February 10th | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! This week’s Week in Review focuses on resources that look at questions such as, what does it mean to be a teacher, and what responsibilities does that entail, especially in these times? I really hope the resources are of help to you, I always love gathering the materials and learning with you.

A Talk with Teachers: Revisiting James Baldwin’s Vision for Education is an article shared by Teaching for Change. Here is a snippet of Baldwin’s view of education and teachers, “one of the paradoxes of education was that precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society. It is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person.”

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WWW: “Maestra” – The Cuban Literacy Campaign

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Ivonne and Adria Santana, 1961 – from the film “Maestra”

Today, Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. This hasn’t always been the case. Prior to the revolution, census data identified nearly a quarter of Cuba’s population, mostly rural, as illiterate. Within a decade, that number dropped to less than 4 percent despite a substantial defection of school teachers to the United States. How?

In 1961, the revolutionary government initiated a program of mass participation, dispatching volunteer, young, literate Cubans to teaching assignments across the country. Rural families hosted this new generation of teachers (over a quarter million total) in their homes, and in exchange, the people of the countryside were taught to read and write. A culture of literacy was born on the island.

“Maestra” is a documentary (33 minutes) by Catherine Murphy, focusing particularly on the young girls who participated as teachers. The focus on young girls is interesting, as Cuba of the 1950s was dominated by a staunchly patriarchal family structure. Girls who wanted to participate had to enter an intense process of negotiation with their families—a process the filmmakers call a “teenage girl uprising.”  Continue reading