Please enjoy this unrealated image of a sunset in Cartagena

There was a teachers’ strike today!! grrr! protest against something!

I’m here to give you the rundown of the two teachers’ strikes I’ve witnessed, from the point of few of an ant. And an ant that barely speaks Spanish, at that.

The first strike went something like this:

I’m pretty sure it was a Wednesday, which would mean I was at school for something like 6 hours in the morning, from 6:30 to 12:30. Then I went back to my house to sit around and wait for my afternoon class (6 pm to 7 pm). After one of my 4x daily 20 minute walks to my school, I found that there was no class. Or at least I assumed so, as there were no students. So, I walked home. The next time I saw my afternoon teacher, I asked why there was no class, because I had showed up, and there was no class. And he told me there had been a strike, so there was no class, and didn’t I read the sign in the teachers’ lounge the day before?

Not a picture of protesters.

So, that was a strike.

The second strike was today, and it went something like this:

This time I actually heard rumblings about a strike ahead of time. “This is going to be a big one!” I thought. I heard rumblings from all directions. “Don’t be in the streets,” my host mom advised. “I don’t know if there will be class tomorrow. If you come, there will be class. If you don’t come, there won’t be class,” my morning co-teacher advised my 10th grade class. “Wednesday there’s going to be a strike, so maybe there will be class or maybe not. Oh, actually we’re having parent teacher conferences, so I have to come, but you don’t,” said my afternoon co-teacher. Alright then. I fully expected to show up this morning at 6:30 and turn right around and go home.

Instead, I found that most of the teachers, and quite a lot of students were there. So, we kind of had class the first block, except we didn’t follow the lesson plan we had made because, hey, it’s a strike day and “the students say they don’t want to have class. They want to play a game with you, can you play a game with them right now?!” We played charades. I’m not so great at thinking on my feet at 7 in the morning. That’s why we make lesson plans ahead of time, right?

The teachers’ lounge in question. Also known as “The most unnavigable room in the school”

Then we teachers spent the rest of the morning shift hanging around in the teachers’ lounge snacking. It was someone’s birthday, as well as the strike, so she brought avena (liquefied oatmeal drink) and empanadas. I spent my morning finishing The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and starting So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.

As a young American of the Southern persuasion, I don’t really know much about strikes and how they work. We just don’t do them where I come from. Maybe up in Atlanta they do that kind of thing. My dad tells me that in the North they have teachers’ unions and that they go on strike too.

This is how a strike works in my imagination:

A subversive element decides that there will be a strike and organizes it somewhat in secret, so that when people don’t show up to work the factory owners are left in the lurch.

Who is left in a lurch by a publicized teachers’ strike? The students, I’m sure, are thrilled to have a day when they can tell the teacher that they “don’t want to have class today.” The parents of the children who stayed home today are possibly a bit put out by lost education time and having to mind the kids today. But the entity which pays public school teachers’ salaries, is it at all inconvenienced by this strike?

At least there were snacks.

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One response »

  1. sounds like a system in need of reform!

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