Novelette Myers: Revamp teaching methodology
"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he grows old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)
I was in the vicinity of the tax office on Constant Spring Road, St Andrew, near a basic school one morning. In a strident voice, an apparently tone-deaf young teacher took her charges through some 15 totally unrelated, mostly religious songs, many with adult content, each latched to the other without pause. (I understand this is her daily modus operandi!)
"Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so."
Where in the Bible tells me this? Why not read this to introduce the song?
"Eternal Father bless our land."
Who is the 'Eternal Father'? Does he want us to pray to Him? Where in the Bible do we find this? What is a blessing? What blessings do we want for our land? Rain and sunshine to grow crops? Good jobs for our parents? An honest hard-working society? Good government?
Respecting a national anthem is not about standing when it is being sung. It is to understand it, to live it, and act in harmony with it and develop godly values that build society instead of destroying it. If everyone stood for the national anthem and prayed for our leaders but failed to pay taxes, stole from employers, destroyed govern-ment property, including school furniture, and littered the streets, we would destroy our country and fail to live in harmony with our prayers.
"I'm in the Lord's army"
How do we get recruited into this army? What does one do in this army? [NB: Joseph Kony leads the Lord's Army in Africa - they kidnap, rape and kill children!]
"Ten green bottles hanging on the wall ... but if one green bottle should accidentally fall"
Do you hang the bottles and let them fall one by one to provide concrete concepts to help children learn?
"Row, row, row your boat"
Is life really just a dream? Or is success in life related to good planning and hard work to implement, monitor and evaluate the progress/success of our plans?
The young geniuses around the world we see on CNN, BBC and the like, were not just born that way. Their education started in the womb and they were introduced to books from birth.
Are we teaching our children to think? Are we teaching them to process information; to establish its veracity and relevance, and make practical application of knowledge, instead of simply regurgitating in a monotonous sing-song voice that indicates zero comprehension?
Do we help them understand that someone generates the information we use and we should verify its sources? By teaching this way to respect information as intellectual property we develop people who believe in verifying information and sources. This will cause them to be less inclined to get involved in plagiarism, libel, slander and inane talk later in life. This will encourage students to produce original content, rather than copying from others.
Each year, many of our university students get sanctioned for plagiarism, artistes create illegal remixes of bestselling songs made by others, and our city streets are littered with vendors of bootleg CDs and DVDs. We will build more Bob Marleys and Omis if we teach our children now to think for themselves.
Stealing - disrespect for other's property - is rife in Jamaica. Praedial larceny has destroyed agriculture, and nearly every house in Jamaica is barred to prevent theft. We need to rewrite the early-childhood curriculum and establish oversight to ensure standardisation and establish minimum standards for content and skills delivered via meaningful learning activities. The Ministry of Education should ensure this as a matter of priority. The churches, which own many basic schools, including the one referenced in this letter, can well afford to hire curriculum experts to write a curriculum and assist untrained teachers on the job.
I hope the new minister of education, or someone from that ministry, will reach out to me.
Let's pay attention to the divine advice of Prov 22:6; give our children a good start and continue to the finish. Let's create honest geniuses from early childhood.