Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Sarah Mathews

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Thomas Reio

Second Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Jorge Duany

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Michael Bustamante

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

James Burns

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


pedagogy, Cuba, youth teachers, oral history

Date of Defense




The Cuban Literacy Campaign of 1961 turned teenagers into teachers. This study interviewed three former youth teachers and recorded their experiences through the oral history lens and method. The study focused on the pedagogical components of their lived experience, often overlooked by scholars who have mainly focused on the campaign’s political and economic history from the top down. In turn, issues of identity surfaced that helped explain the personal motivations for participating in the campaign and produced counter-narratives in the process. The interviews compiled allowed a bottom-up history to be archived, highlighting the stories of people omitted from the literature, unlike those in power. Previous literature on the campaign focused on people inside of Cuba, creating the need for the current study to archive the experiences of Cubans or those living outside of Cuba to provide a complete history of these events. Additionally, their oral histories are valuable in that they provide insight into the rationale and implementation of the youth teachers' pedagogy and the dualities of revolutionary identity seen in the motivations for their participation in the campaign and reflections 60 years later.

The study’s major findings include: 1) pedagogical decisions were made following identity that was embedded in the goals and motivations for participating in the campaign; 2) pedagogies beyond the government-issued textbook were used going beyond a political motivation for participation as a youth teacher, and finally, 3) participants expressed feeling a conflicting identity when reflecting on their participation when asked their goals, motivation, and pedagogical strategies such as modeling and scaffolding during that period of 1961.





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