Tag Archives: Literature

WHERE DID ROTE LEARNING GO?

12 Jun

Two one’s two, two two’s four, two three’s six….

 

Here it is. Do you remember having one of these?

Do you recall saying (or should I say singing/chanting) this after lunch while you were in primary school? It was the highlight of the day. During that time, our little exercise book had them laid out in detail at the back. Without fail, you could enter almost any school compound after the lunch break and there would be at least two classes reciting timetables…I seldom hear this anymore.

Do you recall reciting poetry? The teacher would write it on the board or on a chart and you would have to learn it by heart. One of my favourite was “The Revolt of Chief Tacky” by Alma Norman. There were slots allotted for reciting the poetry in class. At that time the teacher would tell you to say it with lots of facial expression. He/she would help you interpret it so you understand it so you could find the right expression. Thus, learning poetry was fun…I seldom hear this anymore.

I still remember my timetables; I still remember some of the poems learnt then…So I ask the question, is rote learning bad?  With reform in education, so-called experts ruled that using rote is not learning and students need to learn higher order thinking skills. I wholehearted agree that children must be made to develop higher order thinking skills early but I also contend that there are somethings that are best learnt through rote. Some persons may disagree with me but that is okay.  I was recently  doing some calculations with a student and when I asked her seven times seven (7×7), she paused and it took her a while to give me the answer. Out of curiosity, I started asking her some others in the same way they were asked of me in primary school and she was stunted. She did not know.

The fact is, despite higher order thinking being the best way to go, rote learning has a place and serves a valuable function in our education system. We should have found a balance between the two; instead, we threw out the baby with the bath water. We aim to improve numeracy but how will we do that when our students do not know timetables? How are we going to improve literacy when our students do not read and are not having fun learning poetry, prose and short stories?

There are some things that as educators we must revisit and implement; see their worth and determine where they best serve their purposes.

Did you recite timetable regularly and do you still remember them? Do you recall poems learnt in primary school? Is there anything you learnt through rote and you still remember it? Share your thoughts here.

 

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TRIBUTE TO DR MAYA ANGELOU

2 Jun

When, she gasp her last breath, lightening flashed miserably; thunder roared angrily; wind blew fiercely; tears of God poured wildly; then the world became dark and still…even nature mourned. ( well so I think).

As an aspirant to be quite prolific with pen and words, my heart broke when news broke that literary icon Maya Angelou has decided to go up yonder. Each time I attempt to write or think about writing, your words ring in my ears “I want to be such a good writer that a person will be 30-40 pages before realizing they are reading”. Deep stuff, wouldn’t you say? Oh yes. Deep but quite profound. As a lover of words, it would be remiss of me to not pay tribute to you using what you do best…THE SPOKEN WORDS.

 

TRIBUTE TO DR MAYA ANGELOU

literary greatness

 

Dr Maya Angelou, at your sunrise Earth gained the most powerful voice that speaks loudly with a pen;

how long it would speak, we knew not then.

Words fail me to express my heart’s hummings;

My pen paused to think of my mind’s runnings;

Dazedly I think of something profound to say;

One conclusion: this writer’s block has my love for you betrayed.

 

The time clock stopped when few days ago

A most brilliant mind pen ink ceases to flow;

The silence of your pen tapping is agonizing

Your mind I can no longer see.

Soul-full food for thought that once satiated my appetite I will forever crave;

as your cuisine with words at my literary feast will no longer be.

 

It takes only a phenomenal woman to rise even when you have been beaten with bitter twisted lies;

Only you know why the cage birds sing and how their melodic songs sits on ear lobes and pecks at the hearts of many.

 

Dr Maya Angelou, now that your sunset has come, I declare Earth has lost a powerful voice that speaks loudly with a pen;dare I say this void will end, we know not when.  R.I.P

 

Take a moment and join me here by leaving your tributes to this great literary icon.

TEACHERS: JAMAICA’S BEATING STICK?

18 May

WHAP! WHAP! WHAP!  That’s the sound of the *subble- jack been levied on ‘back’ the teaching profession.

In this institution of Education, the whimpy teachers try their best but it is never good enough. They continue to be bullied by the bullies of this ‘school’-government of Jamaica.  It is just sad. The teachers cry out! They scream yet their voices continue to be unheard. They are sick and so tired of the beating.   Filled with scars and bruises from the whip of society, teachers continue to press on.     When these bullies decide to levy a beating, they come harmed with assortment of weapons: low performance, too much holidays; support from the public; pay them by performance; they are not qualified….and the list continues.  As they pile these weapons up, the teachers are placed in a “circle” and are whipped mercilessly!!    Despite all the beatings, with scars and bruises, they continue to do the best they can with the basket they are given to carry the water.

WHAP! WHAP!  That is the sound of the most recent set of lashes.  These lashes from the recent pronouncement by the Minister of Education to suspend study leave with pay for teachers which has sparked severe controversy and outrage among the nation teachers.  This he claims is a condition under the standby agreement with the IMF.    How ludicrous. The whimpy teachers were asked to agree to a wage freeze along with other public sector workers which they did. Throughout the negotiations, there was  ‘P.T. A’ meeting (communication through media) to inform the nation of this arrangement.   Now like general King Kong, our dear Minister of education who is the Principal of this institution call education announced the revocation of the ONLY benefit that teachers receive.

 

THE NEVERS OF THE SYSTEM

It is really sad that the blame for the low performance of the nations’ children is levied solely at the feet of teachers;  I have never heard society come out and lobby for parents to become more active players in their children’s education;  I have never heard society lobby for the ministry of education to provide the schools with more resources; I have never heard society lobby that the ministry engage the institutions that are responsible for training our teachers; Most importantly, I have never heard lobby for the ministry of education policy makers  to assess themselves as MOST of what happens in the school have to be sanctioned by the Ministry of Education.

Wouldn’t this be interesting

THE UGLY TRUTH

Most teachers colleges only offer teacher training to the diploma level. It therefore means if teachers need a first degree they would have to attend another university. Most of these universities offer education courses during the day. At that time our teachers will be in class teaching the same children who belong to these government officials.  The universities that offer courses in the afternoon are not quite accessible to some teachers who live in some very rural parts of the island.   I will agree that a number of off shore universities have come on stream and a number of teachers are making use of this BUT reality is that their fees are extremely expensive.   Some of them, the fee are paid in U.S. dollars and must be paid per course. Now, with the dollar sliding rapidly, how can some afford to pay this especially when teachers’ salaries are nothing to sing home about?  They have to try to attend our national institutions where it is more cost effective.

Most importantly, teaching and studying is no easy task. Let’s look at the logic.  I will use the example of a teacher who teaches English Language and English literature to grade 7, 8 & 9.  Those are three different grades, it therefore means, three sets of lesson plan per week for each.   That is no easy task.  Additionally, one of those classes contain 25-30 students (and that’s for the more privilege institutions). An English language and English literature exam with see students writing three essay’s per paper.  That is 75 essays per class for ONE SUBJECT.  Work out the math when you add the others bearing in mind some teachers teach more than three subjects.  Even if its class work and teacher collect books, it is still a lot for one person, yet the teachers do it.  Now, when a teacher is studying part time and has all this work to do, plus try to meet the demands of university, one runs the risk of short change in the system.   Either students will be short changed as teachers will not be able to give the great level of attention that is required or the teacher will risk performing at a mediocre standard or may not complete the higher level study.   What the study leave does is eliminate this problem. It facilitate teachers professional advancement as is stipulated by the ministry of education, and allow students to be given complete contact time as is required and more.

The ugly truth is some teachers cannot take one year study leave without pay for obvious reasons: family obligations, payment of fees, etc… and others cannot afford to study-part time because of the propensity of short changing their students and theirselves.

THE SAD TRUTH!

Most of the people who are making the decisions and are levying strong judgements against teachers would not have made their grade without their teachers.   The moment a child gets to age two, parents are pleading with teachers to take their child in their institutions.  Whenever a child does well is sports, performing arts, most times it is teachers who discover their talents that parents later bask in. whenever parents cannot parent their children, it is to teachers they turn to and beg for teachers to intervene.   When some parents cannot afford examination fees, uniforms, books, lunch for their children, it is the teachers who make the provision…. the list continues.  YET! Despite all these things, society cannot find it in themselves to give teachers the RESPECT they so rightly deserve. All they seem worthy of are lashes.

Scarred.  Battered. Bruised. Teachers of Jamaica continue to sit on the banks of river-schools, still attempting to use basket to pour water on coco leaf…(Rex Nettleford & Brian Heap).

WHAP! WHAP! WHAP!… so the beating continues…

Stay tuned… share your thoughts

*subble-jack is a whip use for beating mostly donkeys my grandparents once told me.

*image retrieved from google pictures.