Cuba’s Unprepared Teachers

Mercedes Gonzalez Amade

Junior high students.

HAVANA TIMES — My son is 12 and currently in junior high. I was a little worried when classes started, because I knew – talking with several friends who had already gone through this situation – that it is a difficult time for pre-teens. My friends had told me about the changes their kids had experienced. I knew something similar would happen to Carlos Adriel, my son, but I hadn’t expected I’d be facing a more serious, academic problem.

I know how hard dealing with teenagers can be. It’s a constant battle against hormones and indiscipline…in short, every day is a new challenge for teachers. That is why teachers ought to be experienced professionals and, most importantly, enjoy what they do.

Today, however, many teachers leave a lot to be desired in terms of their knowledge, and, if we want our kids to get good grades, we parents have to resort to paid tutors.

I also had to do this. Luckily, I found an old teacher who had been my teacher when I was in junior high. The elderly woman, already retired, tutors kids with academic difficulties. She is a great person and has many years of experience in education – that’s why I say I was lucky. Other parents are manipulated by people whose only aim is to make money. Lacking in teaching experience, they tutor kids in a superficial manner.

High School students.

Junior high school is very important. Next to primary schooling, it is the foundation for all subsequent studies.

I look back and I discover that I never had a tutor myself and that I had no need to look for one when Carlos Adriel was in primary school. Back then, I was his tutor. Back then, of course, he also had good teachers.

Today, we have no choice – there are clearly many problems with the teaching methods used at schools, for my son understands the retired teacher better than his teacher at school.

I understand there’s a shortage of teachers because of the low salaries, among other things. But those who decide to stand in front of a class must at least have an interest in having their students learn something – for the sake of the present and the future.

3 thoughts on “Cuba’s Unprepared Teachers

  • Feliz cumpleanos Che!!!! Hasta siempre comandante!

  • My wife is a very well experienced teacher holding a significant position. She too is always willing to tutor for free, leaving me to prepare meals. As one with a quarter of a century”s teaching, she has become increasingly concerned about the lack of parental control coupled with reluctance by students to apply themselves to their studies. Many parents appear to consider that all forms of discipline and social behaviour are the responsibiliy of the teachers. Students and particularly male students question why they should apply themselves and work hard to achieve results when they see no apparent benefit in type of employment or remuneration from so doing. Currently the male stufents are more concerned about adopting increasingly ridiculous forms of what I call the “gorilla” or “coconut” hair fashion than they are about their studies. Parents who care and are involved in giving social and behavioural guidance are becoming increasingly rare. I having sat upon two school boards can only empathize with any caring parents, but would advise that it is lack of concern or care by other parents coupled with the inability of people in Cuba being able to progress and to improve their standard of living that lies at the root of the problem.

  • My sister-in-law is a teacher in Guantanamo. Many of her fellow teachers work as tutors after work. She has said to me that it is not uncommon for the same teacher to tutor children who are in their classrooms. The conflicts arise when there are parents who can not afford to pay tor tutors for their children. In Guantanamo, there are many families who would like for their children to have tutors after school but simply do not have the 2 or 3 cuc per hour that tutors charge in her area. As a result, many of the children who have tutors are not necessarily the most needy in terms of understanding their school work, but are simply children with parents who have the most resources to pay for a tutor. According to ‘mi cunada’, having a tutor is a kind of status symbol in her community. Here’s the good news: No thanks to Fidel and his failed revolution, my sister-in-law is able to provide some afterschool tutoring services for free to both the poor and genuinely academically needy kids who might otherwise have to go without help because her sister and brother-in-law (yours truly) live in a capitalist society and can manage to send money and stuff to her on a monthly basis to make up for what her slave wage salary does not cover.

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