The Virtual Classroom: Fran Bradley Shares Lessons from Cuba

Cuba expert and retired George School History Teacher, Fran Bradley joined Ben Croucher’s IB HL History Class for an insightful Q&A session over Zoom. Fran took his first group of George School students to Cuba to visit a Quaker community in 1978. He’s been traveling back and forth ever since, notching more than thirty visits accompanying students, athletic groups, and most recently, a non-profit group.  

“As part of the IB curriculum, we have to study authoritarian states and the history of the Americas. Castro’s Cuba fits nicely with both of those,” said Ben. “Their time with Fran gives them a different perspective on events that have shaped the modern world and, in keeping with the IB mission statement, encourages students to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”

Ben assigned his students to watch a video of a lecture Fran had presented to a class last year. The video went deep into Fran’s past trips, obstacles he had faced returning to Cuba, and his vast knowledge of the country and its culture.  

After watching the video, students sent their questions for Fran to incorporate into this year’s presentation. The first question that Fran answered was about the successes and failures of the Cuban Revolution. “Cubans generally point to the successes that they’ve had in education. It has one of the highest degrees of literacy in the Americas.”

Cuba educates doctors from all over the world, including the United States, and has a world-class pharmaceuticals industry. On the other side, Fran cited the inability to produce enough food to feed their citizens as a major failure of the government. 

With every presentation, Fran helps promote a greater understanding of Cuba-US relations among George School students.

Watch the class. 

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