Solution 1: Throw the sofa out the window. Solution 2: Throw yourself out the window.
Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan
Irrespective of what it might mean to be standing at the front of a classroom without the pedagogical skills necessary to handle it, to make matters worse by having academic gaps, makes it truly pathetic. However, if you add turning on the television as a substitute for the work of a teacher, adjectives fail me and we enter, once again, into the Kingdom of the Absurd.
Newly-minted teachers and social workers I know are desperate: with seven years of compulsory social service, going where they send you, without working conditions, faced with marginal adolescents they can’t handle, teenagers themselves with an absurd program, the Revolution decided to give them the responsibility to teach what they don’t know.
The consequences? The demands on the teacher-in-training and the academic level of the students in the cellar, depressed teachers, students with serious behavior problems faced with teachers with serious problems of self-control, and a television that tries to teach what the teacher doesn’t know. There are even teachers who are prepared and would like to run their classes as well as they can, but no: they can’t turn off the television because they are not the owners of the classroom, the owner is the one speaking impassively from the screen who makes the laws and says you have to present the following content.
Knives to threaten the teachers and chairs to break the heads of the students form a part of the teacher-training process in some cases. There’s one who’s teaching an entire secondary school by himself in spite of his having punched a student, but what are you going to do if no one else will take on such a workload.
The students who take knives to school get sent to another school, the teachers who knock them about or crack chairs over their heads are sent to another school also, as the joke says: a man comes home and finds his wife having sex with her lover on the sofa; desperate, the guy throws the sofa out the window. We all throw out the sofa, then the wardrobe, then everything in the house and then, we throw ourselves out the window to see what happens. Anyway, the governmental experience protects us: what it has mostly done, this Revolution, is throw out the sofa, by the dumpster load.
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.