Cuba: An Education in Values

Por Ariel Glaria

Junior High Students. Photo: Carol R. Campbell
Junior High Students. Photo: Carol R. Campbell

HAVANA TIMES — In a previous article, I mentioned how adjusting education to daily life involves a challenge for society. We don’t only want children and young people to go to school. We also want them to learn what society needs them to learn there.

Speaking of the explosion in knowledge and information we are currently seeing is almost a commonplace. Speaking of its repercussions for humanity’s spiritual life isn’t. I won’t be touching on everything it involves, in this sense, but only on the social demand this places on education in Cuba.

Our education system, has been said, is in a state of crisis. What, however, are the peculiar characteristics of this crisis? What are the fundamental features that define it?

A first issue is the very definition of education. We know that education isn’t the simple accumulation of knowledge or its compartmentalization. It is, rather, a process of upbringing, the passing on of an inheritance, whose premise we have developed in the course of the civilizing process we call the “nation.” We become unique through this process and call our identity a “nationality.”

But education is more than that: it is a language. This language defines us in the world and amongst ourselves. As such, education within a given culture exposes us to the understanding that we are not alone. Education is a culture of respect towards what’s different. We know, however, that this is not one of our strong points. The entire world faces up to the challenge, we see it every day. It is a reality that teaches us the way of tolerance, and it must guide us as we decide how we want our young people to be educated. We are achieving this little by little.

This definition of education points towards a part of the problema and places us in front of another important aspect of the issue, the quality of the education received.

We have forgotten how to educate people. We have neglected the subtler aspects of a true education. Both within the family and at school, we are exposed to yelling and violence far too much. We have grown accustomed to a scale of values that neglects the uniqueness of the individual.

No basta con identificar, dentro del aula, quien sabe más en una materia. No se educa cumpliendo una agenda de contenidos teóricos, ello conduce a la memorización, a la invalidez práctica. La enseñanza que necesitamos debe inculcar la duda, debe enseñar y educar la duda; propiciando que el conocimiento teórico del aula entre en la vida que es al final su objetivo. El hábito de la duda nos pone frente a un valor moral, ignorarla es censurarla. Sin ella todo se agota.

It does not suffice to identify those in a given classroom who know more about a specific subject. One does not educate by simply fulfilling a syllabus. That only leads to memorization and to a kind of practical ineptness. The education we need must invite people to doubt: it must teach and train people in questioning things, and encourage the use of the theoretical knowledge acquired in the classroom in daily life, as an ultimate goal.

A system of divergent values engenders a deficient education. That way, we only find reasons to says that “young people today do not believe in anything,” when it would be more honest to think that there’s little left for them to believe in.

Education must become a moral order for citizens, aiming towards the soul of the nation, which belongs to everyone. We are facing a new beginning that could well define our fate. It is everyone’s problem.

2 thoughts on “Cuba: An Education in Values

  • That is so true, a predictably American thing to zombify everyone like romans at a gladiator match. Slack jawed and hiptonized by nonsense. it is sadly the american “civilization” or lack of it, that is the root of their ills today.

    “Beware of greeks bearing gifts”

  • Notice the students actually talking to each other ,not a zombie phone insight. All will change when Americans plunder Cuba offering beads Bibles and mirrors.Real freedom gone all working for the 1%.

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