellphone. But then she continued playing with it when some of her co-workers stood up to “make it clear” that not all of that trashing needed to be directed at them.
This “making it clear” was the funniest and most surprising occurrence of that afternoon: There was a Spanish-literature teacher who said “shant” instead of “shouldn’t,” and another teacher — petrified over having to defend herself — admitted that last year she had given all the exams to sophomores beforehand, and so on.
What was the most surprising of all was that no one in the administration took any action in response to that confession. Whatever the reasons might have been for that action, it wasn’t justifiable.
At the conclusion of the meeting, everyone stampeded out, including the administration. Crazy about getting home, in their faces there wasn’t the slightest degree of anger over the issues that had just been discussed.