EVERYTHING BUT . . .: Some teach tank!
Wed, April 18, 2012 - 12:00 AM
I AM BIASED, OF COURSE; but as one for whom the English language is a daily work tool, I find my enthusiasm for things Ronald Jones keeps uttering continually waning.
The decline in inspiration is by no means restricted to the choice of words of the Minister of Education, but encompasses as well limitation of thought.
Speaking to the vision for education in Barbados, Mr Jones let it be known that it must fall in line with “the rapidly growing technological age”. And I was no wiser for the explanation or the reason.
Alluding to a required fluidity in the education system, the minister declared: “Our schools cannot be fixed . . . because our schools must become smarter, faster, lighter, more adaptable, more collaborative, more open-minded, more technologically integrated and more connected to the global community.”
As a politician, Mr Jones has every need – and probably right – to please everybody (at least, try to), allowing himself to be buffeted by the vagaries of sleepwalking, as he subsumes himself in the fripperies of politics.
It is hard to take the shine to Mr Jones when he pontificates in opaqueness on education. It is even more difficult to grasp from him how vision can “so transform the learning environment that there are new roles for each and every one of us as teachers, policymakers, those who lead the education system”, when said vision fails itself to capture reality.
Governments may hold the ultimate power of coercion, if Cuba, China and Russia be a guide; but they may not be able to imbue their operatives with the ability to think clearly on their feet, or with any form of sagacity.
The constant exercise in gobbledegook by our political leaders on matters crucial to our development – in education and otherwise – ought to be of deep concern to those of us who used to be presented with problems and their possible solutions, and revelations of dreams and aspirations in a language that was comprehensible, explanatory, illustrative and conclusive.
These days, our representatives and leaders relieve themselves of empty, criss-cross verbalism that neither does good to or for those for whom they speak, to or for the country, or to or for themselves.
After Mr Jones’ aired vision of technological combustion with education, the essential challenges in the school system still abound.
Students are still victims of anxiety and depression – caused by peer pressure, bullying, bad management of subject study and homework, and a host of other evils. Too many students still do not know how to read well aloud.
Some teachers, overcome by the herculean task of getting their charges to speak standard English, resort to the Almighty in prayer; others swear by the devil.
What passes as Bajan dialect is still preferred by students at school. It is a mixture of crass utterances, flavoured with subject-predicate non-agreement and green verbs. To be communicative, the weaker teacher joins in the rough.
Then there is this philosophy that children ought not to be disciplined – read that, flogged – for inappropriate conduct. In fact, there is the trendy notion that students should have some panel that with their principal they might determine what is appropriate punishment, and the like.
It is not far-fetched, the propagandizing of the position that we should be engaging students in the school system to the point where they begin bargaining with authorities over conditions – as a trade union would.
With this paradigm shift, and possibly distracting technological rush, teachers are supposed to be aware every child learns and reacts differently, and produce differing resources and objectives for each one – so they can prove they are good at their job. Then we wonder why some teachers give up.
Of course, we shouldn’t be deceived by those educators who deny having any challenges at all. They are afraid to admit, lest they are labelled not being with it.
Meanwhile, the administrators of our education system continue to revel – or wallow – in opacity, posturing and emptiness.
- Editor's Choice