As an Erstwhile Pre-trained Teacher, and someone seriously considering re-entering the formal teaching system, I would like to share some of my ideas that I strongly believe will contribute to a successful Educational Transformation throughout our Jamaican schools.
Our education system, specifically Primary and Secondary, in Jamaica has been sliding down hill for about twenty-five (25) years now due to a myriad of debilitating factors such as Elevated Student Indiscipline, Incompetent Parenting, Lackadaisical Teaching, Headless Government Policies, and a Decline in Students’ Self Worth and Purpose for School. In order for the ‘powers that be’ to appear as if they are doing something significant in repairing and transmogrifying the education system, they try their endeavour best to reduce our curriculum standard to that of the United States of America by watering down the curriculum complexity, critical thinking component, and grading scheme.
This method of concealing the true state of our education quagmire makes the stakeholders and students look better than they really are, because the ‘powers that be’ would be able to compile and publish statistics showing that students are passing more external examinations (GSAT, CXC, & GCE) at high grades. However, what they cannot conceal at the end of the day is the fact that—and this is based on my observation of workers and persons I interact with on a daily basis—there are so many persons with high external exam grades who are completely clueless in effectively applying such knowledge via Critical Thinking within a year or two after graduating from school. Why? Is this what they call true education?
For me, complexity in curriculum standard is no different from teaching a person how to fish by forcing that person to understand and appreciate the concepts, equipment, and reasoning skills required for completing a successful fishing trip. Simplification, on the other hand, is the total opposite of the aforementioned; because it only allows that person to memorize that he/she needs to go to a fisherman (replace fisherman with Google, Books, Someone, etc.) to collect fish every time he/she needs a fish—replace fish with Solutions to problems and situations via Critical Thinking. My swimming teacher at prep school pushed me in the deep end of the pool in order to boost me to use the techniques he taught me to swim; and it worked perfectly.
With the above foundation clearly laid, I will now move straight into what I mean by teachers being accessible 24-Hours. Since it is obvious that students in this modern generation have frequent access to internet, social media, and technological devices such as computers and smart phones, teachers who really care about educating their students can start by setting up a specific account or group on Facebook for educating students on a 24-Hour basis. Students would be able to access their teacher’s assistance at any time of the day, even when school is on summer holiday and the teacher is at home being paid to relax.
The teacher can then use his/her Facebook account or group to post images, video clips, notes, & assignments relevant to the topics and subject areas; and parents or guardians can be added to the teacher’s friend list so that they can monitor their child’s academic performance while communicating with the teacher. Students are far more intelligent than we think they are; and the real things that are necessary for Maximum Learning and Critical Thinking is for students to understand and accept the purpose of going to school (TO LEARN), and for the teachers to bring the information to students via all methods of communication, by collaborating with parents and guardians.
This is the Educational Transformation we need.
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