“PRACTICAL EDUCATION”: POSSIBLE PRESCRIPTION

27 Aug

 

 

 

 

 

 

  The recently concluded IAAF World Championship has once again created a wave of euphoria for Jamaicans yaad (yard) and abroad…and ‘our’ fans across the globe.

Jamaica entered the championships with a cloud over its head. The industry was rocked with the news that several of its athletes (platinum athletes) tested positive for banned substances. This news placed our little nation under the microscope and was viewed by several pairs of eyes with varied expressions- shocked, sympathy, sadness, happiness, unkindness, you name it. The nation was subjected to much insult and scorn, BUT….Jamaicans are resilient.

Our athletes went out and represented.  They answered the insults on that track. The black, green and gold flooded and permeated the stadium in Moscow. Even in events where medals were not won, the athletes left an impression. In short, Jamaica dominated the championships.  The team that went in with a cloud, exited with glow that oozed the type of radiance unique to Jamaicans.  What more could we ask for?As we celebrated and bask in the glory that once again showed us off to the world, I couldn’t help but reiterate the call for a reformation in our education system…a reformation that facilitates holistic development of the child….a reformation where our children can discover, own and develop their talents

 

Two of the areas that bring us great fame, recognition and continue improve brand Jamaica are sports and entertainment, NOT mathematics nor English, history, business, etc…  Mind you, I am not saying having mastery of these subject areas is unimportant, because we want our children to be literate and have the competence to manage their careers; I am saying that they are not the end all.  We have cultivated an unhealthy culture and brain wash our children into thinking that education and success is about passing math and English. Too often we have allowed our youths to feel belittled and a lack of self-worth because they did not score the grade one, two or three on the math and English examination. We must realize that some of us were not meant to excel in the traditional academics but that does not make us less brilliant than those who do.  We need to start focusing on what I call “Practical Education”.   I call it practical because it is about doing and is much more applicable to life after high school especially for those students who are blessed with the aptitude for this.

The unforgettable golden silver finish….

 

The anchor leg of the 4x400m relay ran by seventeen year old Javon Francis continue to be the talk of the country and the highlight of the championship. This young man has challenges with the traditional academics, BUT, look at the stalwart performance he gave on that track.  This BOY CHILD solely and fearlessly took on a field of MEN-his seniors- and took Jamaica from fifth position to a silver medal position.  Isn’t this success?  What, did he count the number of strides the other men were taking and tried to decide how many he needed to take pass them?  Was there math or English at play here? No. there was focus; guts; passion; discipline; competitive spirit; drive; you name it.  Nothing of the academics Yet, this is a major achievement.

 

 

 

Recently, I heard an advertisement where a training institution was offering training in specific skills and their requirement was for individuals to have passed math and English? Does this mean because I did not pass these subjects I will not be able to learn the skill?   How about offering the training without marrying it to these subjects? If the skill area is directly linked to the subject areas then I can understand.  This goes to show the extent to which we have tied the success and achievement of individuals to traditional academics.

Some students are often labelled dunce, disruptive, rude among other things. The reality is, sometimes these students feel ignored.  We fail to tap into their strengths because we cannot recognize them. We cannot recognize them because they do not always fit into the schema that society has created.   When students are allowed to participate in the things they love and are good at, it is amazing to see the excellent work they produce. We need to help them own these skills and talents.

 

All education stakeholders need to start implementing programmes that caters to the development of skills.  The curriculum within each institution must be designed to identify, harness and develop talents. People do not earn from academics only but from skills. Several of our high schools lack a skill base area.  All arts, vocation, sporting and any other skill based programmes in school should be heavily invested in. If we are preparing students to be global citizens, we have to reorient our thinking.

 

It is important to note that the students who participate in these activities do not only develop or own their skills and talents but they life skills that are imperative to attain success when they get into the wider society.  Here are a few:

 

 

  1. Team work.  When an athlete runs a 100m it is done individually but he also runs as a part of a larger group. There is the relay, this is done as a team; when you play football, basketball, volleyball, it is all about a team. Not a one man glory.   Each person on that team must play their part to be successful.   Have you ever watched a game of football and see the pain the players feel when one of their fellow team-mate is down on the ground with an injury? Do you notice what happens when an altercation happens?  No man stands aside and look; they all become involved, protecting each other, guiding each other.   Our memories can recall when Usain Bolt false started at the world championships in Daegu how it affected the fellow Jamaicans in the race.   YET, Yohan Blake came from behind to win the 100m.  Why, Bolt was out and as a member of the team, he had to take up the challenge.

 

  1. Discipline.  To do well as an athlete or an artiste, it requires lots of work.  Long hours of training and rehearsal.  Most track clubs, football clubs have a training programme and athletes are expected to follow this.  If we allow our children to engage in these activities from early, they are bound to develop a commitment, dedication and discipline that WILL later manifests itself in other aspects of their lives.

 

  1. Leadership qualities.  All teams have a captain. If you are a musical band there is a band leader. It you are a performing arts group, there is a leader.  Students learn to own these leadership skills and from early identify their strengths and weakness as a leader. They also learn to take directives and respect positions of authority regardless of age or gender.

 

  1. Time management.   As a student, there are so many things to do at school and several deadlines to meet.  Assignments must be completed and handed in on time.  Most teachers will not accept the excuse that the child had to train or rehearse.  Most coaches and advisers do not tolerate delinquency in their students.  Therefore, youngsters do not have a choice but to ensure they manage their time properly to ensure that they meet all deadlines without short changing themselves.

 

  1. Inter-personal skills.   Students who engage in these activities, tend to be popular.  Popular in this case means well known. This because there is no age limit on talent or the development of them. Therefore all these students will interact with students across all grades as well as most staff members.  Even the shyest student, upon becoming involved in these activities, will eventually come out of their ‘shell’.

 

 

I could discuss Self- confidence, self-worth and many others.   You get the gist so I will not list anymore.  The bottom line is, if Jamaica is going to create a first class education system, we have to move from our antiquated way of thinking and embrace the reality that is staring us in the face.  Let us stop living our dreams through our children; let us stop thrusting traditional academics down their throats even when we realize they are not excelling at them despite their best efforts.

 

Let us not wait. The future of Jamaica is ripe with possibilities. The door is ajar so we do not have to pry it open.   Let us enter the space of Practical Education.

What are some areas you believe would make up this “Practical Education” curriculum? Please share with.

 

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5 Responses to ““PRACTICAL EDUCATION”: POSSIBLE PRESCRIPTION”

  1. africanherbsman1967 August 27, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    Very interesting blog.

    One thing we need to do is getting both children and the average under 40 year old to read more. Not just text books and the gospel related literature but books in general. Because those are not read in a relaxed, less pressured environment.

    Yes, being more creative in our education is essential but we do need to carry their parents along as well. Some of whom were unfairly demonised by the education system you mentioned. And feel left behind.

    The creative side of our young people is not encouraged which is disappointing.

    Communities or small groups could develop what they call in the trade “master mind groups” So as to discuss each other’s goals, learn share ideas related to them and monitor progress.

    Like I always say if all Jamaicans became doctors and lawyers who would be around to build some of the amazing houses that there is on the island? So big up to the architects and builders.

    When I ask young Jamaicans what they would like to be when they grow up, their answer is normally different when I ask, what would they love to do if they could not fail.

    The average Jamaican at an early level should be encouraged to develop a “being your own boss” mindset as well.

    Just a few passing words.

    Walk good.

    • rainereid August 28, 2013 at 12:01 am #

      Thanks for stopping by africanherbsman1967. Your thoughts are appreciated. Please feel free to ‘pass by’ again.

      I agree with you that the parents must be an integral part of this process and several of them are indeed a victim of our traditional academic focus education system.

      Sometimes our children do not know what they WANT to be but they can tell you what they LIKE TO DO. Everyone cannot be lawyers and doctors indeed. Every career path is important. We need to encourage our children to value them all.

      “being my own boss” is the way to go. Therefore, they will think job and career creation more so than job employment.

  2. Trevor Pilgrim August 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Amen. Young people can earn a comfortable living through technical and vocational skills, entertainment, athletics, sports, and in many other non-traditional areas. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences reminds us that we all have different strengths and talents. Schools should identify the intelligence or talent each student has in abundance and develop it fully.

    • rainereid August 29, 2013 at 12:46 am #

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Trevor Pilgrim .You are right on target.

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