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JEFF BROOMES: Bring ideas, not personal attacks


JEFF BROOMES: Bring ideas, not personal attacks

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BARBADOS IS A COUNTRY of which I am immensely proud. Our people are assured of a great education, outstanding health care and exceptionally good governance. Unfortunately, however, we are not a country of innovation, or should I say, we are not open to the unknown.

Throughout our country’s history, many individuals in many spheres of endeavour have set some good examples for succeeding generations to follow. This is fine and, once we do things the right way and step in tune, harmony prevails. We are quite comfortable with conformity.

We pride ourselves on our high level of education. In contemporary society, which is defined by technology, competition and constant change, our definition of a good education must also change. It can’t only be what we know but what we can apply. Innovation in thought and action is now mandatory.

It is no longer acceptable to simply do things the right way; instead, we must seek to do the right things. We must think outside of the proverbial box and explore for different and better answers to address impactful problems. Yesterday’s answers may now only be Band-Aids.

Our society’s intolerance is harsh on different views and ideas. Our education, to some, must remain at the level of information dissemination. Present a different approach, and the response is not to debate the merits but rather to insult or attack the person. Sad but true.

Sometime back in the 1990s the cries and warnings were raised about indiscipline and violence among our youth. Individuals of all walks of life came forward with many and varied suggestions to address the identified problem.

As a leader of one of our major organisations, I offered the suggestion of utilising the strengths of the home, the school and the church. Two prominent Anglican priests responded to me: one was fully supportive; the other raised questions relative to the role proposed for the church.   

Both, however, engaged me on the merits and demerits of the proposal and did not sink to dirty personal attacks. They understood that nothing under the sun ever means the same thing to more than one person. Engagement is always better than criticism on the progress train.

Recently, I restated the same suggestion. I still believe that the acceptance of good guidance, good education and good values must define the needed solution. Rather than analyse the merits of the proposal, people threw bombs at me about my personal interaction with a minority of colleagues.

The vitriol that resulted from a leader introducing new ideas for student success and school development lives on. The laws of critical thinking have taught me to go past the words and question who said them, when, where, how and why? True understanding comes at that point.

The easy approach of referring to me as having an inferiority complex and one who is simply seeking publicity is amusing. Maybe there is a need to match this with the claims that I am arrogant. They just don’t make a good marriage, and neither can get a date with me. 

We see the teaching and learning process as the elevator for a socially well adjusted and productive society. Most right-thinking people believe that this elevator is broken. We need to find the source of the break and apply appropriate solutions to fix it. That’s the challenge.

Ideas and not personal criticisms are needed as we seek answers to help our children, our schools and our country. Some ideas work and some don’t. I still believe, however, that the answers for our prevailing situation are to be found in the home, school and church. Come debate the message and not hide and shoot at the messenger. 

Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also served as vice president of the BCA and director of the WICB. Email: [email protected]