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Cuban Youth and Revolutionary Values

Cuban Youth and Revolutionary Values

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    Cuban Youth and Revolutionary Values
    Book Description:

    Drawing on extensive fieldwork in Havana's secondary schools,Cuban Youth and Revolutionary Valuesis a remarkable ethnography, charting the government's attempts to transform a future generation of citizens. While Cuba's high literacy rate is often lauded, the little-known dropout rates among teenagers receive less scrutiny. In vivid, succinct reporting, educational anthropologist Denise Blum now shares her findings regarding this overlooked aspect of the Castro legacy.

    Despite the fact that primary-school enrollment rates exceed those of the United States, the reverse is true for the crucial years between elementary school and college. After providing a history of Fidel Castro's educational revolution begun in 1953, Denise Blum delivers a close examination of the effects of the program, which was designed to produce a society motivated by benevolence rather than materialism. Exploring pioneering pedagogy, the notion of civic education, and the rural components of the program,Cuban Youth and Revolutionary Valuesbrims with surprising findings about one of the most intriguing social experiments in recent history.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-78483-3
    Subjects: Education, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    Preparing students to be socially responsible citizens is of concern to educators and policy makers alike. During my years teaching school in different Latin American countries and in the United States, this topic inevitably became the center of many conversations. Recognizing that the systemic structure of capitalism nurtured consumerism, egocentrism, individualism, and competition, I wondered whether children in a noncapitalist society might be more altruistic and socially responsible than those in a capitalist society. If so, what mechanisms were in place in the school system to ensure a different citizen outcome? Knowing Spanish, I set out to discover what was...

  5. CHAPTER 1 1953–1970: Constructing Conciencia
    (pp. 21-40)

    Affection and passion played central roles in the advent and consolidation of the Cuban Revolution, as well as in its leadership and the strategies pursued. A foundation of sentiment was laid to promote a new conceptual world and a socialist-humanist mind-set. An important role was played by affect, which, along with historical, political, and economic factors, strengthened and loosened the bonds of politics and social mores in the early years of Cuban revolutionary planning and development. The Cuban revolutionary government needed all these factors and applied them with intent in constructing a communistconciencia.

    Several affective themes, the subject of...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Revolution in Education
    (pp. 41-71)

    The revolutionary government’s strategies to construct communistconcienciathrough political and economic restructuring had their counterpart in education. From the beginning of the revolution, Fidel Castro focused considerable attention on the matter of widespread illiteracy and on education in general. For the revolutionary government, the Literacy Campaign was understood as a fundamental act of social justice. At the same time, the campaign and subsequent education programs became vehicles for integration into and participation in the revolution, reinforcing Castro’s immediate power base, the Rebel Army, and his broader power base, the peasantry. The revolutionary Cuban educational system was designed to reinforce...

  7. CHAPTER 3 1970–1985: Reconciling Revolutionary Fervor with the Requisites of the Modern State
    (pp. 72-92)

    The institutionalization of the 1970s was intended to unify revolutionary feelings and give them an organized form (Fernández 2000). However, the Cuban government apparently found it difficult to reconcile the tension between feelings and institutions, between utopianism and performance, between the moral and the material dimensions of the revolution. The outcome was periodic oscillation between the poles, with, as might be predicted, inconsistent results. This chapter briely describes the swinging pendulum in the Cuban economy and politics during the 1970s and early 1980s, then takes up the repercussions of these economic and political measures as reflected in the educational system....

  8. CHAPTER 4 1986–2000: Rectification and the Special Period
    (pp. 93-123)

    While the Cuban state tried to appeal to the youth with measures to rejuvenate the Young Communists (UJC) in the early 1980s, the timing collided with the Rectification Campaign. The Rectification Campaign was an austerity program, initiated in 1986, that gave ideology an expanded role in daily life and economic management. This program undid many of the economic reforms of earlier years. As Cuban socialism tried to respond to the concerns of the young people, few economic and political opportunities were available. Moreover, with the dissolution of the Soviet bloc, the revolutionary government had to confront its worst political and...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Revolutionary Pedagogy in Action
    (pp. 124-150)

    In the initial stages of the revolution, Fidel Castro declared that the island of Cuba would become “one huge school” (1961, 271). He used these words to emphasize the importance of educating the population through every possible medium and activity, not just through formalized schooling. Every aspect of society had to be dedicated to reinforcing the history, values, and principles of the revolution. The initial sights one is confronted with when arriving in Cuba, such as billboards and sides of buildings painted with revolutionary slogans, reflect the Cuban government’s intent to cultivate, or at least to represent, a socialist ideological...

  10. CHAPTER 6 The Cuban Pioneer Student Organization: Who Will Be Like Che?
    (pp. 151-177)

    The Pioneer organization is one of the primary means at the Cuban state’s disposal to modify and regulate student behavior, having a major impact on the day-to-day running of the schools in Cuba. As a mass organization for grades one through nine, the Pioneer organization is overtly used by the Cuban government to socialize schoolchildren to be responsible citizens. In addition, the organization illustrates, according to Theodore MacDonald (1985, 176), “the degree to which doctrinaire shifts in ideological line can be mediated through the school system.”

    The purpose of this chapter is to illustrate some of the major activities I...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Cuba’s School to the Countryside Program
    (pp. 178-204)

    Cuba’s school to the countryside program (Escuela al Campo, EAC) mobilizes thousands of urban junior high school students each year to the countryside for approximately one month of agricultural labor, politicization, and socialization. The EAC context not only separates the children from their parents, it also places them in unknown territory and requires them to make sense of it and to carry on. Notwithstanding, the EAC was purposely created as a space in which to secure revolutionary values at a time in life—adolescence—when students are “searching for their individual identity as a person” (Ministerio de Educación [MINED] 1992,...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 205-218)

    Using the Cuban context, I set out to see whether schooling in a communist country might produce a more altruistic, socially responsible citizen than in a capitalist country, and if so, which mechanisms in the educational system inluenced this outcome. How Cuban people made sense of their everyday lives was critical to understanding schooling outcomes. At the heart of Cuban citizenship formation has been the model of the New Man and its evolution since its inception in the early 1960s. The educational system as the principle venue of state-controlled socialization has been assigned responsibility for the development of society and...

  13. APPENDIX 1. Suitcases, Jump Ropes, and lo espiritual: Methodology a la cubana
    (pp. 219-237)
  14. APPENDIX 2. Surveys
    (pp. 238-244)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 245-250)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-264)
  17. Index
    (pp. 265-274)