CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION: A Yankee Teacher in the Cuban Schools by Jonathan Kozol

CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION: A Yankee Teacher in the Cuban Schools

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Kozol has left his Roxbury free school for a freelance investigation of Cuban literacy programs, but his stiff, humorless probe won't qualify as the final authority on the subject. Kozol maintains that the 1961 Great Campaign for adult literacy succeeded because it was essentially political and has continued to succeed (raise reading levels) because of extensive follow-up efforts, the zest of its participants, and the talents of its instructors. Further, he cites the abysmal failure of UNESCO's 1950s work for similar goals, claims the flattering 1964 report on Cuba's achievement (by Anna Lorenzetto) was suppressed because UNESCO looked poor in comparison, and champions Cuba's supremacy among all such programs. It's not that Kozol is naive or inept--two criticisms he foresees. He's too experienced an observer of school situations to miss all the shadings. He notices that only men answer when he asks about the status of women, that certain phrases always answer certain questions, that people speak of ""the revolution"" as a synonym for ""the state"" or ""the government."" And he can wonder whether there is a place for nonconformists and also acknowledge that ""the persistent dangers of a potentially remorseless meritocracy remain."" But, like those early China visitors, he never finds a dissenting voice or pauses at thorny philosophical junctions--enforced flexibility (""Wednesday is left free for relaxation or to go to meetings"") or weasely responses (""Do you have free speech in Cuba now?"" ""We don't perceive that as a useful question""). So his deep admiration is not contagious; one can respect Cuba's genuine accomplishments and still hold out for other solutions.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1978
Publisher: Delacorte