Friday, October 21, 2016

Persuasive Reasoning
Modern times have been characterized by the strong presence of Information and Communication Technologies, seemingly inoffensive and subtle tools, yet with the potential to instill the values and interests of the world’s most powerful hegemonic groups.

Author: Yenia Silva Correa |
October 20, 2016 12:10:14

Cuba does not neglect its responsibility for training new generations to protect the country’s historical memory in an increasingly globalized world. Photo: Alberto Borrego

Modern times have been characterized by the strong presence of Information and Communication Technologies, seemingly inoffensive and subtle tools, yet with the potential to instill the values and interests of the world’s most powerful hegemonic groups.

Cuban society is not exempt from this reality or its responsibility to train new generations to preserve the country’s historical memory in a globalized world.

Regarding this issue, Granma International spoke with Manuel Romero MSc., methodologist at the Ministry of Education’s Marxism-Leninism and History department and professor of History Didactics.

Symbols can become elements capable of introducing values contrary to those defended by Cuban society. What is being done in schools to prepare young people to protect our values in the midst of an ideological war with clearly defined aims?

There are many projects going on in schools. Many books have been written. There are lots of up-to-date and valuable sources on how to teach values. We also have a directorial program for teaching the values of the Cuban Revolution and a complete understanding of the need for such aspects given the complex reality we live in.

The aim is, as Martí once said, to create instructive ways of carrying out educative work, removing all kinds of formality. Teachers must be prepared to exert a stimulating educational influence at all times, something that can only be done through their own knowledge: the broader their knowledge, the more they can improvise.

Nonetheless, the family and society as a whole are other important educational agents which sometimes enhance what one is doing, while others jeopardize what good teachers and school management are accomplishing.

Schools must increasingly become the cultural centers of the community. In order to achieve this, at a time when values contrary to those which we defend and more technologies are being introduced, the school serves as a provider of culture not only because it offers a wide variety of knowledge or has pretty murals. It is also a cultural center if we view culture as a process of producing social meaning in every individual’s relationship with their environment, reality and peers.

What role does Cuban history play in this context? What is being done to ensure the youth take an interest in this subject and see it as a tool with which to defend our identity?

In order to understand Cuban history you have to contextualize the information and this context is universal. The influences of an entire period on the Cuban nation are extremely important and only by really understanding them can we defend our national identity.

I think the universal nature of our history must be the starting point and if there was any doubt there are the works of Martí and Fidel, two fundamental pillars in this department’s educative work, they are two universal geniuses. What better patriots than they? Reflections and texts by Fidel constantly refer back to the universality of our history.

We are a Third World country and we must reinforce our identity as part of a Third World identity. We are brothers of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

I wouldn’t use history as a tool. I think it makes it more mechanical. History is the wisdom that nourishes us; it’s the very best of our culture. Strengthening our historical memory is key to saving ourselves, which is why I believe that more than a tool, it’s a science, a body of ideas from which we must be able to extract life lessons.

How are new technologies being used to transmit our values?

Economic and political efforts have been made to provide schools with new technologies; including a complete range of audiovisual productions, such as Cinesoft, Canal Educativo, documentaries, the work of journalists and communicators….

Today, there are many resources, but you’ve got to know how to use them, because the best audiovisual production or software isn’t a magic wand or a medicine which contributes to development alone.

The key is the human being, the key lies more in us than in technology, but you’ve got to know how to use it, to cultivate intelligence, strengthen historical spirit and memory.

I wouldn’t overplay the importance of new technologies or other sources. You’ve got to use all possible sources. Only through this multifaceted approach are we going to contribute to the compressive development of new generations, heirs to this legacy that we are trying to ensure they assume.

It’s not enough to just be familiar with this intangible legacy of ideology and values. If a student learns it by heart, they don’t actually know it. Which is why, through history, I must equip students with symbols which motivate them to find meaning for their own lives in History and Social Science subjects.

Going back to symbols, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the Cuban flag. Although we are taught to love and respect it from an early age; nowadays you often see kids and young people using foreign emblems on their clothes. Beyond the role of the teacher what is the responsibility of the family in this case?

The family’s role is as important as the school’s. The family begins to interact with their children before arriving at our educational institutions, and continues to do so throughout their lives, after they leave our classrooms.

What’s the school’s role? To educate the family, demand more of it, not exclude it. All the educational meetings and cultural preparation we undertake with families are extremely important. In this sense, family education schools can play a crucial role.

The family is fundamental and the school must support it as much as possible, seek commitment, but it can’t assume all of the responsibilities of the former.

If the school is the cultural center of the community, it must also be that of the family, but sometimes this is difficult to achieve. Now, as the enemy’s subversive activity intensifies, our work must be increasingly more intelligent, more persuasive: we must expose the negative side of the media and use reasoning to contribute to deconstructing certain opinions.

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