Thursday, April 26, 2012

When a Teacher is Asked to Cheat

When a Teacher is Asked to Cheat
April 23, 2012
Osmel Almaguer

HAVANA TIMES, April 23 — Yesterday we gave the final exam in Spanish
literature for seniors at the high school where I teach. For them, this
was the last step before graduation. Giving the test was a complicated
process as there were nearly 200 pupils that had to take it though there
are only three teachers of the course in the entire school.

Minutes before, the three of us met in the administration office to make
last minute arrangements and develop our strategies. The principal —
with the test in hand — made comments about how difficult it was,
especially considering the low levels of our students.

Also present was a municipal educational methodologist. Listening to the
instructions, what took me aback was that I was asked to give certain
information to the students while they were taking the test. This was
information they were being tested on, which, incidentally, had been
prepared by the Ministry of Education of the municipality.

The principal appealed to us saying, "I'm not asking you to give them
the answers, just a few…hints, because otherwise they'll be clueless.
Plus, it won't be good for us if any of them has to repeat a year."

The methodologist agreed, adding a few comments about the students'
weaknesses. What struck me was that he was speaking without the
slightest trace of guilt or responsibility for the academic
ill-preparedness of the students.

"They come here with certain gaps from junior high," he said, as if all
of us weren't part of a collapsing educational system.

At the indicated time, I did my job. They asked me to become that little
bird that always whispers secrets and whose identity is never discovered.

I helped the students as best I could, trying not to out-and-out cheat.
Still, it's difficult to oppose a cycle of negligence on the part of
families, their previous schools and society in general, as well the
vulnerability of youth to playing the game.

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